20th January 1897

Railway engineer James Carswell dies

Born in Dunbartonshire in 1830, James Carswell designed and built the brick approaches to the Forth Rail Bridge, which were tested for the first time almost exactly seven years before his death. He also carried out work on several Scottish railway stations, including the Haymarket, where he added covered platforms, and Glasgow’s Queen Street, to which he added a glazed roof. He built railway workers’ cottages at Fort William.

Chief engineer

Upon his death, a short obituary appeared in the Glasgow Herald, which revealed that although a native of Ayrshire, Carswell had first gained experience in Nova Scotia before becoming resident engineer at the Monkland Railway, which was later amalgamated with the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway Company. This was likely good news for Carswell as it led to his appointment as district engineer in Glasgow and, later, chief engineer in Edinburgh of the North British Railway. He remained in that position until his death.

In that role he did much to improve the network and, as well as enlarging several stations, he was responsible for doubling the track between important hubs on the network to reduce congestion on the line.

Sudden death

The Daily Record’s announcement of his death “suddenly at an early hour” recorded that he “was in Glasgow no later than Monday last, and stated to his friends here that he had not been feeling well. For a week he had been complaining of a cold, but on Wednesday forenoon last he was able to visit the office for a little. During the last few days, however, symptoms of a very serious internal malady developed themselves and his condition gradually became worse.”

He left behind a widow, three sons and a daughter. One of his sons was, at the time, district engineer on a section of the North British Railway that had employed James Carswell himself.



Other events that occured in January

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