Tayside and Central Scotland

Tay Bridge disaster death toll revised

Tay Bridge after the disaster
Image caption The bridge collapsed during a violent storm in December 1879

The number of people who died in the Tay Bridge disaster is closer to 60, rather than 75, researchers have revealed.

The bridge collapsed during a violent storm on the evening of 28 December 1879, plunging a train into the River Tay and killing everyone on board.

But confusion has remained over the exact number who perished, with many bodies not being discovered for months.

Newspapers at the time claimed that about 75 people died.

But members of the Tay Rail Bridge Disaster Memorial Trust now believe the true number was 59.

The trust was set up to create a permanent national memorial at the side of the Tay in Dundee.

Trustee Ian Nimmo White, 63, said that only 59 death certificates were made up but the true death toll was impossible to establish at the time as some bodies - including two not washed up until 1880 - remained missing.

Child victims

Children and rail workers may also not have travelled with tickets, he said.

He said: "Death certificates were made up for the 46 people whose bodies were recovered from the Tay, and then they had to decide on the bodies they didn't have.

"Eventually, they were only ever able to provide information to the satisfaction of all concerned that there were 13 more.

"In the days after the disaster, newspapers suggested 75 victims, but this was based on an over-estimated number of children."

Mr White said the trust had only been able to establish that five children under the age of 14 were victims, rather than the 15 as often reported.

Work to establish a definitive death toll is important for the permanent memorial to the victims.

The Trust is trying to raise enough cash for a tribute in Dundee's Riverside Drive, but also hopes to have a second on the Fife side of the Tay.

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