A Stroll round 1960s Saltcoats

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down south
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Re: A Stroll round 1960s Saltcoats

Post by down south » Wed Mar 13, 2013 4:15 pm

The border is actually a little way further towards Stevenston, but to pass under the former Caley railway bridge over the main road always felt like the real entrance to Saltcoats. It used to be known as the India Bridge back in the 60s, due to an advertisement for tyres written across it in large letters. I believe I've seen it said that the bridge there now is a replacement and not the original ? ( PS That is indeed so; it was replaced in 1988, as described in the Herald Files here ) .

This bridge was the scene of a fatal train crash in 1939, with the train derailing and plunging down the embankment into what were then the grounds of the Miners' Welfare Home. We've featured this before on 3T, and there are some photos of the scene, and a link to a film clip, in a topic here.

And this article which appeared in the A&S Herald in the early 70s describes both this crash, and another that happened in the early 1900s on the main line at Saltcoats station. It appears with the usual acknowledgements to that newspaper. ( I believe there has since been at least one other serious accident on the Glasgow line, at Paisley Gilmour Street Station. )

You'll note the sobering suggestion made at the time that the Canal Street crash was perhaps due to vandalism on the part of local youngsters.

Susan


SALTCOATS HAD TWO TRAIN DISASTERS

Although the railway line between Ardrossan and Glasgow is one of the oldest in the country — it was opened about 1840 and has been busy every since — there have been only two accidents of any consequence locally in all that time, both occurring at the height of summer when traffic was at its busiest with holidaymakers.

As it happened, there were few local people injured, as the trains concerned were services from Glasgow bringing trippers to the coast. The two worst disasters each happened on a Saturday.

In 1906, on Saturday, August 18, 140 passengers were injured — three of them seriously, although there was no loss of life — in a collision between two passenger trains at Saltcoats station.

About midday the axle of a mineral train engine broke near Auchenharvie Colliery junction between Stevenston and Saltcoats, blocking the down line.

All trains for Saltcoats, Ardrossan and stations to Largs were transferred to the other set of rails, and with single line working natural delays occurred, and a train which had left Glasgow at 2.10, due at Saltcoats at 2.53, did not arrive there till 3.35. It was running on the "wrong" line and passed through the station for a considerable distance before it stopped. It was assumed that it would be backed into the correct down-line platform, but instead it reversed alongside the platform it had just passed, and passengers began to alight.

Meantime a train which had left Glasgow at 2.25 for Ardrossan and Largs had been sent forward and was approaching from Stevenston — the time limit between trains being five minutes, under the system of emergency signalling in use owing to the blockage.

The lengthy 2.10 train had discharged many passengers and was about to move off when the 2.25 swept suddenly round the curve under Kyleshill bridge — the bridge and the curvature of the line obscuring the oncoming driver's view — and it crashed headlong into the rear of the stationary train. Fortunately the crowded 2.25 had slowed down to stop at the station, otherwise the disaster could have been worse.

As it was, the composite guard's van of the stationary train was badly telescoped into the next carriage. Passengers scrambled through the windows of both trains and staggered on to the platform where many fainted from the shock of the collision, and others from seeing it.

Nobody knew exactly how many people were in the two trains or on the platform, but it is estimated there were four or five hundred milling about on the platform, augmented each minute by many people who had heard the noise of the crash and hurried to the scene.
The most seriously injured were three Glasgow men, one of whom had to have a leg amputated; the others had broken limbs and fractured skulls.

That accident was the result of a piling-up of unlucky minor causes: the blockage of the line, heavy traffic on a busy summer Saturday, railway officials under a severe strain, the obscuring curve at Kyleshill — and the fact that the first train had overrun the station. Had it stopped on its first arrival the collision would probably have been averted by the margin of a couple of minutes.

The other major accident at Saltcoats, which occurred 30 years later, was obviously due to one specific factor — although there was some dispute as to what it was.

On Saturday, August 5, 1939, an Arran boat train consisting of seven coaches carrying about 300, passengers left Glasgow Central Station at 12.30 p.m, bound for
Montgomerie Pier, Ardrossan; running on the old Caledonian line. By 1.20 it was crossing the bridge spanning Canal Street Saltcoats, where the engine left the rails and plunged down the embankment, becoming embedded in the garden of the Miners' Welfare Home (now the Maple Leaf Hotel). The tender and the first three coaches also tumbled down the embankment and were telescoped.

Four people were killed — the driver and fireman and two passengers — and 27 travellers were badly injured, all Glasgow people. About 70 passengers were treated for minor injuries in the Miners' Home, which was improvised as a hospital. Considering the number in the train it is remarkable that the casualty list was not heavier.

At a public inquiry held on the following Wednesday, it was established that the train had slowed down on the curve leading to Canal Street bridge and was travelling across the bridge at a speed of about 20 m.p.h.

It was suggested that the disaster was caused by stones having been placed on the rails by children from the area trespassing on the line. An experienced driver said he did not think a heavy engine could be derailed by stones, but a permanent way inspector said that after the accident he found crushed stones on the outside rail to the depth of a quarter of an inch -- even after 34 wheels had passed over it.

In his subsequent report to the Ministry of Transport, Col. A. C. Trench, who had conducted the inquiry, laid the blame for the disaster at the door of those responsible for placing one or more stones on the line — a very rare cause of railway accidents; and he pointed out that the accident was aggravated by the train passing over an embankment. Had it occurred 100 yards farther on in the cutting the results would probably have been less drastic.

Apart from these, the Ardrossan-Glasgow line has been the locus of only another two major accidents —both at the extremities of the line. One of them was the worst disaster of its nature in British railway history; the other, and the more recent, is already almost forgotten and was not particularly serious.

On July 27, 1903, an inexperienced driver of the Isle of Man boat train from Ardrossan misjudged his approach to the reconstructed platform eight at Glasgow St Enoch, ran in too fast, braked too late, and rammed the buffers at 10 m.p.h. The engine ploughed on into the station concourse, the first two coaches were completely telescoped and 16 people were killed and 64 injured.

In 1958 — on Thursday, July 17 — a relief train from Glasgow Central to Ardrossan with passengers for the Belfast steamer Irish Coast crashed into the buffers at Montgomerie Pier station and more than 60 passengers were injured, but only one seriously, and only three needed hospital attention.

For a railway route 130 years old the record is pretty good — in the three local accidents there were only four deaths; but it is a sombre souvenir that they occurred in a tragedy probably caused by the thoughtless vandalism of Saltcoats schoolboys.
Last edited by down south on Mon Sep 02, 2013 3:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: A Stroll round 1960s Saltcoats

Post by down south » Thu Mar 14, 2013 3:56 pm

I see there's something in today's 1987 Herald Files here which explains why I thought Auchenharvie Golf Club had closed down: I wasn't mistaken, it did in fact for a time in the mid-1980s, before presumably being reopened under new management.

Susan

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Re: A Stroll round 1960s Saltcoats

Post by down south » Sun Mar 17, 2013 3:59 pm

The Miners' convalescent home , pictured here,operated I suppose from the 1920s or 1930s to the 1950s on the site next to the railway embankment on Canal Street:

http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2267/2266 ... z.jpg?zz=1

But I've been interested to see some of the earlier history of that spot. Back in the 19th century, it was occupied by a house called Rockvale. And then in the early 20th century that was replaced by the Rockvale Maternity Hospital and Home, as shown on this 1909 map:

http://maps.nls.uk/os/25inch-2nd-and-la ... &layers=BT

Now attentive readers will remember we've encountered another Rockvale Home earlier on in the Stroll; the house on Montgomerie Crescent that later became the Council Chambers, which in the 1930s was a convalescent home for poor children from Glasgow :

http://www.threetowners.net/forum/viewt ... 76#p104176

It looks then as though this Rockvale Home was the forerunner of that,with a wider brief involving mothers and babies as well; and they must have moved to Montgomerie Crescent around the 20s or early 30s to make way for the Miners' Home.

Susan

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Re: A Stroll round 1960s Saltcoats

Post by Penny Tray » Sun Mar 17, 2013 7:14 pm

The exact point where the trained crashed into the grounds of the Miners' Home on 5 August 1939 is still apparent because of the repair to the original wall, currently forming one of the boundary walls of Seabank Care Home, 92 Canal Street.

The location is to the right of the billboard shown in the photograph provided by Down South.

http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2267/2266 ... z.jpg?zz=1
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Re: A Stroll round 1960s Saltcoats

Post by Scott McCallum » Mon Mar 18, 2013 3:29 pm

maple2.jpg
This is where I grew up. I moved to the farthest away of the two cottages next door to the Miners’ Home in 1953 when I was two years old and my parents stayed there till about 1976. It was the Miners’ Home until about 1959 then it was turned into the New Argyll Bar – I think it was Hector Lee who owned it first. Walter Catto came about 1961 and the Maple Leaf was born. Walter and Hannah (and Tommy) are still alive and in Canada. It later became the Silver Sands and then the Seabank Nursing Home.

Of the two cottages next door, the one nearest the Maple Leaf was bought by Walter in 1965 after Mrs. Parks died, knocked down and became a part of the car park. The other was bought in about 1976 in exchange for a house in Eglinton Street where my parents moved. In these days the Maple was quite a show and my folks were getting on a bit so it was a lot quieter for them in Eglinton Street. I am grateful to Mr. Catto for doing that.

When I was young I remember the boat trains rattling by on the Caley line and only recently when visiting my late father in law in the nursing home I went out to look at the wall and the repair where the train accident had been. I have it somewhere in the canyons of my mind that a (nationally) famous boxer was killed in the crash.

Scott McCallum - Glasgow

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Re: A Stroll round 1960s Saltcoats

Post by down south » Mon Mar 18, 2013 4:33 pm

Here's what the Maple Leaf offered its customers in the 1960s:
Maple Leaf.jpg
Was it the New Argyll which first replaced the old Miners' Home with a modern building? I certainly remember it being so by the time of the Maple Leaf; in fact it looks like the same building that's still there today.

It was in 1974 that it changed hands in fact, with Walter Catto's departure possibly prompted by a series of disastrous fires. For an account of the earlier fire see here:

FIREMEN INJURED IN HOTEL FIRE

For the second time in eighteen months fire swept through the Maple Leaf Hotel in Canal Street, Saltcoats, on Tuesday morning causing damage estimated at £30,000.

Firemen from five local brigades fought the blaze for over three hours before bringing it under control.. Two Ardrossan firemen were injured during the operation and were taken to Kilmarnock Infirmary for treatment.

It was shortly after 3.30 am that the alarm was raised and the fire, which had started in the Maple Leaf lounge on the second floor, quickly spread through the right wing of the building.

Eleven guests were evacuated from the hotel and as a precautionary measure a roll call was organised at the reception foyer. Clothing and other belongings were stored in the residents' lounge and the party filed out into the forecourt.

Firemen from Ardrossan, Irvine North, Dalry, Kilbirnie and Kilmarnock battled to prevent the flames spreading throughout the whole building and it was almost six o'clock before the flames were brought under control.

When the flames had died down it was found that the upstairs lounge had been completely gutted while the ground floor lounge was extensively damaged.

Water from the firemens' hoses damaged carpets and walls in the foyer of the building and a police spokesman described the damage as " very extensive. "

The proprietor of the hotel, Mr Walter Catto, was in Canada at the time of the fire but travelled back immediately when he heard of the disaster.

A number of foremen had to receive oxygen when they were almost overcome by smoke and fumes while fighting the blaze but only two firemen received burns.

Fireman Robert Montgomerie, 25 Boydston Road,Ardrossan, was detained at Kilmarnock Infirmary with severe burns to his hands and face but his condition is described as " comfortable ".Mr Alan Watson, 6 Barr Street, Ardrossan, was allowed home after treatment for minor burns.

This is the second fire at the hotel within 18 months as chalets at the rear of the building, which were valued at £10,000 were completely destroyed by fire in September 1971.

Mr Robert Pentleton, who is standing in at the hotel in the absence of Mr Catto, told our reporter: " When the alarm was raised we evacuated the guests and took a roll call in the foyer. The fire brigades were quickly on the scene and did a great job. At one stage it looked as though the whole building was going to go up in flames. Obviously the hotel will be closed until Mr Catto returns. "

The cause of the fire has yet to be established but local police are continuing with their enquiries.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald, 16th February 1973.


The Silver Sands opened on April 10th 1974:
Silver Sands.jpg
The Silver Sands Hotel, Canal Street, Saltcoats, was officially opened by Provost Harry Barnett on Wednesday when he welcomed the new establishment to the town.

The hotel, which has undergone substantial improvements, will assume a new role with its new name by offering first-class accommodation and dining facilities.

Since the new owner, Mr James Gibson from Glasgow, arrived in Saltcoats with his wife Una and their two children Christopher and Wendy Jane, he has set out to provide the town with a creditable and attractive hotel.

At a cost of £ 15,000 extensive redecoration and furnishings have been carried out creating 12 ultra-comfortable bedrooms, a coffee shop and a very well-appointed restaurant, the Cobblers' Cove, which will be open to the public.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald, 12th April 1974.


Anyone have any idea when the hotel became a care home ?

Susan
Last edited by down south on Mon Sep 02, 2013 3:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: A Stroll round 1960s Saltcoats

Post by reidsville » Wed Mar 20, 2013 8:22 am

dont think it opened up as a hotel again after the deaths of the Burke lads in the mid eighties lay dormant for a while then opened as a care home my guess would be mid to late eighties it opened as a care home

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Re: A Stroll round 1960s Saltcoats

Post by down south » Wed Mar 20, 2013 4:51 pm

Thanks for that, Mike. The death you refer to is detailed here. I see the hotel had changed its name and its ownership once more by then, and clearly hadn't improved its reputation any since the days of the Maple Leaf, as described in this previous topic:

http://www.threetowners.net/forum/viewt ... 675#p70675

I realise from a post there, that the reason the New Argyle didn't last long was because of the death of its proprietor John Lee in the Arthurlie Place fire , which we discussed earlier on this Stroll, on page 1 and subsequently .So that fire must have happened before the opening of the Maple Leaf in 1962.

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Re: A Stroll round 1960s Saltcoats

Post by down south » Sun Mar 24, 2013 4:03 pm

Image
Going back now to Scott's map, and looking back along this side of Canal Street, I see there's a shop or business marked there as No 8 that we haven't looked at yet. I would guess it may have been one that occupied this building , or a previous one on the same site ?

http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=Saltcoa ... 2,315,,0,0

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Re: A Stroll round 1960s Saltcoats

Post by Penny Tray » Sun Mar 24, 2013 4:44 pm

Susan,

I have been confused since you mentioned having a record of Alan Drever's shop at 14 Canal Street. I had it in my mind that he occupied the shop in your present photograph, possibly before moving to No. 14? The name Hatrick is also swirling about in my head but goodness knows where that one is coming from. Scott will hopefully put me right.
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Re: A Stroll round 1960s Saltcoats

Post by sweet caroline » Sun Mar 24, 2013 6:22 pm

Grocers Shop .Bus Stop right beside it .My husband lodged there in Mrs LLoyd house next to the shop in the 60's .

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Re: A Stroll round 1960s Saltcoats

Post by Scott McCallum » Mon Mar 25, 2013 9:54 am

Memory is a funny old thing, mine more than most. But I think (can't be more positive) that Mr Drever's shop was circled number thirteen on the map with a joiner at circle fourteen. Eight was a grocer - can't give any name - but the bus stop was right outside as Sweet Caroline says, before it was moved along towards the bridge.

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