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Princess Anne to attend service to mark 100 years since Britain’s worst railway tragedy

The Princess Royal will next month attend a commemorative event to recognise 100 years since Britain’s worst railway tragedy at Gretna Green, on May 22.

She will be joined alongside soldiers, dignitaries and members of the local community at the site where the Quintinshill train disaster occurred, killing 227 people in 1915.

However, despite the huge loss of life and many injuries, the tragedy was kept secret until the end of World War One, with a memorial plaque being erected five years ago on Quintinshill bridge, above the train line.

Gretna Green is a small village in the south of Scotland and is perhaps most famous for it being the venue of runaway weddings. It sits alongside the main town of Gretna, near to the mouth of the River Esk.

The rail disaster was the worse of it’s kind ever to occur in the United Kingdom. It happened at 6.50am on May 22, 1915, and claimed the lives of 227 people, and injured 246 more.

The dead included 214 officers and men of the 7th Battalion Royal Scots Territorial Force, who were on one of the trains involved in the incident. Their train had been delayed for two days because of a shortage of rolling stock. In total, five trains collided.

The second train was packed with people going on holiday and soldiers going on leave. The third train was a slow passenger train, the fourth was an empty coal train and the fifth was a heavy goods train hauling 45 wagons.

The cause of the accident was deemed to be poor working practices on the part of two signalmen involved in the crash, which resulted in their imprisonment on the charge of culpable homicide after lengthy legal proceedings.

Princess Anne will attend a service at Gretna Green before heading heading off to her second engagement in Eastriggs, near Annan, to open the Devil’s Porridge Museum which tells the story of HM Factory Gretna.

Photo Credit: NHC_UHI

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