Gravestone at last for Tay bridge disaster train driver


by Kirsty Topping

David Mitchell (1843 - 1879)

THE driver of the train which plunged into the river when the Tay Bridge collapsed is to have his grave marked more than 130 years after the event.

David Mitchell was one of an estimated 75 souls to die in the Tay Bridge Disaster in 1879.

His body was one of the few recovered after the accident and he was laid to rest in an unmarked grave in Leslie, Fife.

Last year the Tay Bridge Disaster Memorial Fund set about raising money to build a permanent memorial next to the existing bridge to the victims of the tragedy.

At the same time they set about tracking down living relatives of those who died.

They tracked down David Leighton, of Edinburgh, who is Mr Mitchell’s great-grandson.

Mr Leighton was aware of his family’s involvement in the disaster but said he did not know all the details.

His family still have Mr Mitchell’s watch, which was taken from his body after spending months in the water.

David Mitchell the Third, grandson of David Mitchell, holding the watch recovered from his grandfather's body nine weeks after the tragedy.

He said: “When the accident happened there was not the money around to put up a gravestone.

“In a sense it was a little bit neglected. I have to admit I feel slightly embarrassed that we never put a stone up.

“I’m not financing the stone entirely; the people of Leslie wanted to do this.”

The Leslie group originally expected to have to raise £2000 to install the stone, but Fife council generously agreed to waive the £1200 cost of installing concrete base for the headstone, which will include the phrase “From the people of Leslie, spring 2011.”

The unveiling ceremony will take place next month.