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Broadside ballad entitled 'The Tay Bridge Disaster'


Verse 1: 'In this gay and festive season, / We must deplore the loss of life, / Human-beings endowed with reason, / Bent on pleasure, not on strife, / Suddenly life is taken away from them, / In a moment they are swept away, / Death has swiftly come upon them, / At the railway bridge on the River Tay.' This ballad was to be sung to an air entitled 'The Battle'.

On the night of 28 December 1879, the Tay Railway Bridge collapsed in high winds while a train was crossing it . All seventy-five people on board the train were killed. As is often the case with human tragedies, the event compelled people to write poems and songs as memorials to the victims. There is more than one poem commemorating the disaster in the National Library of Scotland's collection of broadsides, and the Dundee poet William McGonagall also wrote some famous verses about it.

Broadsides are single sheets of paper, printed on one side, to be read unfolded. They carried public information such as proclamations as well as ballads and news of the day. Cheaply available, they were sold on the streets by pedlars and chapmen. Broadsides offer a valuable insight into many aspects of the society they were published in, and the National Library of Scotland holds over 250,000 of them.

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Probable date published: 1880   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.70(79)
Broadside ballad entitled 'The Tay Bridge Disaster'
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