Cueing script – The Tay Bridge Disaster

The Tay Bridge Disaster

William McGonagal

Greatly admired by Spike Milligan and Billy Connoly, McGonagal’s reputation as ‘perhaps the worst poet in the English language’ puts him up there with other greats like Florence Foster Jenkins and the Portsmouth Symphonietta. This poem was the second of three on the subject, the first praising the new bridge; and the third praising the replacement for the disaster-stricken structure.



lx2 sq2

Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay!
Alas! I am very sorry to say
That ninety lives have been taken away
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time. lx3 sq3

’Twas about seven o’clock at night,
And the wind it blew with all its might,
And the rain came pouring down,
And the dark clouds seem’d to frown,
And the Demon of the air seem’d to say- lx4 sq4 
“I’ll blow down the Bridge of Tay.” lx5

When the train left Edinburgh
The passengers’ hearts were light and felt no sorrow,
But Boreas blew a terrific gale,
Which made their hearts for to quail,
And many of the passengers with fear did say- lx6 sq5
“I hope God will send us safe across the Bridge of Tay.” lx7

But when the train came near to Wormit Bay,
Boreas he did loud and angry bray,
And shook the central girders of the Bridge of Tay
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time. lx8

So the train sped on with all its might,
And Bonnie Dundee soon hove in sight,
And the passengers’ hearts felt light,
Thinking they would enjoy themselves on the New Year,
With their friends at home they lov’d most dear,
And wish them all a happy New Year.

So the train mov’d slowly along the Bridge of Tay,
Until it was about midway,
Then the central girders with a crash gave way,
And down went the train and passengers into the Tay! lx9, sq6
The Storm Fiend did loudly bray,
Because ninety lives had been taken away,
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time. lx10 sq7

As soon as the catastrophe came to be known
The alarm from mouth to mouth was blown,
And the cry rang out all o’er the town,
Good Heavens! the Tay Bridge is blown down,
And a passenger train from Edinburgh,
Which fill’d all the peoples hearts with sorrow,
And made them for to turn pale,
Because none of the passengers were sav’d to tell the tale
How the disaster happen’d on the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time.

It must have been an awful sight,
To witness in the dusky moonlight,
While the Storm Fiend did laugh, and angry did bray,
Along the Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay,
Oh! ill-fated Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay,
I must now conclude my lay
By telling the world fearlessly without the least dismay,
That your central girders would not have given way,
At least many sensible men do say,
Had they been supported on each side with buttresses, lx11, sq8
At least many sensible men confesses,
For the stronger we our houses do build,
The less chance we have of being killed. lx12, sq9



Cue list

  • lx1 HL & Preset fade
  • lx2 light up on narrator1 (FS), backlit set
  • lx3  add narrator 2 (FS)
  • lx4 cut narrators
  • lx5 train carriage
  • lx6 as lx4
  • lx7 narrators and backlight. Lightning!
  • lx8 concentrate light
  • lx9 Lightning, DBO
  • lx10 soft general light
  • lx11 Bright light
  • lx12 FBO
  • lx13 Preset, houselights


  • sq1 play-in music (Shooglenifty)
  • sq2 xfade play-in to train noise
  • sq3 add storm sounds (wind)
  • sq4 voiceover (Fiend)
  • sq5 voiceover (Scared passengers)
  • sq6 Traincrash, explosion, cut train noise
  • sq7 bagpipe lament in distance
  • sq8 cut all sound
  • sq9 play-out music
  • sq10 fade music