ON the afternoon of December 10 in 1937, Scotland was hit with some of the heaviest storms on record.

At the village of Castlecary, near Cumbernauld, snow blanketed the ground and temperatures plummeted to minus seven.

It was here that two trains collided in one of Scotland’s worst ever rail disasters and one of the worst snow-related crashes in British history.

An Edinburgh to Glasgow express ploughed into a late-running train coming from Dundee in the white-out conditions.

Some 35 passengers lost their lives, with 179 more injured on that evening, with the impact destroying the rear section of the Dundee train, “crumbling the carriages to matchwood ".

Now on the 80th anniversary of the accident, the North Lanarkshire village of Castlecary will carry out a memorial for those who lost their lives.

Though there are very few left who remember the disaster first-hand, the community has over the year marked the disaster which had a lasting impact on the historic village.

Albert MacBeath, secretary of Castlecary Community Council, said: “The people from Castlecary who witnessed the crash have sadly passed, but it’s an important part of local history.

“We’ve had memorials over the years, so it’s a really good thing for the community that it is still being passed down.”

Mr MacBeath added that the disaster was particularly heart-rending, as many of who were on the train were young men coming back to Scotland after being stationed in France.

“A lot of those that were in the crash were soldiers who were returning from France, so to be killed on your way home is just tragic.”

The crash took place when the 4.30pm Edinburgh express, travelling at 70mph, crashed into the back of the 2pm Dundee train, which had been halted at a signal at Castlecary Station.

Both had been proceeding to Queen Street station in Glasgow.

An error from the signalman meant that the Edinburgh train's driver had been led to believe that the route forward was clear.

At the time, the then Glasgow Herald reported: "The locomotive tore through the rear portion of the stationary train, crumbling the carriages to matchwood and throwing the rear coach into the air. It landed broadside across the track.

"With the impetus of the train the foremost carriages of the Edinburgh train reared high in the air, and rode up over the engine. The two following carriages heaved themselves partially on top of each other."

It reported scenes of "twisted iron" and "wheels buckled almost beyond recognition".

Among the dead was an eight year old girl, who was first counted as missing.

Our sister paper the Evening Times in the past recounted how, poignantly, some locals reported to see the ghost of the girl on the tracks after the crash.

Bonnybridge and Larbert Councillor, Billy Buchanan, said that the first local doctor on the scene, Thomas Reilly -- who was to become a decorated officer in the Second World War -- had recalled later in life how horrific the crash had been.

He said the community did all it could to try and help in the freezing conditions following the disaster.

He said: “[They] responded magnificently at the time, even though it was cold and dark.

"There was hardly any technology in those days, so they started building fires on the tracks, and took people back to their houses and the school.”

The driver of the Edinburgh train was charged with culpable homicide for supposedly driving too fast in the weather conditions, but the charge was later dropped.

However both drivers were found at fault of travelling at high speed in adverse weather conditions at a Department of Transport inquiry as well as the signalman, who was also severely criticised.

Initially, the disaster was marked with a plaque in the village, but ten years ago Castlecary residents created a memorial in their Garden of Remembrance comprised of a two railway sleepers, two short lengths of track and a two-tonne locomotive wheel.

It also serves as a memorial for a further crash in the vicinity in 1968, where a signalling issue caused a rear-end collision, with two men losing their lives.

Councillor Buchanan added: "We wanted to do something to respect the 80 year anniversary.

"And the later accident was also very poignant for many of the people who lived nearby and in the community, as the first crash was still high on their minds

"We wanted to remember them too.”

Councillor Jean Jones, Provost of North Lanarkshire, who will attend the service, said: “The tragedy touched many lives and it is right that we come together on the 80th anniversary to remember all of the victims; both those who were injured and who lost their lives, and also their families.”

The memorial will take place at 5.45 tomorrow [SUN] at the Castlecary memorial garden, with a two minute silence at 6pm to mark the time the crash occurred.