Ballingry Parish Accidents to 1914

This section contains newspaper reports on selected accidents in this area. Please check the indexes in the Accidents Section for details of Inspector of Mines reports and other accidents covered on the site.

22 August 1849

Fatal Accident - Mr. Begg, coalmaster, Lumphinnans, near Lochgelly, whilst superintending the despatch of coals from one of his pits on Wednesday last, was accidently thrown across the rails, when a loaded truck passed over both his legs. He was carried home and the best medical aid was early obtained, but nothing could be done to save his life. He expired about five hours after the accident happened. No blame is attachable to anyone. The Scotsman. [Glasgow Herald 27 August 1849]

20 January 1875

Fatal Pit Accident At Lochore Colliery – A melancholy accident occurred in one of the pits at Lochore Colliery on Wednesday last, by which a young man, named Snedden was almost instantaneously deprived of life. The unfortunate man had been working along with a neighbour at the coal face, and was just about to leave off work for the day when the roof suddenly gave way, burying Snedden among the debris, the other man making a narrow escape with his life. On assistance being procured, the poor fellow was found to be quite dead. Deceased, who belongs to Bo’ness, had only commenced work a day or two previously, and leaves a widowed mother to mourn her loss. [The Dundee Courier & Argus 23 January 1875]

30 November 1881

FATAL PIT ACCIDENT AT LOCHGELLY. On Wednesday forenoon a miner named Alexander Ross lost his life while descending No. 1 pit belonging to the Lumphinnans Coal Company. The cage on which the unfortunate man was descending has two platforms, and while he was in the act of stepping from the lower compartment at the bottom of the shaft he was caught by the neck between the upper platform of the cage and the floor of the workings, and before he could be extricated life was found to be extinct. The Dundee Courier & Argus 1 December 1881]

22 May 1899

Explosion in A Fife Mine - One Man Killed and Two Injured - Yesterday morning an explosion of fire-damp occurred in a pit at Benarty Colliery, Kelty, on the borders of Fife and Kinross, belonging to the Lochore and Cappledrae Coal Company (Limited by which one man was killed and two men were badly injured. The works are situated close to the southern slopes of Benarty Hill, and for many years the coals have been drawn from the different seams by means of a mine. Recently a shaft was sunk to one of the seams. This shaft has no connection with the mine, and three shifts of a restricted number of men have been employed for some time in the work of running a heading in the coal to the outcrop with a view to make a statutory second outlet. In most of the pits of Fife the workings are so damp that explosive gas is never seen, and the air courses are now so much improved that the enemy of the old Fife miner - black damp - is seldom heard of. Benarty Colliery happens to be one of the few collieries in the county where explosive gas has shown itself now and again, but the gas has not appeared in such quantities as to make the use of the safety lamp absolute in all departments of the workings. Safety lamps were, of course, in use for inspecting the mines in the working before the day-shift men commenced work. The last shift of men engaged in the pit where the explosion occurred yesterday ceased work at two o'clock on Saturday afternoon. About 10 o'clock on Sunday night, however, Joseph Hamilton (28) miner, Millar's Buildings, Kelty, and Michael Cassey (40), roadman, Lochore, started work for the purpose of carrying out some repairs on the roadway leading to the heading. It was intended that the repairs should be completed before six o'clock, to admit of a complete resumption of work. All seems to have gone well with Hamilton and Cassey during the night, and in the early morning they were joined by James Morton, the fireman or inspector. The work of repair had been pretty well completed by five o'clock, and between that hour and six o'clock a start was made to go round the workings for the purpose of inspecting the "faces " before the miners resumed work. Before the men had gone far gas seems to have shown itself, and Morton shouted to Cassey not to go near the "face" of the heading, because he was afraid that gas had been accumulating in the chambers. Cassey assured his comrades that there was no fire-damp. Cassey had little more than made the assurance when a tremendous explosion occurred, and all the three men were thrown on to the pavement in complete darkness. Morton and Cassey spoke to each other in the dark mine; but they could get no reply, in response to inquiries, from Hamilton. Cassey felt that he was badly burnt, and Morton, in addition to burns, sustained a fracture of the left leg. Knowing the evil effects of after-damp, the two men resolved to try to find their way to the pit bottom. They had not gone far, however, when they discovered that they had taken wrong turn and were getting into workings which would lead them further from the shaft than they originally were. Almost mad with pain, Cassey wheeled about, and ultimately reached the shaft. His signals were so numerous and confusing at first that the engineman did not quite understand what was meant, but he soon got the necessary number of strokes of the bell (three), and Cassey was brought to the surface. Here it was found he was terribly burned about the body and face, his shirt being completely burnt off his body. After he had told his story a rescue party, including Mr John Duncan, the oversman, descended the shaft and made a search for Hamilton and Morton. The latter was found at a point upwards of 100 yards from the place where the explosion occurred - he had crawled all this distance on hands and knees suffering from a broken leg - but the after-damp was so strong that the rescuers could not get near the spot where it was thought that Hamilton fell. After some little delay the air current became cleared, and the rescuers penetrated the workings to the heading, and there they found the body of Hamilton lying on the pavement, death having evidently supervened immediately after the explosion. Morton was conveyed to his home at Lochore, and Cassey was wrapped in blankets and conveyed to Dunfermline Cottage Hospital, where he lies in a very precarious state. Indeed, the surface of the burns is so large that the medical attendants in the hospital do not think that recovery is possible. In consequence of the explosion labour was entirely suspended at the mines for the day. Three safety lamps were down the shaft, but it has not yet transpired whether all the three men were using safety lamps when the accident took place. The fact that explosive gas has not hitherto shown itself to such an extent as to prohibit entirely the use of naked lights may have made the men less careful than they might otherwise have been. [Glasgow Herald 23 May 1899]

30 October 1900

Fatal Pit Accident In Fife - James Banigan, a brusher, was fatally injured yesterday morning in the Wilsons & Clyde Coal Company's No 2 Glencraig pit. He had been repairing a road, and was trying to secure a portion of the roof when a mass of stones, weighing about half a ton, fell upon him. Life was extinct before he was extricated. Banigan was thirty-six years of age and unmarried. [Scotsman 31 October 1900]

19 August 1901

Mining Fatality In Fife – Fall of Mass of Stone – Miner Killed : Another Hurt - A fatality occurred last night at Glencraig Colliery, Lochgelly, belonging the Wilsons & Clyde Coal Company. Adam Adamson and John K. Wilson, Glencraig, were working splint seam when mass of stone estimated to weigh 50 tons came away from the roof. Both were caught by the fall, but Adamson was the outer edge. He half crawled and was half pulled out. He sustained only few bruises. A band of rescuers tried to clear a road into Wilson, but were several times beaten back by the roof giving way. Ultimately about eleven o'clock Wilson's body was recovered. Death was probably instantaneous. He leaves widow and family. [Evening Telegraph 20 August 1901]

3 April 1902

Colliery Accident in Fife – Four Men Killed - One of those serious accidents which illustrate the dangers of the miners calling, and at the same time thrill the country, occurred yesterday at Glencraig Colliery, Fifeshire. The colliery is a comparatively new one, situated on the estate of Glencraig, which was acquired eight or nine years ago by the Wilsons & Clyde Coal Company, but it has been so rapidly developed that a large village has sprung up in the immediate vicinity, and employment is afforded for about 600 men. There are two large pits lying about a mile and a half to the north of Lochgelly, both sunk together, and worked on the double shift system.

What led to the accident is not exactly known, but it was ascertained that at about half-past nine o'clock, when the men were finishing their breakfasts, a terrible explosion was heard reverberating through the workings. The explosion is supposed to have occurred in the five-feet seam of No. 1 pit, which is about 250 fathoms from the surface. Most of the pits in Fife are free from firedamp, a large quantity of water having to be dealt with, but at Glencraig this dangerous gas has from time to time been found to exist, and the use of safety lamps by the miners is insisted upon.

Peter Adamson and Andrew Marshall began work in a dook of the five-feet seam about six o'clock in the morning, and in a companion dook running parallel with it James Crichton. and Robert Wilson were engaged. About eight o'clock Adamson and Marshall fired a shot in the roof. Nothing unusual occurred immediately after this, and the men, after working for an hour longer, retired to a point some distance off, where they had breakfast. They must have finished their meal and been resting when a terrific explosion occurred, by which they were shockingly burned, and were practically killed instantaneously. One of the men nearest the scene of the explosion was James Rowan, a drainer, who, on hearing the report, ran to one of the dooks, and on looking through an air screen discovered William M'Caw, the dook pump engineman, lying prostrate in the centre of the roadway. It was the afterdamp, and not the firedamp, however, by which M'Caw was affected, and Rowan lost no time in having him dragged out of his perilous position into a purer atmosphere beyond the screen, where the work of resuscitation was successfully carried out. It being impossible as yet to reach the other men, an alarm was raised, and a rescue party was organised by Mr W. H. Telfer, the general manager, who took with him Robert Wilson, the under manager, John Wilson, the oversman, and others. On reaching the main dook the party found the air so bad that they were nearly stifled, and they resorted to air chambering, which had the desired result in a comparatively short time. The bodies of Adamson and Marshall were found at the bottom of the dook in the condition already mentioned. Attention was directed to the companion dook, where the bodies of James Crichton and Robert Wilson were found at a point some distance from where the men had been working. It was evident that the two men had been the victims of afterdamp, there not being a mark of burning upon their bodies, nor no trace of violence. It being ascertained that there were no further fatalities, and that no more men had been left in these parts of the workings, arrangements were made for bringing the bodies of Adamson, Marshall, Crichton, and Wilson to the surface.

Work being entirely stopped in the pits, news of the sad event soon spread to the village of Glencraig and the burgh of Lochgelly, and when the bodies were brought up one by one from the underground workings, and placed on stretchers; and conveyed to the joiners' workshop at the colliery, a mournful scene was presented at the pithead, where there was a large crowd of men, women, and children. Dr Dickson, Lochgelly. and his assistant. Dr Wallwork, were early on the scene, and descended the shaft, remaining underground until all the four bodies had been recovered. Their services, proved specially useful in the case of M'Caw, who was in a state of collapse when found in the roadway, but was speedily resuscitated.

It seems that all the men employed in the dooks referred to carried safety lamps, and that there was no naked light in the vicinity of the roadways.. It is consequently thought that the cause of the explosion was a sudden burst of gas from the minerals of sufficient force to break one of the safety lamps. The accident which occurred yesterday is the third involving serious loss of life, which has occurred in Fife within little more than a year. In February last year seven men lost their lives through being asphyxiated by carbon monoxide at Hill of Beath Colliery, and in August eight men perished in the Donibriste pit. Of the men who were killed yesterday, Crichton was thirty-three years of age, and leaves a widow and two children, while Marshall was a widower, aged twenty. Adamson and Marshall were young unmarried men.

The Executive Board of the Fife and Kinross Miners' Association was sitting at Dunfermline yesterday, when news of the accident was received. Great regret was expressed by the delegates, and a resolution of sympathy with the relatives was unanimously passed. [Scotsman 4 April 1902]

28 April 1902

Death At A Pithead - John Armit, a labourer, of no fixed residence, was found dead at the donkey engine-house of No 7 pit, Lumphinnans Colliery, on Monday morning. He had been spoken to about half-past seven o'clock, and his body was found half-an-hour later. Dr Young, who saw the body, expressed his opinion that death was due to failure of the heart's action. Armit was about seventy years of age. [Dunfermline Journal 3 May 1902]

1 December 1902

Fife Pit Fatality - John Parker, thirty-five years of age, a miner, who resided at South Glencraig, died yesterday in the Dunfermline Cottage Hospital from the effects of an accident. He had been employed in the Dunfermline splint seam of Glencraig Colliery on Monday, when, it is supposed, he was run over by a loaded hutch, and his back was broken. [Scotsman 3 December 1902]

21 March 1903

Pit Fatality In Fife - David Carvie or Carver, miner, Auchterderran, who was injured on Saturday in No. 2 pit, Glencraig Colliery, has since died in the Dunfermline Cottage Hospital. He had been working at the face in the five-feet seam when a large stone burst out and struck him on the head. [Scotsman 24 March 1903]

2 July 1903

Fife Pit Fatality - David Rennie (28), engineman, Croall Place, Kelty, was fatally injured in the Mary pit, Lochore, yesterday forenoon. He had been at the bottom of the shaft, when a quantity of material fell upon him. [Scotsman 3 July 1903]

17 July 1903

FATAL FALL DOWN A FIFE PIT SHAFT - James Ogilvie, Lochore, was working with three sinkers at the new Mary Pit, near Lochgelly, belonging to the Fife Coal Company, today, and was ascending to another platform, when through a misunderstanding of the bell call, the kettle was prematurely raised. Ogilvie was precipitated to the bottom of the shaft. He died in the ambulance van on the way to Dunfermline Hospital. Besides injury to the head, he had several ribs fractured, and these penetrated the lung, while his left arm was also broken. Ogilvie leaves a widow and young family, some of whom are at present suffering from the prevailing typhoid fever. [Edinburgh Evening News 17 July 1903]

20 October 1903

FIFE MINER'S TERRIBLE DEATH- A fatal accident occurred early this morning at the new Mary Pit, Lochore, Lochgelly, belonging to the Fife Coal Company. A man named M. Brown was working in the shaft, when he fell off the kettle, dropping down the pit, a distance of 70 feet, and being instantaneously killed. He was about 40 years of age, and lived in a Lochgelly lodging-house. His head was frightfully smashed, the bones protruding, and the body otherwise mangled. [Edinburgh Evening News 20 October 1903]

27 August, 1904

A very serious pit accident occurred on Saturday night at the Mary pit, Lochore, which is at present being sunk by the Fife Coal Company. The shaft has reached a depth of between 140 and 150 fathoms, and is being worked by three shifts of sinkers. On Saturday night eleven men were in the pit, and the engineman discovered that something was wrong when he found it impossible to move the kettle from the bottom. The alarm was given, and on rescue men going down, it was found that one of the sides of the shaft had fallen in, entombing the sinkers. A few of them had extricated themselves, and were clinging to the "buntons", some fathoms above the fall, while three or four others, who had been severely injured, had also struggled through, and were in the open shaft. One, however, had been killed by the fall of rubbish. The men were quickly brought to the surface, and their injuries attended to. [Scotsman 29 August 1904]

7 September 1904

Tragic Affair At A Fife Pit - About a score of men who were employed as sinkers on the night shift had not been many minutes down the shaft of the Fife Coal Company's Mary Pit, Lochore, on Wednesday night when they were alarmed by a strange noise above, and immediately afterwards by a mangled corpse falling amongst them. Thomas Smith, miner, Lochore, had attempted to commit suicide earlier in the evening by cutting his throat, and after receiving surgical attention he was placed under observation. Not long afterwards he succeeded in escaping from his house, and ran in the direction of the Mary Pit, down the shaft of which he is supposed to have thrown himself. The present depth of the pit is about 150 fathoms. He was thirty years of age, and leaves a widow and one child. [Scotsman 9 September 1904]

17 November 1904

Fatal Pit Accident At Lochgelly - A fatal pit accident occurred at Glencraig, Lochgelly, late on Thursday night. William Murray (35) who lived at Crosshill, was working in the five foot seam, No 2 Pit, belonging to Wilsons & Clyde Coal Company, when a fall from the roof occurred. Murray was badly crushed, his spine being seriously injured, and he died shortly after being raised to the surface. [Scotsman 19 November 1904]

February 20 1905

Fife Pit Fatality - Bernard Hulskramar (29), miner, Glencraig, was fatally injured in the Wilsons and Clyde Coal Company's colliery, at Glencraig on Monday night. He was working at the face, when a fall from the roof occurred, consisting of about 3 cwts of stone. Being buried by the fall, and his skull fractured, the man lived only a few minutes after being extricated. [Scotsman 22nd February 1905]

8 December 1905

Fatal Pit Accident in Fife – James Bone Gilchrist, miner, who resided in Main Street, Lumphinnans, was killed yesterday in the Fife Coal Company's No 11 pit, Lumphinnans Colliery. While Gilchrist was acting as brakesman on a wheel brae, a hutch was run so rapidly to the top that it knocked out a prop, which allowed a stone weighing about 2 tons to fall upon him and break his neck. [Scotsman 9 December 1905]

24 December 1906

Miner's Sudden Death - A tragic death occurred yesterday morning at Glencraig Colliery, Lochgelly. David Brown, an elderly man, had just started work at the pithead. He was engaged in pushing a hutch along towards the red bing, when he was seen to fall. Several workers rushed to his assistance only to find he had expired. Brown leaves a widow and family. [Scotsman 25 December 1906]

3 February 1908

Mining Disaster in Fife - Three Men Killed; Several Others Seriously Injured - The central district of Fife has again been the scene of a mining disaster. By an explosion of firedamp which occurred in the Fife Coal Company's Mary pit Lochore, towards midnight on Sunday, one man was killed outright, another died while being conveyed to the Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital, a third died yesterday afternoon, and five others are so seriously injured that their condition at the time of writing was regarded as critical.

The Mary pit which is the deepest in Scotland, being sunk to a depth of 333 fathoms, is worked on the three shift system without brushers, the miners carrying out their own brushing as they proceed. Upwards of 300 men are employed, and between 10 and 11 o'clock on Sunday night between 100 and 120 descended the shaft. The great majority of these were lowered to the five feet or navigation seam, which is operated on from the bottom of the shaft, while eight others were left at the Mynheer seam bottom which is between 21 and 22 fathoms higher. The names of the 8 men were:-

John M'Ginn, pit inspector, Lochore
Stephen Heggie, miner Lochore
John Thomson, miner, Lochore
Thomas Bell, miner, Lower Milton
James Law, miner Lochore
John Stein, drawer, Lochore
William Abel, drawer, Lochore; and
William Gibson, drawer, Crosshill.

According to the statutory regulations, M'Ginn proceeded to make an inspection of the working places before the seven other men were allowed to go to the face to which there is a road extending about 100 yards. Owing to the peculiar circumstances, it was difficult to obtain reliable information as to what actually occurred, but it is known that firedamp, with which the Fife miner is now becoming more familiar, owing to the depth to which some of the pits are being sunk, was discovered, and that means were adopted with a view to removing the noxious vapour from the roadway and working places. This was by a fan driven by a motor, and it is surmised – although the theory was discounted by an expert before he descended the pit yesterday – that a spark from the motor had ignited the inflammable gas. The explanation seemed to be the only feasible one elicited in the course of enquiries, for none but safety lamps are permitted to be used, and men interviewed praised the management for the care which was exercised in order to prevent accident.

Four Explosions - At about quarter past 11 o'clock the men engaged in the five feet seam were startled by a loud report, which was followed by James Law being projected down the shaft, falling on top of the cage, which was at the time stationed there. Twenty minutes later another report was heard, and that was followed shortly afterwards by two explosions occurring in rapid succession. As soon as the second period of excitement had passed, William Gibson was discovered lying dead on the pates at the pit bottom, with Stein, much injured, close by. The five other men escaped the horror of falling down the shaft, but they suffered terribly from the force of the explosion, all the exposed parts of their bodies being terribly scorched.

A panic seemed to prevail among a large section of the miners in the low-bottom workings, and at least 72 of them made as hurried an exit as was possible by traversing the road leading to the company's Aitken pit, fully a mile to the west, and escaping by the upcast shaft there.

Meanwhile those that remained did all that was within their power to render succour to their disabled comrades. There being no ambulance appliances ready to hand below, what are called service stretchers were improvised, and all the men and the body of Gibson were brought to the surface. It was about two o'clock yesterday morning, however, until the last ascent of the cage was made. In the interval Dr Dickson had been summoned by telephone from Lochgelly, and Drs Toss and Dickson from Lochore. Three ambulance waggons were at the same time requisitioned. By the doctors and police constables and miners possessing ambulance knowledge everything was done that human skill could suggest to relieve the sufferings of the injured previous to their being placed in the waggons. M'Ginn, Heggie, Law, Stein, and Abel were conveyed to the Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital, while Thomson and Bell, who were believed to be less seriously injured than their neighbours, were removed to their homes. In the course of yesterday they too were transported to Dunfermline.

Among those who were early upon the scene, directing operations, were Mr Henry Rowan, the general manager of the Fife Coal Company's western pits, and Mr John Allan, the Mary Pit manager. Mr Robert M'Laren, His Majesty's Chief Inspector of Mines for the Eastern District of Scotland, who was telegraphed to, arrived from Edinburgh before 11 o'clock, and after making enquiries at the office, donned pit clothes, and along with one of his assistants and the manager, descended the shaft with a view to exploring the region affected by the explosion, and discovering the cause of the ignition.

The disaster caused a painful sensation in the district and work was entirely suspended in all sections of the pit, where during the day groups of men, among whom were those who had been in the five feet bottom, discussed the situation. The stoppage will only be temporary, except as regards the Mynheer seam, which, however, it is hoped will soon be repaired. In the early hours of yesterday morning many men and women were attracted to the pithead, and some affecting scenes were witnessed as the cage was for the time brought to the pithead, where anxious inquiries were made for relatives.

James Law died in hospital from his injuries as 3 o'clock yesterday afternoon.

Early in the afternoon Mr M'Laren telegraphed to the Home Office as follows:- “Regret to inform you that an explosion of gas occurred last night at Mary Pit, Lochore, Fife, by which three men lost their lives, and five were seriously injured.”

Further inquiries show that all safety lamps were in perfect order. It is still impossible to say what was the cause of the explosion. Three of the men's lamps were damaged, but their appearances do not explain the cause of the explosion. [Scotsman 4 February 1908]

27 August 1908

Accident At Glencraig – On Thursday morning a miner named Patrick Earls, residing at Park Street, received serious injuries while at work in the Glencraig Colliery belonging to the Wilson Clyde Coal Company. Earls was struck by a fall from the roof. He was attended to by Dr Dickson, who found the unfortunate man's back was broken. He was removed to Dunfermline and West Fife Hospital in a hopeless condition. [Dunfermline Journal 29 August 1908]

NB Name on death cert and Inspector's report was Michael Early

3 March 1910

Two Men Killed In A Fife Pit – Contractor’s Narrow Escape - As the result of a heavy fall from the roof at Glencraig Colliery, Lochgelly, early yesterday morning, two men were buried alive. A third, who was on the edge of the fall, was rescued. A large squad of workmen started at once to clear a passage to the men. The bodies, however, were recovered after eleven o'clock, and identified as those of John Murray and Michael Woods, both residing at South Glencraig. The former was married, and leaves a widow and four children, while the latter was single. Both were employed as "brushers" under a contractor. The contractor, Thomas O'Rourke, had a narrow escape. He said that he heard Woods crying for some time. Murray, it is presumed, was killed outright. In neither case was the body disfigured. Altogether two falls occurred, and it took several hours to penetrate the first of these. The bodies were found almost at the edge of the second fall. The colliery, which belongs to Wilsons and Clyde Coal Company, has been remarkably free from serious accidents. [Scotsman 4 March 1910]

30 March 1910

Fatal Accident In Fife Pit - H. Flannigan v Fife Coal Co., Ltd. - The Division disposed of a motion for the pursuer in the action by Hugh Flannigan, labourer, High Street, Kinross, against the Fife Coal Co., Ltd., for damages in respect of the death of his son Gilbert. The deceased was a wheeler and drawer in the employment of the defenders at Benarty pit, and he was fatally injured by a fall of stone from the roof in March 1910. A jury, under Lord Skerrington, tried the case in March last, and returned a unanimous verdict for the defenders, after an absence of an hour. The pursuer now asked for a rule on the defenders to show cause why there should not be a new trial, on the ground that the verdict was contrary to the evidence. The Division refused the motion, holding that the question was a jury one, and that on the evidence, they were entitled to return the verdict they did. [Scotsman 13 June 1912]

1 December 1911

Fatal Pit Accident - William Hughes (30), miner, Lochgelly was fatally injured in Glencraig No. 2 Pit (Wilsons & Clyde Coal Company) early on Saturday morning. He was working at the coal face in filling a hutch when a fall from the roof occurred, and inflicted such severe injuries that he died before medical aid reached him. [Scotsman 4 December 1911]

6 January 1914

Frank Murphy, a miner, twenty-four years of ago, was fatally injured late on Tuesday night at Glencraig Colliery, Lochgelly, belonging to Wilson's & Clyde Coal Company. He was working at the coal face, and was struck by a large stone which broke from the roof. His neck was broken. [Scotsman 8 January 1914]