Cambusnethan Area Accidents to 1860

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

5 October 1802

On Tuesday se'ennight, Alexander Cunningham, one of the workmen at the Green coal work, parish of Cambusnethan, fell from the op to the bottom of the pit and was killed on the spot. He has left a wife and 8 children. [Edinburgh Weekly Journal 13 October 1802]

2 July 1821

Melancholy Occurrence - On Monday last, while several youths were diverting themselves at the mouth of an old coal pit, in the immediate vicinity of the village of Wishaw Newtown, one boys threw his companion's bonnet into the pit, which the other insisted he should go down for; this was acceded to by the lad (William Sommers, a boy about 10 years of age), who attempted to effect his purpose by means of a tree which had been placed in the pit, and by which it was common for the boys to descend on former occasions; but unfortunately, on this occasion he had descended not many feet when he lost his hold and was precipitated to the bottom. James Hamilton, a mason, who happened to be near the spot, immediately volunteered to rescue the boy, and for that purpose a rope was fastened round one of his thighs, by which he was to be let down, and drawn up if he felt the effects of what is called foul air; he was scarcely six feet down when he attempted to cry out, but instantly fell backwards, and was drawn to the mouth of the pit, apparently lifeless. Medical aid being procured, and the necessary means used, animation was with great difficulty restored, and he is now in a fair way of recovery. The body of the boy Sommers was afterwards dragged up, but quite lifeless, his body bearing much the appearance of those who are killed by lightening. [Glasgow Herald 6 July 1821]

September 1836

Fatal Accident. - Two men, father and son, were killed about a fortnight since at Wishaw Colliery, by the breaking of a link of the chain which connected the tow and the hutch or bucket. They were in the act of descending to their work in the morning. The son fell to the bottom and was instantly killed, but the old man, who happened to have a hold of the tow with one hand, hung for about a minute, when the sudden stopping of the engine, which was done the moment the crash was heard, loosened his hold, and he likewise precipitated to the bottom from a height of no less than 30 feet. When their bodies were taken up, that of the son was found to be mangled in a shocking manner; life was quite extinct. The old man was not so severely injured, and lingered for a week, when he expired having suffered the most excruciating pain during that period.[Scotsman 21 Sept 1836]

6 November 1845

Dreadful Accident - As a miner, of the name of John Rae, was ascending from his work on Thursday, 6th curt., up the No. 3 pit, Wishaw Colliery, through some cause the machinery ran at such a velocity that the unfortunate man's brains were smashed to pieces in coming up the pit. Rae has left a widow and two children to deplore his loss. [Glasgow Herald 17 November 1845]

26 February 1847

Colliery Accidents - On Friday the 26th Feb. last, while Thomas O'Neal, coal-miner, Wishaw, was excavating or cutting under a fall of coal, so as to clear completely an open cutter which runs across the face of his room, and having cleared it below and on one side, the other side gave way, and poor O'Neal was buried under the mass. In less than five minutes the coals were cleared away, but the man was found dead. He has left a widow and one child to lament his untimely fate. - A blast of fire damp also took place at. No. 6 Pit, Wishaw, on Wednesday last, and five individuals got themselves burned, two of them very severely, but no one doubts of their recovery. The blast destroyed or blew out every bit of the air course from the pit bottom to the face of the level. - Chronicle. [Glasgow Herald 12 March 1847]

11 July 1847

Another accident occurred at Wishaw Colliery yesterday, when an individual of the name of Isaac Wood was killed on the spot. [Glasgow Herald 12 July 1847]

13 August 1849

Dreadful Coal Pit Accident - Nine Lives Lost - An alarming and destructive explosion and fire damp took place at Mr Wilson's No. 6 pit, Wishaw Colliery, on Monday the 13th inst., at half-past 5 a m., by which nine lives were lost. Some idea maybe formed of the strength of the blast, when we state that both cages, slides, part of the barring, a portion of the mid wall, and one man, were blown up and out of the pit, and carried to a great distance in the air, and fragments of human flesh and bone have been gathered at 400 yards distance from the pit. From portions of clothing gathered in the fields, the man blown up is supposed to be Alexander M'Kimmin, a native of Tiree, but as the body has been dashed into a thousand pieces, no one can tell. Immediately after the blast, a boy named Thomas Hunter cried to be taken up; but cages and tackle of every description were blown away, and before a rope could be got the pit was filled with damp and life gone. Hunter's body was recovered about 5pm on Monday. On Tuesday, it was found necessary to put in twelve feet of new barring before men could go down and up with anything like safety; and at 11pm, while men were in the pit putting in new bars, a considerable portion of the rock inside the bars broke away, and swept the new bars and everything opposed to it to the bottom of the pit. Fortunately none of the men were hurt. On Wednesday after the new bars were put in considerable progress was made in putting in new bratticing, and on Thursday morning five bodies were discovered, all severely burned, and one terribly disfigured. Their names are as follows: - John Paterson, who has left a widow, a son, and two daughters, grown-up; Duncan Bell, who has left a widow pregnant, and five helpless children; Donald Bell, brother to Duncan, unmarried; they are natives of Islay. Peter Grahame has left a widow; his son, William Grahame, a widow and two children. Now, all that can be got for the other three, namely, Alexander McKimmin, Robert Allan, and Benjamin Willison, is the fragments of flesh and bone found in the fields adjoining the pit, supposed to be the body of Alexander McKimmin, as every human being in the pit has perished. At present none can tell who was the immediate cause of the blast; at the time it occurred, there were nearly 30 more ready to go down, and all would have met the same fate had they been in the pit. The correspondent who furnished us with the above details, adds:- Truth compels me to state that with proper care and caution, nearly the whole of these terrible blasts might be avoided all over the country. At present I believe no blame can be attached to John Gillion, the underground manager, as he inspected the air courses on Saturday last, and gave orders for repairs where needed. [from Saturday Post, in Glasgow Herald August 20 1849]

9 May 1855

COURT OF SESSION - FIRST DIVISION. Saturday, November 28. COOK. V. BELL. The pursuers in this action of damages are the widow and children of Adam Cook, collier, who was killed in a pit belonging to the defender, Robert Bell, coalmaster, Wishaw. The jury, who tried the issue in the cause under the direction of the Lord President on the 18th and 19th March last, returned an unanimous verdict, after ten minutes consultation, for the defender. When Cook was killed, he was working out the old stoops in the pit, or what is called "stooping.'' He was crushed by a fall from the roof. The case for the pursuers was laid upon averments, that he was driven to work at the stoop when he was killed against his will - that the inspector should not have allowed him to work at it - and that he was not supplied with proper wood to prop up the roof, so as to give warning when it was coming down, and permit of his escape, but with old railway sleepers. The evidence showed that he had obtained the employment of stooping on his own solicitation - that the inspector did not drive him to that particular stoop, nor neglect to examine it - that the roof did not give way near the hitch, but three or four yards from it - and that he had two preps of fresh fir trees beside him at the time he was killed, one of which he would not allow his neighbour to put up, saying "he wished to God the roof was needing stoops," because the pressure of the roof made the removal of the coals more easy. The pursuers moved for a new trial on the ground that the verdict was contrary to evidence, and the Court, after taking time to consider, unanimously refused the motion to-day. The Lord President gave a resume of the evidence and of his charge to the jury. He had told them that a mortal accident of this nature might happen by the fault of the employer, by the fault of the workman himself, or by the fault of no one. They could give damages only if they made up their minds that the accident happened from neglect or fault on the part of the defender. He was bound to use all ordinary precautions for the safety of his servants, such precautions as common forethought and prudence and custom obliged him to make. He did not ensure the lives of his workmen against all risk. There are perils of the pit as well as perils of the sea, against which neither miners nor mariners would be ensured. A man who enters upon hazardous employment takes a certain risk upon himself. As to his own opinion of what the verdict should be, he had abstained from giving any indication to the jury ; but now he saw no reason for thinking that they had gone wrong in coming to a very important decision as to the duty a workman owes to himself. The others concurred at length. Counsel for the Pursuers - Mr Pattison and Mr Mair. Agent - Mr David Manson, S.S.C. - Counsel for the Defender - Mr Macfarlane and Mr A. B. Shand. Agent - Mr John Leishman, W.S. [Falkirk Herald - Thursday 3 December 1857]

15 October 1856

Colliery Accident near Wishaw - On Wednesday evening, an explosion of fire damp took place in the coal pit known as No 2, Netherton Pit, near Wishaw, the property of Messrs Anderson & Co, by which two boys were killed, and a man and another boy severely injured. The two boys killed were brothers of the name of Baillie, and they were the chief supports of a widowed mother, who has several other children to maintain. [Scotsman 18 Oct 1856]

Explosion of fire damp - On Wednesday the 15th a fearful explosion of fire damp took place at No 6 Pit, Wishaw Colliery. Two boys named Davidson and Baillie were killed. A number of other were in the pit but escaped without much injury. It was reported that the explosion was in consequence of the working of the under seams being so charged with fire, that the men durst not go in to work that day; but on the upper seams being free of fire, they wrought in it. It seems as if the firedamp had accumulated during the day. It is said that the water had been taken down below below the undermost working in the after part of the day, and the air rushing into the mine, pressed out the fire, forcing it up the pit, hence the explosion in the pit, and not in the workings. The poor boys had just finished their days toil about 6 o'clock in the evening, stepped on the cage to ascend the pit, fearing nothing when the fire rushing up the it, ignited at their lamps, and exploding killed Davidson on the spot. Baillie was taken home alive but survived only a few hours, leaving a widowed mother to mourn over his untimely end. AG Simpson, coalmaster of an adjoining coal pit, rendered valuable service in recovering the body of Davidson, which had been driven into the mine. The bodies were dreadfully mangled. No 6 seems to be a dangerous pit because of firedamp. This is not the first tale of death that has been recorded of it; seven years past, the 13th August, six men were killed. It is a wonder that men are to be found willing to venture into such places – the collier has a most dangerous calling-no one ought to grudge him being well paid. On Monday the 20th, in another pit, an aged man, named John Lyile, had his choler [sic] bone broken and his chest much injured by a fall of coal. On Tuesday the 21st, in another pit, a man was reported to have got one of his sides torn away, and life despaired of,but we have heard since that he is not so bad as was first reported. [Hamilton Advertiser October 25 1856]

NB According to death certificates the two boys killed were actually Robert Wilson Baillie, aged 11 and William Davidson, aged 13

10 February 1857

On Tuesday last a lad named Davidson, a drawer in No 6 Pit Wishaw, belonging to James Anderson & Co, while ascending the shaft in the cage, the latter came in contact with the Bell wire, and he was precipitated to the bottom of the pit, 6 fathoms. He now lies in a very dangerous state in consequence of the injuries he received. [Hamilton Advertiser 14 February 1857]

30 November 1858

Pit Accident - An accident resulting in the death of a collier, named James Paterson, and the serious injury of a boy named William Reid, happened on Wednesday last, in No 1 Pit Coltness Colliery belonging to A G Simpson Esq. The cause of the accident seems to have been the insufficient manner in which the roof was propped, and we understand that no blame can be attached to the manager, as a supply of wood was at hand, ready for use. The deceased had only been a few days in Mr Simpsons employment, and his wife and four children are left to lament his loss. [Hamilton Advertiser December 4 1858]

27 April 1859

Wishaw - Fatal Accident – On Wednesday morning, a man named James Finlayson, waggon driver at No 6 Pit, while engaged coupling two waggons was suddenly caught betwixt them, and so seriously hurt that he had to be taken home, where all that medical aid could accomplish was done to relive his sufferings, but he died on the following morning. Deceased has left a wife and two children to lament his loss. [Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser April 30 1859]

28 June 1859

Coal Pit Accident - On Tuesday last a man named James Cairns met with a very severe accident in one of Mr Wilson's pits, by a fall of coal, by which he was severely injured. He was brought home to Wishaw in a cart. [Hamilton Advertiser July 2 1859]

9 July 1859

Coal Pit Accident - On the 9th July current, John Morgan, collier, residing at Pather in the parish of Cambusnethan, met with an accident while in his employment in No 1 Overton Coal Pit, occupied by John Wilson coalmaster. He had undermined the face of the workings before leaving his work on the previous evening, and on resuming it next morning about half a ton weight of coal fell upon him. His shoulder blade was broken and his back and legs severely injured. [Hamilton Advertiser July 16 1859]

12 July 1859

Wishaw – Fatal Accident – About 2 o'clock on the afternoon of Saturday, while a man named John Dunn was employed with another person in clearing out an old fall in the Clydesdale pit, belonging to Archibald Russell, Esq., part of the roof, composed of stone, gave way and fell, crushing him so severely that he expired shortly afterwards whilst being removed to his home. Dr Steele and his assistant were in attendance shortly after the occurrence, but life was extinct. Dunn was greatly respected by his fellow workmen. He has left a widow and two of a family to mourn his untimely end. [Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser July 19 1862]

July 1859

Pit Accidents - On Saturday last, a man named Arthur Douglas met with a very serious accident while working in No 1 Pit, Morningside. He was in the act of putting a light to a match when, by some mishap, a large quantity of coal came down upon him, bruising his body severely. He was taken home and every attention paid to him by Dr Livingston of Wishaw, , and is now, we are glad to say, in a fair way to recovery.

On Tuesday last, at Wilson's Overton Colliery, William Muir was engaged in his work at the pit, when a heavy mass of coal came down upon him, bruising his body most severely. He was taken home in a cart. We believe this is the third accident that has occurred in this pit within the last three weeks. [Hamilton Advertiser July 23 1859]

2 September 1859

Accident – We are sorry to state that Mr James Binnie, jun., coalmaster, Morningside, had his leg severely injured yesterday by coming into contact with a number of coal waggons while engaged in superintending their dispatch. [Hamilton Advertiser September 3 1859]

September 1859

Pit Accident – Narrow Escape - On Tuesday last a man named John Freigh, while working in Mr Hamilton's Pit, Garrion Bridge, a large quantity of coal fell upon him from the roof of the pit. Happily the coal did not fall on his head. He cried out for assistance, which was at hand, and he was speedily removed to his own house in Overton. We are glad to learn he is in a fair way of recovery. [Hamilton Advertiser September 10 1859]

November 1859

Pit Accident - On Tuesday last two men named John Gilchrist and John Scott, in the employment of Mr Simpson, met with an accident caused by fire damp. We are happy to say they are not severely injured. [Hamilton Advertiser November 26 1859]

30 December 1859

Pit accident - A boy named Archbuckle, on Friday, 30th December, met with an accident at Meadowhead Pit, by one of the hutches running over his feet. We understand he is recovering from the effects of his injuries. [Hamilton Advertiser January 7 1860]

5 January 1860

Pit Accident – On Thursday the 5th current, a lad named Patrick O'Neill met with a severe accident while working in Mr John Davidson's Pit, Craigneuk, caused by firedamp. He was taken home and promptly attended by the doctor belonging to the works. [Hamilton Advertiser January 14 1860]

February 1860

Pit Accident - On Thursday last, a man named Thomas Cleghorn, met with a accident while working in Shieldmuir pit, by a fall of coal upon him. He was so severely hurt that he had to be taken home in a cart.[Hamilton Advertiser 18 February 1860]

March 1860

Pit Accident - On Tuesday last, a man named Thomas Dogains, met with an accident, by a fall of coal upon him, while working in Shieldmuir pit, belonging to Lord Belhaven. He was taken home to his lodgings in Byres Row, and attended by the doctor connected with the works. We understand he is very much bruised about the shoulders and arms. This is the second accident that has happened in this pit. [Hamilton Advertiser 17 March 1860]

March 1860

Pit Accident – On Wednesday last, a man named Jas. Hamilton met with a serious accident while working in Wilson's Pit, by a fall of coal upon him. The poor man got both of his legs and collar bone broken. There is but slight hope of his recovery.[Hamilton Advertiser 31 March 1860]

March 1860

Accident - On the evening of Friday, the 23rd inst., an accident happened at Shieldmuir Colliery, belonging to Lord Belhaven. It was caused by a pin coming out of the engine, which caused the pithead to be broken to pieces. The pithead men had just time to make their escape without receiving any injury. The damage done has been all repaired and the pit set going again. [Hamilton Advertiser 31 March 1860 ]

April 1860

Accident - A Man named Hugh McConnell met with an accident on Thursday last, when working in Messrs Boyd and Spencers pit, Pather,by a fall of coal upon him. He was severely hurt and had to be taken home in a cart and attended to by Dr Robert Livingstone. [Hamilton Advertiser April 7 1860]

April 1860

Pit Accident – On Tuesday last, a man named Andrew Higgins, residing in Stewarton Street, met with some severe bruises when he was working in Wilson'sPit by a large stone falling upon him. One of his legs was very much bruised. The poor man was promptly attended to by Dr M'Nab, Wishaw, and is, we believe, making better. [Hamilton Advertiser April 7 1860]

17 April 1860

Fatal Accident – On Tuesday last, a boy 13 years of age, son of Daniel Davidson, collier, met with a accident in Clydesdale Pit, belonging to Mr Russell, which terminated fatally. The boy was at work with his father, who had left to take a smoke, leaving him at work. A fall of coal was standing ready to be brought down. The father, before leaving, warned him of the danger, and to take care. He no sooner left, than the fall of coal came away of its own accord, and the boy thereby received such injury on his head as rendered him insensible, and he lingered on in that state till the following morning, when he expired. [Hamilton Advertiser April 21 1860]

April 1860

Explosion – An accident occurred on Saturday last in Shieldmuir coalpit, near Wishaw, the property of the Right Hon. Lord Belhaven and Stenton, whereby five men were nearly suffocated by choke damp. A bricklayer, named Alexander Murdoch, who had gone down the pit for the purpose of building air courses, and a boy named Alexander Waugh, both residing in Wishaw, who had been most severely injured, were both able to return to their work on Monday morning. One of the ponies in the pit was suffocated. [Hamilton Advertiser April 28 1860]

2 May 1860

Fatal Accident – On Wednesday, the 2nd inst., William Johnstone, a lad 19 years of age was killed while at his daily employment in Morningside Pit by a fall of 30 cwt. from the roof of the working. He survived the accident only an hour. [Hamilton Advertiser May 5 1860]

May 1860

Serious Accident – A man whose name we have not yet learned, met with a serious accident on Friday while working in No 1 Pit, belonging to the Coltness Iron Company, by a fall of coal, whereby he was much cut about the head and had both his thigh bones broken. The doctors connected with the works were speedily in attendance but the poor man still lies in a precarious state. [Hamilton Advertiser June 2 1860]

1 June 1860

Pit Accident - On Friday the 1st inst., Andrew Whiteside, collier, Cambusnethan was engaged filling hutches at No 1 Pit at Stonecraigs, Newmains, when a fall of coal from the roof came down upon him, whereby both is legs were broken above the knee, and he was severely cut on the forehead. He is being attended by Dr Macnab. [Hamilton Advertiser June 9 1860]

31 October 1860

Pit Accident – James Kane jun, aged 16 years, residing at Newmains, while employed assisting the pitheadman at Victoria Pit, Newmains, on the forenoon of Wednesday, when he was in the act of pulling a hutch in to the cage, he mistook the side of the shaft, and the hutch went down and drew him after it. He fell to the bottom of the shaft and was killed on the spot. [Hamilton Advertiser November 3 1860]

6 December 1860

Pit Accident – On Thursday morning Archibald Prentice, labourer, residing at Bankhead in the parish of Dalziel, aged about 60 years, was employed at the pithead at Victoria Pit, Rumblingsykes, occupied by John Watson Esq, coalmaster, and when in the act of putting a hutch on the cage at the pitmouth, he mistook the proper side of the shaft, and fell down the pit along with the hutch and was killed. He was found fixed in the shaft, half way down, and was with great difficulty got our by the workmen. No blame is attached to anyone. [Hamilton Advertiser December 8 1860]