Cadder 3 August 1913
22 men were killed by fire in No15 Cadder pit near Bishopbriggs, owned by Carron Coal Co.
Names of Dead
- Hugh Anderson, bencher, Lambhill House, single
- Charles Armstrong, drawer, Flemington St, Garscube Rd, single
- Cuthbert Bell, machineman, 61 Bardowie St, single
- Alexander Brown, hole borer, Mavisvalley, single
- John Brown, hole borer, Mavisvalley, single
- William Brown, pumper, Mavisvalley, single (3 brothers)
- Pat Darroch, brusher, Lochfauld Rd, married with 1 child
- George Davidson, redsman, Mavisvalley, married with 2 children
- Pat Duffin, brusher, Drummond St, Lambhill, married with 2 children
- Andrew Dunbar, redsman, Lambhill Square, single
- James Flynn, second machineman, Drummond St, Lambhill, married with 10 children
- George Harvey, brusher, Drummonds Land, married
- Thomas Hollins, gummer, 88 Mansion St, Possilpark, married with 1 child
- Owen McAloon, pony driver, Lambhill Cres, single
- Hugh McCann, hand pumper, Lochfauld Rd, married with 9 children
- Alexander Macmillan, machineman, Jellyhill, Bishopbriggs, married with 2 children
- George Macmillan, stripper, 3 Carbeth St, Possilpark, married with 1 child
- Robert Ramsay, redsman, Mavisvalley, married with 3 children
- William M B Ramsay, redsman, Mavisvalley, single
- Pat Regan, brusher, Drummond St, married with 3 children
- Charles Reilly firemen 14 Park Place Maryhill, married with seven children
- John Worthington, redsman, Blackhall Row, married with 3 children
Only 4 out of the 26 men in the nightshift were rescued:
- Robert Dunbar, brusher, Peters land, Lambhill, married with 1 child
- Michael Keenan, brusher, Hawthorn St, Possilpark, married
- Michael McDonald, brusher, 128 Barclay St, Possilpark, married with 3 children
- Felix O'Neill, brusher, Garscube Rd, single
Scottish Pit Fire - 22 Lives Lost
The pit where the fire occurred belongs to the Carron company and is situated at Mavis Valley in the Cadder District of Lanarkshire near Bishopbriggs, a few miles from Glasgow. It is known as No. 15 and is 175 fathoms deep. About 300 men are employed in colliery and at 3 o'clock on Sunday afternoon 26 of these, belonging to what is known as the back shift went down the shaft to begin their working day of 8 hours. In ordinary circumstances they would have finished work at 11 o'clock last night. About 8 o'clock William Brown one of the firemen engaged at the mine, went down the shaft according to custom to see that everything was in order. When he reached the bottom he found the working a mass of flames. He returned at once to the surface and informed another firemen and an engineman who were on duty at the pit head. In the meantime another employee John Marshall, switched off the electric current from the cables which drive the pumps and control the lights underground. The county fire brigade was summoned from Cambuslang, but when the firemen arrived they saw that it was hopeless to attempt to do anything to extinguish the fire. Their hose was not long enough to reach the bottom of the deep shaft.
After two fruitless attempt of rescue a third attempt was made shortly after 2 o'clock. When the rescuers returned to the pit head they were surrounded by a crowd of anxious men and women appealing for news of relatives and friends. The report confirmed the fears which had been felt. Five bodies had been discovered and it was clear that 22 men had lost their lives. By noon yesterday all the bodies had been found. 15 were discovered in the early morning lying close together. The others were picked up separately at intervals. The last of the missing men, Michael Macdonald, a brusher, was found about 11 o'clock and to the surprise of everyone he was still alive. He had been 19 hours in the pit when he was discovered and was in a very exhausted state. Last night he lay in the Glasgow Royal Infirmary in a critical condition. Three other brushers who were in the mine at the time managed to escape before the catastrophe occurred. Of the men who were killed 13 were married and 9 single. Three brothers named Brown and two brothers named Ramsay were among those killed.
Great heroism was shown by the miners who volunteered for rescue work while the fire in the pit was still raging and the atmosphere was laden with smoke and poisonous fumes. Bands of ready workers tried time and time again to reach the bodies of their comrades. The rescue parties, composed of men who worked at pits in the district, were without the rescue appliances which would protect them in their work but they faced the danger without flinching, and more volunteers than were required offered themselves for service in the danger zone. From before 10 o'clock on Sunday night until 6 o'clock yesterday morning more than 50 miners took part in attempts to reach their fellow workmen, and many instances of conspicuous pluck and daring are reported. A detachment of men at length arrived from Cowdenbeath with modern equipment for rescue work and assisting in removing the bodies.
One of the rescue party, Arthur Warden, who was present when the 15 bodies were found, said that from their appearance it looked as of the men had been overcome by gas. There where no marks of fire upon them. The attempt to penetrate to the spot where it was known that other members of the shift had been engaged was repeatedly unsuccessful. Each gang took a turn at trying to pass through the smoke and foul air but each was overpowered by the fumes and had to retreat. In many cases the rescuers were overwhelmed by the poisonous atmosphere and had to be dragged back into safety. Other members of the rescue party state that the 15 bodies were seen lying together under a dense cloud of smoke. Almost all of them were lying in the same direction. Apparently they had been alarmed by the fire and had started to run for safety when they were overcome by after damp. When the first bodies were found the fire was still raging in the pit at a distance of about 400 fathoms away. The current of air in the pit was reversed and the flames were by this means driven back in the direction from which they came, but the reversal of the current took some time. [The Times 5 Aug 1913]
Funeral of Victims
Some 50,000 people congregated around the funeral procession in Glasgow yesterday of the victims of the Cadder pit accident. The largest section assembled in front of St Agnes Roman Catholic Church where services were conducted for 11 Roman Catholic miners, and amid impressive scenes the 11 coffins were borne on the shoulders of miners and other relatives from the chapel to the cemetery, a mile distant. Among the mourners were the widows and the fatherless children. Numerous wreaths and other tributes were placed on the graves.
Pathetic scenes also marked the funeral of seven Protestant victims at Cadder Cemetery. Before the burial a service was conducted in Mavis Valley Hall. Among the dead were the three young brothers Brown and the two brothers Ramsay. The young wife of Robert Ramsay entered the hall and lay over the coffin crying bitterly. The Reverend J Robinson who officiated paid tribute to the work done by Nurse Winchester after the accident.
Three internments also took place at Lambhill cemetery, where the gospel band played selections at the graveside.
Before attending the funerals the executive of the Scottish Miners Federation met in Glasgow and passed a resolution expressing deep regret that the Lanarkshire Mine owners had not yet seen their way to make provision for rescue stations and brigades which might be used in circumstances such as those which led to the death of 22 men at Cadder. They further decided to call the attention of the Home Secretary to the necessity for action being taken immediately.
The fire at the pit has not been completely extinguished, but good progress has been made considering the conditions underground. The men at work describes the pit as "like a blazing inferno" and state that the operations had been carried out under extreme difficulty [The Scotsman 7 Aug 1913]
An image of the funeral scenes can be viewed here
Inspector of Mines InquiryReport on the Causes and Circumstances attending the Fire which occurred at the Cadder Colliery on Sunday, August 3rd, 1913.
October 25th, 1913.
The following gentlemen appeared before me :-
Mr. C. D. Murray, K.C., and the Honourable William Watson, Advocate, instructed by Messrs. John C. Brodie & Sons, W.S., Edinburgh, and Aitken & Dunlop, Writers, Glasgow, for the Carron Company, the owners of the Cadder Colliery.
Mr. Robert Smillie, President of the British Miners' Federation; Mr. John Robertson, Vice-President of the Scottish Miners' Federation ; Mr. James Murdoch, Miners' Agent, Hamilton ; Mr. J. Robson, Miners' Offices, Durham ; Mr. G. Barker, Abertillery, Monmouthshire, for the British Miners' Federation, with Mr. G. Craig Macintyre, and Mr. J. C. Allan of Messrs. Hay, Cassels & Frame, Writers, Hamilton, as their Legal Advisers and on behalf of the representatives of the relatives of the deceased and the injured workmen.
Mr. Alexander Shaughnessy, Writer, Glasgow, for Robert Armstrong, father of the deceased Charles Armstrong.
Mr. H. P. Macmillan, K.C., and Mr. L. H. Strain, Advocate, for the Lanarkshire Coal Masters' Association, instructed by H. and S. Bururn, W. S. Edinburgh and M. Bishop, Writer, Glasgow.
Mr. Digby S. Brown, for the representatives of the deceased Hugh Anderson.
Mr. W. T. Craig, Writer, Glasgow, for the Scottish Mine Owners' Defence and Mutual Insurance Association, Limited.
Mr. D. Wright, General Secretary, for the Scottish Colliery Firemen and Shot- Firers' Association.
Mr. George Giles, Depute Procurator-Fiscal, attending on behalf of the Commissioners.
Mr. W. Walker, H.M. Divisional Inspector of Mines for Scotland.
Mr. Hugh Johnstone, H.M. Divisional Inspector of Mines, Midland and Southern Division.
Mr. Robert McLaren, H.M. Senior Inspector of Mines, Scotland Division.
Mr. Robert Nelson, H.M. Electrical Inspector of Mines, Home Office, London.
Mr. J. Masterton, H.M. Junior Inspector of Mines, Scotland Division ; and
Mr. A. H. Steele, H.M. Junior Inspector of Mines, Scotland Division, acted as Secretary.
List of witnesses in order of their examination
Colin Campbell, Mining Engineer
James Bonar, District General Manager
Professor Latham, The University, Glasgow
Archibald Spiers, Manager, No 15 Pit, Cadder Mine
James McWinnie, Manager, No 17 Pit, Cadder Mine
James Owens, Under-manager, No 15 Pit, Cadder Mine
Andrew Lawson, Winding engineman, No 17 Pit
Edward Flynn, Electrician, No 15 Pit
John Lees, Boiler furnaceman, No 15 Pit
William Brown, Fireman, No 15 Pit
Robert Dunbar, Miner
Arnold Hughes, ElectrDaviical Engineer to the Carron Co.
Professor Thornton, Armstrong College, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
David Stevenson, Instructor to the Cowdenbeath rescue station
James Forrester, Captain of the Cowdenbeath rescue brigades
Robert Nelson, H.M. Electrical Inspector of Mines
Michael McDonald, Miner
David Downie, Under-manager, No 17 Pit
James Baird, District Manager, Carron Co.
Donald Kelly, Miner
Wm. McLaren, Miner
Hugh Dickson, Fireman, No 15 Pit
John Carey, Miner
Quinton Davidson, Shanksman
John Marshall, Winding Engineman, No 15 Pit
Patrick Etherson, Pit bottomer
William Johnstone, Fireman
Michael Keenan, Miner
John Cairns, Miner
Dr. Dale Logan
A. B. Muirhead, Electrical Engineer
A. H. Steele, H.M. Junior Inspector of Mines
R. McLaren, H.M. Senior Inspector of Mines, Scotland Division
R. Currie, Lecturer in Mining
Hugh Johnstone, H.M. Divisional Inspector of Mines, Midland and Southern Division
W. Walker, H.M. Divisional Inspector of Mines for Scotland
I had also before me precognitions taken by the Procurator Fiscal of the evidence of most of the witnesses and five documents, viz :—A circular dated April 8th by the Chief Inspector of Mines ; a circular issued by the Lanarkshire Coal Masters' Association dated April 19th, 1913 ; a letter dated April 22nd, 1913, from the Secretary to the said Association to H.M. Divisional Inspector of Mines for Scotland ; a letter from Mr. Pate, General Manager of the Carron Co., to the Chief Inspector of Mines ; and a letter dated April 25th from H.M. Divisional Inspector for Scotland to Robert Baird, Secretary of the Lanarkshire Coal Masters' Association. These letters are printed as an Appendix to this report. Two plans are appended, out of the five put in at the hearing, which sufficiently show the various parts of the mine referred to in this report. Shorthand notes were taken of the evidence and a copy of them accompanies this report.
The Cadder Colliery, of which the Carron Co. are owners, lies about four miles to the north of Glasgow. The entrance to the mine is by means of a downcast shaft called No. 15 pit, at which the men descend and ascend and the coal is drawn to the surface. This shaft is about 169 fathoms deep. At the bottom the main haulage road, or " Main Dook Brae," which also serves as an intake airway, goes 45 yds. in an easterly direction. It then turns N.N.E. and runs in that direction, dipping downwards for about 1,500 yds. About 125 yds. from the pit bottom there is a cabin which is used by several of the firemen and where books are kept. This cabin is built partly of brick, being formed of an old bricked and arched roadway which led in a northerly direction into the mine. When this old roadway was abandoned and a new one driven the corner became dangerous and a fall of roof occurred ; consequently the roof of the new roadway was strengthened by means of iron girders, and upon the top of them a quantity of timber was laid. In technical language the roof was " lofted." The timber so placed consisted of props laid crossed upon one another as is done in building an ordinary "cog." The depth of the layer of timber was from 10 to 13 ft. Next to the cabin was a telephone space, and next to this again an electric switchboard room, roofed with steel I girders, upon the lower flanges of which were placed steel plates and on the top a packing of timber similar to that over the cabin. The main cables led down the shaft to a switch-board placed in the switch-board room. They were single cables armoured ; from the switch-board two unarmoured cables led back to a lighting switch 70 ft. from the pit bottom. These cables consisted of seven strands of No. 14 wire, rubber-insulated, taped and braided, and were supported on porcelain insulators as far as the haulage-switch (see Plan No. 5), after that they were suspended by flexible cords affixed to nails in the timber of the roof.
Direct current was supplied at 500 volts and the lamps were put in groups in series on this cable. Some were of 120 volts and some of 250 volts. Electricity had been used in this pit in 1906, but in June, 1913, it was reconstructed and remodelled. Single cables (armoured) led inbye from the switchboard into the mine to work coal cutters and pumps.
There was no suggestion made by anyone but that the electrical work was well and substantially done.
It will be observed, however, that the lighting cables were unarmoured. I shall return to this point presently.
The main haulage road ran on, as has been said, N.N.E. Out of it side levels branched off. The first was No. 1 level at about 750 yds. from the pit bottom, then followed No. 2 level, leading on the east side to the communication road to No. 17 pit ; Conner's level, No. 3 level, Stewart's level, and No. 1 machine level, all crossing the main haulage road as shown on plan No. 2. The faces lay in a large irregular circle about 700 yds. in diameter, having its centre in a point in the main airway some 1,000 yds. from the pit bottom. The parts being worked on Sunday, August 3rd, 1913, when the accident happened, were No. 1 machine section at the extreme north-east of the mine, and No. 2 machine section at the north-west of it. Repairs to the roof were also being done, but no coal was being drawn to the surface. These parts were fed with air from the intake airway, shown in blue on the plan, which split right and left at various parts of the haulage road. The main return airway shown in red on the plan led from No. 2 machine section from west to east, right across the mine, crossing the main- intake airway at a point about 1,000 yards from the pit bottom. It then took a southeasterly and finally a southerly direction, ending in an upcast shaft called No. 17 pit, about half a mile from No. 15. This return airway was called " the communication road."
It will at once be seen that a fire occurring at the cabin would give rise to smoke which would be carried into and distributed into all the airways of the mine and finally emerge from the upcast shaft at 17 pit. One way of preventing the smoke going in so as to reach the men working at No. 1 or No. 2 machine level would be to open a door somewhere, either into the communication road or into some one or other of the levels, and thus divert the incoming air and smoke with it directly or indirectly into the return airway, leaving the air in the working places uncontaminated with smoke. In this way the men working there could have remained with, in all probability, sufficient air to breathe till they could be rescued.
The other way, when once it was known that the fire was near No. 15 pit bottom, of course was to reverse the air current so as to send the smoke up No. 15 pit.
It is compulsory by law to have two outlets to every mine so that there shall always be two ways of egress (Act of 1911, Section 36 (3) ). This provision was complied with in this mine. It is also required by Section 31 (3) that the air current shall be capable of being reversed. In this mine the arrangement provided for this purpose was a steam jet which was led about 40 fathoms down the shaft and then turned upwards. The quantity of air sent down into the mine was usually 20,000 cubic feet per minute, and it was agreed by all parties that the mine was well worked and that the officials and men were efficient.
The seams of coal being worked were slightly inclined and there were several faults and a dyke of whinstone. Between the seams a considerable quantity of shale lay, oily, but not sufficiently rich in oil to bear working. There were also sandstone, fireclay, and some ironstone. It is not necessary to enter into the positions of the seams, because the occurrence of the accident does not in any way turn upon them. The pit was a naked light pit. The firemen had safety lamps, the miners carried the small tin oil lamps usually employed in Scottish mines, respecting which I shall have something to say presently.
The district general manager is Mr. James Bonar. The manager of No. 15 pit is Mr. Archibald Spiers. Mr. Spiers had been down the pit from between 7 and 8 a.m. on Saturday, August 2nd, till about 11 a.m. He was there on Sunday for two hours and was always within call, as he received news of the accident at 8.30 on Sunday. William James Owens, the under-manager, was at the colliery on August 3rd. The manager of No. 17 pit is Mr. James McWinnie. The under-manager at No. 15 pit is William James Owens. The head electrician is Mr. A. Hughes, and under him at No. 15 pit is Mr. Edward Flynn.
The total number of men employed underground is about 290. The total output of coal was about 400 tons per day.
On Sunday, August 3rd, at about 3 p.m., a back shift of 25 men under the charge of fireman Reilly went down No. 15 pit. Their departure was superintended by J. Owens, the under-manager. They had all naked lights except Reilly and McCann, the last named of whom was going to work in an exploring place to the extreme north of the mine.
The men were substantially divided into three groups ; one, of eight men, was to work in No. 2 machine section ; two men, Alexander Brown and Hugh McCann, were to work at pumps at the extreme north of the mine, and the remaining fifteen were to work a coal-cutter and do other work in No. 1 machine section on the eastern side. Charles Reilly, the fireman, was to superintend them all. As it was Sunday the usual pit headman was not employed, but John Lees, a boiler furnaceman, acted at the pit-head and took the names as required by the Eight Hours Act. No coal was to be drawn and the check- weighman was not present. Prior to the coming into force of the Act in July, 1912, it seems to have been usual in many mines in Great Britain not to have a bottomer if men and coal were not being regularly raised. The Royal Commission on Coal Mines, however, recommended that in all cases a bottomer should be stationed at the pit bottom as long as there were persons in the mine, and this recommendation was carried into effect in the Act of 1911. This Act, which came into force on July 1st, 1912, requires (Section 53 (2)) that so long as persons are below ground, other than mine officials or persons authorised to give signals, a bottomer shall be in constant attendance for the purpose of receiving and transmitting signals.
In addition to this section, however, a set of rules was in force at the colliery made under the Coal Mines Regulation Act of 1887, which provided that, in the absence of a bottomer, the signals might be given by the fireman if duly appointed for that purpose. By virtue of Clause 126 of the Act of 1911 these rules remained in force till they were supplanted by new regulations, which came into force on September 10th, 1913, after the date of the accident. These new regulations do not allow the fireman to act as bottomer.
It was usual to have a regular bottomer on week days: on Sundays it was usual, if the man Etherson who usually acted as bottomer on week days went down, to send him to work away from the bottom. The fireman usually acted as bottomer on Sundays. On the day of the accident, Sunday, August 3rd, Etherson did not go down the mine at all, but Reilly, the fireman, rang the men down, and then went to his duties of examining the mine, leaving the bottom of the shaft unattended until he returned.
If there had been a bottomer on Sunday his duties might have been to clean up any coal that might be about near the pit bottom, but, as no coal was being drawn, he would probably not have had anything to do. His duties would also have been probably to turn out the electric lights at the pit bottom when the men had gone off to their work in the mine. As it was the lights do not seem usually to have been lit on Sundays.
The back shift, as has been said, descended about 3 p.m. and proceeded to the cabin at the top of the brae, 125 yds. from the pit bottom. Here some of them took off their coats and left them hanging near the cabin and some in the telephone space. Most likely the coats contained matches and perhaps pipes—they generally took their matches and pipes to their working places. Others carried their coats further in-bye. They then all proceeded down the Main Dook Brae to the lamp-station, where they waited until Reilly had inspected the workings.
The lamps used by Scottish miners differ much from the candles usually employed by miners in England. They consist of a small tin something like a coffee pot with a lid that snaps down and a wick about 1/4 inch in diameter. The men provide their own oil for which they pay about 2s. 3d. per gallon. This oil is called " seal oil," but is composed in reality of fish and cheap mineral oil, with upwards of 50 per cent, of heavy Scottish paraffin oil mixed with it. The flash point of the compound is high and I could not learn that it is specially inflammable or dangerous.
The lamps are hooked on to the miners' caps and in consequence of the movements of the wearer his cap and clothes become more or less impregnated with oil, which sometimes causes them to be set alight. In naked light pits the miners carry pipes and matches and smoke when and where they please. This custom has existed for years and years, and they do not consider it dangerous because there have been so few accidents from fire. The oil is carried down the pit in small tin flasks and most miners have one in their pockets. On going into the mine each man sees that his lamp is trimmed and full of oil, and throws away an exhausted wick. While still burning, he will often cast it on the ground, and tread it out after he has lit his new wick from it. There is no evidence that the officials or men at the mine were careless in the use of their lamps.
The men in machine section No. 1 appear to have reached their station at about 4.30 p.m. and commenced work. Soon afterwards a fire broke out at or close to the cabin and no doubt extended to the timber which lay over it. The smoke of this fire was of course at once carried along the Main Dook Brae, and rapidly spread into the workings. At some time, probably about 6 p.m., the fireman Reilly smelt smoke, and concluded that something was wrong. He appears to have warned the men in No. 2 machine section, and then gone across to No. 1 section and warned the men there. In this he did his duty. The men in No. 1 section then went by way of No. 1 machine level and turned southwards into the main airway, down which the smoke was coming ; they thus were going straight into danger. The two pumpmen went the same way. If a communication door had been opened so as to short-circuit the air and smoke, and if the men had remained in their working places, it is probable that the whole of them might have been saved. It must, moreover, be remembered that Reilly is reported to have said that he did not know where the fire was. He had never seen such a thing as a fire in his pit before ; consequently his omission was only what many men would have done in like circumstances.
Among the men following this path was Robert Dunbar, a man who was well acquainted with the roads and workings. He was followed by Keenan and O'Neil. Having, with very proper courage, waited for and revived O'Neil, who was one of his party of three, and finding the smoke very thick in the main Brae, he turned eastwards into Stewart's level, in a direction shown by the red dotted lines on the plan and, having gone through a door, got into the return airway (to a point he might have more directly reached from the place where he was working). Thence he went on by McLaren's and Harrigan's headings into Connor's heading, finally along the communication level and through the two doors at No. 3 Bench, and into the downcast fresh-air way of No. 17 pit, which was supplying air to another mine, and so with his party escaped.
His coolness, knowledge of the mine, and good sense saved his party ; and had the others followed him, all might have been saved. His action illustrates the use of Rule 60 of the New Regulations, which provides that where one of two ways of egress from a mine is along a road not usually travelled, every fireman shall at least once a quarter traverse the whole of such way in order to make himself thoroughly acquainted with the same.
The rest of the men who had been working in No. 1 machine section went into the main-airway, and as they started about 6.30 p.m. it seems probable that by 7 p.m. or 7.30 p.m. they were all dead.
Of the men in No. 2 machine section, four went along the return eastwards, but instead of continuing in the return and passing along the cross-road over the main- airway, which was their only chance, they all went through the door leading into the main-airway and perished. Of the four who remained in No. 2 machine section three died, but one, Michael McDonald, got into a "dead-end" of air, lived till Monday forenoon and was rescued. The total number of men who perished was 22.
A little before 8 p.m. Dunbar's party having come up shaft No. 17, went over to No. 15, where they found that the firemen of the night shift, William and Joseph Brown, had gone down.
Presently they came up. It appears that on their descent they saw nothing of the fire till they turned the corner of the main-airway - then they saw the pit on fire.
William Brown was of opinion that the cabin had caught fire. He saw the cables burning, but not sufficiently to induce him to think that the fire had been caused by electricity. He came up, and descended again with a party to try and put the fire out, but failed.
William Owens then went over to 17 pit, got the air-current reversed and then rescue parties were able to descend at No. 17 shaft. Two bodies were discovered at 11 p.m.
There was no rescue apparatus at the pit. Although preliminary steps had been taken to form a brigade, no brigade had been formed, nor rescue apparatus of any description provided. Canaries and the other apparatus specified in section 5 (c) of the Rescue and Aid Order of April 2, 1912, had been provided. Hence the rescue work had to be commenced by men without rescue apparatus, but provided with canaries.
At 12 midnight Mr. McLaren, the Senior Inspector of the western part of the Scotland Division, arrived, and at once went down No. 17 shaft. By this time the reversal of the air current had considerably cleared away the smoke and. poisonous gas, and he was therefore enabled to get to the main road near where it is crossed by Stewart's level. Meanwhile a rescue brigade had been telephoned for. The nearest was at Cowdenbeath, in Fife, about 50 miles away. They got the men together at 11 p.m., started at midnight, and arrived about 3 a.m. At first they were told that smoke-helmets and bellows were all that was required, and Forrester went down with some, and some men, only to find they were useless and to come up and go down again with a party provided with the W. E. G. self-contained oxygen breathing apparatus. He came to where Inspector McLaren was, who asked him to take a canary and go southward along the main road, that is to say, backwards towards where the fire was. He fitted on the mouth-piece of the apparatus and did so, and found a number of bodies. As the canary was not affected, showing that the reversal of the air current had now made that part of the mine safe, the ordinary rescue parties were able to complete their task of finding the bodies, and by mid-day on Monday all had been discovered. One, as before mentioned, Michael McDonald, was still alive, and was brought completely round with the help of Dr. Miller.
It now becomes necessary to deal with the various questions that arise upon the facts above set forth.
In the first place it appears that the origin of the fire must have been either some failure of the electrical apparatus, or else a misadventure due to the accidental ignition of clothes, or a lamp wick or some timber.
The expert witnesses, including Professor Thornton, who was called on behalf of the miners, Messrs. Johnstone and Walker, Divisional Inspectors, and Mr. McLaren, Senior Inspector, were all of opinion that though it was possible that the fire had been caused by some failure of the electrical apparatus, yet that it was most probable that it was due in some way to lights or to lucifer matches. I agree in thinking that the cause of the disaster is uncertain, but that it is far more likely to have arisen from the accidental setting alight of some material by a match or otherwise than by electricity. In this connection a question arises whether the electric lighting cables should have been armoured. They would have been better armoured. The question of the legal position as to armouring is a difficult one, depending upon the interpretation of the Act of 1911 and regulations, and I do not propose to deal with it, inasmuch as I do not consider that electricity was the cause of the tire, and, generally speaking, the electrical installation was a good one.
The next question that arises is whether there ought to have been a regular bottomer on August 3rd, and if there had been one, whether he would have seen the fire.
The duty to appoint a bottomer is laid down by Section 53 (2) of the Act of 1911 which came into force on July 1st, 1912.
It is true that by this act the old rules under the Act of 1887, Nos. 56-65, which allow a fireman to act as bottomer were still in force when the accident happened, but I think the better opinion is that they were superseded so far as the necessity for a bottomer is concerned by Section 53 (2) above alluded to.
There should, I think, have been a bottomer. I may, however, remark that the question is not free from doubt, and I do not think that great blame can be attributed to the manager if he took a different view of the law.
It is not necessary for me to go more fully into this, because, if there had been a bottomer constantly in attendance to answer signals as the Act requires, I do not think he would have seen the fire. All the witnesses who saw the fire concur in saying that you could not see it except by going to the corner, and this would have taken the bottomer out of hearing of the signal bell. Moreover, on that Sunday, he would not, so far as I can see, have had any cause to go there—there was no coal being drawn, and hence no necessity to clean up any fallen coal from the tubs.
I do not think therefore that, had there been a bottomer, he would have seen the fire. But I am bound to say that, although I do not think it probable that if there had been a bottomer he would have seen the fire; yet it is quite possible that he might have done so, and if he had done so at an early hour, probably the men would have been saved.
The next question is, whether the opening of a door from the intake into the return would have saved the men. I think it is proved that it would probably have done so if opened at an early period after the fire broke out, and if the men had then stopped in their working places. We cannot blame Reilly, the fireman, for not doing this, for we do not know what his position was or whether he could have opened a door without being overcome by the fumes. From the position of his body in Conner's level close to a door, it appears to me not improbable that he was actually going to open this door when he was overcome by the fumes.
The next question relates to Rescue Brigades.
The use of oxygen apparatus was brought to public notice by the enquiries made by the Royal Commission on Mining Accidents.
In 1910 an Act of Parliament was passed which came into force on August 3rd. 1910, and which empowered the Secretary of State for the Home Department to make regulations for the supply and maintenance of rescue apparatus. Under this Act an order was made in April, 1912, which required that there should be rescue brigades at every mine (unless the men would not consent to form them, or unless the apparatus could not be obtained owing to lack of supply). The apparatus was to be "portable breathing apparatus," and it was sufficient that they should be obtained from a central station within a radius of 10 miles.
These regulations of April, 1912, remained in force until they were incorporated in the new regulations which came into force in September, 1913. At that time there were several varieties of rescue apparatus in the market. Several of them were of the type known as self-contained apparatus, and enabled the wearer to be completely isolated in a dangerous atmosphere. Another type consisted of a helmet connected by a flexible pipe with a large pair of bellows worked by hand by a person in rear of the person wearing the helmet. Such an apparatus of course rendered it necessary, that the man working the bellows should be in good air, and only enabled the wearer of the helmet to go beyond him by the length of the pipe and this length depended on how much pipe he could drag behind him or carry.
The managers of the Cadder Colliery, on receipt of the circular, at once proceeded to obtain the names of men willing to form brigades, but they did not train their men, or provide any apparatus other than oxygen reviving apparatus and sick and ambulance box required by regulation (4) (c).
The case they put forward was that they were determined in this matter to act in common with the other coal owners of Lanarkshire, and on a regular system. This plan would have been a good one, only unfortunately it was not carried out. In a circular letter dated April 8th, 1913, Mr. Redmayne, the Chief Inspector of Mines, called attention to their failure, and on the 19th of April, 1913, a circular was sent round by the Lanarkshire Coal Masters' Association to its members advising them to form the brigades and get the reviving apparatus, &c., but the circular went on to say that the kind of breathing apparatus required by the Act was being discussed with the Provincial Inspectors of Mines for Scotland, and that a test case would be raised to determine the matter.
On April 22nd, 1913, a letter was written to Mr. Walker by Mr. Baird, secretary to the association, in which it was stated that the question in the area covered by the association was "not one of emergency in the interests of safety," and that the executive were of opinion that for these mines smoke helmets and bellows apparatus were " the safest and most suitable " and that they " complied with the Act."
It is not necessary for me definitely to decide the legal question whether or not smoke helmets comply with the letter of the Act. It is certain, that however useful they may be to cope with fires which are restricted to small areas, they are not safe, or suitable, or sufficiently portable to be of use in an accident like this.
Their uselessness in cases where considerable lengths of roadway are filled with smoke or fumes is not in dispute, and this was frankly admitted by the agent and manager of the Cadder Mine.
It has next to be considered whether, had the apparatus been provided, it would have saved life.
It is, I think, as certain as any fact can be that depends on circumstantial evidence, that before the first alarm of fire was given upon the surface about 7.55 p.m., Reilly and all the men who worked in No. 1 machine section and at the pumps were dead.
As to the men who had been working in No. 2 machine section, I do not think that a brigade, even if it had existed with the necessary apparatus at the mine, could have been got together in time to save them.
The reason for this view was given at some length by Mr. Johnstone, who has probably more experience of underground fires than any one in the United Kingdom. I agree with his views. I think that it is most probable that the smoke first began to be felt by the men in No. 2 machine section before 8 p.m. as said by McDonald in his deposition, and not at the later hour, 8.30, mentioned by him in his evidence. Mr. Walker's view coincided with that of Mr. Johnstone.
I do not think it is the least likely that a "rescue brigade" would have saved the lives of any of those who perished. Had they been alive at the time when such a brigade could have reached them they would, I think, have been revived and saved by the reversal of the air current.
As I have said, the Cadder Company was in default in the provision of rescue apparatus as required by the regulations in force at the time of the accident. They had not even provided smoke helmets and bellows, nor had they acquired the privilege of calling for them from a rescue station within 10 miles distance, nor did any such station exist in that part of Scotland.
Some excuse might at first have been made for delay in complying with the order, for there has been some doubt as to which is the best make of self-contained apparatus to employ, and some sorts of self-contained apparatus are, I believe, faulty and even dangerous. They, however, do not seem to have been delayed by this consideration, for the association to whose decisions they adhered took the view that no self-contained oxygen rescue apparatus of any sort was necessary, and that smoke helmets and bellows were the safest and most suitable for the mines within the association.
Although it is well known that self-contained oxygen rescue apparatus are as yet not all that can be desired, yet there is now, and was long previously to the Cadder accident, apparatus that was efficient, and that had been successfully employed in saving life.
In the present case, as I have said, I do not think that the absence of the apparatus was the cause of loss of life, but if the alarm of fire had been given earlier, it might well have been that the speedy arrival of apparatus on the spot would have saved the lives of the men.
If a similar case were to arise tomorrow, and lives were lost for want of self- contained apparatus, what would be the position of owners who, in spite of every remonstrance, and in spite of the warning afforded by this case, failed to provide it ?
I shall be surprised if, after the experience gained in this accident, the Colliery Masters of Lanarkshire will be found still to maintain the position they took up. I can hardly believe that they will take their stand on legal grounds, even if they were valid, and decline to recommend to the members of their association the use of the only apparatus proper to deal with all difficulties that may arise.
As to the adequacy of the air reversal apparatus, I think that must be a question of fact in each case. Mr. Walker, in the course of his evidence, said that reversal by means of a steam jet was not in general advisable—that it had been put in as a temporary measure and was now being replaced by arrangements for reversing the air by means of a fan.
It appears that a " spade " or blank flange had been put into the steam pipe by the engineman on his own initiative without the knowledge of the officials of the mine. It was removed in three or four minutes when the air reversal was effected, and does not seem to have had any influence on that operation ; I think that the air reversal proved "sufficient" in this, case.
There was a telephone circuit in this pit, consisting of a single wire leading from. No. 17 to No. 15, and then down the down-cast shaft, and along the Main Dook Brae.
At various points of it telephones were fixed with earth returns. The circuit did not lead right round to the up-cast shaft. One of the disadvantages of this arrangement is that an accident to one part of the line may throw out of action all the telephones on the rest of the circuit.
No telephone message of the fire was sent up. This, no doubt, was because telephonic communication was severed at the cabin. The severance seems to have destroyed communication not only between the Main Dook Brae and the surface but also between the two pit heads on the surface. If an independent telephone circuit had existed along the return air road it might possibly have saved all the men in this case.
I think that, in future, telephonic communication should, so far as possible, be independent and arranged so as not easily to be put out of working by injuries to parts of the circuit, and I was glad to hear Mr. Murray, who appeared for the Company, express the same view. I understand that a new telephone system has been devised for use in mines, which will be independent of accidents to the wires. If this turns out to be practicable it ought to be very useful, and might, in cases of disaster, be invaluable in ascertaining the position of men in the pit, and of assisting in the direction of the operations of the rescue parties.
I think also that this case shows the desirability of making cabins as fire-proof as possible, especially in mines where naked lights are employed. Here, above the cabin, there was a pile of timber exactly in the position most calculated to burn fiercely if lighted. It would have been better if there had been a stone packing instead.
I may add that this accident shows how desirable it is that not only firemen but that some man or men at least in each group who are working independently should be acquainted with the roadways of the mine and should be well instructed what to do in case of danger. This pre-arrangement and organization is desirable in factories and in ships, and it is especially necessary in mines where escape is usually only to be effected by one or two roads. I would also call attention to the need for teaching firemen the danger of smoke containing carbon-monoxide. I do not think they all understand the difference between carbon monoxide and carbonic acid and other gases found in ordinary smoke, ?and it appears to me doubtful whether they are all sufficiently acquainted with the best methods of dealing with the dangers arising from it.
I desire to return my thanks to Mr. Walker, Mr. Johnstone and Mr. McLaren, H.M. Inspector of Mines, and to Mr. Nelson, H.M. Electrical Inspector, for the assistance given to me during the inquiry, and to Mr. A. H. Steele, Junior Inspector, for the great help he gave me as Secretary throughout the proceedings.
Your obedient Servant,
8th April, 1913.
I am directed by the Secretary of State to say that he observes from the annual return which you have made to him in pursuance of the Coal Mines Act, 1911, that up to the date of the return no provision had been made at the Mine in regard to the training of rescue brigades and the provision of breathing apparatus as required by the Rescue and Aid Order of the 2nd April, 1912. In the memorandum which was issued to owners of coal mines on the 4th May, 1912, with a copy of the Order, it was pointed out that the Order came into force at once and that it would be necessary for each owner to take steps without delay to comply with the requirements of the Order, but that reasonable time would be allowed in which to complete the formation of the rescue brigades and to obtain the requisite supply of breathing appliances. The Order has now been in force for nearly a year, and owners have therefore had ample time in which to make their arrangements for compliance with its requirements. The Secretary of State cannot but take a very serious view of the failure to carry out the Order at your mine. He must point out that the obligation to comply with the Order rests upon the owner, agent or manager of each mine individually, and the owner, agent or manager, in the event of failure to comply with the Order, is liable to a fine of £20 and to a further fine of £1 for every day during which the failure to comply continues. The Secretary of State directs me to say that unless yon can give him a definite undertaking that energetic steps will be taken at once to secure a full compliance at your mine with the requirements of the Order at an early date, it will be necessary for him to take legal proceedings to enforce its provisions.
I am to add that the Secretary of State is advised that a "smoke helmet" which is supplied with fresh air by means of a tube and bellows is not a portable breathing apparatus within the meaning of the Order. The phrase "a portable breathing apparatus" as used in the Order means a self-contained apparatus which, in the event of rescue operations being necessary, will enable the wearer to visit any part of the mine, and a 'smoke helmet" which would only allow the wearer to proceed to a very limited distance in advance of the fresh air would not meet the requirement
Your obedient Servant,
R, A. S. Redmayne.
THE LANARKSHIRE COAL MASTERS' ASSOCIATION.
To The Members.
174, West George Street,
19th April, 1913.
RESCUE AND AID ORDER OF 2ND APRIL, 1912.
With reference to this Order and the circular letter of Mr. Redmayne, Chief Inspector of Mines, dated 8th curt., thereanent, which doubtless you have received, I beg to inform you that the reports of the Special Committee appointed by the Executive of this Association to consider the matter were submitted to a Meeting of the Executive held on Wednesday last, and on the recommendation of the Committee, the Executive instructed me to advise our Members that they should at once take steps to give effect to the annexed Sections of the Order, which are obligatory, irrespective of the more important questions of Rescue Stations and the kind of breathing apparatus required to be provided to comply with the Order.
The latter question is being discussed with Mr. Walker, H.M. Divisional Inspector of Mines for Scotland, and it is probable that a test case will be raised in Scotland to determine the matter.
In the meantime you can acknowledge receipt of Mr. Redmayne's circular, and state you are advised that the matters referred to therein are being dealt with between Mr. Walker, Chief Inspector of Mines, and the Association, but that you are to take immediate steps to give effect to Section 3, Sub-sections (a), (6), and (c) ; and Section 5, Sub-sections (b) and (c) of the Order.
Robert Baird, Secretary.
P.S.—If you have any difficulty in knowing the best Companies from whom to obtain the electric hand-lamps and oxygen reviving apparatus, I could make arrangements to order them for you on reduced terms for a large quantity, on your informing me of the number of each you require and where they should be sent. - R. B.
The full text of the Sections referred to in the annexed circular are as under :-
(3.) (a.) There shall be organized and maintained at every mine, as soon as is reasonably
practicable, competent rescue brigades on the following scale :-
Where the number of underground employees is more than 250 but not more than 700 - 2 brigades
Where the number of underground employees is more than 700 but not more than 1,000 - 3 brigades
Where the number of underground employees is more than 1,000 - 4 brigades
But the Owner, Agent or Manager of a mine, at which the total number of underground employees is less than 100, shall be deemed to have complied with this provision if he has acquired the privilege of calling for a brigade from a Central Rescue Station.
A group of mines belonging to the same owner, of which all the shafts or exits for the time being in use in working the mines lie within a circle having a radius of two miles shall, for the purpose of ascertaining the number of brigades required, be treated as one mine.
(b) A rescue brigade shall consist of not less than five persons employed at the mine, carefully selected on account of their knowledge of underground work, coolness and powers of endurance, and certified to be medically fit, a majority of whom shall be trained in First Aid and shall hold a certificate of the St. John's Ambulance Association or of the St. Andrew's Association,
(c.) There shall be selected from the ranks of each rescue brigade one person or leader who shall act as captain of the brigade.
(5.) (b.) There shall be kept at every mine tracings of the workings of the mine up to a date not more than three months previously, showing the ventilation and all principal doors, stoppings and air crossings and regulators, and distinguishing the intake air by a different colour from the return air, which tracings shall be in a suitable form for use by the brigades.
(c.) There shall also be provided and maintained at every mine which maintains a rescue brigade or brigades -
(ii.) Two electric hand-lamps for each brigade, ready for immediate use and capable of giving light for at least four hours,
(iii.) One oxygen reviving apparatus.
(iv.) A safety lamp for each member of the rescue brigade for testing for fire damp.
(v.) An ambulance box provided by the St. John's Ambulance Association or similar box, together with antiseptic solution and fresh drinking water.
THE LANARKSHIRE COALMASTERS' ASSOCIATION,
174, West George Street,
22nd April, 1913.
RESCUE AND AID ORDER OF 2ND APRIL, 1912.
MR. REDMAYNE'S CIRCULAR LETTER OF 8th APRIL, 1913.
With reference to the above I beg to refer you to the Meeting which you had on 6th February last with the Committee appointed by this Association to discuss chiefly the question of breathing apparatus to be provided under the above Order, and to state that the reports of the Committee thereon were considered by the Executive of this Association on Wednesday last, and they have instructed me to write you on the subject.
While they are of opinion that in the area covered by this Association the question of "Rescue and Aid" is not one of urgency in the interests of safety, they recognise that the Order which has been issued must be complied with in respect of sections (3) (a), (b), and (c) ; and (5) (b) and (c) and the five subsections under the latter, and they have advised the Members of the Association to comply without delay with the provisions of these sections, and doubtless this will be done.
With regard to the principal question raised as to the kind of "portable breathing apparatus," required by section (5) (a), my Executive are of opinion that for the mines within this Association, . smoke helmets and bellows apparatus will be found to be the safest and most suitable, and that they comply with that section.
The arrangement made between you and the Committee With regard to this matter was, as you will remember, that should my Executive decide as above, you were to advise the Home Secretary of their decision, and in the event of his disagreeing with their finding that the question in dispute should be decided by a test case raised against one of the members of the Lothians Coal Owners' Association, to which the Committee agreed.
In view of the terms of Mr. Redmayne's letter, the Home Secretary may disagree with my Executive with regard to smoke helmets, and I presume that under such circumstances the test case referred to will be proceeded with.
I shall be glad to hear from you after you have had time to confer with Mr. Redmayne on the subject.
(Signed) ROBERT BAIRD.
H.M. Divisional Inspector of Mines,
Tyne, Lodge, Grange Loan, Edinburgh.
RESCUE AND AID ORDER OF 2ND APRIL, 1912. Dear Sir,
With reference to your circular letter of 8th curt., I am advised that the matters therein referred to are being dealt with between Mr. Walker, Chief Inspector of Mines, and the Lanarkshire Coalmasters' Association. So far as Section 3, Sub-sections (a), (&) and (c) and Section 5, Sub-sections (?;) and (c) of the Order are concerned, I shall take immediate steps to have these given effect to.
25th April, 1913.
The Lanarkshire Coal Masters' Association,
174, West George Street,
I am in receipt of your letter of the 22nd inst., respecting the Rescue and Aid Order, and will reply to it in due course.
H.M. Divisional Inspector of Mines.