Rosehall Colliery 14th August 1934

5 men died after explosion:

  • Andrew Craig, colliery brusher, 43, married, 10 Glebe Street, Bellshill, died August 14 1934
  • Matthew Martin, coal cutting machineman, 37, married, Hutton Street, Coatbridge, died August 15 1934
  • Taylor Quate, colliery brusher, 41, married, 53b Calder Street, Coatbridge, died August 16 1934
  • Samuel Mayberry, colliery brusher, 47, married, Caravan, Motherwell Road, Bellshill, died August 19 1934
  • David Wilkinson, coal cutting machineman, 37, 36 New Orbiston Rows, Bellshill, died August 21 1934

Newspaper Reports

Miner' Burns Prove Fatal
Victims of Rosehall Colliery Explosion
Four Others Detained in Hospital

The explosion which occurred in the early hours of Tuesday morning in the main coal seam of No 10 Rosehall Colliery, Bellshill has resulted in two miners, one from Bellshill and the other from Coatbridge, losing their lives. Four others are detained in the Glasgow Royal Infirmary and are reported to be seriously ill. Striking heroism was displayed by the rescuers, who carried their comrades for half a mile underground. There was constant risk of another explosion.

The Bellshill miner whose burns proved fatal was Andrew Craig, 30 Glebe Street. He died in Glasgow Royal Infirmary on Tuesday night. Craig is a married man with no family.

The Coatbridge miner whose burns proved fatal was Matthew Martin, 136 Hatton Street. He suffered from general burns and died in the Infirmary yesterday morning.

The injured men were conveyed to Glasgow Royal Infirmary, where they have all been detained for treatment. The injured are:-

Samuel Mayberry, Motherwell Road, Bellshill (burns to back and hand)
Taylor Quate, 83b Calder Street, Whifflet (head burns)
William Stewart, 43 East Parkhead Rows, Bellshill (burns on forearm)
David Wilkinson, 36 New Orbiston, Bellshill (general burns)

The explosion occurred about two o'clock on Tuesday morning in the main coal seam of No 10 Rosehall Colliery, belonging to Robert Addie and Sons Ltd, which is situated between Bellshill and Whifflet. Nine men were engaged at coal cutting operation at the time of the explosion – two coal cutting machinemen, one hole borer and six brushers. The machinemen, hole borer and three of the brushers were closest to the scene of the explosion, and were badly injured. The other three brushers fortunately escaped injury.

A “Mystery” Explosion-There were scenes of great heroism at the pit when the injured men were carried half a mile underground to the bottom of the shaft by their comrades at great risk following the accident. The men were laid down at the bottom of the shaft until the rescue brigade from Coatbridge descended and conveyed them to the surface. The accident occurred at a point 150 fathoms deep. The precise cause of the accident has not yet been ascertained, and the mine officials regard it as something of a mystery explosion. There is little doubt, however, that the men received their burns when an accumulation of gas became ignited and exploded.

One of the rescuers, John Robertson, Bellshill, told a press representative that when the explosion occurred he was thrown off his feet by the force of the blast. He was working at another coal cutting machine about 50 yards distant from the first, where the explosion took place.

“Half a dozen of us rushed to see what we could do,” Mr Robertson said, “but we found ourselves faced by a sort of smoke screen of after damp; it was impossible for use to go into the smoke; we would have been overcome. We heard the others shouting and screaming and could hear them dragging themselves towards us. We were compelled to wait till first one, then another, and the rest, all but one, came into view. It was an awful sight. Their state was terrible. They were blackened and burned by the explosion and their clothes were in tatters.”

Shouting In Agony - “One of them was missing but we discovered afterwards he had been able to get to safety by another way immediately after the explosion occurred. We lost no time in getting the injured men up to the level, where we would all be in clearer air. They were shouting i agony as we dragged and carried them along, but it was the only way we could move them. When we got them up to the level, the Rescue Brigade was just arriving, and the injured men were taken over by them and conveyed to the top.”

One of the men employed at the pit stated in an interview that the night shift started work at ten o'clock. “I myself wasnot on the night shift, he said. “I had gone to bed, and was wakened shortly after 2am by a man who informed me that there had been a serious accident in No 10 pit. I immediately put on my clothes and hurried to the pithead. I learned that shortly after the accident a number of men who were not involved volunteered to go to the rescue of their comrades, some of whom were lying unconscious.”

Groped to the Scene - “The volunteers – at great personal risk – descended the pit and groped their way to the scene of the accident. They half carried and helped their injured comrades to the bottom of the pit shaft. In the meantime the Coatbridge Rescue Brigade – the only one in the vicinity – was called out, and brought the men to the surface. The men were then rushed to the Infirmary.”

Mrs Quate, wife of one of the injured men, said her husband had been working in the pit for nearly a year. “He had a premonition that there would be an accident at the colliery,” Mrs Quate said, “and unfortunately it proved only too true. I was informed about the accident about five in the morning,” she said.

Crawled To Safety - A graphic story of the accident was given to a reporter by Peter M'Bride, Wallace Street, who was working on a level above the section in which the accident occurred.

“I heard a muffled explosion and I knew there was something wrong,” he said, “because the firing of shots would not have been heard in a different level in ordinary circumstances. Along with another man I attempted to get into the section, but owing to the fumes which filled the tunnel we were unable to do so.”

The concussion was heard on the surface, and the men at the pithead immediately descended to investigate. They were also prevented from entering the section where the explosion occurred. Meanwhile the injured men were crawling and struggling along towards safety through dense fumes.

A Fearful Sight” - “It was a fearful sight,” said Mr M'Bride, “and I hope I shall never see the like of it again. My comrades and I met the men half way, and helped them to the shaft. They appeared to be suffering terrible agony. Their shirts had been burned off their bodies, and the skin was peeled off their hands. Craig's hair had been completely burned off his head. The bodies of the men were also badly scorched.”

Only five of the men were found by the rescuers half way towards the shaft. A search was made for the sixth man, and while the rescuers were going through the section they were informed that the man had managed to crawl to the bottom of the shaft himself, and had been taken to the surface. Some of the men were crying piteously and begging for a drink of water when the rescuers came upon them. Others bore their injuries heroically.

Many Volunteers - The first of the rescuers to reach the men could do little to relieve their pain. A few minutes later, however, the second rescue squad arrived with blankets, which they wrapped round the injured. A feature of the drama was that there was no lack of assistance. Everybody available volunteered to help. The injured were placed in stretchers and taken to the surface, where ambulance waggons were waiting to rush them to the infirmary. The force of the explosion was so great, Mr M'Bride said, that one of the men was hurled about 10 yards, but miraculously he still retained consciousness.

Mr Scobie, under manager at the pit, paid a tribute to the rescuers for the heroism which they displayed. “I was present when the rescuers went down shortly after 2am,” he said. “Both the members of the rescue brigade and the volunteer miners showed great pluck.”

It is understood that the men were boring through waste into an old section of the pit when the explosion occurred, and it is further believed that some gas came from this old working. One of the injured men told his rescuer that he had been eating his “piece” when the explosion occurred. He was instantly enveloped in clouds of fine dust and was slightly injured by being struck by some flying stones. [Bellshill Speaker August 17, 1934]

Explosion in Pit Near Glasgow- Six Miners Injured- Recovery Work in Dense Fumes
Six miners were badly burned in an explosion which occurred about 2 o'clock this morning in the main coal seam of No 10 Rosehall Colliery, Bellshill, near Glasgow. Three other men who were working in the same seam escaped.

The injured men who were taken to Glasgow Royal Infirmary were:-
Matthew Martin, general burns
Samuel Wayberry [sic], burns to back & hand
Taylor Quarter, head burns
William Stewart, burns on forearm
Andrew Craig, general burns & head injuries
David Williamson, general burns

The men were engaged in coal cutting in the pit, which belongs to Robert Addie & Sons Ltd, and is situated between Bellshill and Whifflet. An accumulation of gas ignited and exploded.

Great heroism was shown by the uninjured miners, who carried their comrades half a mile along the underground roadways to the bottom of the shaft, which is 150 fathoms deep. The rescuers risked their lives by crawling through dense choking fumes in which they found the injured men trying to crawl to safety. Craig's hair had been burned off his head.

At first the rescuers could do little to relive the pain of the sufferers, but on the arrival of the Coatbridge Rescue Brigade the injured men were extricated and taken to hospital [Times 15 August 1934]

Scottish Pit Accident - 3 Miners Dead
Three miners have now died from injuries received in the explosion at No 10 Rosehall Colliery, near Bellshill, on Tuesday. Matthew Martin, Hutton St, Coatbridge, and Taylor Quate, Calder St, Whifflet, died early yesterday. Andrew Craig, Glebe Street, Bellshill, had died 24 hours previously. The injured in the Royal Infirmary whose condition is still serious are Samuel Mayberry, Motherwell Road, Bellshill; William Stewart, East Parkhead Rows, Bellshill; and David Williamson, New Orbiston Road, Bellshill. Nine men were involved in the explosion, which occurred at the main seam of the colliery, and only three escaped injury. [Times 17 August 1934]

Samuel Mayberry, 42, of Motherwell Road, Bellshill, who has died in Glasgow Infirmary, is the fourth to die from injuries received at Rosehall No 10 Colliery, Coatbridge, last week. William Stewart, 26, of East Parkhead Rows, Bellshill, and David Wilkinson, 37, of New Orbiston, Bellshill, are dangerously ill. [Times 21 August 1934]

Five of the six miners involved in the pit explosion a week ago at Rosehall No 10 Colliery, Coatbridge, have now died in Glasgow Royal Infirmary. David Wilkinson, 37, of New Orbiston, Bellshill, died yesterday [Times 22 August 1934]


Two More Deaths in Pit Accident – Bellshill Miners Succumb
Of the six miners involved in the pit explosion at Rosehall No 10 Colliery, Bellshill, on Tuesday last, only one now survives. He is Wm. Stewart, 26, of East Parkhead Rows, Bellshill. He lies in the Royal Infirmary Glasgow, in a critical condition, his relatives having been at his bedside since Friday last. The six men received terrible burning injuries, and when they were admitted to the infirmary it was feared that the majority of them would not recover.

On Saturday Samuel Mayberry, “The Caravan,” Motherwell Road, passed away in the infirmary. He suffered from burning injuries to the back and hands. Early on Tuesday of this week another victim, David Wilkinson, 37, of New Orbiston, Bellshill, succumbed to his injuries. Every effort was made by the doctors and professors to save the men, but it was realised, when the miners did not rally to the treatment, that there was little prospect of their regaining consciousness. Wilkinson's burns were the most extensive of the six. An official inquiry into the cause of the mishap will be conducted in the nea future by His Majesty's Inspector of Mines.

The disaster last week at Rosehall Colliery was referred to by the Executive committee of the National Union of Scottish Mineworkers on Monday. Mr Andrew B. Clarke, the president, spoke of the accident and the secretary was instructed to send messages of sympathy to the relatives and dependents of those who had lost their lives and of those who were injured. It was agreed that Lanarkshire would be represented at the fatal accidents inquiry if necessary.

The funeral took place to Bothwell Park Cemetery, Bellshill, on Tuesday of Samuel Mayberry, Motherwell Road, Bellshill. A large crowd of sympathisers lined the street at Bellshill Cross to witness the cortege passing to the cemetery. There was a large attendance of mourners headed by members of the Bellshill Ex-Servicemen's Club. A number of Bellshill Salvation Army members were also present. The funeral service was conducted by the Rev F E Watson, Bellshill. [Bellshill Speaker August 24 1934]

Fatal Explosion in Scottish Mine - Acting Manager Fined
The trial was concluded in the Airdrie Sheriff Court on Wednesday of the 3 officials of Rosehall Colliery Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, on charges of contravention of the Coal Mines Act, 1911, arising out of an explosion at No 10 pit, when five men were killed.

The accused are Andrew Wallace Crowe, colliery agent, Bothwell; David Tweedie Gray, acting colliery manager, Coatbridge; and Robert Stobie, under manager, Coatbridge. They denied the charges which alleged that they allowed the use of lamps other than locked safety lamps in the Blair section of the out; allowed miners to have matches and smoking material; failed to search the men, and failed to provide two means of egress; and that Gray and Stobie failed to send notice of two ignitions of gas to the inspector of mines.

Crowe, giving evidence in his defence, said it was his opinion that the gas which caused the explosion had collected in cavities in the roof and that when the machine tapped through to the old working it resulted in roof movement which allowed the gas to escape. Stobie said that Gray was responsible for reporting the ignition of gas to the Divisional Inspector of Mines, and it was his (Stobie's) fault in not reporting it to Mr Gray. In spite of his instructions to use safety lamps in the Blair section, he (Stobie) still regarded it as a naked light section.

Gray was found guilty of failing to provide at least two means of egress to the surface in the Blair section and failing to send notice of an ignition of gas in which one man was injured to the Inspector of Mines of the district. He was fined £2 and £5, with an alternative of 30 days in prison. He was found not guilty on the other 3 charges. Crow was found not guilty on all charges. Robert Stobie was found not guilty on four charges and on the fifth charge - failing to provide at least two means of egress- a verdict of not proven was returned. [Times 15 March 1935]