Netherton, Maryhill 6 December 1850
Fatal Coal Pit Accident - 6 Lives Lost
A most distressing and singular accident occurred last Friday forenoon, at the Netherton Quarry Coal Pit, situated near Maryhill, about 2 miles from Glasgow, the property of Mr Barclay of Paisley. It appears that there are two shafts to the workings, one of them an old one which is now used as the downcast shaft, and having at the bottom a steam engine with boiler for winding the coal up from a lower level. In this old shaft is placed the pumps. From the steam boiler a flue leads along, but above the gallery between the two shafts, until it opens into the upcast shaft, abut 6 fathoms above the gallery, so that the new or upcast shaft forms the chimney for all the smoke and vapour from the steam engine boiler furnace. Some of the workings extend right and left from the horizontal gallery between the two shafts, and when working properly the heated air passing up the new shaft, caused the current of fresh air to set that way through all the workings. The men were in the habit of descending the new shaft through the smoke and vapour of the engine furnace when going down to their work. On Friday, it appears, Mr Davidson, the manager, saw some cause to divide the air course, by which the ventilation of the pit was carried on, the unexpected result of which was the direction of the air current was reversed, the engine furnaces attracting the current towards the old from the new pit, thus making the up-cast the down-cast. The consequence was, that the smoke, which ought to have escaped by the up-cast shaft, was driven back into the new workings which it completely filled, and five of the unfortunate miners there employed were speedily suffocated. A signal was given from below that something was wrong, when the water that was being pumped out the pit was again thrown back, which so far reversed the current of air as to allow the men in the old workings to escape by the old or down-cast shaft. Only two escaped by the ordinary means of communication with the pit, namely the new or up-cast shaft. The names of the parties whose lives were sacrificed are:-
Hugh Boyd and his two sons, Thomas, aged 15 years and Lewis aged 13 years; William Brown; and George Spence a boy.
Boyd has left a widow and four surviving children in very poor circumstances. Brown was also married but had no family. Three or four miners who all escaped with their lives were also injured more or less severely. The fearful calamity has caused a deep gloom where it occurred, and the greatest commiseration has been felt for the unfortunate sufferers and their families. We have no doubt the whole matter will be thoroughly investigated by the proper authorities, and the blame, if there can be any, fixed on the proper parties. This singular seems to be one, that with regular caution, need not have occurred. [Herald Friday Dec 13, 1850]