Blantyreferme 18 July 1921

4 men killed in explosion:

  • Patrick Barkey, coal miner, 49, married
  • John Gillespie, colliery fireman, 64, married
  • Alexander McMullan, coal cutting machineman, 48, married [NB newspaper reports give his name as Thomas]
  • George Paton [NB we have not located a death certificate for this name]

Newspaper Reports

Pit Disaster At Uddingston - Blantyre Ferme Colliery Explosion - The Victims – Critical Report
A serious explosion, resulting in the death of four men and injuries to two others, occurred early on Monday morning in Blantyre Ferme Colliery, near Uddingston. The colliery belongs to Messrs A.G. Moore and company, Limited, who also have collieries at Drongan Ayrshire and at Dalkeith, Midlothian.

The names of the men who were killed are:-
John Gillespie, 62, fireman, 24 Colebrooke Street, Cambuslang, killed outright.
Thomas M'Millan, 45, machineman, 21 Kenmore Street, Shettleston, killed outright.
Patrick Barkie, 45, 24 Caldervale Rows, Newton, killed outright.
George Paton, 49, repairer, 1 Vickerfield Terrace, Kirkhill, Cambuslang, died after admission to the Royal Infirmary Glasgow.

The injured men are:-
William Watson, 46, machineman, 936 Shettleston Road, Shettleston, who was taken to the Royal Infirmary Glasgow.
John M'Dermott, 35, 3 Forrest Street, Stonefield, Blantyre who was able to proceed home.

What Happened
The explosion happened in the rise section of No 1 Blantyre Ferme Colliery about 12.15am, as a result it is supposed of firedamp. The pit workings were scarcely damaged, and the sound of the explosion was so subdued that it occasioned no alarm to the miners in the other sections, who were unaware of any untoward happening until intimation was given at the pit bottom by one of the injured men. According to an account given by the injured man McDermott, he was engaged loading a hutch, while his neighbour, Paton, was “dressing” the sides near by. The others were farther in towards the coal face. From some cause which has not yet been determined, the gases in the gallery apparently became ignited and the explosion resulted. “There was no great noise,” said M'Dermott, “but I heard a sort of hissing sound.” McDermott was thrown violently to the ground and lost his senses for a few minutes. When he recovered from the shock he heard groans coming from someone further along the gallery, and on making a search found his neighbour lying several yards from the point where they had been working together. Smoke issued from the direction of the coal face. McDermott was able to walk and he at once set himself the task of assisting his more unfortunate neighbour into safety, which he succeeded in doing. A rescue party was quickly organised and a search made for the missing men. It was found that the passage had not been blocked, and the men were soon reached and brought to the surface, when they were taken to the colliery ambulance room.

The Doctor's Part
Dr James Carruthers, Uddingston, was informed of the accident about one o'clock in the morning. He went to the pit and found George Paton, William Watson, and John McDermott at the pit head. The three men were severely burned, Paton being the most seriously injured, having a horse shoe wound on his head. Dr Carruthers certified the deaths of Barkie, Gillespie and M'Millan to be due to burns on the head, face and arms. Barkie had also a deep scalp wound on his head.

Watson's Story
The injured man, Wayson is, as we have already stated, in Glasgow Royal Infirmary, and is progressing favourably. He states that he left his own home about eleven o'clock on Sunday evening and proceeded to Blantyre Ferme Colliery along with his mate M'Millan. Their working place was about half a mile from the pit bottom. Continuing, Watson says, “George Paton and I were working about forty fathoms from the face; Gillespie and Barkie came into our place about twelve o'clock. They carried safety lamps and so did we. They had been gone for about three minutes, crawling on their hands and knees, when the explosion happened. I was then knocked unconscious, but I soon recovered and ran for assistance. I then got up to the surface and was taken to the ambulance room where I was attended by Dr Carruthers, and was removed, with Paton, to the Royal Infirmary.

Gillespie's Hard Luck
It appears that the regular fireman, James M'Callum, Caldervale Rows, Newton, who should have been on duty at eleven o'clock, failed to turn up and Gillespie took his place. As far as we can gather Gillespie, Barkie, and M'Millan went to the face together. It is hardly possible to state exactly how the accident happened, as the men who would have been able to explain have passed away. The deceased are all married men and leave widows and large families to mourn their passing.
[Bellshill Speaker, July 22 1921]

Explosion in an Uddingston Pit – 3 Men Killed and 3 Injured
Shortly before one o' clock yesterday morning an explosion took place at Messrs A. G. Moore & Company's Blantyre Ferme Colliery, near Uddingston, whereby three men were killed and three injured, two of the latter seriously. It seems that the explosion was caused by the accumulation of gas in the workings, owing to the long stoppage caused by the 6trise. It had been arranged that, apart from the weekend , there should be no stoppage for the holidays, and the back shift men went down as usual on Sunday night. The injured first brought to the surface were George Paton, residing at Vicarfield Terrace, Kirkhill, Cambuslang, and William Watson , residing at 534 Main Street , Shettleston, both seriously burned on the head, face, and arms. They were removed to Glasgow Royal Infirmary. John M'Dermid, 3 Forrest Street, Stonefield Blantyre was slightly burned in rescuing Paton and Watson. The dead bodies of three men were discovered later. Their names are:- John Gillespie (60), residing in Cambuslang, married ; Patrick Barkey married (54), residing in Caldervale Rows; and Daniel M'Millan (between 50 and 60), supposed to reside in Shettleston or Cambuslang. The pit it situated on the south side of the Clyde at Uddingston, and alongside the Caledonian main line between Uddingston and Newton. [Scotsman 19 July 1921]

Colliery Explosion - three miners killed
A colliery explosion involving the death of three miners and serious injuries to three others occurred at Blantyre Ferme Colliery, Uddingston, yesterday morning. The explosion is attributed to the accumulation of gas during the long stoppage. While men were working in the seam about 90 fathoms from the surface, and only about 2ft wide, a hissing sound was heard, and a loud explosion followed. Rescue work was hampered by an accumulation of afterdamp, and an hour or two elapsed before the injured were brought to the surface. All three men killed were married [Times 19 July 1921]