Hamilton Parish Accidents 1900-1914

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.

19 December 1900

Pit Accidents - Yesterday, Arthur Joseph Bell, miner, Cadzow Rows, while employed on the surface at Cadzow Colliery, get crushed between the buffers of two waggons, and was severely injured. He was removed to the Glasgow Royal Infirmary. Edward Martin, pony driver, Low Waters, while taking a rake of hutches to the pit bottom in Eddlewood colliery, fell in front, and was dragged for a considerable distance. He sustained severe internal injuries. [Scotsman 20 December 1900]

11 January 1901

Hamilton – Fatal Pit Accident - Isaac Callison, stone mason, Windsor St, Burnbank, has succumbed to injuries received last Friday while at work in the stone mine adjoining No 3 (Backmuir) pit of Clyde Colliery, belonging to Wilsons and Clyde Limited. He had been in the act of taking a hutch along the roadway when his head came in contact with the air conductor, and, being pressed by the moving hutch, hishead was bent back, causing injuries to the neck which have now proved fatal. [Herald January 17 1901]

14 March 1901

Hamilton – Pony Driver Killed - William Murphy (19), pony driver, Tuphall, was instantaneously killed in No 1 Pit, Neilsland Colliery, belonging to John Watson Limited, on Thursday afternoon. He had been giving another pony driver some assistance in putting a hutch on the rails, when a stone fell from the roof, with fatal results. [Herald March 16 1901]

1 March 1902

Burnbank – Fatal Accident – On Saturday morning, William Maley, pony driver, Windsor Street, Burnbank, was killed while at work in the Clyde Colliery, Hamilton. He was engaged cleaning the roadway, and while his horse was proceeding up a brae with a hutch, the breeching of the harness broke and the hutch ran backwards. Maley, on endeavouring the stop the hutch, was knocked against a prop supporting a crown. The prop came out and the crown fell, jamming Maley against the hutch and squeezing his ribs on his heart. Death was instantaneous. Maley leaves a widow and three children. [Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser 8 March 1902]

12 May 1902

Hamilton – Terrible fall down pit. Yesterday morning a terrible accident happened to William Rankin in No 3 Pit, Eddlewood Colliery, belonging to Messrs John Watson Ltd. He was putting a hutch onto the cage when, it is alleged, the engineman lowered it before he had finished his work. He was carried down along with the cage, a depth of 100 fathoms, and killed on the spot. [Herald May 13 1902]

9 October 1902

Fatal Pit Accident - Mungo Kirkland (38), chainman, residing at Burnbank, was instantaneously killed while at work in one of the sections of No. 1 pit, Clyde Colliery, belonging to Wilson's & Clyde. Owing to the haulage rope attached to the drum having become disarranged, there was a tension caused on the chain and a hutch broke away. Kirkland was thrown backwards on his head, and his skull was fractured.. [Scotsman 11 October 1902]

10th February 1903

Hamilton – Fatal pit accident- William Paterson, fireman, Earnock colliery Rows, has been fatally injured in No 1 Pit Earnock Colliery. He was on his way to the pit bottom when he met a rake of hutches, which knocked out a prop, causing a large mass of stone to fall upon him. Death was instantaneous. He is survived by a widow and family. [Herald February 12 1903]

5 March 1903

Miner Fatally Injured - As the result of an accident in Bent Colliery, belonging to the Bent Colliery Company, Andrew Weir (35), miner, was killed. He was taking out a stoop when a heavy fall of dirt took place, and entirely enveloped him. He managed to get his head clear, and a rescuing party came to his assistance, but six hours elapsed before he was extricated. [Scotsman 10 March 1903]

3 February 1904

Fatal Accident At Ross Colliery - James Cox (55), miner, Ferniegair, Hamilton, has been fatally injured in Ross Colliery, belonging to Thomas Barr's trustees. He was engaged at the stoops in the main coal seam when a stone weighing between 3 and 4 cwts., fell from the roof, killing him almost instantaneously. [Scotsman 6 February 1904]

24 February 1904

Colliery Fatality - James Barr (28), miner, Auchintibber, Blantyre, was yesterday killed by a fall of coal while at work in the "humph" seam of No. 2 pit, Udston colliery. No one witnessed the occurrence, and when Barr was found life was extinct. He leaves a widow and four children. [Scotsman 26 February 1904]

14 June 1904

Colliery Accident At Hamilton - Early yesterday morning a serious accident occurred at Allanshaw Colliery, Hamilton, resulting in shocking burning injuries to Patrick Harrison, miner, and the death of his son Thomas. Early in the morning a dull noise was heard by a man at the pit bottom. This circumstance he communicated to one of the colliery officials, with the result that a search was made, when the younger Harrison was found dead and the father unconscious and in a precarious condition. There is said to be evidence of an explosion, but the remarkable circumstance is that the workings are uninjured, and the safety lamps of both men were found locked. The elder Harrison was removed to the Royal Infirmary in the ambulance waggon, and faint hope is entertained of his recovery. [Scotsman 15 June 1904]

The Allanshaw Colliery Accident - Patrick Harrison, miner, Hamilton, who, along with his son, was severely burned in Allanshaw Colliery on Tuesday morning, and who was removed to the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, died yesterday afternoon. [Scotsman 16 June 1904]

26 August 1904

A peculiar accident happened at Eddlewood Colliery, belonging to John Watson (Limited) in which Michael McGuire (29) pony driver, lost his life. He was conveying a rake of hutches from the face to the pit bottom, and about 20 minutes after he left, he was discovered jammed between the last hutch and the roof of the roadway. Life was extinct. [Scotsman 29 Aug 1904]

30 September 1904

Miner Crushed To Death – While working in No 7 Pit, Quarter Colliery, belonging to the United Collieries (Limited), John Robertson (39) was yesterday fatally injured. While taking out a prop, a fall from the roof came away and crushed him to death. [Scotsman 5 October 1904]

27 April 1905

Workmen's Compensation Action – In Hamilton Sheriff Court Mrs Catherine Crossar or Baxter, widow, Burnbank, sued John Watson (Ltd), coal masters, for £160, 15s. as compensation, under the Workmen's Compensation Act, for the death of her son Edward, who was fatally injured in No. 1 pit, Earnock colliery, on 27th April last. After the usual procedure, Sheriff Thomson has issued an interlocutor finding that deceased's average earnings at the time of his death were 21s. 3d., per week, that he paid those earnings to his other for her and his support, that she had no contributions from her other sons for her support, and depended entirely on what she got from the deceased, save occasionally, when deceased was unwell, her son-in-law, who lived in the house, and paid half the rent, let her have some food; that four days before the fatal accident to her son she broke her leg, and the night before was removed to John Crossar's house for better treatment, deceased accompanying her; that this was done as a family arrangement. He finds, in the circumstances, applicant was wholly dependent on deceased at the time of his death, and assesses the compensation payable at £160 15s., with expenses. [Scotsman 5 December 1905]

21 December 1906

Fatal Colliery Accident At Quarter – Yesterday afternoon a serious colliery accident which resulted in the loss of three lives took place in No. 8 pit Quarter Colliery belonging to the United Collieries (Limited.). Full information is not yet to hand but it appears that about two o'clock the engineman in the winding house felt a grip on the tow rope as the cage was going down the shaft indicating that something was amiss in the shaft; and confirmation was given to this by a piece of the slide on which the cage runs falling to the pit bottom. The manager Mr Robert Gardiner assisted by the oversman Andrew Maxwell and James Macginty, oncostman then proceeded up the shaft to make an examination. They had ascended some distance when a mass of material - stones and dirt - came away from the side above them and broke the tow rope. The result was that the cage and the men were precipitated to the pit bottom. The cage was crushed almost flat, while the men's bodies were covered with a huge mass of wreckage and rubbish. Death must have been instantaneous.

The pit is very deep, one shaft going down something like one hundred and fifty fathoms. A relief party was at once formed under the charge of Mr MacDougall manager of Upper Quarter pits, and Mr Arnott district manager for the company arrived on the scene, while Drs Steel and Stewart were in early attendance with the view of rendering any possible assistance. It was quickly ascertained however that hope for the survival of any of the men was out of the question. Strenuous efforts were made to have the bodies unearthed but at nine o'clock, when our representative left,they had not been recovered though they were momentarily expected at the pithead. About two hundred miners were at work when the accident happened but they were brought to the surface by No. 7 pit which adjoins No . 8.

News of the calamity quickly spread to the village and naturally there was great excitement and grief. Large crowds gathered about the pithead where arrangements had been made for coffining the bodies as soon as they were brought up. All three men were we ll up in years, and leave widows and large families, Macginty leaving nine children. Quarter village is situated about three miles from Hamilton. Coal has been worked from the Quarter field from an early period but No. 8 pit was only sunk twenty years ago for the purpose of winning Simpsonland coalfield. The collieries were formerly owned by Messrs Colin Dunlop & Company but they were taken over by the United Collieries at the time of the flotation of that company. This is the first accident on a large scale that has taken. place at Quarter. [Scotsman 22 December 1906]

13 April 1907

Mining Fatality Near Hamilton - Ross Colliery, situated between Hamilton and Motherwell, was early on Saturday morning the scene of a mining accident, involving the death of one of the colliery officials and serious injury to a miner. While superintending a coal-cutting machine, Alexander Taylor, oversman, Ferniegair, was caught in a heavy fall of stone from the roof, and instantaneously killed. A miner named James Brown, residing at Ross Street, Ferniegair, was also badly crushed, and it is feared his spine is injured. He was removed to the Royal Infirmary. [Scotsman 15 April 1907]

27 June 1908

Blantyre Miner Killed – The police yesterday reported that Henry M'Guigan, 38, miner, Dixon's Rows, Blantyre, had been killed on Saturday while at work in Earnock Colliery, Hamilton, belonging to John Watson, Ltd. A large stone came away from the roof and fractured his spine. [Scotsman 30 June 1908]

4 June 1909

Fatal Accident At Greenfield – Audley M'Ewan (60) miner, Old Rows, Greenfield, died in the Royal Infirmary, Glasgow on Friday evening, 4th inst, about 10 o'clock, from injuries sustained the same day at No 2 pit, Greenfield Colliery. While employed at the face a fall of stone from the roof occurred and pinned him to the ground. His son, who was working along with him and miners from adjoining places, at once got him extricated and removed to the surface, where he was seen by Dr Brownlie. His injuries consisted of a fracture of the right leg and nasal bone, and severe scalp wounds. Deceased leaves a widow and grown-up family. [Hamilton Advertiser June 12 1909]

27 June 1909

Judgement was given in three actions of damages against Archibald Russell (Limited), 68 Great Clyde Street, Glasgow. The pursuers were Mrs Elizabeth Tonner or Tait, widow; 24 Baillies's Causeway, Hamilton, who sued for £1000 for herself and £1250 for her children; Mrs Penelope M'Millan or Adams, widow, 46 Union Street, Hamilton, who sued for £1000 for herself and £750 for her children; and Mrs Mary M'Vey or Hunter, widow, 40 Selkirk Street, Hamilton, who sued for £1000 for herself and £250 for her child. The pursuers are the widows and children of three miners who lost their lives by an explosion of gas in the Ferniegair Colliery, near Hamilton, of which the defenders are proprietors.

The explosion occurred on Sunday, 27th June 1909, in the Virtuewell seam. The only miners who were working in the seam that day were the three who were killed—Tait, Adams, and Hunter. They went down the pit about ten in the morning, and the explosion occurred about a quarter to two o'clock. Hunter was killed outright, and Adams and Tait were so severely injured that they died in the infirmary some days afterwards. The three men were working an electric coal-cutting machine. The electric current, by which the machine was driven was generated at the surface, carried down by means of permanent cables to the road ends, and distributed to the machine by trailing cables. As the coal-cutting machine required cables of different lengths at different times, the trailing cables were made in lengths, which were joined by plug and socket as required. The pursuers averred that this plant was in an unsatisfactory condition, and that the system of working sanctioned by the defenders was dangerous. Before the miners went down the mine, it was the statutory duty of the defenders to cause it to be inspected, with a view to detecting the presence of gas. It was inspected that morning (inadequately, the pursuers maintained) by a temporary fireman called Dunn. Proof in the case occupied six days.

Lord Dewar dismissed the action, and continued the question of expenses, together with a motion for the pursuers that they should be found entitled to compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act. The pursuers, his Lordship said, averred that the accident was due to the fault of the defenders (1) in respect that, in breach of their statutory duty, they failed to appoint a competent person to inspect the mine before the commencement of the shift; that Dunn, whom they appointed, had no experience, and failed to discover that gas was present in dangerous quantities; and (2) the pursuers alleged that the gas which had accumulated in the mine, and which Dunn had failed to discover was ignited by a spark from the electric plant, which the defenders had erected in the mine. This plant was alleged to be inefficient, and the system of working dangerous. The pursuers' first averment of fault really involved two questions—(1) was Dunn incapable of performing the duties of a temporary fireman ? and (2) did his incompetence cause or contribute to the accident? On the first question his Lordship said that if the worst were assumed—namely, that Dunn did not examine the workings at all on the morning of the accident, that showed gross and culpable negligence on his part, but it did not show that he was incapable of detecting the presence of gas if he had gone to look for it. If the defenders appointed an incompetent man they might be rendered liable; but if, being competent, he was careless, his Lordship did not think they were, because Dunn's carelessness was the fault of a fellow workman, for which the defenders were not in law responsible. As to whether Dunn's incompetency caused or contributed to the accident, his Lordship said the real question was—was there an accumulation of gas which Dunn failed to detect on Sunday morning, 27th June 1909. His Lordship did not think there was. He thought the mine was clear on the morning, and that the gas which caused the explosion was a sudden outburst, probably due to a movement of the strata. On this branch of the case, therefore, he was of opinion that the pursuers had failed to prove that Dunn was incompetent, or that his incompetence caused or contributed to the accident. The next question was—how was the gas which caused the explosion ignited? The defenders averred on record that Tait was smoking at the time, contrary to the regulations, and that the gas was ignited by the light which he used for his pipe. They had not succeeded in proving this, though they had some justification for making the averment; and his Lordship was further satisfied that the defenders had succeeded in showing that the gas was not ignited by an electric spark. The best evidence for the pursuers on this question was given by Mr Nelson, the Electrical Inspector of Mines at the Home Office. It was clear from his evidence that while he held the opinion that in the circumstances which existed in the mine at the time it was possible to ignite gas by a spark from the electric plant he admitted that this might perhaps be disproved by scientific tests. This also appeared to be the opinion of the pursuers' other expert witness, Mr J. S. Nicholson. But the defenders' witnesses, Professor Burns, Mr Anderson, and Mr Muirhead, tested this matter very thoroughly, and they had satisfied his Lordship that Messrs. Nelson and Nicholson were mistaken in thinking that in the conditions which were proved to have existed at the time it was possible to get a spark of sufficient intensity to ignite gas when the plug and socket of the trailing cable were being adjusted. His lordship quite understood how much the pursuers must nave suffered and might still suffer from this very sad accident, and he fully realised that the decision must be of supreme importance to them. He had, therefore, followed the proof and the argument with close attention, and he had read the evidence with much care; but he had reached the conclusion that the pursuers had failed to prove any fault against the defenders for which they could be held responsible. [Scotsman 17 November 1910]

January 9 1910

Frightful Fall – Hamilton Miner's Death - Last night the body of Edward Lafferty, miner, Campbell Street, Hamilton, was found at the bottom of No 6 Pit shaft, Quarter, which is 60 fathoms deep. While returning from Quarter yesterday with his father, he asked his parent to wait on the road while he went over to the pit boiler to light a cigarette. His non-appearance alarmed his father, and investigation led to the discovery of his son's body in a frightfully mangled condition at the pit bottom. [Glasgow Evening Times January 10 1910]

January 17 1910

Lad Killed at Neilsland Colliery - A sad fatality occurred this morning at Neilsland Colliery, near Hamilton, belonging to John Watson Limited. A young lad named Duncan Wilkie, while engaged as a pithead worker, fell down the shaft of the pit and was killed. He was employed pushing hutches onto the cage, when, it is stated, through the cage being lifted too high he pushed the hutch into the open shaft and fell with it to the bottom. Wilkie, who resided at Eddlewood, had only recently started work. [Glasgow Evening Times January 17 1910]

6 October 1911

Fatal Accident At Bent Colliery – Yesterday morning, John Stevenson, brusher, 18 Wylie Street, Hamilton, was severely injured in a section of No 1 Pit, Bent Colliery, by the explosion of a shot. Stevenson, along with two others, was employed by a contractor in brushing this particular part of the section. The shot firer, abut one o'clock, started on the extreme right to fire the shots which the workmen had prepared. Stevenson was on the third road, and having heard three shots, it is supposed that he concluded that the third one was his own. But apparently unknown to him there had been two shots in the second road, and on Stevenson going forward towards his working place, his own shot exploded with great force, and he sustained terrible injuries to his face and head. He was taken to the surface and attended by D Marshall, who ordered his immediate removal to the Royal Infirmary, where he succumbed to his injuries at 7.50 last night. [Hamilton Advertiser 7 October 1911]

11 October 1911

Pithead Worker Fatally Injured – On Wednesday afternoon, James M'Dowell (55) while at work as a pithead worker at No 1 Pit, Greenfield Colliery, was accidentally knocked down by an empty waggon, the front wheel of which passed over his right leg, causing a double compound fracture between the knee and the ankle. Dr Thomson was summoned and after putting the injured limb in splints, had the man removed to the Royal Infirmary, where he succumbed that night. The deceased who was a widower, resided at Miller's Place, Springwell, Blantyre. [Hamilton Advertiser 14 October 1911]

11 October 1911

Fatal Pit Accident at Earnock – David Archibald (45), shiftsman, residing at 23 Main Street, High Blantyre, was instantaneously killed in No 1 Pit, Earnock Colliery, early on Wednesday morning. Along with another workman, Archibald was employed drawing out the wooden stoops when a considerable section of the roof weighing several tons, suddenly gave way. Archibald was completely buried in the debris, and his fellow workman narrowly escaped the same fate. Deceased was well known in Blantyre, where he was held in general high esteem and took an active interest in the work of the E.U.C. Church where he officiated as church officer. He leaves a widow and two sons to mourn his loss. [Hamilton Advertiser 14 October 1911]

16th January 1912

Fatal pit accident near Hamilton - The Lanarkshire Police received a report yesterday of a fatal accident at Udston Colliery, near Hamilton, on a previous day. Henry Bosebeck, a roadsman, were driving a rake of six loaded hutches along the level horse road of the Pyotshaw seam of No. 2 pit, when, unknown to him, two of the hutches became unattached. Discovering this on reaching the engine haulage way, Bosebeck returned with his pony for the missing hutches. In going down an incline on the way back he was walking in front of the hutches when he was knocked down and instantaneously killed, his neck been dislocated. He leaves a widow and family. [Scotsman 18th January 1912 ]

29 January 1913

Fatal Accidents - Two fatal accidents occurred in the Hamilton district yesterday. William Ferguson (42), miner, Auchinraith Road Blantyre, while working in Earnock colliery, was caught by a heavy fall of stone, which fractured his skull. Death was instantaneous. [Scotsman 30 January 1913]

30 July 1913

Fatal Colliery Accident Near Hamilton - The Lanarkshire police reported yesterday the occurrence of a fatal accident at Neilsland colliery, near Hamilton, resulting in the death of Edward Mitchell (31), brusher, an unmarried man, who resided in lodgings at Hamilton. He had been engaged clearing away some debris after firing a shot when a stone weighing; 31/2 cwts fell from the roof and fractured his skull. [Scotsman 2 August 1913]

7 November 1913

Colliery Winding Fatality - Engineman Arrested - In Hamilton Sheriff Court on Saturday , James M'Laughlan, winding engineman, 141 Almada Street, Hamilton, appeared before Sheriff Shennan charged with having caused the death of Patrick Lyons, assistant pitheadman, 8 Portland Square, Hamilton. The charge was that accused had, on 7th inst.,.at Neilsland colliery, Hamilton , in breach of his duties, culpably and recklessly lowered a cage from the pithead down the shaft without being requested by distinct and definite signal to do so, in consequence whereof Patrick Lyons, who was engaged on the pithead fixing a crossbar to the cage, was crushed between the cage and the side of the shaft, and was so seriously injured that he died within a few minutes, and the said James M'Laughlan did thus kill the said Patrick Lyons. The accused, who declined to emit a declaration, was accompanied by Mr John Cassells, writer, Hamilton. He asked the Sheriff to fix bail, and this was ultimately fixed at £25. That sum was subsequently lodged in Court, and the accused was liberated. [Scotsman 10 November 1913]

2 June 1914

Carnegie Awards for Heroism - James Kennedy, roadsman, employed at the Earnock Colliery, Burnbank, Lanarkshire, and residing at 36 George Street, Burnbank, assisted by Andrew Nicol, repairer, 50 Lorne Street, Hamilton, and William Houldsworth, repairer, 101 Stonefield Road, Blantyre, on 2nd June 1914, at great personal risk, endeavoured to extricate a fellow workman, named M'Killop, from underneath a fall of coal. After the three men had cleared away the fallen debris from M'Killop, it was found that his foot was pinned down by a large piece of coal. With a view to releasing him, Kennedy crawled in underneath the coal, while Nicol and Houldsworth took hold of M'Killop's arms and shoulders ready to pull him out when released. Before this could be accomplished, however, another fall took place, and the three men were forced to retreat. When M'Killop was got out three hours later he was dead. For his action on the occasion, Kennedy was awarded the Edward Medal of the Second Class by the King. The Trustees awarded him an honorary certificate and the sum of £30. The Trustees also awarded Nicol and Houldsworth each an honorary certificate and the sum of £15. [Scotsman 25 February 1915]

See also entry on Heroism Awards page