Lothians Accidents 1855-1870

This section contains newspaper reports on selected accidents in the Lothians between 1855 and 1870 inclusive. Please check the indexes in the Accidents Section for reports by the Inspector of Mines and accidents in other areas.

7 February 1856

The Late Hurricane - Loss of Life - Arniston - On Thursday morning, between one and two o'clock during the dreadful gale of wind, a chimney stalk at Arniston colliery, about ninety feet high, was blown down from above thirty feet off the ground, and fell above the engine-house, where the engineer and fireman on the night shift were engaged at their usual duties. It was some hours before they were extricated from the ruins, when the engineer, named Thomson, who has been about forty years in the village, and bore a good character, was taken out dead and dreadfully mangled, and the fireman was also found to have suffered very serious injuries, The chimney is said to have been previously observed to be in an insecure state. Several chimney stalks in other parts of the country were also blown down by the gale. [Glasgow Herald 9 February 1856]

9 August 1856

Fatal Accidents - On Saturday morning about six o'clock a collier, named Wm. Lawson, was killed at the Whitehill Coal pit. The deceased was in the act of getting into one of the boxes, for the purpose of descending, when the engine-driver suddenly put the engine in motion, and Lawson, missing his hold, was precipitated to the bottom of the pit, a distance of fifty fathoms. He was killed on the spot. The engine-driver has been apprehended, and the matter is now undergoing investigation. [Caledonian Mercury 12 August 1856]

20 October 1856

Fatal Coal-Pit Accident. - On Saturday evening while several men who had been employed at the bottom of the engine pit at Arniston were coming up in the cage, one of the number, a pit-bottomer, named Archibald Taylor, attempted, while the cage was in rapid motion upwards, to leap out upon a standage situated about the middle of the shaft, when his head came into violent contact with the roof of the erection referred to, and he fell to the bottom. The depth of the pit from this point is about 30 fathoms, and he was killed on the spot. He had been warned before taking this rash step and while in the act of falling one of his companions in the cage laid hold of his jacket but the part tore off as deceased was precipitated to the bottom. It cannot be ascertained what motive Taylor had for trying to get upon the standage, or whether he perished by rashness or his own design. He has left a wife and family. [Glasgow Herald 22 October 1856]

27 November 1856

Fatal Accident - On Thursday last, a boy of about fourteen years of age, named William Harper, employed in Loanhead coal-pit, was killed by a stone falling from the roof of the pit, which struck him on the head, and fractured his skull. [Caledonian Mercury 2 December 1856]

12 January 1857

Fatal Accident - On Monday last, a man named Kerr was accidentally killed in a coal-pit at Loanhead. Three men were engaged at the bottom of the shaft, and one of them having been seized with illness, his two companions were in the act of accompanying him up in the cage. In the course of the passage the man who had taken ill fainted and fell forward. Kerr, on seeing this, made a movement to prevent him falling out, when one of the cross-beams struck him violently on the shoulders. The engineman saw the effects of the concussion on the rope, and, first stopping the engine , slid down to render assistance to the men in the cage. When brought to the surface Kerr was found terribly bruised, and he died at eight o'clock at night. [Scotsman 17 January 1857]

7 August 1857

Melancholy Accident - Four Men Drowned in a Coal Pit. - Early on the morning of the 7th current, four miners, named Robert Russell, John Hamilton, John Hastie, and Joseph Aird, belonging to Bo'ness or vicinity, met their death by drowning in a coal and ironstone pit, near Kinneil Iron Works. While the men were engaged at work in the bottom coal workings, a sudden flow of water came in upon them from some old workings, and instantly drowned them. Fortunately a lad named David Spence, who was at the bottom of the shaft, heard the rush of the water in time to make his escape to an ironstone working about fourteen feet farther up. He gave the alarm to six or seven workmen there, and he, along with two or three of those nearest the shaft, were taken up in safety. So rapid was the influx of water into the shaft that by the time the cage got down again for the remainder in the ironstone workings the water was up to their middle, and it was with great difficulty that they could get into the cage and be drawn up. It is believed that some months must elapse before the water can all be pumped out and the bodies of the four men got. [Glasgow Herald 17 August 1857]

7 October 1857

Coal Mine Accident – A miner named David Neilson, residing in the parish of Liberton, was killed on Wednesday in a coal-pit at Edmonstone, by a piece of coal falling on his head while he was on his way to the bottom of the shaft. [Scotsman 10 October 1857]

17 December 1857

Armadale – Man Killed – On Thursday morning at No 3 pit, Cappers, a man named William Haddow, while engaged placing the hutches on the cage of the coal workings, which is only half the depth of the pit, had gone in front of the hutch, and was drawing it with his back towards the pit mouth. Happening to be near the edge, he fell down the pit, the hutch falling above him. Life was extinct when taken up, and the body severely bruised. He has left a wife and small family – Falkirk Herald. [Glasgow Herald 21 December 1857]

2 February 1859

Bathgate – Man Killed – On Wednesday last, while a man named Thomas Clark, bottomer, Bathgate, was engaged at his employment in No 7 Pit Boghead, a large mass of rock fell on his body, and caused instantaneous death. [Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser February 5 1859]

23 February 1859

Fatal Accident - A few days ago a man named John Porteous, 20 years of age, by trade a miner, residing at Cowdenfoot, parish of Dalkeith, met his death in Smeaton coal-pit, in said parish, under the following circumstances:-He was engaged in guiding a truck containing coals down an incline leading from his room to the bottom of the pit-shaft, when happening to stumble over a stone, he fell on one side, and was crushed between the truck and the pit wall. The unfortunate man had several of his ribs fractured, and was otherwise so severely injured that he died in about 15 minutes afterwards. Deceased had been only three days in the pit, and was quite unaccustomed to the work. [Caledonian Mercury 25 February 1859]

28 March 1859

Fatal Colliery Accident – on Monday last a labourer named James Nicol, 23 years of age, who resided in Gorebridge, parish of Temple, was killed at Arniston Colliery. It seems that he was employed as a banksman at the pithead, and while in the act of pushing a truck on to the cage for the purpose of letting it down the pit, it overbalanced and fell to the bottom of the shaft – a depth of 160 yards – dragging the unfortunate man with it. His body was frightfully mutilated. [Scotsman 30 March 1859]

15 June 1859

Fatal Coal-Pit Accident -A melancholy accident occurred on Wednesday morning at the Oxenford coal-pit, situated near Sauchenside, in the parish of Cranstoun. A miner, named John Haldane, was ascending the pit on what is technically termed a "cage," in company with his father, and when they were about half way to the top, a piece of wood, two feet in length and eighteen inches in circumference, fell down upon them, striking Haldane on the head, fracturing his skull, and causing instantaneous death. [Stirling Observer - Thursday 23 June 1859]

18 October 1859

Fatal Mine Accident - Yesterday morning, shortly after four o'clock, Alexander Flockhart and James Wilson, miners, residing in Adam's Row, parish of Newton, were at work In the shaft of a coal pit at Edmonston colliery, when the rope by which they were suspended suddenly snapped and precipitated them to the bottom of the pit, a depth of fifteen fathoms. Flockhart was so dreadfully injured, that he died three hours afterwards; Wilson escaped most miraculously with life, though his injuries are of a serious nature. [Scotsman 19 October 1859]

21 November 1859

Fatal Accident - An accident of a fatal nature occurred upon the 21st ult. at Polkemmet No. 4 shanking pit, situated in the parish of Bathgate, and occupied by the Shotts Iron Company. Upon the above date two men, named respectively Daniel Clark and James Thomas, both sinkers employed in said pit, having set fire to several shots, they were brought to the surface, and remained for a few minutes until the effects of the explosions had subsided. They then prepared again to descend, and told the engine-keeper, a man named Wilson Gibb, to put the engine in gear, it being customary to put it out of gear when not employed. The engine-keeper complied, and the descent began. It is necessary we believe when the engine is put in motion for lowering or raising anything to or from the bottom of the shaft, that the engine-keeper take especial care to connect the spur and winding wheels of the engine, and to keep them so connected during the whole time the machinery is in motion ; and for that purpose it is necessary to insert a piece of wood, commonly called a wedge or key, behind the plumber block of the winding wheel. It is alleged that Gibb, the engine-keeper, had neglected to do this, and the consequence was, that when the men, Clark and Thomas, were about half way down the shaft, which is fully 50 fathoms deep, the drum or pirn upon which the rope connecting them with the machinery was wound, ran off at great speed, utterly defying all attempts to stop it, and the two men were precipitated to the bottom of the shaft. In consequence of the great velocity with which the pirn or drum revolved, and when all the rope was unwound, the suddenness of the jerk caused the rope to snap, and the whole of the heavy mass fell down the shaft upon the unfortunate men below. When got out, Clark was found to be mortally injured, and expired in about 15 minutes; Thomas had one of his arms broken, and was otherwise severely bruised ; he, however, is expected to recover. The above accident is receiving a thorough investigation at the hands of the Procurator Fiscal, and Gibb, the engine-keeper, has been apprehended upon a charge of reckless and culpable neglect of duty, and committed to jail. [Falkirk Herald 1 December 1859]

26 November 1859

BO'NESS - Fatal Accident - An accident of a melancholy nature, by which a fine young lad, named Thomas Cowan, a miner, belonging to the Newtown, was instantaneously deprived of life, unfortunately occurred in the coal workings of the Store Pit, in the immediate vicinity of the Kinneil Ironworks, at an early hour upon the morning of Saturday last. It appears that Cowan, along with his father, went down that morning a little after three o'clock, that they might get early up, it being pay day, but unfortunately they had not commenced work over twenty minutes when a large quantity of stones from the roof gave way, and falling upon the young man killed him upon the spot. This accident is the more to be deplored as the parent, who is a widower, is now rather advanced in years, and in a brief period had the hopeful prospect of having his beloved son to be his sole support in his declining years. [Falkirk Herald 1 December 1859]

15 December 1859

Fatal Accident To A Miner – Charles Fyfe, a miner employed at the Valleyfield Colliery, in the parish of Inveresk, was killed on Thursday by a fall of coal whilst working in the pit. [Scotsman 17 December 1859]

NB – Colliery should be Wallyford

21 December 1859

Fatal Pit Accident - On Wednesday afternoon a "sinksman," named Henry Potter, residing at Pathhead , met with his death in a new coal-pit in course of sinking, at the Newbattle colliery. It seems that he was ascending the shaft, when a heavy stone became detached from the pit side and fell upon him, fracturing his skull and causing immediate death. The unfortunate man has left a wife and family to lament his sudden loss. [Scotsman 23 December 1859]

NB Name given in Inspectors report is Daniel but no death certificate for either name have been found.

21 June 1860

Fatal Accident In A Coal-Pit - On Thursday last, an accident occurred in one of Messrs Houldsworth's pits, at Woodend, in the parish of Torphichen, whereby a miner named Gavin Watson, residing at Armadale, lost his life. At an early hour of the morning deceased was employed at the workings, there being besides himself only other two men in the pit. While busily working, a large flag or stone fell from the roof crushing him to the ground with his face downwards, and almost covering his whole person. A cry which escaped him was heard by his two fellow-workmen who hastened to his assistance; but so large and heavy was the stone, which measured 5 feet by 3, that it took the two men nearly fifteen minutes to remove it from the body. Watson was taken out quite dead. [Caledonian Mercury 26 June 1860]

17 January 1861

Bathgate – Fatal Accident - On Thursday evening last, a fatal accident occurred at pit No. 5, Polkemmet. The workmen had ascended the shaft , when the underground manager discovered that one man who had descended in the morning was missing. On descending to learn the cause of his detention, he found him at his working place quite dead. A large stone had fallen from the roof and jammed his head and neck, so that death must have instantaneously followed its fall. The deceased was twenty-two years of age, and leaves a widow and three children. [Scotsman 19 January 1861]

NB Deceased was James Swan

27 February 1861

Fatal Coal Pit Accident - A fatal accident occurred on Wednesday morning in one of the pits belonging to the Coltness Iron Company, situated at Woodend, Torphichen. About eight o’clock, a miner named Alexander Weir, his son, and another man were employed at the same “face.” Weir was working, lying upon his right side, at the dangerous task of “hollowing” or undermining a large mass of ironstone which had given repeated warning, by cracks and rents, that it was about to fall. His son and the other man accordingly ceased work, retired from the “face,” and informing Weir of the danger, urged him to do the same. He refused, saying that it was “alright.” In a few minutes the huge stone gave way, crushing the unfortunate man beneath it. When got out the left side of his skull was almost flat, and he was quite dead. He leaves a family. [Dundee Courier 1 March 1861]

1 March 1861

Bathgate – Fatal Pit Accident - About nine o'clock on Thursday night, a pit-headman named Thomas Chalmers who resided at Whitburn, was killed instantaneously at pit No. 9 Torbanehill. His duty was to draw, as they-were brought to the surface, the hutches from the cage, and after they were emptied to return them thereto. It seems that after having emptied a hutch he brought it back (shoving it, as is usual, with head down and arms extended before him), and not knowing that the cage had been lifted further up on the pit-frame by the engine, precipitated himself with the hutch to the bottom of the shaft which is 354 feet in depth. He gave but one wild cry, and must have been killed instantaneously. The hutch which fell into the pit before him, was found above him in the pit-bottom. Dr Kirk was in immediate attendance. The deceased was a man advanced in life, and had not long been employed about the pits , having been twenty-five years in country service as a ploughman . He leaves a family. The whole of the winding apparatus, cages, &c., at this pit are most complete, of the most approved description, and were in most perfect order. The miners who work on the night-shift are not employed in working the coal, but in removing the superfluous strata, the coal being wrought on the long-wall system. Nothing but debris is sent up the shaft during the night. [Scotsman 2 March 1861]

19 September 1861

Accident At Smeaton Coal Pit – Between 10 and 11 o'clock on Thursday morning, while William Tennant, a labourer residing in High Street, Dalkeith, was engaged in coupling waggons in Smeaton Colliery, Dalkeith, and was attempting to cross the line of rails, he was caught between the couplings of two of the waggons, and sustained severe injuries to the abdomen. The unfortunate man was immediately taken home where he was attended to by Dr Thomson, Dalkeith. He is still lying in a dangerous state. [Scotsman 21 September 1861]

9 November 1861

Boy Killed By Falling Down A Coal-Pit - On Saturday, a lad named Andrew Taylor, aged twelve years, son of Alexander Taylor, an engine- keeper, residing in Grangepans, near Borrowstounness, was killed by falling down the shaft of an old pit, known in the district as No. 4 Pit Grange. The pit is about 19 fathoms deep, and has not been worked for the last fifty years. The boy had been playing with several of his companions at "hide and seek." A miner, named John Donaldson, descended the shaft, and succeeded in bringing the unfortunate boy to the surface. His skull was found to be severely fractured, and the brain protrudinsg. He lingered until Sunday morning, when he expired. [Caledonian Mercury 12 November 1861]

12 November 1861

Fatal Accident At Drummore Coal-Pit - On Tuesday last, while Alexander Livingston, aged eighteen, residing at Tranent, and Peter Banks, aged eighteen, residing at Wallyford, were engaged in a coal-pit at Drummore, the property of Mr John Deans, taking down the head coal, a quantity of it, weighing six tons or thereby, suddenly gave way, and falling upon Livingston, who happened to be immediately under it at the time clearing away some small coal, crushed him to death. Banks who was standing close by, sustained several severe internal and external injuries, but not of a serious nature. [Caledonian Mercury 14 November 1861]

8 February 1862

Strange Fatal Pit Accident - An accident of a peculiar nature happened on Saturday last to a miner named Smith, employed in Messrs Watson & Son’s Colliery, Bathgate, whereby he met his death instantaneously. It appears that Smith, on arriving at the pit bottom with a loaded hutch, had sat down to eat a piece of bread when another miner named Norton also arrived with a loaded hutch, and proceeded to “dog” it on the cage. An altercation arose between Smith and Norton who latterly got into grips, and struggled with each other. Smith got his hutch “dogged,” and was leaning over it, when the cage was lifted, and he was jammed between the cage and the “doorheads.” On the signal being given to return the cage to the pit bottom he fell into the sump, containing about nine feet of water, and was taken up quite dead - death having been caused by fracture of the skull. The engineman and pitheadman assert that the signal was given to raise the cage, while the bottomer whose duty it is to attend to giving signals, &c., asserts that no signal was given. Smith leaves a widow and a large family of young children, Norton was apprehended soon after the accident. [Dundee Courier and Daily Argus 12 February 1862]

6 October 1862

Fatal Coal-Pit Accident - A fatal accident occurred at the colliery of West Bryans on the morning of Monday last. A man named Thomas Martin, residing in Newton Grange, parish of Newbattle, descended the coal-pit at West Bryans, accompanied by other two men. The men left him at what is called the "Parrot" seam, while he remained in the cage to descend to another seam further down. In about a quarter of an hour afterwards he was found lying in the water at the pit-bottom quite dead, his skull being fractured. It is supposed he had missed his footing when coming out of the cage, and had fallen to the bottom of the pit, a distance of about 20 feet. [Dunfermline Saturday Press 11 October 1862]

26 January 1863

Bathgate - Jan 29 - Sad Accident - On Monday last, an accident of a somewhat serious nature occurred to a miner, named Daniel Blades, employed in No. 4 Barbauchlaw Pit, Armadale, near Bathgate. Blades, it appears, had commenced work, when a large portion of the roof of the pit, above where he was working, fell in, crushing and injuring him in its fall. Blades was removed from out of the debris, and taken home. The injuries sustained were very severe. [Glasgow Herald 30 January 1863]

4 April 1863

Armadale – Fatal Accident - On Saturday forenoon, Hugh Allan, aged thirty-one , a miner, was killed in No. 5 Pit, Polkemmet, belonging to the Shotts Iron Company. He was at his usual employment in his own working, when he observed a large quantity of stone in the roof giving way, and shouted to a fellow-workman to look out. While running clear of the stone he was struck by it, and almost immediately deprived of life. The stone was about four tons weight . Deceased has left a widow. [Scotsman 7 April 1863]

7 April 1863

Fatal Pit Accident At Bo'ness - About midnight on Monday, a miner named William Brown, 27 years of age, was instantaneously killed in the School Yard Pit, belonging to the Kinneil Iron Company, under the following melancholy circumstances. The deceased, along with a miner named Prentice, had descended to their work about seven o'clock that evening, being engaged driving a "mine" through to the workings of an adjacent pit. After working some time, they sat down to rest themselves; immediately after which a very large stone fell from the roof upon Brown. Prentice, after vainly endeavouring to extricate the deceased, ascended to the pithead, where he obtained assistance, and having removed the stone from off the unfortunate man, the lifeless remains were sent to the bank. He leaves a wife and three children, in poor circumstances. [Glasgow Herald 9 April 1863]

10 October 1863

Fatal Accident At Vogrie - Between two and three o'clock on the afternoon of Saturday last, William Duncan, a miner, residing at the Green, in the parish of Temple, while ascending Vogrie coal-pit in a cage, fell from it to the bottom of the pit, a distance of about 40 fathoms, He was found quite dead, his body being dreadfully mangled. [Caledonian Mercury 13 October 1863]

3 February 1864

Fatal Pit Accident At Armadale - On Wednesday morning , James Finlay , a miner, aged twenty one years , residing in Armadale, was instantaneously killed while at work in No. 5 Pit , Couston, belonging to the Shotts Iron Company. About 7.30am the hoursman of the pit inspected the compartment where deceased and a younger brother of his own were working, and directed the former to prop up a large stone in the roof , as he deemed it unsafe for them to work there. Deceased, however, delayed doing so in the belief that it was quite secure, and in about two hours afterwards the stone, weighing about half-a-ton , fell upon his shoulders and head, killing him instantaneously. [Scotsman 6 February 1864]

25 April 1864

Miner Killed at Crofthead - On Monday morning, William M'Kinlay, miner, Longridge, was accidentally killed in the Heather Bell Pit, near Crofthead, belonging to the Coltness Iron Company. M’Kinlay had been mining ironstone with his comrade, named Wilson, from six o'clock a.m. ; and about eight, while engaged in clearing the road of the rubbish, a stone, about two tons in weight, came away unexpectedly from the roof and literally crushed him to death. The deceased, who was about twenty-five years of age, was the sole support of a widowed mother. [Dunfermline Saturday Press 30 April 1864]

29 April 1864

Jury Trials - Baillie or Young and Others v The Shotts Iron Company - In this case, which came before the Lord President and a jury yesterday, the pursuers were Mrs Jane Baillie or Young , widow of the deceased James Young, miner, Bonnyrigg, and Thomas, Carmichael, James, and Margaret Young, all children of the deceased James Young; and the defenders were the Shotts Iron Company, and Sir James Adam, S.S.C., Edinburgh, Mr Alexander Jamieson, C.A ., Edinburgh, directors , and Mr William Waddell. W.S., Edinburgh, all individual partners of the said company. The issue which was sent to the jury was as follows :- Whether , on or about the 29th day of April 1864, the said James Young, while engaged in the service of the defenders, was killed in a pit at or near Loanhead known as the Wood Pit, by foul air, through the fault of the defenders, to the; loss, injury, and damage of the pursuers? Damages to the pursuer Mrs Young laid at £400. Damages to each of the other pursuers laid at £l50. When the case was called , and the jury empanelled. there was no appearance for the pursuers , and a verdict was accordingly given for the defenders. -Counsel for the Defenders—Sir Fraser and Mr Scott. Agent - Mr Archibald Melville. W .S. [Scotsman 4 April 1865]

30 May 1864

Bathgate – Serious Pit Accident – On Monday week a miner named Wm Friel was severely injured while working in No 12 Pit Boghead, belonging to Mr James Russell. It appears that, while engaged removing some superincumbent strata, a mass of coal and stones fell upon him, crushing him in a frightful manner. Assistance was immediately at hand, but several hours elapsed before he could be extricated from his painful position. Besides being severely bruised, both his legs were found to be broken; and so severely was his right foot smashed, that amputation was rendered necessary. He lies in a very precarious state. A boy employed with Friel was slightly injured while endeavouring to rescue him from his perilous position. [Hamilton Advertiser 4 June 1864]

15 March 1865

Fatal Coal-Pit Accident - On Friday morning, a melancholy accident occurred in Edgehead coal-pit, near Pathhead, by which a boy named Charles Colt Good lost his life. It appears that the lad, who was 12 years of age, and was the son of a miner residing in Pathhead, had been engaged in hooking a chain on some coal waggons, which were conveyed, by means of machinery, to the bottom of the shaft. Having attached the chain to the waggons, he was unfortunately caught by a portion of the chain and dragged in amongst the machinery, by which his head was struck off his body and driven some distance along the pit, while his body was severely mangled. The remains of the poor lad were conveyed to his father's residence in Pathhead. [Dunfermline Saturday Press 25 March 1865]

12 August 1865

Fatal Pit Accident At Arniston Colliery - On Saturday forenoon last, while James Ross, a lad seventeen years of age, residing at Hunterfield, parish of Newbattle, was engaged at work in the bottom of the Old Engine Coal Pit, Arniston Colliery, a stone, weighing eight or nine cwt., became detached from the roof of the mine and fell upon him, causing instantaneous death. Another miner who was at work with the unfortunate by at the time of the accident had warned him of danger from the impending stone, and at his request he had sounded the roof to see that it was secure almost immediately before it fell. [The Dundee Courier & Argus 16 August 1865]

30 August 1865

Fatal Coal Pit Accident Near Pencaitland - Two Men Suffocated - On Thursday, it noon, the village of Pencaitland was thrown into a state of great excitement by the report that two men - one of them residing in the village, the other in the immediate neighbourhood - had been suffocated by bad air in the Dean Pit. It appears that Duncan, the engine-mane had descended the shaft of an adjoining old pit for the purpose of rectifying something in connection with a pump for carrying off water, and having been surrounded with foul air on his descent, he was seen from the top of the pit to fall down. Not knowing the cause, one of the banksmen, named Cairns, was induced to go to his rescue, and immediately he also was seen from the top to fall prostrate at his side. Precautionary measures were instantly taken, and when others descended they were both found quite dead. Duncan has left a widow and ten of a family, while Cairns was the sole support of his aged father and mother. - Haddington Courier. [The Dundee Courier & Argus 4 September 1865]

30 December 1865

Whitburn – Fatal Accident – On Saturday morning Roger Aytoun Blair, age 56, a pitheadman residing in Whitburn, and employed at No 5 pit Benhar, on the lands of Fauldhouse, met his death suddenly under the following circumstances – It appears that Blair, while engaged on the pithead, had occasion to remove a hutch from the hill and in doing so, the heel of his boot caught the plates whereon the hutches are turned, and the consequence was that he, along with the hutch, was precipitated to the bottom of the pit, a distance of 20 fathoms. [Hamilton Advertiser 6 January 1866]

22 January 1866

Broxburn – Miner Killed in A Shale Pit – An accident occurred at Broxburn Shale Works, of which Mr Robert Bell is lessee, about midday on Monday, by which a miner named John Shields, about 40 years of age, was instantaneously killed, It appears that Shields was at his usual employment in No 2 shale pit, and while engaged holing in a face of shale, a large mass became detached, and crushed him so severely that he almost immediately expired. [Hamilton Advertiser 27 January 1866]

28 February 1866

West Calder – Fatal Pit Accident – On Wednesday about midday while a miner named William Wardrop was engaged at this usual employment in the Shale Pit No 5, situated at Addiewell, on the property of Mr Young of Limefield, a large quantity of shale and loose earth fell from the roof of the pit, and killed him on the spot. The poor fellow was completely buried among the debris which is supposed to have been about 8 tons in weight. The other miners on hearing of the accident quickly mustered and dug the body out. Dr Home , of West Calder, examined the body, and found that one of the legs was broken, the head, shoulder, and other parts of the body being severely bruised. Deceased, who was 43 years of age, leaves a widow and 9 children. [Hamilton Advertiser 3 March 1866]

3 April 1866

Bathgate - Pit Accident - Two Men Killed - On Tuesday, at No, 15 Boghead Pit, Hardhill, near Bathgate, belonging to Messrs. James Russell & Son, two men, named Robert Murray and James Brash, were killed. It seems that the unfortunate men were, with others, employed at the above pit as shankers, and whilst following their avocation they had gone on to the scaffold on the top of the shank in order to remedy some defect. When there, from some cause or other, the spur wheel connected with the winding shaft got out of gear, and the consequence was that the two men were precipitated to the bottom, a distance of between 50 and 60 fathoms, and instantaneously killed. On the alarm being raised, two fellow-workmen of the deceased, named R. Marshall and Alex. Wardrope descended the shaft and brought the bodies to the surface. The bodies were found underneath the rope used in lowering and raising the scaffold, and that in itself was sufficient to have crushed them to death. The rope is 420 feet long, between four and five inches broad, and one and a half inches thick. Murray leaves a widow and seven children, and Brash a widow and one child. Murray had only commenced to work his first "shift" in the pit a few hours before he met his death. [Glasgow Herald 7 April 1866]

12 May 1866

Melancholy Accident In A Coal-Pit – Two Lives Lost - An accident, resulting in the death of two girls and endangering the life of a miner, occurred in No. 1 Balbardie Coal-Pit, near Bathgate, on Saturday night last. It appears that two girls, named Catherine Leech and Ann Baxter, each about sixteen years of age, went to the pit in question about eight o'clock in the evening, carrying the suppers of an uncle and two brothers of the girl Leech who were working in the pit. They found the men at the pit bottom, and while waiting there proposed to go down and see the workings. The men objected; but the girls insisted and carried their point. They, along with the uncle, Alexander Leech, got upon a boggie, or small waggon, which travels on an incline, and the signal was given to the engineman at the pit-head to set the boggie in motion, which was accordingly done. There was, however, a slack in the rope attached to the boggie, and while it was running rapidly down, the check, caused by the tightening of the rope, broke it, and the boggie, left to itself, dashed with great velocity down the incline, and overturned, throwing the unfortunate, persons out with great violence on the road. An alarm having been given, the brothers Leech proceeded down the incline, and found Alexander Leech lying under the boggie insensible ; the girl Baxter, who died almost immediately, near to him ; and the girl Leech twenty yards farther down, much injured. The girl Leech has since died, and but little hopes are entertained of the man Leech's recovery. We understand that there is an order prohibiting any one from riding on a boggie in the pit under a penalty. [Fife Herald 17 May 1866]

21 June 1866

Crofthead – Dreadful Pit Accident - A dreadful pit accident happened in this neighbourhood on Thursday morning, accompanied with loss of life and serious injury to three men. It appears the scene of the catastrophe is a pit on the estate of Polkemmet, which has been disused for some time, and was being put in working order for the purpose of draining another pit newly sunk. by the Coltness Iron Company, of a portion or the whole of the water collecting there. Between six and seven o’clock on Thursday morning four men, two brothers and their uncle, named Hair, and a man named Pate, while in the act of proceeding to the pit bottom to commence the duties of the day and while standing on the cage, which is suspended from the machinery by a chain, it broke, and they were, without any warning, precipitated to the bottom of the pit, a distance of over 40 yards. A weak part of the chain is supposed to have given way. Prompt measures were used for bringing the unfortunate men to the surface, when it was ascertained Robert Hair - the uncle of the two brothers was killed and the others were dreadfully injured. Hair leaves a widow and children. [The Dundee Courier & Argus 23 June 1866]

9 September 1866

Fatal Pit Accident at Addiewell - On Sunday morning, while John Ralstons, a fireman, residing at Addiewell, near West Calder, was employed at No. 2 Pit there belonging to Mr James Young, of Limefield, he incautiously came in contact with the crank of the pumping-engine. His right leg was in consequence severely cut and injured, and severe internal injuries were sustained. The poor man was immediately assisted home, and medical aid sent for: but the injuries were of so serious a nature that he expired on Tuesday morning in great agony. [Dunfermline Saturday Press 15 September 1866]

9 February 1867

BO'NESS -  Fatal Pit Accident - On Saturday last an accident, which unfortunately terminated fatally, occurred in Mr James Pollock's pit, at Corbiehall, Bo’ness to a man named Philip Hoolichen, a drawer. Deceased, on the morning of the above day, was employed in removing the hutches or small waggons from the workings down to the bottom of the shaft. There is a tramway along which the hutches are pushed for about 70 fathoms from the shaft, having a gradient of an inch to the foot, but from that point the workings the tramway is level, and on this level upon the day of the accident, were standing a number of loaded hutches ready to be conveyed to the shaft. It is supposed that the deceased, when removing one, had neglected or omitted to "choke" or clog the wheels of the next waggon, which must have started after him down the incline - knocked him down and run over him. He was found about half-past eleven in the forenoon lying on the tramway with one of his legs broken, and several severe wounds on his face and body. He was speedily taken to the shaft, and surgical aid sent for, but he only survived about two hours and a half after being found. [Falkirk Herald 14 February 1867]

8 March 1867

Jury Trial – Thursday - (Before Sheriff Davidson and a Jury.) –Charge of Culpable Homicide - James Lind was put upon his trial, charged with culpable homicide, or culpable neglect of duty in his capacity of engineman at the Paraffin Oil Works Colliery, Addiewell, West Calder. It was his duty to set the engine in motion on receiving a signal from below by a person named the "bottomer." Upon the occasion in question the engine was set in motion when the bottomer was assisting in getting a truck upon the carriage at the bottom of the pit when it suddenly began to rise, taking him with it. He was driven violently against a door with such force that he died almost immediately. A number of witnesses were examined for the prosecution, and nine for the prisoner. It was declared, in defence, that the signal was given, for the witnesses admitted that though they did not hear it, the bell might have rung. After addresses by the Procurator-Fiscal and Mr Dundas Grant, who appeared for the prisoner, and the charge by the Sheriff, which was adverse to the prisoner, the jury returned a verdict of not proven. [Caledonian Mercury 8 March 1867]

13 May 1867

Fatal Pit Accident At West Calder – About 4 o'clock on Monday afternoon, a man named William Mathers, while at work in No 2 shale pit at Addiewell, West Calder, was killed by a piece of shale, about a ton in weight, falling upon him from the roof of the pit. [Edinburgh Evening Courant 15 May 1867]

24 June 1867

Dalkeith – Fatal Pit Accident – About 6 o'clock on Monday evening, while a young man named William Brown was working in Cowden Coal Pit, about a mile from Dalkeith, a large mass of stone forming the roof, and weighing above a ton, gave way, and falling on his back, crushed him so severely that death must have been instantaneous. Deceased was about 26 years of age and unmarried. He resided with his sister at Cowden Foot, near the pit, in which he had been employed for a period of year, and where he was highly respected as an honest and steady workman. [Edinburgh Evening Courant 26 June 1867]

10 October 1868

Fatal Pit Accident At West Calder – A fatal accident occurred on Saturday at the No 2 pit of Young's Paraffin Light and Mineral Oil Company, Addiewell. A man named William Robertson in company with two boys was being raised from the pit when owing to the indicator having ceased to operate, the cage was lifted beyond the stage on which the miners land. The unfortunate man fearing to be drawn over the pulleys jumped down, slipped on the iron plate at the pit mouth and fell backwards to the bottom. The loud cry raised caused the arrest of the cage in time to save the lives of the boys. [Edinburgh Evening Courant 14 October 1868]

18 March 1869

Fatal Coal Pit Accident At Niddrie – Shortly after 5 o'clock yesterday morning a fatal accident occurred in the No 1 coal pit at Niddrie, belonging to Mr Grieve. Two brothers named King were working together in one of the cuttings when a quantity of coal became detached from the roof and fell upon the younger of the two, a youth aged about 15, killing him on the spot. The elder brother escaped without injury. [Edinburgh Evening Courant 19 March 1869]

9 October 1869

Two Men Killed By A Crane At Dalkeith - A melancholy accident, by which two men lost their lives and four others had a narrow escape, occurred about six o'clock on Friday evening, at East Byars Coal Pit. The whole of the men were engaged at the time working a powerful crane, and were in the act of lowering fully a ton weight of iron down the shaft of the pit. For some reason or other they shifted the crane from the double to the single power without changing the gearing. The effect was that they became overpowered, and the handles, which commenced to revolve at an immense speed, struck the whole of them and dashed them in all directions. They were all stunned, but on assistance arriving four of them were found to be only very slightly injured. The other two, who, it appears, were working the ends of the handles, were seen to be in a much worse condition, as they had received the full weight of the blows. Their names are Geo. Buchan, contractor, residing at Newlandrigg, and J. Syme, coal grieve, residing at Easthouses. The former was removed to Newtongrange, but expired just as he reached the place, and Syme survived only a few hours. Both had received severe internal injuries, and their ribs were completely smashed. Buchan was sixty-seven Years of age, and Syme forty- four. The latter has left a widow and a family of seven young children.-Daily Review. [Glasgow Herald 12 October 1869]

14 January 1870

West Calder Pit Accident – A somewhat serious accident occurred in a shale pit at West Calder on Monday morning. A man named James M'Taig had gone into a cutting to examine it prior to beginning to work in it, when the roof suddenly gave way, and he was buried beneath a mass of eleven or twelve tons of shale. On being extricated, it was found that he was much cut about the head and face, and that he had also sustained severe internal injuries. He was conveyed to his house in West Calder, where he still lies. [Scotsman 29 December 1869]

NB the accident occurred on 27 December 1869 and James M'Taig died on 14 January 1870

12 July 1870

Yesterday, while a miner named John Beveridge was working in the shale pit at Uphall, belonging to the Uphall mineral Oil Company, he observed a deficiency in the brushing in his working, and when in the act of putting up some support, when the roof gave way, and about two tons of material fell down and buried him, with the exception of his head. His cries for help were heard by a fellow workman, who brought more assistance, and after considerable exertion, the poor fellow was extricated. It was then found that his back and legs were fearfully crushed, and he was at once removed to the Edinburgh infirmary. [Scotsman 13 July 1870]

27 December 1870

Bathgate - Fatal Accident. - On Tuesday morning the men employed at No 11 Shale Pit near West-Calder, on descending the pit to resume work, were horrified to find the dead body of a man at the bottom of the shank. The body, which was frightfully mutilated, was identified as that of William Morn Jackson, a pointsman at Cuthill loop line of the Cleland and Mid-Calder Railway. It appears that deceased had left his lodging at Cuthill Siding for the purpose of proceeding to West-Calder to attend the annual festival of St John's, which was being held that night in the Masons' Lodge, and he is said to have been seen leaving West Calder a little the worse for drink, and it is supposed that he had wandered and fallen down the pit-shank which is 105 fathoms deep. Deceased was a native of Ireland, about 30 years of age, and unmarried. [Glasgow Herald 29 December 1870]

Bathgate - Shocking Accident - A Man Falling Down a Coal Pit - On Tuesday morning, 27th ult., while some of the men employed at No. 11 Shale Pit, near West Calder, the property of Messrs Young & Co., paraffin and mineral od manufacturers, Addiewell, descended the pit to commence their work, they were horrified to find the mangled body of a man at the pit bottom. On the body being removed to the pit-head, it was identified as that of William Moon Jackson, a pointsman at Cuthill siding of the loop line of the Caledonian Railway. From what we have been able to learn, deceased had gone to West Calder on the previous night to attend the annual festival of St John's, and was seen to leave the after midnight a little the worse of liquor, and nothing more was heard of him until his body was discovered. It is supposed he had wandered and fallen down the pit, which is 105 fathoms deep. The body was much mutilated, one of the arms being torn away from the body. Deceased was about thirty years of age, a native of Ireland, and unmarried. [Falkirk Herald 5 January 1871]