Colliery Accidents

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.

8 April 1841

Holytown – Fatal Coal Pit Accident -On Thursday morning last, an accident, followed with a fatal result, occurred in one of the coal pits is this neighbourhood. The unfortunate individual was a decent hard-working man, named William Hamilton, who, while engaged at his employment, was struck upon the head by a heavy piece of coal falling from the roof of the pit, by which his skull was severely fractured, and a portion of a cotton napkin, which was upon his head at the time, knocked into the wound. For the sake of getting the best possible medical assistance, the sufferer was removed during the day to the Glasgow Royal Infirmary but we regret to state, that notwithstanding every thing that could be done, he expired there on Sunday morning. [Caledonian Mercury 15 April 1841]

23 October 1843

Fatal Colliery Accidents – Explosion of Firedamp – Four Men Burned - At Stevenston Colliery, Holytown, on Monday the 23d, three men and a boy were severely burned, owing, it is said, to one of the workmen going with a naked lamp into a part of the workings known by him to be foul. One of the sufferers was relieved on Tuesday by death from his painful situation; and no hopes are as yet entertained for the recovery of the other three. We understand the employer had given strict orders that no person descend the pit in the mornings till the fireman go first down to examine the state of the air. [Caledonian Mercury 30 October 1843]

16 January 1844

Dreadful Colliery Accident - A poor man of the name of Nimmo, a redsman at Clelan, near Holytown , lost his life on the morning of the 16th instant, in the No. 10 pit ,under the following distressing circumstances :- Nimmo was redding in the main coal-seam alone, and is supposed to have lost his light , and to have made for the bottom of the pit ; but being in the dark, and a stranger to the workings , fell into the shaft down to the splint seam, and was smashed to pieces - his head being nearly laid open. A wife and six children are left to deplore his untimely end. - Glasgow Argus [Scotsman 24 January 1844]

July 1844

Fatal Colliery Accidents – Considerable excitement prevailed in the neighbourhood of Coatbridge during the early part of last week owing to one of the pits at Rosehall closing whilst the men were at work. Unfortunately three men were closed in, but by the exertions of the other workmen, two of the three were got out safe on Tuesday morning; the other, a man of the name of Simpson, was supposed dead, but was also found by four o'clock in the evening, nothing hurt, but considerably excited in the mind, having been pinned up in a narrow space. The same day (Tuesday),two men were dreadfully burned in one of the Whiflit pits; and the following morning a man of the name of Russell was burned in one of the Dundyvan pits - all are lying in a dangerous state. The severest accident during the week has occurred at Stevenson colliery by Holytown, on Wednesday morning , owing to one of the pits blasting whilst the oversman, John Bailie, was in the act of examining the state of the pit ; fortunately but few of the workmen were down. The oversman was killed on the spot and two others are dreadfully burned. Bailie was much respected by all who knew him and has left a wife and large family to lament his fate – Glasgow Argus [Scotsman 31 July 1844]

9 October 1844

Colliery Accident - An accident occurred at Carronbrae Colliery, by Holytown, on Wednesday last, which has brought 2 families into deep distress. It would appear that the foolish practice of leaving the safety lamp overnight in the pit was adhered to, and in this case the lamp was left for convenience some five stoop length back from the face (about 30 yards), at a part where the air was good. Unfortunately the workmen thoughtlessly proceeded as usual with their naked lamp too far, the gas being out that morning to the outside where the safety lamp was placed. As might be expected the foul air ignited. Several props were knocked down by the blast, and much damage done to the brattice. Peter Allan had his ribs knocked in and his leg broken; his son had also his leg broken; and Russell is severely burned [Caledonian Mercury, quoted in The Times 16 October 1844]

30 November 1844

Fatal Colliery Accident- An accident of an unfortunate nature occurred at Carfin Colliery, by Holytown, on Saturday last. It would appear that 2 men were employed mining through a dyke; one of the under oversmen, named Archibald Kirkwood, having gone to the opposite side of the dyke, just at the time the miners put match to a shot, which came through on the unfortunate man, who, from the injury he received, died in a few hours, leaving six children and a wife pregnant to lament his untimely end [from Glasgow Argus - quoted in Scotsman 7 December 1844]

1 August 1845

Another of those fatal colliery accidents, now becoming too common, occurred at Jarviston [sic] Colliery on Friday, 1st August when Walter Bulloch, by some mismanagement in drawing him up the pit, fell from the pulleys down the pit, and was killed; he has left a wife and family to mourn his loss. It is said that his two sons were at the pit bottom when he fell, he having forbid them to ascend with him least anything should happen. [Glasgow Herald 11 August 1845]

22 January 1846

Distressing Colliery Accidents - Another of those alarming pit accidents, now so common in the Holytown district, occurred on Thursday last, at the No. 5 pit, Newarthill Colliery, belonging to Mr Watson. A young man, of the name of John Hangelwood, employed as pit-headman, when drawing a bucket of dirt back from the pit-mouth, missed his footing, and fell a depth of 40 fathoms. His body was conveyed to his lodgings, in Holytown, in a dreadfully mangled state - Another accident occurred to a young married man, of the name of Patterson, about the same time, at Chapelhall Colliery, and but little hopes are entertained of his recovery. [Glasgow Herald 26 January 1846]

April 1846

Fatal Colliery Accidents - A fine little boy, about twelve years of age ; of the name of Thomson, was killed in the Garden Pit at Woodhall colliery, near Holytown, on Monday last. It would appear that the little fellow was assisting his brother to draw his fathers coals, and as they were coming to the bottom of the shaft, along the roadway, the roof fell in, when, shocking to relate, the boy's head was severed from his body . Another fatal accident occurred at pit 13. Cleland colliery , where a miner of the name of William Baird was so severely hurt by a joint of ironstone falling on him when at work, that it was thought proper to take him to the Infirmary in Glasgow, where, after lingering two or three days, he died on Thursday last. - Glasgow Argus [Scotsman 25 April 1846]

30 June 1846

A young man named Thomas Hunter met his death at Mossend Colliery near Bellshill on Tuesday last, the 30th ult., by a fall from the roof. The address of the relatives of the deceased is unknown. It is believed, however, that his father is employed as a labourer in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh about 2 years since, and it is supposed he may be employed in or about the city yet. [Scotsman 4 July 1846]

3 August 1846

Fatal Colliery Accident - A miner, of the name of John Johnston, was killed in one of the pits at Carnbroe Ironworks, a few days ago by a fall of the roof. [Glasgow Herald 3 August 1846]

25 August 1846

Fatal Colliery Accident - An accident of an unfortunate nature occurred this morning (25th curt.) about 4 o'clock, to a fine young lad of the name of Stewart, about fifteen years of age. It would appear that the lad and his father, had just descended the No. 6 pit, at Carfin, by Holytown, and being strangers in the work, the lad, in coming out with his first hutch, thought the cage was down, and unfortunately ran his hutch forward into the pit, and fell from the main coal down to the splint, a distance of 14 fathoms. The family to which the lad belonged had only recently gone to the work, and this was their first day at the colliery, which may account for the lad's mistake. [Glasgow Herald 31 August 1846]

26 August 1846

Distressing Colliery Accident - A distressing accident occurred at Stevenson Colliery, by Holytown, a few days ago, when a collier of the name of Alex. Forrest was severely hurt by a fall of coal, in consequence of which he was removed to the Infirmary in Glasgow, where he lingered till Wednesday morning last, when death put an end to his sufferings. He has left a wife near her confinement, and three young children, to deplore his unhappy fate. [Glasgow Herald 31 August 1846]

5 December 1846

On the following day, a man named John Falling, labourer, employed at a coal-pit at Jerviston colliery, fell down one of the shafts and was shockingly mangled. He has left a widow and family to lament their early bereavement. [Stirling Observer 10 December 1846]

21 August 1848

Fatal Colliery Accident. - We regret to be informed that two persons met with their deaths from an explosion of fire-damp in a pit near Holytown, on Monday last, and that a third individual was also so much injured that his life is despaired of. [Glasgow Herald 28 August 1848]

January 1853

Coal Pit Accident - Last week , a collier, named John M'Ginnes, was killed in the coal-pit No. 7 at Carfin , in the parish of Bothwell , the property of Messrs John M'Andrew & Co of Glasgow. M'Ginnes was working in the main coal seam, and, tempted by the facility with which the pillars which support the roof of the workings may be wrought , he left his proper working place , and commenced to take coals from one of the stoops or pillars in the waste. One of his fellow-workmen remonstrated with him on the impropriety of his conduct; but still he persevered, till at length the roof, deprived of its support, fell down on him and instantly crushed him to death. - Glasgow Citizen. [Scotsman 2 February 1853]

7 October 1856

Fatal Accident – Yesterday, one of those distressing accidents which are so often occurring in mining districts happened in the Stevenston Cuckoo Pit, near Holytown, by which two men were killed. It appears both had been engaged in filling a hutch at the face of the workings, when a portion of the roof gave way and killed them both on the spot. One was named John Glassford, a man of 34 years of age, who leaves a widow and four young children; the other was a lad named John Simpson, 16 years of age. The pit is the property of the Stevenston Coal Company, but is wrought under contract by Mr John Russell. [Scotsman 8 October 1856]

11 February 1859

Fire Damp Explosion - On the morning of Friday 11th instant, John Kairnan, roadsman, and Richard Marshall, collier, both residing at Jerviston Square, Bothwell, were burned – the former severely, the latter slightly – by a partial explosion of fire damp in No 6 splint coalpit, Jerviston Colliery, leased by Messrs Wilson & Co, of Summerlee Iron Works. Kairnan is being attended by Dr Loudon of Hamilton. [Hamilton Advertiser February 19 1859]

24 December 1859

On Saturday Alexander McDonald, a young man, met with his death in No 3 pit Stevenston Colliery, near Holytown. A portion of the roof gave way of several tons weight and killed him on the spot. Another miner named Archibald Witherspoon was also severely injured at the same time. It is expected he will recover. A moment before the accident, eight persons were crowded in the very spot where the roof came down. McDonald was unmarried.[Scotsman 26 Dec 1859]

Fatal Pit Accident - On Saturday last, Alexander McDonald, aged 19 years, a miner, in the employment of the Stevenston Coal Company, and residing with his father, Ewen M'Donald at Napier's Square, near Holytown, was killed in No 8 pit, in the occupation of said company, by some stones falling from the roof upon him, while he was engaged busily at work. Another workman named Archibald Wotherspoon, who was also working at the same place, was much injured; but Dr Loudon of Hamilton, who attended him, considers he will recover. [Hamilton Advertiser December 31 1859]

7 July 1860

Fatal Accident – On Saturday last, a man named Hugh Dollaphin, belonging to the Messrs Dicksons works, Carfin, had gone out to his daily employment on Saturday morning; all went well with him till about noon when the roof of the place fell in suddenly, without a moment's warning, crushing the unfortunate man in its fall. He was extricated shortly after the accident, but life was extinct. We understand the deceased left a wife and family to mourn his untimely end. [Hamilton Advertiser July 14 1860]

30 October 1860

Jerviston Pit Accident – On Tuesday, the 30th October, William Byers, aged 24 years, collier, residing at Cleekhim Inn, James Wyper, 13 years, Robert Dyer, 14 years, James Dyer, 39 years, all at Holytown, were burned by firedamp while at work in No 1 Jerviston Pit, situated near Jerviston House. No blame is reported to be attached to any person. Dr Loudon, Hamilton was in attendance. [Hamilton Advertiser November 3 1860]

26 December 1860

Fire Damp Explosion - On Wednesday while John M'Lean and Edward M'Gunk, both brushers, residing at Carfin, were at work in No 2 coal pit at Carfin, in the employment of Alex. Forsyth contractor there, they were burned by an explosion of fire damp. M'Lean had his face and hands scorched. M'Gunk had his head and several parts of his body burnt, but we understand neither of the two are severely injured. [Hamilton Advertiser December 29 1860]

14 February 1861

Pit Accident at Carnbroe – On Thursday forenoon, a young boy, named Alexander Paterson, son of James Paterson, engineman, met with an accident in No 8 coal pit, Old Carnbroe. It appears that he was in the act of going up into the enginehouse, when he slipped his foot and fell under the “pinions”, which came in contact with his head, and his jaw bone was broken and his head severely cut. Dr Wilson of Coatbridge was speedily in attendance, and dressed the wounds. [Hamilton Advertiser February 16 1861]

8 January 1862

Coal-Pit Accident - On Wednesday the 8th January current, Lewis Dillon, miner, aged 37, residing at Omoa Square, had his head and left shoulder cut in several places by the falling of some stones from the roof while working in No 34 Cleland Pit, belonging to Robert Stewart, Esq., of Murdiston. [Glasgow Herald 10 January 1862]

8 January 1862

Fatal Accident - James Cranston, aged 38, oversman, residing at No 3 Pit Cleland Colliery; Thomas Ferguson, brusher, residing there; and James Kelly, brusher, residing at Carfin, were all killed by the falling of several tons of rubbish and stones upon them while they were replacing a beam, called a crown at the cube road, near the bottom of the shaft in No 3 Pit, Cleland Colliery, belonging to W. S. Dixon, Esq., on the 8th January current. Another brusher, named William Sneddon, escaped with a few bruises. [Glasgow Herald 10 January 1862]

16 January 1862

Holytown - Hartley Colliery - It would be difficult to add anything new to the details daily given in the press of this awful and heart rending catastrophe; but it may not be uninteresting to your readers to know that a few of the sufferers belong to this locality viz. - Walter and William Miller, brothers, both leaving widows and helpless families; John Broadfoot, Robert Hill, Robert Small, and Robert Binning, all unmarried, but who have left fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, to lament their untimely end. Only one individual who left this place and was engaged at that fatal colliery, has escaped, viz. Thomas McVicar. He had written for his father-in-law, and had gone to receive him on his landing from the boat at Newcastle, or, in all probability, another name would have been added to the already fearful list. [Hamilton Advertiser February 1 1862]

For more on the Hartley Colliery Disaster click here

7 April 1862

Fatal Accident – On Monday last, a young man, named Philip Docherty, residing at Jerviston Square, met with his death while engaged in No.6 Pit, belonging to the Jerviston Coal Company. He was proceeding to his work in one of the hutches, when a piece of stone fell from the roof (weighing between 4 and 5 cwt.), and, striking him on the head, caused instantaneous death. [Hamilton Advertiser April 12 1862]

16 December 1863

Melancholy & Fatal Accident - On Tuesday morning, a serious accident occurred at No, 9 Greenhill Pit, parish of Shotts, whereby John Lithgow, a shanker, about thirty-three years of age, has lost his life, and Robert Edmund, another shanker, has been severely injured. The engine is in charge of a young man named William Jonstone, and seemingly he had been pumping water previous to the shankers commencing work, and had omitted to connect the engine with the winding apparatus. Thinking every thing right, the men stepped on to the bucket, when they were immediately precipitated to the bottom of the shaft, a depth of thirty-three fathoms, the whole of the rope falling upon them. Assistance being procured, the men were removed from the pit, but Lithgow was found to be dead, and Edmund severely injured—indeed, it is almost a miracle that he escaped being killed also. -The. matter has been reported to the Procurator fiscal, who will be making an investigation into the sad affair [Glasgow Herald 17 December 1863]

2 July 1864

Fatal Pit Accident – On Saturday the 2nd inst., Thomas Cassiday, drawer, residing at Legbrannock Square, and employed by Robert Stewart Esq of Omoa in his No 30 coal pit at Cleland met with his death under the following circumstances:- Thos Teague, residing at Newarthill, and employed as a drawer in said pit, was proceeding from the face of the workings to the main road with a loaded hutch, when, though carelessness or negligence, he entered on an inclined plane, without having his hutch “snibbled”. Having nothing to retard its progress, the loaded hutch came violently in contact with Thomas Cassiday, inflicting such serious injuries that he died on Sabbath at one o'clock am. Teague has been apprehended and conveyed to Hamilton prison, where he will be examined and tried before the Sheriff. [Hamilton Advertiser July 9 1864]

2 November 1864

Accident - On Wednesday last, while John Brown, pitheadman, residing at New Stevenston, was working some repairs at the pit at Milnwood Colliery, he accidentally fell from the scaffolding - a height of 18 feet - and got himself severely bruised. He was attended by Dr M'Gown of Bellshill. [Hamilton Advertiser 5 November 1864]

14 August 1867

Pit Accident - On the 14th current, John Berry, collier, 35 years of age, residing at Legbrannock, in the parish of Bothwell, met with an accident in Mr A G Simpson's No 1 Carfin Pit. Berry was in the act of taking down a fall of coal at the face of the workings, when a large stone came down and struck him on the right leg and broke it above the ankle. [Glasgow Herald 17 August 1867]

16 August 1867

Fatal Pit Accident - Yesterday morning, about four o'clock, William Campbell, a brusher, residing in Hamilton, was killed instantaneously by a fall of stone from the roof of No. 5 Coal Pit, Millwood, near Holytown, in which pit he was engaged at work. We understand that the deceased was warned by John Campbell, manager, Bellshill, not to work there, as the place was dangerous. [Glasgow Herald 17 August 1867]

2 October 1867

Fatal Pit Accident at Cleland – On Wednesday, 2d curt, Peter Dewar, collier, residing with his father at Newarthill, in the parish of Bothwell, met with an accident which proved fatal, in the following manner. Deceased was employed along with his father and others, in taking out stoops in No 3 Pit, Cleland Colliery, and when thus engaged, a fall of coal about four feet in thickness fell from the roof and killed the young man instantaneously. [Hamilton Advertiser October 5 1867]

18 November 1867

Fatal Accident – On Monday last, John Lynch, aged 21 years,and residing at Carnbroe, fell down the shaft of No 10 Ironstone Pit, Old Carnbroe, a distance of 35 fathoms, and was killed on the spot. No person can tell how the accident happened. [Hamilton Advertiser November 23 1867]

10 December 1867

Fatal Pit Accident – Thomas Major, a miner, residing at Newarthill, met with his death under horrible circumstances in Mr Robert Dick's new pit at Knownoble near Cleland, on the 10th inst. The deceased, after his days labour, was being hoisted to the pit head, where he arrived all safe, but just as he was in the act of stepping off the cage, the engine was suddenly put in motion, and the poor fellow, losing his hold, was precipitated to the bottom of the pit, a distance of fully 24 fathoms, and was dashed to pieces. Death must have been instantaneous. Major was 48 years of age, and leaves a wife and large family. [Hamilton Advertiser December 14 1867]