Blantyre Disaster 5th March 1878
On the afternoon of Tuesday 5th March 1878 at No. 3 pit, High Blantyre collieries, belonging to William Dixon Co Ltd, six men were killed in a cage accident.
coal miner married to Ann Burgess 1878 March 5th about 3pm No 3 Pit,
Dixon's Colliery, Blantyre Usual Residence 1 Dixon St age 48. Parents
Robert Murdoch farm labourer dec & Margaret McPhie dec. Cause -
killed through being precipitated to the pit bottom by the overturning
of the cage which came in contact with the wheels above the surface.
Reg by David Hammill, neighbour, Dixons Rows, Stonefield, Blantyre on
March 6th 1878
Robert Murdoch, coal miner single 1878 March 5th about 3pm No 3 Pit, Dixon's Colliery, Blantyre Usual Residence 1 Dixon St age 20. Parents Thomas Murdoch coal miner dec & Ann Burgess. Cause - killed through being precipitated to the pit bottom by the overturning of the cage which came in contact with the wheels above the surface. Reg by David Hammill, neighbour, Dixons Rows, Stonefield, Blantyre on March 6th 1878
Michael Currie, coal miner married to Janet Campbell 1878 March 5th about 3pm No 3 Pit, Dixon's Colliery, Blantyre Usual Residence Gardener Place age 38. Parents Peter Currie Chemical works labourer dec & Madge McGettiging dec. Cause - killed through being precipitated to the pit bottom by the overturning of the cage which came in contact with the wheels above the surface. Reg by Thomas uncle in law, Auchenraith, Blantyre on March 6th 1878
Patrick Haughney, coal miner married to Hannah Harviston 1878 March 5th about 3pm No 3 Pit, Dixon's Colliery, Blantyre Usual Residence 16 Anne St, Burnbank, Hamilton age 47. Parents John Haughney coal miner dec & Ann McLaughlin dec. Cause - killed through being precipitated to the pit bottom by the overturning of the cage which came in contact with the wheels above the surface. Reg by Michael Haughney,brother, Inkermann on March 8th 1878
Martin Haughney, coal miner single 1878 March 5th about 3pm No 3 Pit, Dixon's Colliery, Blantyre Usual Residence 16 Ann St, Burnbank, Hamilton age 16. Parents Patrick Haughney coal miner dec & Hannah Harviston. Cause - killed through being precipitated to the pit bottom by the overturning of the cage which came in contact with the wheels above the surface. Reg by Michael Haughney, uncle, Inkermann on March 8th 1878
Patrick Hopkins, coal miner single 1878 March 5th about 3pm No 3 Pit, Dixon's Colliery, Blantyre Usual Residence 16 Ann St, Burnbank, Hamilton age 20. Parents Anthony Hopkins coal miner dec & Bridget Kelly dec. Cause - killed through being precipitated to the pit bottom by the overturning of the cage which came in contact with the wheels above the surface. Reg by James Kelly uncle, Annfield Plain on March 8th 1878
The time for stopping work lies with the men themselves. They usually accomplish what they consider their task, and then ascend to the surface. As the rule the first party of them leave the pit about two in the afternoon, and they are mostly all-out before four. No. 2 is 155 fathoms in depth to the lowest seam, there being beneath this a "sump" or well 18 ft deep, filled to within a foot of the top with water. The shaft consist of two divisions, one double cage been fitted into each. The winding apparatus is that it usually in use at mines. A worm screw indicator informs the engineer of the position of the cage in the shaft and when it reaches the top. The cages containing coal are wound to the surface in from 33-36 seconds, but when men compose the freight about double that time is occupied. Arthur Cleland is the day shift engine keeper. He has been in the employment of the firm since November, and has filled the position of engine keeper at No. 3 since the New Year, gaining a high reputation for caution and steadiness. Up till 25 minutes past three, when the accident happened, he had drawn six "tows" or about 38 men to the pit head. As far as can be ascertained the necessary signals where exchanged between him and the bottomer when he began to wind to the top a cage containing seven men and boys. Instead of being stopped when it reached the plates where the men usually get off, the cage was carried on to the cross beams, where it was wrecked, and six of the seven men which it contained were precipitated down the shaft, the only one who escaped being Robert Allan, or "Carroty" who resides at Stonefield Rows. A young man named John Tracey, who descended with the previous cage, was coming out of the smithy, where he had been leaving his picks, when the accident happened. He says there were only three men on the cage at the time when it struck the beams. One fell out, and was precipitated into the shaft. The second seem to have attempted to leap off, but his feet came in contact with the framework overhead, and he fell down the opposite shaft. The third was Allan, who remained on the cage and was saved. Tracey gave the alarm, shouting that the cage was over the "whorles" and James Paterson, engineer, relieved the remaining occupant of the wrecked cage. Saving the shock he was evidently none the worse, being able to walk home.
Intimation of the occurence was at once sent to Mr Watson, the manager, who had just come up the pit, and was at the Colliery Office with Mr J T Robson, Assistant Government Inspector for the district, and his assistant Mr Robert Robson. They at once repaired to No. 3 pit, which is only a short distance away, and took instant measures to recover the dead bodies of those who, it was certain, had lost their lives. Mr Robert Robson descended No. 2 pit, betwixt which and No. 3 there is the statutory communication, and reached No. 3 pit bottom. Grappling irons were by this time got with the view of fishing the dead bodies out of the sump. There were still from 40 to 50 men in No. 3, but these all remained below until the corpses of their comrades were recovered. Meanwhile, on No. 3 pit head, after the wrecked cage had been removed, a "kettle" was attached to the tow rope, and in this several men were slowly lowered to ascertain if the shaft has suffered any damage. None being discovered, and the bodies of the six men being all recovered from the "sump" they were taken to the surface and placed in coffins.
Paterson, the engineer, immediately on being apprised of the accident, made an examination of the indicator in the engine house, and found, it is understood, that it registered the position of the cage at 40 fathoms from the pit head. When he went back it indicated seven fathoms, the position of the cage in the interval not having been altered. Cleland, it seems, set out for home shortly after the accident, and after shifting his clothes, left the house apparently with the intention of going to Glasgow. Information was given to the police, and Constable Jeffrey overtook Cleland, and took him into custody pending further inquiries. Much sympathy is felt for him considering his previous good character.
Mr John Miller, depute Procurator Fiscal, accompanied by Mr Paterson, Sheriff Clerk depute, visited the Colliery immediately after the accident, and made the necessary official investigations. Chief Constable McHardy, with a sufficient body of men, kept order. Coming so shortly after the late explosion, the accident has spread a feeling of gloom over the mining population of the district [Scotsman March 6 1878]
Last night - before Sheriff Birnie - Arthur Cleland, engine keeper, was examined on a charge of culpable homicide, or culpable neglect of duty, in connection with the fatal accident at No. 3 pit, High Blantyre collieries, on Tuesday, and formally committed to prison pending further investigations. [Scotsman 7 March 1878]
Another Colliery Disaster At Blantyre – Six Men Killed
It is our sorrowful duty to record another disaster which happened at No 3 Pit, High Blantyre Collieries, belonging to William Dixon (Limited), on Tuesday afternoon, and which resulted in the loss of six lives. Occurring within so brief an interval of the great explosion by which so many men lost their lives at the same colliery in October last, the occurrence has cast a feeling of gloom and sadness over the mining population of the entire district, and re-awakened public sympathy to the ever present risks of the mine. By comparison with the awful calamity of October, the present catastrophe is trifling, though it nevertheless involves the loss of six valuable lives, and has turned at least three homes into houses of mourning. In strong contrast too with the explosion, the cause of the present occurrence is not difficult to seek. A cage containing seven occupants was being raised to the surface when, by what is known as over-winding, it was drawn over the “whorles” and wrecked, six of those within being precipitated down the shaft and killed and only one man escaping, singularly enough without a scratch. Everything pointing to the culpability of the engine – keeper, Arthur Clelland, he was immediately afterwards taken into custody, and remains in prison pending the searching inquiries that are being made into the occurrence.
As our readers will remember, it is betwixt Nos 2 and 3 pits that the communication required by the Mines Regulation Act subsists. Consequently when on the morning of 22d October last, No 2 exploded, the destructive element raked the entire workings of No 3, with what fatal effect need not be recounted. After the dead bodies had been recovered from the workings, Messrs Dixon's officials set to work with great energy to restore the mine, and on 1st December both Nos 2 and 3 pits were reopened. In the case of many of the collieries in England where calamities on a parallel scale had occurred, not a little difficulty was experienced in getting men to fill them after the resumption of operations, for though the collier knows no fear, in such circumstances there is a certain timidity and probably lack of confidence felt by him perhaps not altogether inexcusable. Whether the depressed state of trade throughout the country, or the constant employment which the Messrs Dixon can always, we believe, afford, were favourable to them, we cannot determine, but they had no difficulty in obtaining a sufficient number of men to carry on their pits. No 3 is 155 fathoms down to the lowest seam, there being beneath this a “sumpt,” or well, 18 feet deep, filled to within a foot of the top with water. The shaft consists of two divisions, one double cage being fitted into each, and the winding apparatus is that usually in use at mines in the district, comprising coupled engines with horizontal shafts, carrying a cylinder on which the ropes are wound. The ropes pass through the wall of the engine-room, and over the “whorles” hung in a framework at some distance above and perpendicular to the shaft. The engine-keeper, who has no other duty but to attend to his engine, has two methods of knowing when the cage is near the surface of the ground or the pit's bottom. An indicator, turned by means of a worm-screw, shows at any moment something in the manner that a clock face would do the position of the cage in the shaft, and when it has reached the stopping point, and besides this the enginekeeper has a clear view of the pithead, and the usual practice is to watch for the appearance of the cage. The applications for stopping the engines are very perfect and can be operated on almost as rapidly as the mind of its attendant. Cages containing coal are wound to the surface in from 33 to 36 seconds, but when men compose the freight about double that time is occupied. Arthur Clelland was the day shift enginekeeper. He has been in the employment of the firm since November, and has filled the position of enginekeeper at No 3 since about the New Year, earning a high reputation for caution and steadiness.
The time when the men finish work lies entirely with themselves. They usually accomplish what they consider their task, and then ascend to the surface. As a rule, the first of them leave the pit about 2 in the afternoon, and they are mostly out before 4. Of the 100 at work on the day shift on Tuesday, six “tows” or 38 men had been drawn to the pithead by twenty-five minutes past 3 o'clock, when the accident occurred. The cage was again lowered to the bottom of the shaft, and six men and a boy, the whole number waiting, took their places in it. So far as can be ascertained, the necessary signals were exchanged between Clelland, the enginekeeper and the man in charge at the bottom of the shaft, and once more the cage commenced its ascent. Instead of stopping, however, at the “plates” the point at which the men ought to have got off, the cage, from some unexplained cause, was overwound to the extent of some 20 feet, and carried onto the cross-beams, where it was completely wrecked, while six of the seven persons which it contained were precipitated to the bottom of the shaft. A young man named John Tracey was an eye witness of the accident. He came up in the previous cage, and having gone to the smithy with his picks, he was just outside the door when the first thing that caught his eye was the cage as it rose towards the cross-beams, and fell down the shaft. According to his account there were only three men on the cage, which was partially upset, at the time he observed it. One was thrown off by the violence of the collision with the cross-beams, and fell down the shaft. The second seemed to leap off, but his feet coming in contact with the framework he was precipitated down the opposite shaft. The third who was named Robert Garrity, crouching down, and secured himself by clinging to the sides of the cage. Tracey gave the alarm, shouting that the cage was over the “whorles,” and Mr James Paterson, engineer at the works, who was inside the smithy, rant to the enginehouse, and after noticing the state of the indicator, rushed to the relief of Garrity, and succeeded in rescuing him from his position, which was still one of considerable peril. On his being brought to the ground some warm tea was obtained for him, and it was found that saving the shock to his nervous system, he was little the worse, and he was in a short time able to walk to his home in Stonefield.
Without a moment's delay information of the accident was sent to the colliery offices at Dixon's Rows. The manager of the works, Mr Watson, who had just come up No 3 pit, and who still suffers from the severe burns he sustained in the late explosion, was in the office at the time along with Mr Robert Robson, his assistant in the management, and Mr J.T. Robson, assistant Government Inspector for the district, and these gentlemen lost no time in repairing to the scene. On arriving there they first directed their attention to the shattered cage, with the view of detaching it from the the pulley frames, amongst which it had got firmly wedged. This having been accomplished, the next thing to be done was to endeavour to recover the bodies of the six men who had all too surely lost their lives. With that object, Mr Robson, the assistant manager, leaving Mr Watson at No 3 Pithead, proceeded in the direction of No 2 Pit, in order to make a descent of the mine. In company with a number of men whom he collected on the surface on his way along, Mr Robson went down the shaft about half-an-hour after the accident was first reported, and proceeded along the “communication” between the two pits till the sumpt at the foot of No 3 shaft was reached. Nothing, however was to be seen there save a few fragments of the cage, and the unfortunate colliers, it was at once conjectured, had been precipitated right to the bottom of the 16 feet of water which the sumpt contained. Grappling irons were at hand, and with these Mr Robson and those along with him fished the corpses to the surface, a task in which they speedily succeeded. In the meantime, Mr Watson was not idle at the head of No 3 pit. Having had the wrecked cage removed from amongst the gear overhead, he caused a “kettle” to be attached to the tow rope, and in this three men were slowly lowered to ascertain if the shaft had been injured in any way through the accident. On its being discovered that it was in no way damaged, but remained in the excellent state of repair into which it was put in the thorough overhaul it received before work was resumed, it was resolved at once to bring the bodies to the surface. This was done in the space of a few minutes, three of the corpses being sent up in the uninjured cage and three in the kettle. It was then ascertained that the following were the names of the killed:-
Patrick Houghnie, 36 years of age, residing at 16 Ann Street, Burnbank
Martin Houghnie, aged 16, son of the above
Patrick Hopkins, a young man about 20, who was a lodger with Houghnie
Thomas Murdoch, aged 48, residing at 1 Dixon Street, Stonefield. Leaves a wife and family.
Robert Murdoch, aged 20, eldest son of the above
Michael Currie, 40 years of age, residing at Gardiner's Place, Auchenraith. Leaves a wife and family.
The whole of the bodies were placed in coffins supplied by Mr Wallace, Hamilton, and after identification they were removed to their respective homes by friends, many of whom had by this time flocked to the pit mouth.
In regard to the killed, there attaches the usual sorrowful tale that they leave behind them dependants and loved ones. In Murdoch's case, however, the circumstances are invested with peculiar sadness, from the fact that he lost a son in the October explosion, and now another boy of his was killed with him. A widow and four or five of a family remain behind to mourn their great loss. The Houghnies – father and son – and the lad Hopkins, who lodged with them, were until lately employed as miners in the county of Durham, and neither of the three had been at work in the Blantyre Collieries for more than eight days. Hopkins was about to be married to a daughter of the family. Currie, who had only recently come to Blantyre, leaves a wife and three children. The wife is blind, and the family is in great destitution.
As already stated, Mr Paterson, the engineer, immediately on being apprised of the accident, made an examination of the indicator in the engine house, and found that it registered the position of the cage at 40 fathoms from the pithead. When he went back it indicated 7 fathoms, the position of the cage in the interval not having been altered. Whether anything happened to disarrange the indicator when the accident occurred will, of course, be strictly inquired into. We believe that it worked correctly both before and after the fatal occurrence. Paterson wanted the engine keeper to wait, but Clelland would not, and he is believed to have made for home by a shortcut through the fields. His future intentions may be gathered from the circumstance that subsequently he was seen making his way Glasgow-wards, having first shifted and cleaned himself, by a lad named Richard Lyon, who was sent by Mr Watson to acquaint the police of the accident. Lyon informed the police of what he had seen, and Constable Jeffrey having gone in pursuit, overtook Clelland and took him into custody pending further inquiries. Much sympathy is felt for him, considering his previous good character. On Wednesday he was judicially examined before Sheriff Birnie, and committed to prison, pending further investigations, on a charge of culpable homicide or culpable neglect of duty. Clelland, who is about 40 years of age, was previously employed as an engineman in the Larkhall district.
Mr John Miller, Depute Procurator-Fiscal, accompanied by Mr Paterson, Sheriff-Clerk Depute, visited the colliery immediately after the accident, and made the necessary official investigations. Chief-Constable M'Hardy, with a sufficient body of men, kept excellent order. On Wednesday Mr Ralph Moore, Government Inspector, visited the colliery, and inquired into the circumstances of the occurrence.
Accidents through over-winding, it may be added, thanks to the skill, intelligence, and attention of the engine-keepers of the district, have hitherto been almost unknown in these parts. In England, on the other hand, over-winding has been a fruitful source of accident, leading to much discussion, and in many instances the adoption of mechanical means whereby a repetition is prevented. [Hamilton Advertiser March 9 1878]
Arthur Clelland, 33, enginekeeper, McAlpine's Buildings, Auchenraith (native of Shotts) was tried at the High Court, Glasgow (Second Court) on 24th April 1878. The verdict was not proven. [NAS Catalogue]
Glasgow Circuit Court
The Spring Circuit Court for the district opened in Glasgow on Monday – Lords Deas and Mure presiding. The following local cases were tried:-
The Blantyre Overwinding Accident
Arthur Clelland was accused of culpable homicide, having been employed as an engineman at No 3 Pit, Blantyre Collieries, belonging to Wm Dixon, Ltd, and on 5th March last, set the engine in motion, and failed to stop it so as to set down the cage at the proper landing place at the pithead, and by means of the engine drawn the cage containing seven miners, into violent contact with a pulley and the cross-beams, 32 feet above the landing place, whereby the cage was broken, and six of the men were thrown off the cage, and fell to the bottom of the pit, a depth of 155 fathoms whereby they were mortally njured.
Panel, who was defended by Mr Mackintosh, pleaded not guilty.
James Brannigan, bottomer, the first witness, deponed that in March last he was working in the splint seam of No 3 Pit of Blantyre Colliery. On the afternoon of 5th March last he remembered seven men going on the cage to ascend on the rise side. He gave the usual signal of three stokes on the bell, and the engineman signalled back that all was right. He then gave the second signal – one stroke on the bell – when the men were on the cage. The cage was then raised, and he first knew of an accident having happened when the cage came down with more than usual violence to the bottom of the dip-side. He afterwards saw six of the bodies taken out of the sumps.
James Gerrity, miner, said he went on the cage along with six men between three and four o'clock on the afternoon in question. There was nothing unusual in the speed at which the cage ascended the pit, and he only thought there was something wrong when it neared the top. He could not express his fear. When the cage arrived at the landing place, it didn't stop, but went right up as far as the pulleys until it came violently into contact with cross-beams. The top part of the cage was broken and the cage turned on her side emptying out the other six men. For himself he clung to the smashed cage until he was relieved.
Cross-examined by Mr Mackintosh – Witness stated that there was no cross-bar on the cage. If there had been one he believed the accident would not have happened. He never was in a colliery at which the cages had not a cross-bar except Dixon's.
David Eglinton was on duty as pitheadman on the day of the accident. The depth of the shaft was somewhere about 150 fathoms. The men usually came up between the hours of two and four o'clock. 95 men were in the pit that day, of whom about 38 had come up before the accident happened. From the landing place to the pulleys the height would be about 32 feet. Until the accident that day nothing had gone wrong as far as the pithead was concerned.
By Mr Mackintosh – Witness never examined the indicator of the winding apparatus. It was not his duty to examine that or anything inside the engine-house.
James Paterson, engineer – He had charge of the machinery of the pits belonging to William Dixon, Limited, at Blantyre. He engaged all the enginemen. He engaged panel about the middle of December last, and in January last he put him in charge of the engine at No 3 Pit, and he continued to work that engine up to the time of the accident. (Witness read the rules applicable to enginemen, and explained by a model how the cages were stopped by the working of the indicator.) There were marks on the indicator, where steam should be shut off; but steam could be shut off sooner or later according to the weight of the cage. When the accident occurred he saw the cage at the cross beam, and a man clinging on, and he went to rescue him. He went into the engine-room to get a rope, and saw panel standing at a window in the engine-house. He asked him what had gone wrong, and he said something had gone wrong with the indicator. He observed that the pointer did not stand at the place where it should have stood. He did not examine the indicator but went and rescued Gerrety. Eight or ten minutes would elapse between his first and second visits. Prisoner was there alone and he asked M'Millan who went in with him, what was the extent of the accident. When informed he said he would go, and having gone for his coat, witness advised him to stay and face the consequences, but he went out. On examining the indicator found that it represented the cage a being 7 instead of 30 fathoms from the top. The engine had not moved between the times of witness' visits, and it was impossible the indicator could have moved. While it might have been tighter, it was quite tight enough to do its work in his opinion. So that they might get down the cage he undid the screw and put the indicator in proper position. The bodies of the men were brought up by this cage, and the indicator then, as afterwards, worked properly. He never knew or heard of it having gone wrong. It had been in operation about two years, and was considered a good one of its kind. Did not consider it possible that the indicator could have been pushed round unknowingly while the dial was being cleaned. The standard was a little shaken, but there was nothing to hinder the indicator doing its work properly.
Cross-examined – Had never had occasion to find fault with prisoner – he was, so far as e saw, a steady, sober man. Prisoner had the hollers to look after, as well as the winding engine and a donkey engine. The Wyper shaft was between the engineman and the indicator. There was some vibration on the floor, and after the accident a joist was put in; while another change was in the figuring. Formerly it was by chalk marks on the dial that the engineman knew where the cage was. A new block had been put on the brake since the time of the accident. Complaints had been made as to the condition of the brake by prisoner's neighbour, Forsyth. He intended to make some alteration on the indicator after the trial, while the pinion wheel had already been altered. He was not bred an engineer; his experience had only been the taking charge of engines at pitheads.
Re-examined – The reason why the indicator was not marked was that it was painted while the pit was being sunk, and the depth was not known. The dial was never figured, the distances being only marked with chalk. He was never asked to mark the the indicator.
By the Court – The chalk marks were as safe as paint; but in his opinion paint was better. Paint marks could not be shifted without being scraped out, while chalk marks could.
By Mr Mackintosh – About six months before the accident libelled the cage had been overwound, but the engineman owned the mistake, and admitted that the fault lay with him and not with the indicator.
Michael Flanagan, a furnaceman, residing in High Blantyre, deponed that he was putting coal in one of the furnaces at the time the accident occurred. He heard a crash, and ran out to see what was wrong. The prisoner was standing at a window, and he asked him what was the matter. Prisoner replied that it was the indicator that was wrong, and he did not know whether the cage contained men or coals. It occurred to witness that the indicator was further down than it should have been.
By Mr Mackintosh – Paterson came back to the enginehouse after his second visit and remarked that the handle of the indicator was lower than before. He had known the cage being overwound so as to strike the cross beams three times previous to this accident.
John M'Millan, engineman, Miller Street, Stonefield, deponed that at the time of the accident he went to the engine-house along with Paterson, and heard the engineman say it was the indicator that was wrong.
By Mr Mackintosh – When Paterson touched the indicator he noticed it was very loose. He had never noticed it so loose before.
Andrew Forsyth, engineman, Hamilton, deponed that he worked one shift at the same engine as prisoner. A new block was required. The vibration on the floor caused by looseness of the brake often altered the indicator, but he could not say how much.
By Mr Mackintosh – He had been working at the engine about six weeks. No accident ever took place, but the working by the indicator was all guess work. The alteration of the depth of the pinion wheel, which had been made since the accident, seemed to him to be a very necessary one. Though he had complained about the brake, his complaint had not been attended to before the accident.
Re-examined – He had worked the accident the shift before the accident happened, and he had noticed nothing wrong with the pointer.
James Watson, manager of Blantyre Collieries, deponed that at the time the accident happened he was in the office, along with Mr Robson, assistant inspector. He went to the spot at once, and gave instructions to have the cage taken down. He went to the engine-house ten minutes afterwards, along with Paterson. When he went in his attention was drawn to the indicator, and he found the pointer indicated seven fathoms from the top. He noticed Paterson move the indicator backward and forward, and he did this to show him it was a little slack. It took a considerable pressure to move it. It did not seem possible to witness that the indicator could have fallen down itself. The statement in the “Complete Colliery Report Book,” for March 5, to the effect that the external state of the machinery was in a satisfactory condition was mad by the prisoner.
By Mr Mackintosh – According to the rules, it was the duty of the oversman to inspect the indicator among other things every 24 hours, but in point of fact, he did not do so.
Re-examined – Notwithstanding these rules, it was the duty of the engineman to examine and report on the state of the machinery every day.
Evidence for the defence was then led.
James Dunlop, engineer, Greenfield, deponed..... came to the conclusion that it was very likely to go wrong from the nature of its construction. He thought it might get slack on the spindle, the end being fixed with a pinching pin. In his opinion that mode of fastening was not proper, and would lead to loosening. It was the usual mode to put in a pinching pin. When there was a great deal of vibration, the tendency of an indicator such as he found at Blantyre was to loosen. Its tendency would be to loosen without being noticed. If an engine were to set to work after such a loosening, it would go alright until it came to the bottom, but it would slip back in coming up the other side. It would not surprise him were the engineman deceived by such an indicator as to the position of the cage in the shaft.
Alexander Gillespie, engineman at Eddlewood Colliery, deponed that he had been an engineman for twenty years. He examined the indicator at Blantyre and the machinery connected with it, and the mode in which the handle was fastened to the spindle did not appear to him to be the best mode known to engineers. He had known the prisoner for seven or eight years and he had always borne a good character.
William Paterson, an engineman with Messrs Baird & Co., also testified to the good character of the prisoner.
The closed the case and the Advocate-Depute and Mr Mackintosh having addressed the jury, Lord Mure summed them up.
The jury, after a short absence returned with a verdict of “not proven.” The prisoner was accordingly discharged from the bar. [Hamilton Advertiser April 27, 1878]