Fife Accidents 1855 - 1870

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

23 February 1855

Fatal Accident - A man of the name of Manclerk employed on the colliery railway, while trying to disentangle the waggon chains from the feet of the horses, at the head of the run, Golfdrum, missed his footing and fell. Two waggons passed over him. This was on the forenoon of Friday last, and he expired the same day, leaving a wife and family. [Fife Herald - Thursday 1 March 1855]

11 August 1855

Fatal Accident - On Saturday last distressing accident took place at the Townhill Colliery. Some the miners, after their labour of the day was finished, were sitting resting themselves near the bottom of the shaft, waiting, as we understand, on the tubs to get themselves drawn up to the top, when suddenly a part of the roof gave way, and heavy stones followed by rubbish, fell upon one of the number, nearly burying him beneath the mass. Before his comrades got him extricated, life was extinct. His name was Adamson, and he has left a widow and two children. Fortunately, the rest escaped. [Fife Herald 16 August 1855]

31 March 1856

Fatal Accident - On Monday afternoon a fatal accident took place at the Wellwood Colliery. A young man, named Smith, while shoving one of the hutches along the tram-road below, knocked down a prop, and before putting up another prop in its place, he went in to take out the hutch. In the act of withdrawing it, the roof, of which the hutch was now the only prop, gave way, and the man was buried in an instant. He was taken out crushed to a mutilated lump, and life wholly extinct. Death must have been instantaneous, and as one of his fellow miners remarked, it must have been almost without pain, as the ponderous mass must have at one and the same instant destroyed life and reflection. [Fife Herald 3 April 1856]

31 July 1856

Another Coal Pit Accident - The manager of the Steelend pit near Saline, went down on Friday morning, to ascertain the state of the pit, before he would permit the men to descend to their work. He was rather long in returning, as it was thought, when the man immediately under him, or second in authority, volunteered to go in search of his superior. He also went, but strange to say, he also was beyond his allotted time in returning. It now became evident that some mishap – foul air, or some of the many accidents in a pit - had prevented the return of both the seeker and the sought. Means were immediately put in operation to burn out the fire damp below, as that was deemed the most likely agent in delaying the return of the manager and his subordinate. Accordingly, when it was deemed sufficiently safe to enter in, the rest did then venture in, when they found the two men lying within a yard of each other quite dead. The fire damp had suffocated both. [Fife Herald 7 August 1856]

Saline - Melancholy Accident - On the morning of Thursday last, a distressing accident occurred at the ironstone mines at Steelend, to the north-east of Saline, whereby two lives have been lost. It appears that the oversman, M'Cowan, and an under-oversman named Fife, had gone into a pit in which was foul air that had collected in the workings from an old shaft. Some hours elapsed before the poor men were extricated. Both were married, and have left wives and families. [Fife Herald 7 August 1856]

8 November 1858

Dunfermline – Fatal Accident - A melancholy accident occurred on Monday forenoon at Wellwood Colliery - two boys, brothers named Sinclair, of the respective ages of ten and twelve years, were employed in filling a tub of coal at the bottom of a pit , when a large stone, supposed to be about four tons weight, fell from the roof. The eldest boy was killed on the spot, the stone falling right on his head and crushing him flat. The younger was struck by the edge of the stone and his leg fractured ; his recovery is extremely doubtful. [Scotsman 10 November 1858]

Fatal Accident - A fatal accident occurred in the Leadside Coal Pit, which is situated about a mile to the north of Dunfermline, on Monday last, about twelve o'clock noon. From what we have learned, it appears that three boys, all brothers, named Thomas, James, and Robert Sinclair, aged respectively ten, twelve, and fourteen years, were working together at the five feet seam in the Leadside Pit, when they observed that a stone in the roof was loose. Having told one of the miners about it, he went away for a tree to support it, but before he returned the stone (which would weigh about two tons) fell upon James, burying him beneath it, thereby causing instantaneous death ; also part of it fell on the legs of Thomas, bruising them severely. Robert escaped unhurt. [Fife Herald 11 November 1858]

16 February 1859

Accident At Wellwood Colliery - On Wednesday, a portion of the roof of this colliery fell in upon a collier, and several of his ribs were broken by his knees being doubled up against his chest. As he was working in a remote part of the mine it was a considerable time before the accident was discovered and very little hope is entertained of his recovery, though he has slightly rallied. [Scotsman 19 February 1859]

NB This accident is not listed on the Mine Inspectors reports and we have been unable to determine the miner’s identity or if he survived.

22 March 1859

Fatal Coal-Pit Accident - On Tuesday one of those distressing accidents so frequent in coal-pits occurred at Smeaton colliery, near Kirkcaldy. It appears that a young man, named Waters, was engaged at his ordinary employment underground in picking coal, when suddenly a huge piece gave way above him, and he was crushed under it. His father, who was only a few yards from him at the time, immediately gave the alarm; but before he could be extricated, it was found that not only was one of his legs broken and his head severely lacerated, but the vital spark had fled. Deceased was about 17 years of age, and unmarried. [Caledonian Mercury 24 March 1859]

16 June 1859

Fatal Accident at Wellwood Colliery - Yesterday, a most distressing accident occurred at this colliery. Two brothers, named David and Thomas Chalmers, aged 14 and 17, were engaged in their usual work in the pit, when a portion of the wall which supported the roof gave way, and falling upon them, at once crushed and buried them beneath it. The alarm was at once given, and, after some difficulty they were taken out, when it was found that the eldest was quite dead, and the other so severely bruised that he died immediately after being carried home. This melancholy accident is supposed to have been caused by the deceased having dug away too much of the wall, without seeing that the roof was properly supported. [Dunfermline Press 16 June 1859]

28 December 1859

Fatal Accident - On Wednesday, about 2 o'clock, four of the workmen engaged in the Balmule Pit were ascending it, when, for some unforeseen cause, a quantity of stones or other material, fell from one of the sides of the pit upon the unfortunate men, causing instantaneous death of two, and severely injuring the other two. The names of the men who thus met their death so unexpectedly are Nisbet and Lyle. The former leaves a wife and family to mourn his loss; the other was a young man, unmarried. The names of the survivors are Bewick and Allan; although the injuries they have sustained are of a serious nature, it is hoped they will soon recover, under the skilful attention of Dr Dewar, who was promptly on the spot to render all possible assistance. [Dunfermline Journal 30 December 1859]

The Fatal Accident at Elgin Colliery -We regret to state that Berwick, one of the men who survived the accident at Elgin Colliery, died from his injuries on Sunday night. Deceased leaves a wife and five of a family. [Dunfermline Press 5 January 1860]

Jury Trial for Culpable Homicide - Francis Danks, underground manager of the Elgin coalpits, residing at Milesmark, and William Erskine Ramage, roadsman at the Balmule pit of the Elgin Colliery, and residing at Parkneuk, were placed at the bar of the Sheriff-Court here on Thursday, on a charge of "culpable homicide, as also culpable violation or neglect of duty," in connection with the late melancholy accident at the Balmule Pit, on the 28th of December last, which resulted in the death of James Nisbet, John Lyle or Lyal, and George Bewick, and the injury of John Allan, all colliers employed in the pit in question. The Court opened shortly after ten o'clock in the morning, the trial lasting until about five o'clock in the evening. Sheriff Monteith occupied the bench. Mr Alex. Moncrieff, Edinburgh, appeared as agent for the Crown; Mr A. S. Cook, and Mr C. J. Shireff, Edinburgh, as counsel, and Mr Andrew Beveridge, Dunfermline, as agent, for the prisoners. The court was densely crowded throughout the whole period of the trial. The prisoners having pled not guilty, the case went to trial. Upwards of a dozen witnesses were examined. At the close of the evidence, Mr Moncrieff briefly addressed the jury in behalf of the Crown. Mr Cook pleaded at great length in behalf of the prisoners. The Sheriff carefully went over the evidence in detail, and left the case in the hands of the jury, who, after retiring for a few minutes, returned with a unanimous verdict of "Not Guilty." The prisoners were accordingly acquitted and dismissed from the bar. [Dunfermline Press 17 May 1860]

Who Is To Blame? - On the twenty-eighth day of December last two miners are killed in the Balmule Pit of the Elgin Colliery, a third is so severely injured that in three days he follows his comrades into eternity, a fourth survives, not yet quite recovered from the effects of the terrible disaster. The parties in charge of the fatal pit have been this week put upon their trial, and acquitted by a jury of their countrymen. An all but unanimous verdict of not guilty is returned, and the case takes end. Three men are killed, and nobody is to blame! There is surely something wrong here! What is it? At whose hand shall the blood of these men be required? There is some door at which guilt must lie. We say not that either Mr Francis Danks or William Erskine Ramage are the guilty parties. What we say now is simply that guilt lies somewhere. The emphatic testimony borne by Mr Grier to the character and capacity of Mr Danks - a testimony which thirty-three years of good service corroborates - proves the underground manager of the Elgin Coal Pits a man of very superior powers. Nor after what has happened can we refrain from bearing our humble testimony to the fact that Mr Grier, when giving Mr Danks the character he did, was simply uttering a general opinion. William Erskine Ramage being yet a young man cannot point to a lifetime of faithful servitude, either as an atonement or palliation for a fault. Erskine is, however, known as worthy of his position. So far, therefore, we rejoice at the verdict of acquittal returned on Thursday. There are, however, some matters which we had expected that this trial would have expiscated, on which no light is thrown. Since the day when Lord Justice-Clerk Hope rated the Glasgow Sheriffs, with the virulence of a "scold," for the crude and unsatisfactory manner in which the precognition had been taken in Miss Smith’s trial, we have not heard a judge so severe upon the officers of the Crown as was Sheriff Monteith on Thursday. With no better evidence to obtain a conviction than the evidence led in this trial, it was impossible the Crown could have so much as the shadow of a chance of success. Nothing short of a total breakdown was inevitable. What, then, shall we say of the sagacity of the Crown? Nothing very complimentary. And yet even towards the Crown we must restrain criticism. It is the misfortune of this complex case that responsibility is ever receding from our grasp. We fancy that we have arrived at the ultimate facts upon which it rests, when, lo! beyond that deep, a lower deep discloses itself. This seems a case in which we would almost fancy Robert Owen's doctrine of non-responsibility receives a very beautiful practical illustration. The underground manager and his assistant evade responsibility for the accident; the Crown evades responsibility for the bungling prosecution, and falls back upon the Government-Inspector's report. That report is assuredly a curiosity in its way. Possibly a more rash or more illiterate document was never placed before a jury. How a man so destitute of the very moderate amount of capacity needful to frame a decent statement of facts, should have been placed in a situation worth £500 a-year, with expenses, is passing strange. Had we the history of the thing, it would no doubt reveal some very nice Government job. Though
For what kind service unexpressed,
And from its wages only to be guessed,
this snug appointment fell into the lap of Robert Williams, we are of course unable to conjecture. Was ever anything more preposterous than that an inspector acting under Government, while charging all concerned in the management of the pit in question, from Mr Thomas Grier to William Erskine, with gross neglect of duty, should yet confess that, with respect to a most important part of the pit, he had made no particular personal inspection! In some districts of the Highlands, a certain class of clergymen not overzealous in the discharge of the duties of their "office, are called "stipend-lifters," that being in the opinion of Donald the sum of their service. Robert Williams is a stipend-lifter. His vigilance on ordinary occasions may be measured by his attitude on this. Given, three men killed: if Robert Williams does not deem it necessary to make any particular inspection, what will be the worth of his inspection in ordinary? Sidney Smith used to say that railways would never take warning until a bishop was done for. Three miners might almost be considered equal to one bishop ; but although three miners are sacrificed in Balmule, Mr Williams - with that sublime indifference that forbids him to be disturbed by trifles -coolly tells the court, "I did not make any particular inspection personally." But though failing to make any very particular personal investigation, Mr Williams is forward to make a very decided personal accusation. All in the management of the pit are guilty of gross neglect, is a charge that, when fairly looked at, turns its sting not upon either Grier, Danks, or Erskine, who are known as men the very opposite of inattentive, but upon the inspector of mines himself. The principle upon which Williams appears to act, if his acting in the present case is to be considered a type of his general action, reminds us of one of Lord Cockburn's stories of old Braxfield. A litigant one lay appearing in court with rather a jaunty air, Braxfield quietly whispered to his colleagues, "Well give it against the b_____ to see how he looks!" To have said something that he could have sustained in court would have required care. To make a haphazard statement needs only effrontery, and brass is cheap. But though repudiating the right of any Government inspector to fasten a charge where he has no proof, our quarrel with that functionary goes beyond his injustice to the managers of Balmule. A "gross neglect” of the duty for which he is so remarkably well paid, left him ignorant respecting the exact condition of the pit in question. The result is that all the evidence in the case comes from those who, we shall not say stretched a point to give matter, a better colour than facts warranted, but who, to say the least of it, are in a position which renders it peculiarly difficult – we do not say peculiarly dangerous - to give every fact and circumstance its exact intrinsic worth. From some cause or other, the evidence respecting the exact amount of safety in working where the accident occurred was inordinately scanty. We have, indeed, the testimony of John Allan who recovered; but we lack the testimony of George Bewick who did not recover. The evidence of such a man as Bewick, taken in circumstances so solemn, would have been of material importance either for the Crown or the prisoners. Of course it could not have been received with that confidence a cross-examination is fitted to inspire; but as throwing light upon the condition of the pit, Bewick's testimony would have been invaluable. Nor is this all, when we contrast the very meagre list of witnesses for the Crown with the goodly number of miners that had worked at Balmule, almost involuntarily a feeling arises that the most has not been made of the case. We say nothing in disparagement of Mr A. Moncrieff when we say that such a case handed over to him at the eleventh hour, scarcely had justice done it. A more searching investigation, though we believe it would have exonerated the unfortunate men at the bar, might possibly have reached the source of the homicide in a vicious system of which these men were the victims, not the originators. Where human life trembles in the balance, the journalist must rise above that "fear of man which bringeth a snare." What is done cannot be undone ; but is the terrible lesson of the past to remain unheeded ? Was it not known that some of the very men placed on trial this week had given a very decided opinion respecting the course pursued in the working of this disastrous Balmule ? In the days of old Justice Hope, a fatal accident having occurred on the Leith Railway, which Hope thought not so much the fault of the man arraigned as of his superiors, the stern old Judge said, in his wonted brusque way, - lf this happens again it will not be a railway-guard, but the railway directors that will be put upon their trial. [Dunfermline Press 17 May 1860]

28 & 30 December 1859

Accidents - Since the publication of our last, we regret much having to record more than one accident of a serious nature, which have occurred in the surrounding districts. That at the Balmule pit of the Elgin Colliery, noticed in our last, since when another of the sufferers has died from his injuries, named George Bewick. In connection with this sad catastrophe, the name of William Erskine deserves to be remembered, for the courageous conduct and praiseworthy manner in which he instantly attempted to clear the bodies from the fallen debris. At the Dundonald Colliery, Lochgelly, John Fleming, one of the workers, had his leg so severely injured as to cause amputation necessary - - the engineman causing him to be raised to the pulley-wheels instead of letting him down the pit. It is evident in this case, that the loss of the limb, however serious, saved that of his life. – At Netherbeath a young woman, named Wilson, met her death while engaged at work, by being crushed between an ascending hutch and one of the beams [Dunfermline Journal 27 January 1860]

30 December 1859

Fatal Accident at Netherbeath Colliery - An accident, which resulted in the death of a young woman of the name of Wilson, belonging to this neighbourhood, occurred here on Friday morning. When withdrawing the hutch from a machine which is erected for lowering the coals from one scaffold to another, she happened by some inadvertency to be on the wrong side. As usual, a loaded hutch was put in at the top for descent, which brought up the one at which the unfortunate woman was engaged, and crushed her between a cross beam and the ascending hutch. When taken out, life was extinct. No blame, we understand, is to be attributed to anyone. [Dunfermline Press 5 January 1860]

21 January 1860

Melancholy Coal-Pit Accident - On Saturday last, an accident of a very serious nature occurred at one of the coal-pits in the neighbourhood of Kirkcaldy. A man of the name of Clarke had his back broken by the falling of part of the roof where he was working. It appears that before the unfortunate man commenced his labours for the day, he was warned of the dangerous state of the "working," and was advised to prop it up in case of accident. He neglected this caution, and hence the result described. He was so severely hurt that it was found to cart him home would just add to his sufferings, and therefore he had to be conveyed on a board to his sorrowful wife. Dr Gray was speedily in attendance, but we are sorry to state that he is not yet considered out of danger. He was only married three weeks ago. [Caledonian Mercury 24 January 1860]

5 March 1860

Fatal Accident - A young man, named David Balfour, was very suddenly bereft of life on Monday morning last, at Cluny Colliery, near Cardenden Station, on the Edinburgh and Dunfermline Railway, under circumstances the most melancholy and heartrending. The poor fellow, who was only twenty-one years of age, a fine specimen of manly vigour, and standing six feet in height, was at work, along with a younger brother, in a two feet seam, and was necessarily, in this confined space, stretched at length on his side in the execution of his work. In an instant he observed the roof giving way, but, agonising as this terrible moment must have been to him, the heroic youth had the generous fortitude to call out to his brother, "Oh, brother, run, run, for I am killed." The brother got away, and, almost simultaneously with his last generous caution, the ponderous mass (weighing upwards of a ton) descended upon him, and the spirit had left its earthly tenement. The whole of his body was covered, with the exception of his head. Then was seen a terrible living picture, which may be imagined, but defies description. In the same pit, but at some distance from the scene of the catastrophe, the bereaved father was at work. The fearful intelligence was quickly conveyed to him, and he came as quickly to the spot; but, alas, there was no other way of getting the mangled body from under the huge rock than by blasting the stone with powder, which was done. After about two hours' labour, and firing two charges, the remains were got at, and removed to the home that this fine and much respected young man had left but a few hours before in the full flush of life. [Dunfermline Saturday Press 10 March 1860]

25 June 1860

Fatal Accident at the Townhill Colliery - We regret to have to state that a woman named Margaret Paterson, about twenty-eight years of age, met with a fatal accident on the morning of Monday last, while engaged at Townhill Colliery, where she had been employed as a pit -head worker. About ten o'clock she had been assisting in running one of the hutches along the gangway at the pit-head. The passage is very narrow, about five feet in all, the half of this space being occupied centrally by a sort of rail on which the hutches are conducted, thus leaving only about fifteen inches on either side. It appears that on this limited space beside the hutch rails the woman had been standing, in the act of emptying the hutch, when she missed her footing and fell backwards. Behind was a sink of about twelve feet to a lower platform, and the poor woman fell to the bottom, coming in contact with an empty hutch below, the injuries sustained being chiefly about the stomach. Assistance was immediately at hand, and medical advice obtained ; but her injuries were of such a serious character that nothing could be done save to afford temporary relief from suffering. She lingered in agony until the following morning, about eight or nine o'clock, when she expired. The deceased had been wont to reside with her mother, and was the aged woman's only support. [Dunfermline Saturday Press 30 June 1860]

5 September 1860

Accident - On Wednesday afternoon, an accident of rather a serious nature occurred in one of the pits belonging to Fordell Colliery, by which an individual, named William Hynd, was severely hurt. It appears he was engaged at the time taking down part of the roof-stone, when a portion of it fell on him, by which he was very much injured, and had to be conveyed home in a cart. Medical aid was promptly had, when it was ascertained his injuries were of a very serious nature, and some doubts are entertained of his recovery. [Dunfermline Saturday Press 8 September 1860]

20 April 1861

Fatal Accident - On Saturday morning an accident attended with a fatal result occurred at Townhill Colliery. A cage containing rails to be laid in the working s underground had been let down the shaft, which it was the duty of a man named Brookes to remove. He appears to have been attending to this duty but had neglected to make the necessary signal to the officials at the pit head. While partly in the cage, engaged in removing the rails, the engineman, ignorant of the state of matters, started the engine, and the cage began to ascend. Not being able to get out of the machine in time, the poor fellow was jammed between the side of the pit and the cage could not be got to move in the shaft. Communication having thus been cut off between the bottom and the pit head, the engineman remained for a considerable time ignorant of the poor fellow's; condition, and , if was not until a man had been let down by means of a rope, that his position was ascertained. He was found to be quite dead, .with his body fearfully mangled. [Scotsman 24 April 1861]

22 April 1861

Fatal Accident - The Dunfermline Press reports the following:- "On Monday forenoon, a young man, named Condie Chalmers Leitch, met his death near No. 18 Comrie Pit, the property of the Forth Iron Company. Shortly after breakfast, Condie had gone upon a locomotive, in charge of a brother, and that, when nearing the pit in question , it is supposed that he had gone down to uncouple the waggons when he fell and the waggons passed over his body before there was time to stop them. The unfortunate man was brought up as an engine driver, but during the last ten years he has been a sailor, only returning from sea a few months ago. After escaping the perils of the deep in India, Australia, and China , he has thus suddenly perished almost within hail of his father s house . Condie was about thirty years of age , and unmarried. [Scotsman 24 April 1861]

25 May 1861

Dunfermline – Fatal Accident At Townhill – A fatal accident occurred yesterday at No 6 pit, Townhill. A man named William Dow, a blacksmith, had been working about some point of the machinery while in motion, and had gone below the crank of the engine, which descended upon him, killing him on the spot. Dow has left a wife and two children to mourn his loss. [Scotsman 27 May 1861]

The Accident at Townhill Colliery - Through the kindness of Mr Kilgour we have been favoured with a copy of a letter transmitted by Mr Christie to the Lord Advocate, stating the particulars of the late fatal accident at Townhill Colliery, reported in our impression of Saturday:
"Townhill Colliery, Dunfermline, 25th May, 1861.
My Lord, - I have to report the death of William Dow, who lost his life at the pumping engine of No. 6 pit here yesterday afternoon.   He was employed with other workmen fitting up a winding engine at the above pit, and when the others were busy working, he left the place he was engaged at, and went outside of the wall of the pumping crank then in motion, and, unobserved by any person, placed himself so near it that he was struck by the turn of the crank and killed on the spot. It is quite unaccountable how he should have gone there, as he had nothing whatever to do at that place. (Signed) A. Christie.'' [Dunfermline Press 28 May 1861]

23 June 1861

Fatal Accident - A melancholy accident occurred in one of the pits here, to a miner of the name of Duncan Campbell. When engaged in ''holing" or excavating his coal, a large piece, weighing upwards of two tons, fell above him. Symptoms of life still manifested themselves when his fellow-workmen got him removed from under the ponderous mass, but he ceased to breathe when being conveyed home. The deceased was a most intelligent, steady, and highly respectable man, an active member of the committee of our Total Abstinence Society, and was always found to take a deep interest in social matters connected with the locality; indeed, his name was seldom heard save in connection with some movement which had for its object the bettering of his fellow-men. His death, therefore, as might be anticipated, has cast quite a gloom over the whole place. He has left a wife and three young children to mourn their sad loss, but we are happy to understand, that by his industrious habits and foresight, he has left them not altogether unprovided for. The funeral took place on Monday, and as the deceased was one of the most respected members of the Lochgelly Rifle Corps, upwards of sixty of his comrades, under the command of Lieutenant Landale, attended in uniform with a piece of crape on the left arm. On the large and mournful procession reaching the cemetery gate, six of the more stalwart members of the corps stepped forward and carried his remains shoulder high. There was no firing over the grave, nor anything that might appear in the eyes of civilians as unseemly, but everything was conducted in the most solemn and respectful manner. [Dunfermline Press 4 July 1861]

29 June 1861

Colliery Accident - On the forenoon of Saturday last, a miner, named Alexander Kidd, employed at Dysart Colliery, was about taking down what is known as the "roof coal," when a large portion of it came suddenly away, bruising the young man very severely. He was shortly conveyed home, where he now lies in a very dangerous state. [Dunfermline Press 4 July 1861]

7 September 1861

Dunfermline – Fatal Colliery Accident – On Saturday, in one of the Fordel pits, a stone fell from the roof of the workings on two men, one of whom was killed, and the other seriously injured. [Scotsman 10 September 1861]

Accident - A fatal accident occurred on Saturday last, in one of the pits belonging to Fordell Colliery, to a young lad named Joseph Sneddon. While engaged filling a hutch with coals, along with an elder brother, a stone in the roof gave way, and fell on both of them. His brother fortunately escaped with only a few cuts about the head; but the unfortunate lad was completely covered by the stone, which was of great size and weight. On being extricated, his injuries were found to be of a very serious nature. No time was lost in having him conveyed to the bankhead, when it was too evident that death had set his seal upon him, for in a very short time after being brought up he expired, without giving any sign of consciousness. Much sympathy is felt for the sorrowing and bereaved parents. This is the second death in the family caused by accident. [Dunfermline Press 10 September 1861]

2 November 1861

Dysart – Fatal Coal Pit Accident - On Saturday morning James Paton, banksman, employed at Orrsmills Colliery, was in the act of pushing in an empty hutch to the pit-mouth, when he inadvertently guided it on to the empty shaft, instead of putting it on the opposite one, where the cage was ready to receive it. Consequently the hutch went down the shaft, Paton following. Death was instantaneous. Deceased was unmarred, and had been employed in the same capacity for a number of years. [Dundee Courier and Daily Argus 5 November 1861]

15 February 1862

Dunfermline – Fatal Accident at Elgin Colliery - On Saturday, a man named Robert Thomson, a bottomer in Balmule Pit, Elgin colliery, was killed by falling down the shaft. The deceased wrought in the middle seam of the pit, and part of his duty was to keep a large lamp lighted at the mouth of the seam to enable himself to transfer the contents of the small hutches, used in the seam, into the hutch which carries them up the shaft. On this occasion he had neglected to light the lamp, and having rolled a hutch to the mouth of the seam when the larger hutch or cage, which should have been there to receive the contents, was ascending or had ascended the pit occupied by one of Thomson' s companions who had left him a minute before, the hutch fell down the pit , carrying the deceased along with it to the pit bottom, a distance of about forty fathoms. He was taken up shortly after quite dead. [Scotsman 18 February 1862]

13 May 1862

Coal-Pit Accident - Two Men Killed - On Tuesday morning a fatal accident took place at Dysart colliery to four miners. While busily engaged in bringing down their coal, a portion of the roof came away upon them. A young lad of the name of Fairfull was killed on the spot, and another young man, named Duncan, had both his legs broken and otherwise severely bruised. He lingered on until the afternoon, when death put an end to his sufferings. The father of Fairfull, we learn, was not much hurt; but the other individual, whose name is Waters, and about 70 years of age, is considered to be dangerously bruised. No blame rests upon any one. [Dunfermline Saturday Press 17 May 1862]

30 September 1862

Fatal Coal-Pit Accident Near Kinglassie – On Tuesday morning, as a collier, named Crambie, was conversing with a workman at the bottom of Campledren [sic] coal pit, he was instantaneously killed by a large stone, weighing nearly two tons, falling on him. He has left a family. [The Dundee Courier & Argus 2 October 1862]

29 November 1862

Fatal Coal-Pit Accident - A fatal accident happened in the Albert Pit, Wellwood Colliery, on Friday. While a miner, named John Rupel, was employed in one of the workings, a large stone fell from the roof, so severely injuring him about the head and shoulders, as, notwithstanding careful medical attendance, to cause death on the following day. Deceased has left a wife and one child. [The Dundee Courier & Argus 3 December 1862]

18 December 1862

Fatal Accident at Balgreggie Colliery - On Thursday morning at about five o'clock, as John Stevenson was engaged in mining operations in Balgreggie coal-pit, a portion of the roof gave way and fell upon him, and killed him on the spot. Deceased, who was much respected by his brother workmen and all who knew him, leaves behind him a widow and several children to mourn his untimely death. [Dunfermline Saturday Press 20 December 1862]

30 December 1862

Balgreggie Colliery - A fatal accident happened at this colliery on Wednesday, whereby a young man of the name of Anderson, lost his life by falling down the shaft. Three men were on the cage about to go down, when the engineman, in recovering his engine, took the cage a few feet above the pit, and the man, it would appear, being afraid that they were about to be carried too high, leapt from the cage, and tumbled backwards into the pit. He was instantaneously killed. What makes this accident the more distressing is, that the men were going down by the cage contrary to orders, as there is a convenient access made to the workings by a stair apart from the working pit. [Fife Herald 1 January 1863]

7 February 1863

Horrible Accident At Fordell Colliery – A dreadful accident occurred on Saturday at Fordell Colliery near Dunfermline. A young woman was looking down one of the pits, when she lost her balance and fell in. From the depth of the pit shaft she must have been killed before she reached the bottom. Shortly after the accident a search was made and the body found literally smashed to fragments. On the remains being gathered together, it was found that part of one of the legs was amissing. It has not yet been recovered. [Hamilton Advertiser 14 February 1863]

Fatal Accident at Fordell Colliery - On Saturday forenoon, a young woman named Joan Muir, was killed at the St George's Pit, Fordell Colliery. She was employed at the pithead, and at the time of the accident was engaged in conveying hutches to the shaft, when, having overshot her mark, she fell down the shaft a" depth of over 70 fathoms, and was killed on the spot. [Dunfermline Saturday Press 14 February 1863]

9 August 1863

Fatal Accident - An accident of a very melancholy description occurred at the Albert Pit (Wemyss Collieries) between seven and eight o'clock on Sunday evening. About that time Peter Mathewson, who drives a horse in the workings of the Albert Pit. was in the act of descending the shaft for the purpose of feeding the horses for the night, and the engine-man had stopped the descending cage about midway down, for the purpose of letting Mathewson examine a recess in the side of the shaft which had been finished on Saturday afternoon, and from whence water is to be drawn for the use of Wemyss Castle. The engine-man says that the man, in answer to an inquiry, said he was ready to start for the bottom, but while in the act of starting the engine, he (the engineer) heard a noise, and ran at once to the shaft, down which he called loudly but got no answer. He at once got someone to attend to the engine while he (the engine-man) descended the shaft, and at the bottom found the mangled remains of Mathewson. With considerable difficulty he got the body in the cage and brought it to bank, when a cart was procured and the corpse conveyed to the house of the unfortunate man. How the accident occurred cannot be ascertained. [Fife Herald 13 August 1863]

16 August 1863

Sudden Death - Mr George Haye, engine-driver at Wemyss Colliery, was found dead on Sunday morning about eight o'clock a.m., in the boiler-house adjoining the engine-room at the Barncraig Pit, by his son, which engine the deceased attended in the day shift for a number of years past. He left off work on Saturday evening at the usual hour, and seemed to be in his usual health and in cheerful spirits, going out of his own house about ten o'clock, intending to return in a short time - the family meantime retiring to rest. Unfortunately, he had went to the boiler-house formerly mentioned, and laid himself down at full length upon a long stool, apparently to rest awhile, and seemed to have died without a struggle. The service of none being required, the engine was still. Disease of the heart is supposed to have been the cause of death. [Dunfermline Saturday Press 22 August 1863]

28 August 1863

Fatal Accident - A melancholy and fatal accident happened yesterday afternoon in one of the pits belonging to Messrs Henderson, Wallace, & Co., Cuttlehill Colliery, to a young lad named George Penman. While he was engaged taking down a piece of coal, a huge stone fell from the roof, striking him on the back part of the head and shoulders. The head was very much bruised. When the unfortunate lad was taken from under the stone, he was found to be dead. [Dunfermline Saturday Press 29 August 1863]

5 February 1864

Fatal Accident at Capledrae Colliery - While a young man, named David M'Leish, was about to descend the incline here about ten o'clock on the evening of Friday last week, and had seated himself on the truck at the top of the incline for that purpose, the chain attached, on account of the severe frost, was sticking to the ground, and this being unobserved by him, about six fathoms of the rope was unwound from the engine, when the truck went away, with all the slack rope above him. The jerk broke the chain at the end of the rope, and he was thrown down a distance of about 150 fathoms, and when found was quite dead. He belongs to Scotlandwells, is about 19 years of age, and unmarried. [Fife Herald 11 February 1864]

7 February 1864

Fatal Accident - A man named Bewic, was killed on Sabbath morning last in one of the pits at Wellwood Colliery. Deceased had gone down the pit to see about the removal of some water from the bottoms, and it is supposed his head had come in contact with some of the machinery, which killed him instantaneously. [Dunfermline Press 10 February 1864]

Fatal Accident - John Bluewick or Beurch, a bottomer in the Prince of Wales Pit, Well wood Colliery, went down by himself on Sunday morning to see if all was right and in order in the engine-pump, his special duty being to look after it. It is supposed that while in the act of looking down and examining what is called the "sump," the cage came suddenly down upon him and killed him. A quarter of an hour after he descended he was lying crushed and quite dead. He resided at Beveridgewells, was 39 years of age, and has left a wife and small family. [Fife Herald - Thursday 11 February 1864]

13 February 1864

Fatal Accident- On Saturday afternoon a deep and painful sensation was occasioned in this village by an accident of a fatal nature which then occurred at Kellie Colliery. The particulars of this melancholy occurrence are as follows:- George Laing, a miner, was ascending the shaft in a bucket, when from some unknown cause he appears to have fallen from the bucket to the bottom of the pit. The crash of the fall attracted the attention of the only other miner in the workings at the time, who on going to ascertain the cause, found the unfortunate man lying quite insensible amongst some debris, and bleeding profusely from the head, which was smashed in a most fearful manner on the right side. Assistance was soon rendered from the top, but all human aid was unavailing, as he appears to have been killed instantaneously. Laing was of a quiet and inoffensive disposition, and much respected by all who knew him. He leaves a widow and six young children, and as they by this sad calamity have been deprived of their only stay and support, it is earnestly to be hoped that the benevolent will bestir themselves when help and sympathy are so urgently needed. [Fife Herald 18 February 1864]

11 April 1864

Markinch – Fatal Pit Accident - On Monday forenoon, George Hutchison and one of his sons, both belonging to Coaltown of Balgonie, were working in Lochtyside coal pit, on the Balgonie estate, when a portion of the roof suddenly fell in upon them. The elder Hutchison was seriously hurt; and his son, who is unmarried, sustained injuries so severe that he died shortly after being conveyed home. [The Dundee Courier & Argus 13 April 1864]

29 August 1864

Fatal Coal Pit Accident - On Monday morning, a collier named Richard Scott, was engaged at his usual work in the Lady Pit at Wemyss Colliery, and while engaged taking down a huge mass of coal – the seam of coal being 5 feet 6 in. thick, and wrought on the long wall principal - it came over with great force, striking an upright tree or prop, which he unfortunately was in the direction off and too near to. The tree struck him in the region of the heart, causing severe internal injuries. He suffered excruciating pain the short time he lived after the accident, and expired on Tuesday evening. [Dunfermline Saturday Press 3 September 1864]

23 November 1864

Fatal Accident - Early on Thursday morning, while a man named Thomas Hodge, in the employment of the Cuttlehill Colliery Company, was engaged building up a wall in the pit, a stone fell on his back. At first he felt no inconvenience, but it was found on reaching home that his bladder had been burst by the accident, and he died a short time afterwards. He was attended by Dr Bartholomew, Inverkeithing. [Dunfermline Saturday Press 26 November 1864]

28 August 1865

Fatal Accident - On the morning of Tuesday last, a young lad named Adamson, aged thirteen, son of Mrs Adamson. Crossgates, met with a very untimely end. He had been driving a small hurley, or waggon, underground in the "Barns Pit," of Cuttlehill Colliery, and it is supposed bad fallen underneath it, when his head was nearly severed from his body. When found, life was quite extinct, and must have been killed instantaneously. [Fife Herald - Thursday 31 August 1865]

28 November 1865

West Wemyss - Fatal Accident - On Monday morning, while George Dryburgh, sen., was engaged on the pit bank of the Lady Pit, at Wemyss Colliery, in heaving a cran which is generally used for raising or lowering working material in the engine pit, he was struck severely about the face and head by the cran handle. We are sorry to state that the accident has proved fatal, deceased having lingered on till Wednesday evening, when death terminated his sufferings. Dryburgh was an old man, 64 years of age, and had been a sailor all his lifetime, but was temporarily engaged on the pit bank. [Dunfermline Saturday Press 2 December 1865]

28 November 1865

Fatal Accident at Clunie Colliery - On Tuesday, a young man named Clarke, residing in Clunie Square, while engaged at his usual employment in the pit, was suddenly deprived of life by a heavy stone falling on the back of his head from the roof of the workings. The stone was removed with the utmost expedition from the body of the young man, but life was extinct, he was about twenty years of age and unmarried. [Dunfermline Saturday Press 2 December 1865]

20 February 1866

Fatal Accident - A fatal accident occurred in Kingseat Coal Pit, Halbeath Colliery, belonging to Henderson, Wallace, & Company, on Tuesday, to a brusher named John Paterson, residing in Crossgates. It appears Paterson had gone into the waste to procure stones for building purposes, and sometime afterward he was found dead, with a stone of about the weight of a ton lying upon him. It is the practice for brushers in pits working in pairs, but on this occasion, it is supposed deceased and his companion had separated, that they might more speedily accomplish their work. We understand that Paterson belongs to Clackmannan, and has left a wife and family. [Dunfermline Saturday Press 24 February 1866]

5 May 1866

Fatal Accident - Mr William Clerk, manager of the works at Clunie Colliery, Kirkcaldy, died on Saturday from the effects of injuries he received on the previous Wednesday by falling from an elevated plank. [Dunfermline Saturday Press 12 May 1866]

6 August 1866

Fatal Accident - A man named James Thomson, a miner, forty-two years of age, residing at Parknook, in the parish of Dunfermline, met with a fatal accident at Arthur Coal Pit, Wellwood Colliery, on Monday. The unfortunate man had been engaged fixing props to support the roof of the pit, when a large quantity of stones and earth fell down, burying him underneath. By the time the body was dug out, life was quite extinct. Thomson leaves a wife and a large family. [Fife Herald 9 August 1866]

3 September 1866

Fatal Accident - On Monday, Alexander Beveridge, a waggon-driver, engaged in the Whitefield Coal Company, met with an accident which caused his death. It appeals he had been shunting two empty waggons at the Whitefield siding of the tram-road leading from Townhill Colliery to Sheephouse-well Junction, and was endeavouring to stop the waggons by means of blocking one of the wheels, when the block sprung out, and striking Beveridge, knocked him against the second truck, when he fell before the wheels, which passed over his left side. [Dunfermline Saturday Press 8 September 1866]

1 December 1866

Fatal Coal Pit Accident.-On Saturday last, Walter Muir Brand, a miner, aged 16, residing with his father, Andrew Brand, at Church Row, Crossgates, met with his death at the Netherbeath Coal Pit, belonging to Henderson, Wallace, & Co. It appears that the poor lad had been ascending the shaft of the pit, while another man, named Archibald Adams, was descending at the same time. Adams was carrying a bunch of colliers' picks in his arms, and one of them unfortunately slipped out of his grasp and fell down the side of the shaft that Brand was ascending. The pick struck Brand on the head and knocked him to the bottom of the pit, a depth of about 20 yards, whereby he was fractured in the skull and sustained other injuries. Dr Bartholomew, of Inverkeithing, was immediately in attendance, and did all he could for the sufferer, but he died in a few hours afterwards. [Dunfermline Saturday Press 8 December 1866]

5 March 1867

Fatal Colliery Accident - We regret to have to record a melancholy accident which took place at the Victoria coal pit, at West Wemyss, on Tuesday. It appears that Alexander Morgan, joiner ; John Black, blacksmith; Alex. Cassels ; Alex. Kilpatrick ; and Mr Landells, civil engineer, were at the bottom of the pit about five o'clock, and were standing at the side of the water cistern, where there is a plunging box in connection with the engine, and which has recently been erected. Having went down the pit for the purpose of seeing how the plunging box would work, Mr Landells gave a signal to the man at the mouth of the pit to put on the engine. No sooner had the engine begun to work, however, than an explosion was heard, and all the men ran off in different directions for safety, with the exception of Alex. Morgan, who was found lying behind the plunging box, with the upper portion of his head completely knocked off. When picked up, Morgan was quite dead. Cassells received a slight injury on the left leg, while Kilpatrick was wounded on the right leg but not seriously. It is said that the cause of the accident was that the pipes connected with the plunging box had not what are known as "buntons," which would have prevented the calamity. In consequence of the accident, all the men employed in the pit are off work. Morgan was 50 years of age, and resided at West Wemyss. [Dunfermline Saturday Press 9 March 1867]

25 November 1867

Dunfermline - Fatal Pit Accident - Serious accidents have occurred recently at some of the mines in this colliery district. This week another has happened which, unfortunately, has been attended with fatal results. On Monday, a lad named Archibald Cook, a miner, residing with his father at Crossgates, was working in the Netherbeath coal-pit, occupied by Henderson, Wallace, and Company, coal masters, and was engaged hewing a piece of coal at the face, when a stone, in weight about half a ton, fell on him from the roof of the pit. His head was crushed severely, and he sustained severe hurts in other parts of his body. He was conveyed home, where he was attended by Dr Bartholomew of Aberdour, but he died shortly after the occurrence. [Scotsman 28 November 1867]

17 March 1869

Coal Pit Accident – Yesterday, a miner named Peter Webster was severely injured in a coal pit at Lochfittie, near Dunfermline. He was working in the bottom of the pit when some heavy pieces of coal fell from the roof upon him, inflicting several dangerous wounds on the lower part of his body. He was also injured internally. He was conveyed to the Royal Infirmary. [Edinburgh Evening Courant 18 March 1869]

16 November 1869

Fatal Pit Accident - Two Men Killed - On Friday night, an accident of a melancholy and fatal nature occurred at No. 6 Pit, Townhill Colliery, by which two men lost their lives and other two made a narrow escape. The four men - named Adam Hynd, Alexander Hynd, James Milne, and William Burt - had descended the pit and were in the act of taking down their brushing when a large stone fell from the roof (a distance of nine feet) upon the bodies of Adam Hynd and James Milne. The stone waa about twelve feet long, three feet broad, and six inches thick, With the exception of the head and neck, Hynd's body was completely covered by the stone, so that his death must have been instantaneous. The stone fell upon the lower part of Milne's body, mangling him fearfully, and causing severe internal injuries. Every means were used by the other two men to extricate their unfortunate companions, but they found themselves unable, and had to procure assistance from the pit-head. Upon the stone being removed, Hynd was found to be quite dead and Milne badly crushed and bleeding profusely. He was taken to his dwelling, in Water Row, Townhill, and attended by Dr Douglas, but he never rallied, and died in about an hour afterwards. He has left a widow and four young children. Hynd was married only a few months ago. [Edinburgh Evening Courant 30 November 1869]

20 December 1869

Fatal Accident near Falkland Road Station - On Monday morning, a miner named James Wilson, was instantaneously killed at a coalpit near Falkland Road Station. Wilson had been shunting a coal bogie, and, the rails being slippery, in attempting to stop its progress, he was carried with the bogie to the mouth of the pit, and was precipitated to the bottom. [Fife Herald 23 December 1869]

NB No death cert located

28 January 1870

Pit Accident - At the Prince of Wales’ Pit, Willwood and Elgin Collieries, a miner, named. David Duncan, met with a serious accident on Friday afternoon. He was working at the “coal face,” along with his father, loosening the coal, when a large stone came suddenly away from the roof and crushed him to the floor of the pit. When taken up he was bleeding copiously at the ears, and his right shoulder blade was broken. Dr Douglas was in attendance, and exerted himself to alleviate the young man’s sufferings. The injuries he has received internally are very serious, and he is in a very precarious condition. [The Dundee Courier & Argus 3 February 1870]

2 February 1870

Dunfermline – Serious Pit Accident - On Wednesday morning two men named Robert Brown and Robert Penman, miners, met with a severe accident at No. 4 Pit, South Comrie, belonging to Messrs Merry & Cunningham. They were working at the coal face when a large stone came down on them and buried them both underneath it. Brown was not so much covered as his comrade, and he was got out more easily, but Penman was so much wedged in that he could not be got out by those who came to help him, and it was not until the stone on the top of him had been broken that he was got out - his fellow-workmen being unable to lift it whole. Brown is about thirty years of age, and Penman about thirty-five. Both are married, and have wives and families. They reside in Blair Row, Oakley. Both are very much hurt internally, and Penman is in rather a precarious condition. [The Dundee Courier & Argus 7 February 1870]

3 February 1870

Fatal Pit Accident. - At Netherbeath Pit, Hill of Beath, belonging to the Halbeath Colliery Company, the dead body of Henry Cormie was found on Wednesday morning by his fellow-workmen at the bottom of the pit, with a large stone lying upon him about two tons weight. It was Cormie's duty to attend to the pump and keep the pit dry, and he had to be down the pit a length of time before the miners came to their work. [Falkirk Herald - Saturday 5 February 1870]

Fatal Pit Accident - At Netherbeath Pit, Hill of Beath, belonging to the Halbeath Colliery Company, the body of Henry Cormie was found yesterday morning by his fellow workmen at the bottom of the pit with a large stone lying upon it, about two tons weight. It was Cormie’s duty to attend to the pump and keep the pit dry, and he had to be down the pit a length of time before the miners came to their work. When found life was extinct. [The Dundee Courier & Argus 3 February 1870]