Neilsland 26th April 1916
Inspector of Mines Report
Five men were killed in one accident at Neilsland Colliery, owned by Messrs. John Watson Ltd., by an irruption of water and liquid matter. It was intended to work that part of the Ell Coal Seam left when the working of Eddlewood Colliery was abandoned, to the Neilsland shafts. By mines and a blind pit the Ell Coal had been reached near the vicinity of the No. 3 Eddlewood shaft. Boreholes were kept in advance but on 26th April the refuse with which the No. 3 Eddlewood shaft had been filled, being sludge from a coal washer and in a more or less liquid state, burst into the Ell Coal workings and blocked all the roads in the immediate area. Four of the men killed were in the Ell Coal, and the fifth was at or near the top of a brae in the Main Coal. The four men in the Ell Coal had no chance of escape, and the fifth man was overwhelmed by the flowing mud and carried down to the foot of the brae. It is possible that debris from a coal washer might, with an absolutely dry shaft and an outlet for water at the bottom, to drain away the water carried by the debris itself, be a safe medium with which to fill a shaft even if such shaft were to be at some later date holed into near the bottom but as such conditions are very rarely, if ever, met with, it would seem that if it is intended to hole into an old shaft so filled, the shaft should first be emptied of the debris by working from the surface. It is probable in this case that the barring of the old shaft had collapsed and that the inrush was due to a failure of the roof above the Ell Coal Seam.
[Report by Mr H Walker, Inspector of Mines]
5 Men entombed - Hamilton Pit Accident - 5 miners were entombed yesterday at Neilsland Colliery, Hamilton, belonging to Messrs John Watson Ltd. The circumstances are such that hopes as to their safety have been practically abandoned. About midday a number of workmen were approaching with bores a narrow working in an old shaft inNo 1 pit. The man in charge of the party had no sooner gone away to make a report to some of the colliery officials who chanced to be in the pit than the accident occurred. In a comparatively short space of time the entire workings were filled up with debris from the old shaft, which consisted of dirt and soft material from the Eddlewood washery.
Attempts were made to reach the men but these proved unavailing. The entombed workmen are:
Hugh Scott, married, residing at Low Waters, Hamilton
Robert Robertson, married 229 Low Waters, Hamilton
John Shaw, single, 103 Eddlewood Rows, Hamilton
Robert Leadbetter, married 103 Beckford St, Hamilton
George Stewart, married, Field St, Low Waters Hamilton
Mr James Cook, the resident manager and his under manager, Mr James Houston, were in an adjoining section and were making for the place that caved in when the alarm was given. On rushing out they were faced with the oncoming debris and it was with difficulty that they succeeded in getting clear.
Mr Robert McLaren HM Inspector of Mines, was at once communicated with and was speedily on the scene. A rescue brigade was summoned from the rescue station at Coatbridge.
Grave Apprehension - Hamilton, Thursday - The work of attempting to reach the men entombed by the collapse of an old pit shaft at Neilsland Colliery, Hamilton, yesterday is being vigorously prosecuted today. One body was recovered that of Robert Robertson, 229 Low Waters, Hamilton Robertson had been swept forward by the rush of incoming debris and the body was recovered embedded in the mud. No hope of finding the other 4 alive is now entertained.
The old shaft which has given way was formerly Eddlewood No 3 and the coal to which it gave entry is now worked from Neilsland. The five men caught by the sudden breaking in of the old shaft were employed driving a road into the Eddlewood Ell Coal to take out the pillars. The material in the old shaft is still sinking and from the surface the cavity is now fathoms deep [Evening Times 27 April 1916]
The pit shaft disaster at Hamilton - Yesterday vigorous operations were maintained to reach the men entombed in Neilsland Colliery (John Watson's, Ltd), Hamilton, through the collapse of an old disused shaft on Wednesday. One body, that of Robert Robertson, a married man, 229 Low Waters was recovered. He appears to have been swept forward by the rush of incoming debris and suffocated, his body bearing no visible marks of injury. No-hope is now entertained are finding the other four men alive. Their names are Hugh Scott, 30 Low Waters; John Shaw, 136 Eddlewood Rows; Robert Leadbetter, 103 Beckford Street; and George Stewart, 187 Low Waters - all in Hamilton. All the men are married except Shaw. The old shaft which collapsed was formerly Eddlewood No. 3, but it was filled up five or six years ago, when the coal to which it gave entrance was worked from Neilsland. The unfortunate party of five men were employed at the time of the disaster driving roads into the Eddlewood ell coal to take out the pillars which still remained in the vicinity of the old shaft. Some estimate of the amount of material which found, and is still finding its way into the workings, may be obtained when it is stated that the old shaft was 125 fathoms deep. Yesterday the work of excavation was rendered extremely difficult and dangerous, as the soft lava like material from the filled up shaft was still flowing in. [Scotsman 28th April 1916]
The Hamilton pit accident - Despite considerable efforts yesterday, no further case of the men entombed by the collapse of an old pit shaft at Neilsland Colliery, Hamilton, on Wednesday, has been found. Mr P McIlhenny, HM Inspector of Mines, remained on the scene yesterday for the greater part of the day. If the four men have been overwhelmed where they were known to be working on Wednesday, it is not probable that they will be reached for some considerable time. [Scotsman 29th April 1916]
Disaster at Neilsland Colliery - Feared Loss of Five Lives - One of the worst pit accidents that has occurred in the district for many years took place on Wednesday about midday, when an old shaft at Eddlewood collapsed and entombed five workmen. The shaft was formerly Eddlewood No 3 but some five or six years ago it was filled up, and the coal to which it gave entrance was worked from Neilsland. On Wednesday five men were employed in driving roads into the Eddlewood ell coal to take out the pillars which still remained in the workings around the old shaft. Their names are:- Hugh Scott, married, 30 Low-waters; Robert Robertson, married, 229 Low-waters; John Shaw, single, 136 Eddlewood Rows; Robert Leadbetter, married, 103 Beckford Street; and George Stewart, married, 187 Low-waters. Scott was in charge of the party. Robert Brownlie, a shaftsman, who was giving Scott a hand, had finished his shift and was leaving for the surface. When he got some distance off he heard a loud rumbling noise, and fearing an accident, he sent word to the officials. Mr James Cook, the resident manager, and Mr James Houston, under-manager, who were in another portion of the pit, immediately proceeded to the scene, but found their course barred by an irresistible flow of soft glutty debris flowing like a stream of lava through the workings are filling up every available space. Acting with commendable promptitude Mr Cook and Mr Houston got the men in the other sections warned to make their escape, and they all succeeded in doing so. The five men employed as stated in the old Eddlewood ell coal were out off and from the first no hope was entertained of finding them alive. When the flow of material had subsided, every possible effort to reach the missing men was made by the management and many willing hands. About 10 o'clock the body of Robert Robertson was recovered. He had apparently been swept forward by the rush of incoming debris, and was well within reach. The body, embedded in mud, bore no injuries, death having resulted from suffocation.
When the serious nature of the accident was revealed, Mr Robert McLaren, HM Inspector of Mines, and Mr J B Thomson, the general manager for Messrs John Watson (Ltd) were communicated with and were quickly at the scene of the calamity, bringing their experience and knowledge to bear on the work of rescue. A rescue brigade from Coatbridge was summoned, but owing to the hopelessness of the situation their services were not used. Mr John Robertson, miners' agent, also visited the scene.
On Thursday the huge cavity caused on the surface by the falling in of the loose filling-up material was several fathoms deep, and the management had it fenced round.
Vigorous efforts were maintained both on Thursday and yesterday to discover trace of the other four men, but without success. [Hamilton Advertiser 29 April 1916]
Cleland Man in Hamilton Pit Disaster - Five miners were entombed on Wednesday at Neilsland Colliery Hamilton, which belongs to Messrs John Watson Ltd. The circumstances are such that hopes as to their safety have been practically abandoned. About midday a number of workmen were approaching with bores a narrow working in an old shaft in No 1 Pit. The man in charge of the party had no sooner gone away to make a report to some of the colliery officials who happened to be in the pit, when the accident occurred. In a comparatively short space of time the entire workings were filled with debris from the old shaft which consisted of dirt and soft materials from the Eddlewood washery. Attempts were made to reach the men, but these proved unavailing. Amongst the entombed workmen was Hugh Scott, married, residing at 30 Low Waters Hamilton. He is a Cleland man, and a cousin of Sergeant James Scott, who resides in Main Street. Mr Robert McLaren, H M Inspector of Mines was at once communicated with and was speedily on the scene. In an interview he stated that it would be some time before they could reach the entombed men, and even then he feared only their bodies would be recovered. [Wishaw Press 28 April 1916]
Hamilton – Inquiry Into Pit Shaft Disaster – On Wednesday an inquiry was held into the circumstances concerning the death of the five workmen who lost their lives in Neilsland Colliery, Hamilton, on April 26 by the bursting of an old filled in shaft. It was admitted that the shaft had been filled with sludge from the washers, the expectation being that it would solidify. Only one body had been recovered but energetic efforts were still being made to find the other entombed men. After hearing all the evidence and statements by Mr Robert M'Laren H M Inspector of Mines, and Mr Robert Smillie, the jury found that the men met their death by the sludge from the disused shaft bursting into the workings and overwhelming them, but there was not sufficient evidence to enable them to make a finding as to the precise cause of the accident. The jury added a rider calling attention to the danger which might arise when disused shafts were filled up with liquid sludge and on the approach thereto of mineral workings. [Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser 10 June 1916]
Names of Dead
Robert Robertson, coal pit pony driver, married to Mary Johnstone or Easson. Found dead April 26th 10pm In No 1 Pit Neilsland Colliery Hamilton. Usual Residence 229 Low Waters, Hamilton, age 35. Parents William Robertson, late coal miner & Helen Gold dec. Cause - killed by accident (suddenly). Reg by David Robertson brother, 45 Barrack St, Hamilton on April 28th 1916
John Shaw, coal miner, single, 1916 April 26th, In No 1 Pit Neilsland Colliery, Parish of Hamilton, Usual Residence 136 Eddlewood Rows Parish of Hamilton age 22. Parents James Shaw, coal miner dec & Rachel Ferguson. Cause - entombed in coal mine. Reg by James Shaw, brother, 153 Eddlewood Rows, Hamilton, on May 29th 1916
George Stewart, coal miner, married to Mary Connell, 1916 April 26th, In No 1 Pit Neilsland Colliery, Parish of Hamilton, Usual Residence 187 Low Waters Hamilton age 29. Parents William Stewart, late coal miner & Janet Campbell. Cause - entombed in coal mine. Reg by Wm Stewart, father, Brysons Land Eddlewood, Hamilton, on May 29th 1916
Robert Leadbetter, stone miner, married to Annie Corbet, 1916 April 26th, In No 1 Pit Neilsland Colliery, Parish of Hamilton, Usual Residence 102 Beckford St Hamilton age 62, parents James Leadbetter carter & Margaret McKay both dec. Cause - entombed in coal mine, Reg by John Leadbetter, son, 102 Beckford St Hamilton on May 30th 1916
Hugh Scott mining contractor married to Annie Harvey, 1916 April 26th, In No 1 Pit Neilsland Colliery, Parish of Hamilton, Usual Residence 30 Low Waters Hamilton age 45. Parents John Scott coal miner & Mary Wilson both dec. Cause - entombed in coal mine. Reg by John Scott brother, 36 Robert St Wishaw on May 31st 1916