Scottish Mining Website

1856 Deaths listed in Mine Inspectors Report
Compiled from appendices to the reports of the Inspector of Mines and Collieries. Additional details from the main body of the report are given where available. Many accidents are not listed in these reports and additional names have been added from newspaper reports and other sources - information not sourced from the mine inspectors reports is indicated by a shaded gray background
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Year MonthDayName of CollieryWhere situatedOwners namePerson(s) killedCause of death Extra details
1856January3CarfinNear HolytownWilliam DixonJohn McIvor, collierWalking into the pit in a dark morning 
1856January16BlackbraesNear FalkirkJames Russell & SonWilliam Simpson, collierFalling from an upper working to the pit bottom 
1856January16RosebankNear GlasgowJames FarieThomas Edmond, bottomerFell down shaft in consequence of the engine being suddenly moved while he was going off at a mid working 
1856January21OakleyNear DunfermlineForth Iron CoJames Erskine, collierExplosion of fire damp which had accumulated under a scaffold at an ironstone working

From Main body of report: The accident at Oakley, near Dunfermline occurred in a pit, newly sunk to the main coal, which produced a considerable quantity of fire damp. In this pit, which is 85 yards deep, there is a band of ironstone 15 yards above the coal. In commencing the working of this ironstone, a scaffold was fixed in the pit; but being put there to serve a temporary purpose, no care was taken to make the joinings of the planks air tight which composed it. There was also an opening made in the partition (or midwall) where this scaffold was fixed, which would allow the downcast current of air to pass through it, into the upcast division of the pit, leaving that part of the pit under the scaffold, and the opening in the partition unventilated, which showed a great want of of consideration or judgement on the part of those under whose management these operations were conducted, in not either having the joinings of the scaffold made airtight or the space underneath it ventilated, particularly when i was known that the coal at the bottom of the pit generated a quantity of firedamp. By what means the carburetted hydrogen gas was ignited is unknown. The 3 men that were on the scaffold were found dead at the bottom of the pit, and a young woman who was on the pithead at the time was killed by a piece of wood falling upon her, which was thrown out of the pit by the force of the explosion.
Newspaper report
Robert Martin, collier
Marion Drysdale
Andrew Mitchell, collier
1856January26CardowanNear GlasgowBlochairn Iron CoDennis BryceFall of roof at his wall face 
1856January29RosehallNear CoatbridgeAddie and MillerEdward Roddy,roadsmanStone falling from side of pit whilst ascending 
1856 February7ArnistonLothian  Unknown ThomsonDeath not listed in Inspectors report Newspaper report - Lothian pages
1856February9Annock LodgeNear KilmarnockMerry & CunninghamJohn DochertyFall of roof in a drawing road 
1856February14GrangemouthNear FalkirkGrangemouth Coal CoFrancis Russell, collierFall of roof at face of working Newspaper report - Stirlingshire pages
1856February15ReddingNear FalkirkDuke of HamiltonRichard Gibb, bottomerCrushed betwixt the cage and side of pit Newspaper report - Stirlingshire pages
1856February18HurlfordNear KilmarnockAllan, Gilmour & CoWm DoddridgeStruck by cage at the pit mouth while fastening back the “faulding boards” 
1856February24KilgarthNear CoatbridgeWilsons & CoJohn DigginsFall of roof 
1856February24LoanheadNear DalkeithR B Wardlaw RamsayAndrew Young, collierFall of coal near the face of working 
1856March7CapringtonNear KilmarnockThomas S CunninghamJohn Shaw, enginemanGot entangled with the fly-wheel while in motion 
1856March8DalmacotherNear AirdrieWilliam SimpsonJohn Cowan, collierFall of roof at face of working 
1856March13KilmarnockNear KilmarnockMerry & CunninghamRichard BlackwoodFall of stone at face 
1856March14HolmesNear KilmarnockJohn HorneWilliam BrownCrushed between the cage and the side of the shaft

From Main body of report:  There were two seams of coal worked at this Colliery, and a mine was being driven off the shaft at the level of the first working. The deceased, a collier, on being lowered with others to the first working, went off the cage into the mine above referred to, where he expected to find an empty hutch; having found one, and while in the act of crossing the shaft with it, the engineman raised the cage by which he was taken up a short distance, and crushed between it and the side of the shaft.

There appeared to have been some misunderstanding regarding the signals; the engineman stated there was a signal given to raise the cage, and those below with the deceased said the reverse.
I suggested that a road should be formed round the end of the pit, so that hutches might be passed safely when required, and that the bottomer or his deputy should be at the pitbottom or other landings when men were being lowered, to give the proper signals and prevent irregularity.
1856March15Gas WaterNear CumnockTrustees of late John WilsonJohn CushieFall of coal 
1856March22Palace CraigNear AirdrieWilliam Baird & CoDaniel McMillanFall of stone while “robbing” a coal stoop, contrary to the rules of the colliery 
1856March31WellwoodNear MuirkirkTrustees of late John WilsonWilliam MilliganFall of coal at the face 
1856March31WellwoodNear DunfermlineThomas SpowartJohn Smith, wheel keeperFall of roof whilst repairing inclineNewspaper report - Fife pages
1856April4Minivie No 3Near DalmellingtonDalmellington Iron CoJohn IrvineFall of roof at the face 
1856April18SummerhouseNear FalkirkJohn WilsonAdam Menzies, not employedFalling down an unfenced pit 
1856April22ClackmannanNear AlloaMitchell & MowbraySimon Cadzean, collierDrawn over pithead wheels by neglect of enginemanNewspaper report - Clackmannan pages
1856April24Bartonholm Colliery  Patrick McGuireDeath not listed in Inspectors reportNot confirmed as mining accident - no cause of death given on death certificate. With thanks to Lindsay Bullard for this information
1856April25HalbeathNear DunfermlineHenderson, Wallace & CoDavid Blyth, collierFall of coal at face of working 
1856April25SebastapolNear Airdrie UnknownDeath not listed in Inspectors reportNewspaper report - New Monkland pages
1856May2RigsideNear LanarkJames SwanWilliam Hamilton, collierFall of coal at face of working 
1856May10DalkeithNear DalkeithDuke of BuccleuchDavid Pride, weigherFell down pit while assisting pitheadman 
1856May13ChapelhallNear AirdrieMonkland Iron & Steel CoJames Burns, drawerFall of roof near face of working 
1856May28BarrNear BeithJohn DunsmuirRobert CraigFall of roof 
1856May28LegbrannockNear HolytownMonkland Iron & Steel CoDavid Wyper, sinkerFalling down pit whilst ascending by coming into contact with midwall 
1856June18GartshoreNear KilsythMatthew Wallace &CoDavid ConnelPreparing to blast when the powder ignited unexpectedly 
1856June19CarronhallNear FalkirkCarron CoThomas Waugh, collierFall of coal at face of working 
1856June23WarrickhillNear KilmarnockMerry & CunninghamWm Reid (boy)Fall of roof at face 
1856June30Bonnyton No3Near KilmarnockMerry & CunninghamJames McFarlaneFall of roof in the drawing road

From Main body of report:  A fall had occurred during the night in the drawing road leading to the wall where deceased worked, he had passed it in the morning going to his work; sometime after, while the roadsman was engaged clearing it away and securing the roof, the deceased incautiously came out from his wall, a number of yards distant, and sat down on the road side directly under the shattered roof, which had shortly before given way and was being secured.

According to the statement of the roadsman, he had not time to warn him of the dangerous state of the roof before a portion of it fell away upon him.
1856July1ChapelhallNear AirdrieMonkland Iron & Steel CoJohn O'Donald, collierWinding machinery getting out of gear by neglect of engineman not securing it properly to the engine

From Main body of report: Four men were killed whilst descending a pit at Chapelhall near Airdrie, belonging to the Monkland Iron and Steel Company, by the winding machinery becoming ungeared (or detached) from the engine. In this case the engineman was tried for culpable homicide at the Glasgow Autumn Circuit, and after the usual evidence for and against was acquitted. I am, however, quite satisfied that the accident was caused solely by the neglect of the engineman, from the imperfect manner in which the winding machinery was attached to the engine, and not from any defect in the machinery.
Newspaper report - New Monkland pages [NB Engineman was John Ballantyne, son of Thomas Ballantyne, age 22, residing with his father at Chapelhall. He was a native of Dumfreisshire. He was tried for culpable homicide at the High Court, Glasgow, 1 Oct 1856 and found not guilty - Source NAS catalogue]
Henry Orrick, collier
Owen Crossan, collier
Patrick O'Donald, collier
1856July3DundonaldNear DunfermlineJames NaysmithDavid Greive, collierFall of roof at face of working 
1856July4PlanNear KilmarnockJohn Gilmour & CoJames RobertsonFall of roof at face 
1856July11BankheadNear GlasgowMcNaughton & HoodWilliam RymesFall of roof at face 
1856July12WellwoodNear DunfermlineThomas Spowart & CoGeorge Anderson, drawerFall of roof in drawing road 
1856July18NitshillNear GlasgowGeorge & Thos CoatesJames DougrayWhile repairing the upcast 
1856July22CairnhillNear AirdrieMansfield GrieveJames TodRope breaking in a blind pit 
1856July23EspiesideNear CoatbridgeWilliam Baird & CoGeorge McMillanA pick being lowered from the sinking shaft got disengaged from the fastening

From Main body of report: The deceased and his fellow workman were putting in a column of pipes ; they were standing on a " hanging " scaffold about fourteen fathoms from the surface; for some purpose they had desired the hillman to send down a pick, he had fastened one to a hand line and was lowering it, when, from some flaw in the fastening or otherwise, the pick got disengaged and fell upon the deceased, from which, or by endeavouring to avoid it, he lost his balance upon the scaffold and fell to the bottom, a distance of sixteen fathoms or thereby.
1856July26GateheadNear KilmarnockArchibald FinnieAndrew Aitken (boy)Crossing the shaft when the cage lifted unexpectedly

From Main body of report: After the men were lowered in the morning, and before the "cleek'' (drawing coals) had commenced, the oversman had occasion to change a pump-bucket, he had gone to the surface to arrange the connexions, and was being lowered again a few feet to complete the operation, this necessarily caused the cage to be raised at the bottom, which caught the deceased who was in the act of crossing the shaft at the time, which he ought not to have done, there being a road round the end of the shaft clear of it, and which formed the proper passage from one side to the other.
1856July30DouniestonNear PatnaDalmellington Iron CoJames McCullochFall of roof 
1856 July 31 Steelend Pit   William McCowan Death not listed in Inspectors report Newspaper report - Fife pages
Alexander Fife
1856August2RosebankNear GlasgowColin Dunlop & CoRobert BurnsOverwinding- the engineman raised the cage instead of lowering it

From Main body of report: The deceased with three others had gone on the cage (in the morning) to be lowered to their work, when the engineman through inattention, or by mistake, raised the cage instead of lowering it, consequently it was drawn over the pit-head pulley, and the deceased fell to the bottom of the shaft, a distance of fifty-two fathoms.

In this case, the engineman was tried for neglect of duty by Sheriff Steele and a jury, found guilty, and sentenced to thirty days' confinement in Bridewell or pay a fine of fifteen pounds sterling.
1856August6DalmarnockNear GlasgowGeorge WilsonAlex. DochertyFall of roof in the drawing road 
1856August9WhitehillNear DalkeithR B Wardlaw RamsayWilliam Lawson, collierBeing crushed betwixt cage and pithead framing Newspaper report - Lothian pages
1856August11StevenstonNear KilwinningMerry & CunninghamJno McPhail (boy)Explosion of fire damp
From Main body of report: The "fireman," in this case, was charged by the Procurator Fiscal, Mr. Gross, for culpable and reckless breach of duty, and tried by Sheriff Christison, of Ayr, and a jury.
It was the duty of the fireman, every morning, and before any one was allowed to pass a given point, to proceed with a safety lamp through every drawing road, and along the whole coal faces and working places in the Colliery, to ascertain if they were free from firedamp, chokedamp, or other impurities; contrary to this he went with a naked light, and took the deceased, a boy about fourteen years of age with him, the result was an explosion of firedamp, by which the boy lost his life.
The Special Rules of the Colliery, a copy of which (Rules No. 1) accompanies this, defines the fireman's duties, but were found insufficient by the jury to convict him.
The Judge was of opinion the Rule (XXI) was incomplete; however, as it is the most important of all the Special Rules, if the construction that was put upon it by the above decision be correct, viz., that the fireman was bound to examine the suspected parts only of the Colliery, then I am of opinion it should be revised, as leaving it in this undecided form will lead to looseness and uncertainty.
The construction I put upon the rule was, that when firedamp was known or suspected to be in a Colliery, the fireman was bound to make his round of inspection through the working places with a safety lamp, and the only exceptions would be Collieries which have been at work for a considerable period, and where firedamp was neither known, nor suspected to exist.
Newspaper report - Ayrshire pages
1856August18EastfieldNear GlasgowJ G BuchananJohn RobertsonFall of roof at face 
1856August18OakleyNear DunfermlineForth Iron CoPeter Donelly, collierFall of coal at face of working 
1856August30AuchenheathNear LanarkDuke of HamiltonWilliam Smith, bottomerBeing crushed betwixt cage and side of pit 
1856September3RouchsillochNear AirdrieWilson & AlisonJohn McAvoy, drawerBeing crushed betwixt cage and roof of mine 
1856September4StonelawNear GlasgowJ R ReidJames MartinFall of roof at the face 
1856September5AllantonNear WishawShotts Iron CoJohn Hamilton, driverFall of stone from roof of horse road 
1856September5GateheadNear KilmarnockArchibald FinnieJames LogieDrowned or suffocated by water from an old waste

From Main body of report: It was known to the manager of the Colliery that a small quantity of water lay to the "rise" of the works, and the men who were driving the exploring room had orders to keep a bore in advance of it; this precaution was observed, and the bore hole, at the time of the accident, was seven feet beyond the face of the room in solid coal.

In this case, the quantity of water was certainly small, but sufficient to produce the accident. It would appear if the men had remained in their places they would have been comparatively safe, but under such circumstances, even though danger was not seriously suspected, it is not possible to prevent con-fusion, and it would require some nerve for men to stand in a body of water where the lights were extinguished, or grope their way safely in gloom and darkness.It is always unsafe to approach a waste containing water, with a single bore in advance, and the following sketch, shewing the position of the place after the accident, is another striking illustration of it.  Certainly the safe way is to keep, at least, a centre or " breast" and two " wing" bores, at all times, in advance of the solid coal, and the distance ought to vary with the known or anticipated pressure of water.
1856September6ChapelNear WishawWilliam AitkenWilliam McQueen, drawerFall of roof in drawing road 
1856 September 9 Denny ironstone mine      Unknown MacLean Death not listed in Inspectors report Newspaper report - Stirlingshire pages
1856September11NiddrieNear EdinburghR B Wardlaw RamsayGeorge Runsieman, sinkerFalling down pit by a scaffold giving way 
1856September12KilgarthNear CoatbridgeWilsons & CoOwen McGewFall of coal 
1856September13AuchengreochNear JohnstoneLudovic HoustonJohn GrayWas drawn up above the usual landing place and leapt off the cage upon the bank

From Main body of report: The unfortunate individual (who was the underground manager) had been examining the state of the shaft, and signalled to be taken up, on reaching the surface and finding the cage being raised above the regular landing place he leapt off it, (no doubt thinking to avoid being drawn over the pulley,) and falling partly on the plates and partly on a beam of wood at the pitmouth, was so much injured that he died shortly after.
1856September15OvertonNear KilmarnockJames Robertson & CoJames RightfordFall from a mid working 
1856September22WoodhillNear KilmarnockMerry & CunninghamHenry O'NeilFall of stone and coal 
1856September26LoanheadNear DalkeithR B Wardlaw RamsayDavid Blair, collierFall of roof at face of workings 
1856September27BroomlandsNear IrvineYoung and BlackAlex. WatersExplosion of fire damp

From Main body of report: The deceased had, on some trifling business, gone in to a room which was standing on account of a fall of roof, when a slight accumulation of fire -damp exploded, which caused his death.
When I examined this Colliery, after the accident, I found the air-course in a very insufficient state, and the ventilation, for want of some efficient appliance, extremely languid.
I suggested that the air-courses should be enlarged, and that means should be used for inducing a circulation of air, by rarefaction or otherwise.
1856September30CoalburnNear N.CumnockNisbet & SloanJohn KennedyA back weight fell upon him in a sinking shaft 
1856October7StevenstonNear HolytownStevenston Coal CoJohn SimpsonFall of roof at face of workingsNewspaper report - Bothwell pages
John Glassford, collier
1856October14AlloaNear AlloaAlloa Coal CompanyJohn Snaddon, driverFalling off cage whilst ascending the pitClackmannan accidents
1856October15OakleyNear DunfermlineForth Iron CoPatrick White, bottomerStone or coal falling down pit 
1856October15WishawNear WishawJames Anderson & CoWilliam Baillie, drawerExplosion of fire damp under a scaffold in pit

From Main body of report: Accident by explosion of fire damp, in a pit at Wishaw belonging to James Anderson and Company, where 2 boys were killed whilst standing on the cage to ascend the pit. In this case the fire damp seems also to have accumulated under a scaffold placed in the pit, at an upper working. There was an abandoned working at the bottom of the pit, used at the time of the accident as a water lodgement; it was in this working where the firedamp generated, which would escape into the pit when the water was pumped out below the roof of the mines. In neither of these cases is it possible to arrive at a correct knowledge of how the gas under the scaffold was ignited. The probability is, that it was caused from a light having been dropped upon, or through the scaffolding. That such was the case at Wishaw there can be little doubt, from the circumstances that none of the other workmen were injured, and even the person who was close to the pit at the time signalling the engineman escaped unhurt.
Newspaper report - Cambusnethan pages
[NB Names should be Robert Wilson Baillie and William Davidson]
Adam Davidson, drawer
1856October16AuchenheathNear LanarkJames Ferguson & CoMitchell Sorbie, drawerFall of stone from side of drawing road 
1856October18ReddingNear FalkirkDuke of HamiltonHelen Snaddon, pithead womanFalling down pit whilst pushing forward a hutch 
1856October20ArnistonNear DalkeithJohn ChristieArchibald Taylor, bottomerFalling down pit whilst attempting to go off cage when in motion Newspaper report - Lothian pages
1856October22BlairNear DalryWilliam Baird & CoWilliam Lynch, bottomerJammed in the shaft by the cage 
1856October30Palace CraigNear AirdrieWilliam Baird & CoJames McMillanFall of coal at face 
1856November1BarleithNear KilmarnockJohn Galloway & CoThomas RitchieOverwinding- the engineman raised the cage instead of lowering it 
1856November13Rosehall No3Near CoatbridgeAddie and MillerJames BrownleeFall of roof 
1856November18Fergushill No 19Near KilwinningArchibald FinnieJohn Rodger (boy)Fall of coal at face 
1856November18Minivie No 3Near DalmellingtonDalmellington Iron CoJohn JudgeFall of roof 
1856November22Shotts Iron WorksNear WishawShotts Iron CoRobert Burke, enginekeeperFalling amongst the machinery of an engine underground 
1856November23Sillyhole No5Near DalmellingtonDalmellington Iron CoAdam ReidExplosion of fire damp

From Main body of report: The deceased, with his two sons, had, contrary to the special rules of the Colliery, gone into their room in the morning before the fireman completed his inspection, when a quantity of inflammable gas, which had accumulated there during the night, exploded upon them.
The mode of working pursued in; this Colliery is by forming large pillars in the first working. It had not been the practice, previous to the accident, to lead the air to the face of the work by brattice, and some of the rooms had extended one hundred feet beyond the current. Since the accident this very important precaution has been partially observed.
The workings produce very little inflammable gas and ordinary care and attention on the part of those entrusted with the ventilation, should prevent the recurrence of a similar accident.
I suggested that the airways should be enlarged and the ventilation carried to the coal by brattice or otherwise.
NB Son Adam killed 13 Jan 1863
1856November25Caronbroe Iron WorksNear AirdrieMerry & CunninghamJohn Keane, collierFall of coal at face of working 
1856November27KilmarnockNear KilmarnockArchibald FinnieBarnet Hughes (boy)Fall of roof 
1856November27LoanheadNear DalkeithR B Wardlaw RamsayWilliam Harper, collierFall of roof at face of working Newspaper report - Lothian pages
1856December3RedburnNear KilwinningWilliam Baird & CoEdward ButlerFall of roof 
1856December4Cliftonhill No 4Near CoatbridgeThomas Jackson & CoStevenson GrantFall of roof 
1856December27CarfinNear HolytownWilliam DixonCharles Reid, pithead manFalling down pit whilst pushing forward a hutch 

Last Updated 29th September 2013