Scottish Mining Website


1886 Fatal Accidents

Notes - The information in this page is mainly 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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Information from Appendix to Inspectors Report
Extra details
YearMonthDayName of CollieryWhere situatedOwner or CompanyForenameSurnameOccupationAgeCategoryCause of accident and remarks
1886January6SkerringtonHurlfordAllan Gilmour & CoRobertMcCoartDrawer18In shaftsPushed his hutch into the pit at a mid-working when the cage was at the surface

From Main body of report:
Happened at a "mid-working '" to a drawer. It seems that the person who acted as bottomer had just taken an empty hutch off the cage to admit of a workman being raised to the pithead, and was placing the hutch in the "lye" a few yards distant from the shaft, without having first closed the gate, which, when shut, guarded the entrance to the shaft. At that moment the deceased came forward with a full hutch, and, although according to the statement of the bottomer, he told him the cage had just been raised, through some misunderstanding or otherwise, he pushed forward his hutch into the open shaft and fell with it to the bottom, a distance of 35 fathoms, There is a well known contrivance in use at many "mid-workings" which prevents such an accident as this, as when it is open it forms a fence across the entrance of the shaft, and when closed, a scaffold across it. Ordinary gates, as in this case, are apt to be left open.
1886January11PortlandPortlandAllan Gilmour & CoRobertKingRoadsman54Miscellaneous undergroundWas struck by a prop which he and the oversman were engaged taking out 
1879January14Pirnie pitFife WilsonHuntergeneral labourer62Roasted by lying on the engine boiler over a night at Pirnie pit Death not listed in Inspectors reportWith thanks to Fiona Drysdale for this information
1886January19Govan No 5GlasgowWm Dixon LtdCharlesPercyBrusher23Falls of roof & sidesRoof fell upon him whilst taking out props at road head 
1886January27SpringbankAirdrie, LanarkSpringbank Coal CoDavidShanksDriver15Miscellaneous underground – from tubs and tramsFell in front of tubs. Died 11th February 
1886January28Gilbertfield No 1CambuslangCambuslang Coal CoJamesMcCallumMiner50Falls of roof & sidesFall of head coal (died on 1st February) 
1886January30Blair No 4DalryEglinton Iron CoHenryGribbenMiner26Falls of roof & sidesFall of roof 
1886February1Newlands    RobertBaillie      Death not listed in Inspectors reportNewspaper report- Bothwell pages
1886February22SchoolyardBo'ness, LinlithgowKinneil Iron & Coal Co LtdJas.HempsteadCollier30Falls of sidesAt face; long wall 
1886February24CalderheadShotts, LanarkShotts Iron CoJohnSkellyCollier23Falls of roofAt face; long wallNewspaper report
1886March1LeavenseatWest Calder, EdinburghJ & T ThorntonJas.GreenhornPitheadman--In metalliferous minesCrushed by waggons 
1886March5Fergushill No 22KilwinningArchd. Finnie & SonJamesWylieCollier47Falls of roof & sidesFall of coal 
1886March8StonecraigsCambusnethan, LanarkColtness Iron Co LtdJamesWilsonCollier14Miscellaneous underground – from tubs and tramsCaught by passing tubs 
1886March8TreesBathville, LinlithgowJames WoodWm.BallantyneCollier20Falls of sidesAt face; stoop and room 
1886March15Common No 12LugarEglinton Iron CoRichardKyleCollier40In shaftsFell from cage to the pit bottom, a distance of 8 fathoms, whilst ascending with 2 other men

From Main body of report:
Happened to a miner, who, after the day's work was over, was being raised in the cage along with his son and two other men, and when about eight fathoms up the shaft he fell off in some unexplained manner and was killed. He had complained of being unwell during the day.
1886March15Haugh No 1KilsythWm Baird & CoJohnBaxterCollier45Falls of roof & sidesFall of coal (died on 4th April) 
1886March22Drumpeller No 4CoatbridgeDrumpeller Coal CoJohnMorganMiner31Falls of roof & sidesFall of roof Newspaper Report - Old Monkland pages
1886March29FenceLesmahagow, LanarkNitshill & Lesmahagow Coal CoWilliamAtkinsonFireman32In shafts – whilst ascending or descending by machineryFell off cage while ascending. Cage left the slidesNewspaper Report
1886March31DalquharranMayboleHon T F KennedyDavidBrydenCollier37Falls of roof & sidesFall of roof 
1886April2DevonAlloa, ClackmannanAlloa Coal CoWm.MorrisonDrawer25Falls of roofOn drawing road; stoop and room 
1886April5PentlandLoanhead, EdinburghClippens Oil Co LtdJohnCameronMiner15In shale minesWent into an adjoining place where gas had accumulated owing to fall breaking brattice 
1886April5RedfordMuiravonside, LinlithgowRedford Coal CoEdwardCowieFireman--In shafts – whilst ascending or descending by machineryPinion come out of gear while men were descending 
1886April8DunsystonAirdrie, LanarkSummerlee Iron CoGregorMcGregorCollier--Falls of roofAt face of brushing; long wallNewspaper report
1886April10GoreGorebridge, EdinburghArniston Coal Co LtdThos.DavidsonCollier--Falls of sidesAt face; long wall 
1886April12RandolphWemyss, FifeEarl of RosslynJos.HutchisonCollier21Falls of sidesAt face; stoop and room 
1886April13BalquhatstonSlamannan, StirlingJohn WatsonJamesShieldsBogie-man18Miscellaneous underground – from tubs and tramsFell in front of bogie 
1886April14StravenhouseCarluke, LanarkJas. Thornton, Trustees ofHughMcLeanCollier49Falls of roofAt face; stoop and room 
1886April15Cumbernauld Fire clay MineCumbernauldGlenboig Union CoJamesWalkerMiner50Falls of roof & sidesFall of roofNewspaper Report
1886April15Drumsmudden No1DronganDalmellington Iron CoJamesPatersonCollier26Falls of roof & sidesFall of roof 
1886April20Cairnhill No 6AirdrieWm Baird & CoJamesSmithWaggon driver66Above groundCrushed between the buffers of two waggonsNewspaper report
1886April20Stepends No 1CumnockEglinton Iron CoJohnWatsonChain runner55Falls of roof & sidesFell off the dook “race” and was run over 
1886April22HallcraigCarluke, LanarkColtness Iron Co LtdRobertFrameChain boy13In ironstone minesFell in front of tub, chain haulage roadNewspaper Report
1886April26LadyGrangemouth, StirlingGrangemouth Coal CoAlex.FlemingCollier--Falls of sidesAt face; long wall 
1886April27BalbardieBathgate, LinlithgowHenry WalkerRobertTaitCollier50Miscellaneous underground – on inclined planesRun down by carriage while ascending incline 
1886April29MorrisonhavenPrestonpans, HaddingtonPrestongrange Coal & Firebrick Co LtdThomasGiddingsSinker--In shafts – things falling from part way downStone fell from side of shaft 
1886May3NewbattleNewbattle, MidlothianMarquis of LothianWilliamNobleCollier30Falls of sidesAt face; long wall 
1886May7BankendLesmahagow, LanarkMonkland Iron Co LtdWilliamRodgersCollier40Falls of roofAt face; stoop and room 
1886May11LeadhillsLeadhills, LanarkLeadhills Silver Lead Mining and Smelting Co LtdJohnCameronMiner43In metalliferous minesExplosion of gunpowder 
1886May15Cadder No 14BishopbriggsCarron CoRobertMcCluskeyMiner40Falls of roof & sidesFall of ironstone at face. Injured on 9th March 
1886May20GlenboigNew Monkland, LanarkGlenboig Union Fireclay Co LtdJamesGuthrieMiner--In fire clay minesOn drawing road; stoop and room 
1886May24GrasshillMuirkirkEglinton Iron CoHughMcWhirterIncline attendant14Miscellaneous undergroundKilled at foot of self-acting incline by a runaway hutch 
1886May27Westburn No 1CambuslangWestburn Colliery CoMatthewRobertsonCollier21Falls of roof & sidesFall of roof while drawing props in stoopingNewspaper Report
1886May29Lightshaw No 1MuirkirkEglinton Iron CoWilliamMurdochCollier21Falls of roof & sidesFall of coalNewspaper Report - Muirkirk pages
1886June7TarbraxAuchengray, LanarkLanark Oil Co LtdThos.RobertsonMiner40In shale minesIn charging a hole, which he did with loose gunpowder, it is supposed a spark from his lamp ignited the charge 
1886June22RosehallBothwell, LanarkRobert Addie & SonsAlex.McKillopCollier60Falls of roofAt face; long wall 
1886June28MeadowheadDalziel, LanarkGlasgow Iron CoPeterHaggertyCollier30Miscellaneous underground – from tubs and tramsWas in front of tub coming down incline of 1 in 4 1/2, when snibble came out, and tub ran over himNewspaper Report
1886July1Cronberry No 4CumnockEglinton Iron CoJamesBairdContractor34In shaftsBy cage coming down on him while working below it.

From Main body of report:
Happened to the oversman of the pit, who had been repairing the safety huts at a "mid-working'' when, either owing to a misunderstanding or neglect of signals, the cage was lowered upon him.
1886July1DonibristleCrossgates, FifeDonibristle Colliery CoJohnGrayCollier16Falls of sidesAt face; stoop and room Newspaper report - Beath pages
1886July4Portland No 8HurlfordEglinton Iron CoDavidCurrieCollier58Falls of roof & sidesFall of roof 
1886July8WoodendBathgate, LinlithgowColtness Iron Co LtdJamesMcQuestionBrusher31Falls of roofWhile redding; long wall 
1886July14BredisholmBothwell, LanarkProvanhall Coal CoJohnScobbieDrawer13Falls of roofOn drawing road; long wallNewspaper Report
1886July22GarriongillCambusnethan, LanarkColtness Iron Co LtdMichaelYoungCollier20Falls of sidesAt face; stoop and roomNewspaper report - Cambusnethan pages
1886July23Solsgirth No 1KirkintillochBarr & CoPatrickLennoxCollier20Miscellaneous undergroundRun over by a runaway “race” of hutches on dook 
1886July26LongriggendNew Monkland, LanarkJames Nimmo & CoJohnHailleyCollier24In shafts – whilst ascending or descending by machineryEngineman raised cage 10ft too high at surface, deceased alarmed, jumped off cage, and fell a distance of 30ftNewspaper report
1886July28Gartshore No 2KilsythWm Baird & CoAlexr.SmithMiner38Falls of roof & sidesFall of ironstone. Injured on 22nd June 
1886July28Govan No 5GlasgowWm Dixon LtdAndrewLangBrusher30Falls of roof & sidesFall of roof 
1886July28HolmesBroxburn, LinlithgowHolmes Oil Co LtdJohnO'BrienChain runner20In shale minesIt is supposed a piece of shale off a passing tub ran down incline and struck him 
1886August5BredisholmBothwell, LanarkProvanhall Coal CoRobertMullenCollier54Falls of roofAt face; long wall 
1886August6LegbrannockHolytown, LanarkLegbrannock District Collieries Co LtdPeterMcGeechanCollier--Falls of roofAt face; long wallNewspaper report- Bothwell pages
1886August11MillburnLarkhall, LanarkCornsilloch Coal CoPeterMcGheeRoadsman--Falls of roofWhile repairing drawing road; stoop and room 
1886August11WemyssWest Wemyss, FifeR G E WemyssJohnClunieCollier57Falls of sidesAt face; stoop and room 
1886August12Wellwood No 1MuirkirkEglinton Iron CoHughCampbellCollier40Falls of roof & sidesFall of roofNewspaper Report - Muirkirk pages
1886August13BalbardieBathgate, LinlithgowHenry WalkerJohnSimpsonBrusher29Falls of roofWhile repairing road; long wall 
1886August16Quarter No 1DennyWm Baird & CoHughMurphyDrawer38Miscellaneous undergroundCrushed against the roof while riding on a dook “race” 
1886August18ArnistonCockpen, EdinburghArniston Coal Co LtdAndrewBruceTrimmer58Miscellaneous on surfaceWas walking along edge of waggon, and fell into it on sharp piece of iron. He was not at work at the time 
1886August23Little RaithAuchtertool, FifeLochgelly Iron & Coal Co LtdChristinaBaxterPit head worker--Miscellaneous on surfaceStruck on head by waggon coupling 
1886August25BredisholmBothwell, LanarkProvanhall Coal CoAlex.BlackburnCollier59Falls of sidesAt face; stoop and roomNewspaper Report
1886August31Kirkwood No 1CoatbridgeKirkwood Coal CoWm.GibsonBlacksmith23Above groundExplosion of boiler

From Main body of report:
Caused by the explosion of a steam boiler. The boiler was one of four used for generating steam at the pit, and was of the kind known as " breeches flued boilers,'' the shell being 24 1/2 feet long, and seven feet diameter. It had two internal furnaces, 34 inches in diameter which met behind the combustion chamber and formed a single flue of larger diameter. The combustion chamber, which in boilers of this description is the weakest point, was intended to be strengthened by stays bolted to it and to the shell, but after the explosion it was found that two of the under stays had been entirely without bolts at one end, and in consequence were of no use whatever in serving the purpose for which they were intended. The boiler was made in 1870, and was in use at Drumpark Colliery until its abandonment in 1879. It afterwards came into the possession of the Kirkwood Coal Co., but was not in use again until April last, when it was removed to Kirkwood Colliery after undergoing some repairs. It was worked in conjunction with other three boilers of the ordinary cylindrical egg-ended type, at a pressure of from 45 to 50 lbs. per square inch, although at Drumpark Colliery it appears to have been subjected to a working pressure of only 40 lbs. So far as I was able to ascertain, the boiler was started to work at Kirkwood Colliery at this increased pressure without having been first thoroughly examined by a competent person as to its condition and fitness to stand a working pressure of 50 lbs. About noon on the day of the accident, shortly after the fireman noticed the gauges indicating a pressure of 49 lbs. per square inch, the boiler burst, owing to the collapse of the flue and combustion chamber, and the shell was projected into the smiths' shop, a distance of 45 yards, killing one man, while two other men were injured by the flying debris. The agent and the manager of the colliery were charged with culpable homicide and culpable violation or neglect of duty for having failed to inspect the boiler or cause it to be inspected, and to ascertain that it was fit to be worked at the pressure to which it was subjected. The case was tried at Airdrie on the 3rd of February this year before the sheriff substitute and a jury, who gave a verdict of a not guilty.
Newspaper Report - Old Monkland pages
1886September7Gartshore No 3KilsythWm Baird & CoCharlesPattersonMiner30Falls of roof & sidesFall of stone at face 
1886September8GreenlawPenicuik, EdinburghShotts Iron CoJohnMcKenzieOversman62In ironstone minesStone fell on him while passing along faceNB - Although listed in the inspector's report as McKenzie, this man's correct name is John McKean.  With thanks to an anonymous contributor for this information
1886September10GarriongillCambusnethan, LanarkColtness Iron Co LtdSamuelHyslopStone miner37Miscellaneous underground – explosions of gunpowderBrushing. It is supposed he accidentally kindled fuze 
1886September15SnabBo'ness, LinlithgowKinneil Iron & Coal Co LtdJohnNisbetCollier43Falls of sidesAt face; long wall 
1886September16Gilshochill MineMaryhillSummerlee Iron CoFrancisMcElhinneyMiner21Falls of roof & sidesFall of roof 
1886September18Springside No 11IrvineA Kenneth & SonsHughFergusonCollier19Falls of roof & sidesFall of stone at face (roof) 
1886September20Annandale No 10KilmarnockArchd. Finnie & SonHenryThomCollier19Falls of roof & sidesFall of roof (died on 16th October) 
1886September24GreenfieldHamilton, LanarkArchibald RussellJamesBullochEngineman57Miscellaneous on surfaceScalded by steam; steam pipe burst

From Main body of report:
An unusual accident happened at Greenfield colliery in September last. One of the winding engines has a pair of 24-inch horizontal cylinders working at a pressure of 50 lbs. per square inch. The steam pipes come from a range of boilers to the centre of the cylinders. At this point there is a knee pipe, descending vertically for 12 inches, next the throttle valve, and then a union pipe branching to the cylinders. On the morning of the accident, the engineman was in attendance on the engine, but it had been standing until 3 o'clock in the morning. At that time one of the firemen was about to descend the pit. The engineman told him to get on the cage, and he was about to do so, when he heard a rush of steam in the engine-house. He gave the alarm and soon after the steam was shut off. On entering the engine-house, the engineman was found lying dead near the starting handle, and it was found that a piece 17 inches by 4 had burst out of the horizontal part of the knee pipe close to the bend, and from this the steam had rushed and had burned the man to death. The pipe had been in position for more than 20 years and had shown no signs of failure. It seemed to me that the throttle valve had been tight, and that condensed steam had collected in the pipes in the form of water. When the throttle valve was slightly opened to start the engine, the rush of steam had acted on the water, and by its jerking had burst the pipe. I recommended a drip cock, above the throttle valve, so that the water might be let off before starting the engine.
1886September26CollyshotCambusnethan, LanarkColtness Iron Co LtdGilbertBrownBottomer64In shafts – falling from part way downHe ran tub into open shaft when cage was not there, and fell after it 
1886October2East BenharWhitburn, LinlithgowNiddrie & Benhar Coal Co LtdJamesHowieCollier--By sundries undergroundInflux of moss shut him in

From Main body of report:
On the 2nd October, moss burst from the surface into the workings of No, 13, Benhar pit, and imprisoned one of the men. He was one of eight who had been working in an area of coal extending to about an acre. It was approached by a drawing road, and an airway. The seam of coal was the Benhar coal, about four feet in thickness, and it was within 54 feet of the surface, 22 feet of which were wet moss. All the eight men were at work when one of them heard a rush. He gave the alarm, and all but the one man, Rodgers, escaped. They had about 140 yards to run to a place of safety. When they found one of their number amissing, they went back in search of him, but were met by the flowing moss which was in a semi-fluid state, and they could not pass through. This happened on the Saturday, and after careful deliberation it was decided that it was possible the moss might not have reached Rodger's place, and that he might be alive. It was thought that he could not be reached by the road underground, and it was determined to sink a shaft near to the point, and at the same time to put down bores to the waste, to see if it was full of moss. The pit was accordingly commenced, and at the same time bores were put down. On Friday, seven days after the accident, the pit reached the coal, into a narrow drift, at a point within 50 feet of where it was expected Rodgers would be found. The drift was open, for a large fall of stones had blocked up the passage, and only a small quantity of moss had got through. It was found, however, on reaching the fall that the moss had filled the workings, and there was no chance of finding the man alive. Further operations were stopped, and all hope of getting the body was given up. I was at the place four hours after the occurrence, and my assistant, Mr. Robson, was there every day while the exploring operations were going on. It is only fair to say that Mr. Baxter, the manager, and the workmen, did everything that could be done, and did a great deal of work in a short space of time. The accident happened, however, owing to want of caution on their part in working so near to the moss, for only two months before, a similar burst had taken place within 200 yards of it, but without loss of life, and this should have led them to abandon the coal there altogether, as has now been done.
[NB Deceased was James Howie not Rodgers as stated in main report] Newspaper Report
1886October4GreenhillMotherwell, LanarkRobert YoungJohnGrahamCollier24Falls of roofAt face; long wallNewspaper report
1886October8Gateside No 2CambuslangFlemington Coal CoJamesMcFadyeanCollier42Falls of roof & sidesFall of coal 
1886October12Govan No 5GlasgowWm Dixon LtdJamesMalcolmreddsman24Falls of roof & sidesFall of roof (died on 21st) 
1886October14BankheadMuirkirkCairntable Gas Coal CoWm.ChapmanCollier45Falls of roof & sidesFall of coal 
1886October22FordellAberdour, FifeFordell TrustDavidHoggDrawer15Falls of roofOn drawing road; long wall 
1886November1BrownriggNew Monkland, LanarkBrownrigg Coal CoAlex.BaxterEngineman--Miscellaneous on surfaceWas found dead in enginehouse; no one had seen him for 12 hours. Steampipe had broken, and he was scalded by steam.

From Main body of report:
A precisely similar accident happened at Brownrigg Colliery [to Greenfield Sept 24 1886], between Saturday night and Monday morning, 30th October and 1st November. In this case there was a small 20 horse-power engine, which by means of gearing, both raised the coals and pumped the water out of a pit 24 fathoms deep. There were here, a knee pipe from the line of steam pipes, the throttle valve, and then a pipe to the cylinder precisely as in the other case. The engine during the Sunday pumped water only, and it was required to go one hour and then stand two. The engineman was last seen about 10 o'clock on Sunday night, and nobody was at the pit but himself all night. Next morning when the men came to their work, they found the engine standing, the steam down, and no one visible. On getting into the engine-house the dead body of the engineman was found. It was found that a piece of the steam pipe had been burst out in exactly the same way as at Greenfield, and from this the steam had rushed, and scalded the man to death. The engine and pipes had been at work for 14 years.
1886November22OakbankWest Calder, EdinburghOakbank Oil Co LtdRobertGibbMiner24In shale minesSuffocated by steam while endeavouring to pass through a road where steam pipes were laid 
1886November24LoanheadLasswade, EdinburghShotts Iron CoHenryPaulBrakesman32In shafts – whilst ascending or descending by machineryWhile the engineman was raising the deceased up an incline at 60 degrees, he drew the carriage to the pulley, and Paul fell off.Newspaper report
1886November29DykeheadHamilton, LanarkSummerlee Iron CoGeorgeMuirCollier42Falls of roofAt stoopsNewspaper report - Hamilton pages
1886December3AnnadaleBathgate, LinlithgowMonkland Iron Co LtdJohnKnoxDrawer17Falls of roofAt face; long wall 
1886December3Pennyvenie No1DalmellingtonDalmellington Iron CoRobertMillerCollier44Falls of roof & sidesFall of coal and roof 
1886December6MauricewoodPenicuik, EdinburghShotts Iron CoAdamWilsonMiner24In ironstone minesStone came down incline and struck him while sitting in lye, 10 yards off 
1886December15BroxburnBroxburn, LinlithgowBroxburn Oil Co LtdMichaelKellyTrimmer56In shale minesCrushed by waggons at screens 
1886December15ShawfieldCarluke, LanarkJohn WilsonThos.GirdwoodCoal-picker--Miscellaneous on surfaceKilled by revolving table 
1886December18WilsontownCranworth, LanarkWm Dixon LtdJas.WhitelawBrusher41Falls of roofWhile redding; long wall 
1886December24Cairnhill No 6AirdrieWm Baird & CoDavidHoggPony driver16Miscellaneous undergroundFound dead under a “race” of hutches which he was taking to the pit bottom Newspaper Report - Old Monkland pages
1886December24CornsillochLarkhall, LanarkCornsilloch Coal CoPatrickMcTaggartCollier50Falls of sidesAt face; stoop and room 
1886December30MossbandHolytown, LanarkJames Lynn & CoR.DicksonPitheadman--In shafts – falling into shaft from surfaceFell down shaft. No gates 
Last Updated 12th November 2012