As we all head to work and start the week this Monday morning in Blantyre, we remember another much more tragic and gloomy Monday morning exactly 141 years ago which claimed the lives of over 215 men and boys, wiping out around 6% of Blantyre’s entire population in the space of a few moments.
Today is the anniversary of the Blantyre Pit Disaster and on that morning all those years ago, just before 9am, all those miners lost their lives when an explosion ripped through Dixons’ Collieries 2 and 3 in High Blantyre.
On the morning of 22 October 1877 nothing was thought to be amiss. The officials seemed to think that the workings were in their normal state. At 04:40 four firemen inspected number 2 pit. At 05:30 the regular workmen started to descend. The firemen assured the workers all was well and ascended to sign reports and have breakfast. Having received these assurances the workforce went about their various tasks.
At around 09:00 a blast was heard on the surface and flame and steam rushed up number 3 pit for a few minutes. Smoke was seen from the upcast pit and air came from number 2. Nothing was seen from number 1 pit, but below ground the miners felt the blast and at once ascended. The smoke was seen in the surrounding area so miners and managers hurried to the pithead.
We remember this morning, all those Blantyre miners who lost their lives with a special wreath commissioned on YOUR behalf. On behalf of every single reader, we’ve placed a colourful wreath at the base of the Dixon’s obelisk to remember all those lives taken. For all those lives destroyed and the grief it caused to our kin.
Of course the more prominent memorial to this disaster is at High Blantyre Cross, which last year was cleaned and remembered with lights. This year, since the council cut conifers away and created a grass path to the Dixon’s Memorial Obelisk, we’ve placed the wreath there. It seems fitting also since kind souls have recently also cleaned the memorial.
The obelisk looks out upon an unremarkable, unmarked part of the cemetery which contains two trenches of mass burials where the men and boys were interred. We cannot even begin to imagine the heartache the community, very much smaller at that time, must have felt then.
We will remember them.
You can read everything about the Blantyre Pit Disaster within a huge detailed section in Blantyre’s History Archives here on Blantyre Project. https://blantyreproject.com/blantyre-pit-disaster/