Remembering Blantyre’s Miners

Blantyre Pit Disaster Anniversary

Hope this is interesting and shares far and wide. As we all go about our business this morning, here in Blantyre we remember another much more tragic and gloomy morning exactly 142 years ago. One, which claimed the lives of 215 men and boys, wiping out around 6% of Blantyre’s entire population in the space of just 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.

Background

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 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.

However, around 08:45 a massive explosion 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. Those in Pits 2 and 3, not so fortunate. In the following days and weeks, it was learned that shockingly 215 men and boys had died, 58 of whom were 17 years old or younger, the youngest only 11 years old.

Memorial

Today, on this day, as every year this last decade, we remember all those Blantyre miners who lost their lives with a special wreath commissioned on YOUR behalf. On behalf of every single reader of Blantyre Telegraph, we’ve placed a colourful wreath at the base of the Pit Memorial at Dixon’s obelisk to remember all those lives taken. For all those lives destroyed and the grief it caused our kin.

The obelisk looks out upon an unremarkable, unmarked part of High Blantyre Cemetery (part of the common ground) which contains two trenches of mass burials where 144 of the men and boys were interred. Many others were buried in Dalbeath, Bellshill, Cambusnethan and elsewhere. We cannot even begin to imagine the heartache being felt at that terrible time. We will remember. 

Exclusively, an extensive project is underway to tell the individual stories of every miner who died.

You can read all about the Blantyre Pit Disaster in incredible detail at Blantyre’s History Archives on Blantyre Project. https://blantyreproject.com/blantyre-pit-disaster/ .

Also stay tuned on the Blantyre Project website all this weekas the Disaster story is told in detail. Additionally there are several things taking place this week, including public talks at the site, a memorial breakfast , remembrance in church services and a public talk from local historian, Gordon Cook, which takes place this evening.

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