With so many men and boys losing their lives in the Dixons Pit Disaster in High Blantyre on 22nd October 1877, the only way the authorities could deal with such funeral arrangements, was by a mass burial. This took place at High Blantyre Cemetery, where all non Catholics were buried, with Catholic men and boys taken to Dalbeath.
At High Blantyre, nine days after the explosion thousands of Blantyre residents (keeping in mind there were only about 10,000 people in the town at the time) lined the streets and crammed themselves on to the pavements at Cemetery Road. People jostled with each other to gain the most advantageous view. The crowd was extended hugely more, by visitors who poured off trains to come and see the spectacle, including many reporters from all across Britain. Amongst them, a number of opportunists , intending to make the best of the empty houses. It is alleged, when caught, several of these people were left in the hands of the miners, rathe than police. Blantyre’s muddy and grimy streets failed to cope with such an influx of people into the town and with the weather being particularly wet that week, the roads struggled and people are known to have been stuck knee deep in mud.
At the North East side of High Blantyre Cemetery the authorities dug a huge trench of 50 yards x 3 yards and 2 yards deep. The lengthy procedure of lowering the coffins carefully into the ground began, observed closely by the families of the deceased. For many though, this was still a period where their loved ones hadn’t yet been recovered from the pit, and nine days on, hope of them being rescued would have been diminishing rapidly, especially as they witnessed the sight of their colleagues being buried. The coffins were covered over.
Dixons, the colliery owners would later go on to place a monument to all the people lost that October day. (pictured) The final numbers of the dead vary greatly from report to report. From 215 to 240 and I’ve even seen a report that suggested there were 262 miners dead (although i think that one included the survivors)
On social media:
- Russell Boyd Ive heard stories of over 300. Apparently a lot of unregistered immigrants names were never added to the official total. Probably just sensationalism though
- Ann Crossar My 2nd great grand uncle died in Dixons disaster – William Primrose age 17 – he was interred in double family lair at High Blantyre Old Cemetery – section D lair 323/324 on 6/11/1877.
I only found this out recently by emailing cemeteries and they provided details of the lair and everyone who is interred in the lair.