1877 The Horror of Identifying Bodies

1877 Dixons Explosion. Bringing up the dead

1877 Dixons Explosion. Bringing up the dead

I simply cannot imagine the horror the families faced on the days following 22nd October 1877, to identify the bodies of their loved ones. Pictured here, the bodies were slowly brought up and placed in a temporary mortuary, which became known as “The Death House”.

One report in the Hamilton Advertiser describes “The bodies conveyed to the morgue were washed and dressed as decently as the circumstances would permit and then handed over to the care of the families and friends. It is to be noted that the bodies recovered almost all had the marks of injuries by burning. Some were contorted in the most dreadful manner, with the faces as black as the coal they had been shovelling. Others were torn and bruised, with dark crimson streams of blood trickling through their mud covered and dust begrimed clothes. A few had shreds of their pit clothes torn away and were battered and bruised in a shocking manner. The small number who had apparently succumbed to the choke-damp, wore a peaceful expression as if in sleep and those, when found, were discovered lying on their faces in the levels, as if they had been making haste to the pit bottom, when overtaken by the deadly, suffocating gas.”

On social media:

  • Garry Lee I wish that they had dedicated the new eating house to colliery and the people that were killed. After all it is built over the site of the pit head.
  • Henry Hambley Can’t imagine the horror of this disaster for families and also for the people who helped in the aftermath.

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