Following the 22nd October 1877 explosion, a fund was arranged to be set up to support the widows and their plight. The fund was to be National and regulated by a solicitor in Hamilton. Dixon’s Collieries started off the fund with £1,000. Mr William Dixon donated £100, as did her Majesty Queen Victoria. Merry & Cunningham owning other pits in Blantyre donated £500.
The Relief fund continued to grow as did support and help for the widows and their families. At High Blantyre Parish Church, a meeting took place where clothes and shoes were arranged for the families. By the end of the meeting, the raised area to the right of the pulpit was covered in dresses, bonnets, and other items of clothing, most notably from Lady Hamilton of Dalziel who gave 90 mourning dresses and shawls. It was also revealed that Queen Victoria had donated long lengths of black material so that the widows could choose to make their own mourning clothes, with 2 ladies assigned as personalised seamstresses. Local grocers permitted a ticket system where the families affected were shown special kindness for free or vastly reduced prices for food.
The fund was advertised Nationally and in all a sum of £48,137 collected. (About £8,000,000 in today’s money)
The relief Committee appointed a superintendent to inquire into each and every circumstance and to ensure that each widow received appropriate and allocated allowances. These WEEKLY allowances were to be:
A widow who had lost her husband and was unable to work was given 7s 6d
to a widow with 1 child, 9s
to a widow with 2 children , 11s
to a widow with 3 children, 12s
to a widow with 4 children, 14s
to a widow with 5 children, 15s
to a widow with 6 children, 16s
capped at this amount.
However, during my research of this, i found that some widows had MORE than 6 children, but would only have received the upper 16s amount. The committee determined this would be enough compensation to support the widows in their lifetimes and for their children up to the ages of 13. Besides this some temporary relief monies were given to those miners injured that could not support their families whilst recovering.