More Mining history recently emailed here from Wilma Bolton. This extract is taken from Hamilton Advertiser archives. 19th July 1879. Page 2. It tells of an alarming trend for the colliery owners to employ men, intent on getting them to extract the coal, by any means, even without any sort of proper training of gas awareness. The days before any real health and safety. Really, what chance did they have?
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
THE BLANTYRE EXPLOSION. -1879.
“Sir, in regard to the explosions I maintain that masters or employers are not free from blame. My argument is this, why do masters employ men who are entirely ignorant regarding the nature of gas, or the use of a safety lamp? While such men are employed, there will be no end to explosions and loss of life.
I say that every man who is employed to go down a fiery mine ought to have a practical knowledge regarding the nature of gas, and how to use a safety lamp. The only men the masters engage as qualified men are what they call their firemen who have to look out for the safety of the miner. And as the gas is apt to accumulate suddenly owing to the changes in the atmosphere and sometimes by caves and falls from the roof, and the fireman has so many men to look after, it is a mere impossibility that the mine can be wrought in safety, unless the miners have a thorough knowledge of the subject. Unless our Government inspectors use some means to rectify this, the safety of the miner, I am afraid, will remain as it has been.—I am etc., A MINER.”
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James Stirling they used to have canaries down the pits to detect the gas, if they toppled over then they new there was gas about