On Sunday 6th January 1929, a woman descended into the far bottom depths of Blantyre Ferme Colliery for the first time. What a story she had to tell and will be remembered for her heroism.
On that afternoon, Dr. Anne Mitchell descended into the Blantyre Ferme Colliery Pit 3, Lanarkshire, and saved a miner’s life. It was learned that two men, Duncan Connor and Thomas Loughrie, both of Clyde Place, Newton, had received a severe electric shock while working underground on the coal seam with an electric cutter, which had cut through a cable. Connor had become unconscious and Loughrie had accidentally touched the live wire a second time, also rendering him too out cold.
It is poignant feature of the tragedy that Connor and Loughrie were both working their first shift after period idleness. Loughrie had been off for few months, and Connor was starting new job, and both were delighted at being work again. There was only an hour of the shift to finish when the accident happened.
Dr Mitchell and a priest, Father Galbraith along with colliery manager, Robert Armstrong hurried to the pit and were lowered down the shaft. Both injured men were found by helping shouts from other miners. Both men were unconscious and with the help of the men’s comrades, Dr. Anne Mitchell set about artificial respiration immediately. After two hours’ work Loughrie (aged 48) recovered consciousness, and later made would make a complete recovery. He was carried to the cage and hoisted out the pit. Connor (aged 37) however, in that time was dead. Although exhausted and completely drenched with the damp underground and despite her clothes being ripped and dirt covered, Dr. Mitchell hurried to Loughrie’s home as soon as she reached the surface to follow up the condition of the man she had saved.
Father Galbraith had a more difficult task in breaking the news to Mr. Connor’s widow.
Interviewed in his home the following day, Loughrie clearly recalled what happened, and paid a glowing tribute to Dr. Anne Mitchell, as did Fr. Galbraith . “The conditions,” he said, “were appalling down below. Dr. Mitchell did wonders down there, and the men were splendid, too, in the way they helped.”
Both Connor and Loughrie belonged to families which had been stricken in pit accidents. Connor’s brother was killed in the mines in Australia, and his wife lost her father in a pit accident. Loughrie’s wife also lost her father in the same pit few years ago. The fatality occurred shortly after Mrs. Loughrie’s father had returned from Buckingham Palace, where he had received the posthumous V.C. awarded to his son, Private Miver.
Anne Mitchell is believed to the first woman doctor to perform rescue work underground in Scotland and the miners loudly praised her plucky conduct.
From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2016
Pictured, exclusively on Blantyre Project and not seen anywhere else online is Blantyre Ferme Colliery around the time of the accident.