On Wednesday 24th January 1900, an accident occurred in High Blantyre, which saw a miner terribly injured. However, it was not the kind of accident that we commonly know happened to men in such times.
Mr. J.W Bathgate was the assistant engineer at Dixon’s Collieries at High Blantyre. On that day, he had finished work down the pit and had returned to the surface and made his way home. Upon reaching his house that evening, he realised nobody was home and that he had forgotten his keys, which he had left behind in the pit. He returned the short distance back to the pit and proceeded to make his way down the shaft into the pit to retrieve them. However fate had other plans.
In the interval between shifts, as Bathgate made his way into the darkness, shot firers had kindled a fuse ready for a blast ahead of the next shift. As Bathgate wandered into the tunnels, the shot exploded and the blast travelled through the mine with pace. It reached Bathgate quickly and although severely injuring him, he struggled on to get back to the bottom of the pit and his only chance of help. Alarm was raised and he was quickly raised to the surface, where it was discovered he was badly burned to his face. He was taken at one to the Western Infirmary, where it was later reported the heat from the blast had resulted in him losing an eye.
Safety lapses in the mines were commonplace, both by owners and individuals. I have no doubt too that his tied situation to the cottages and lack of sympathy from colliery owners would have resulted in him having to return to work, despite his new disability.
From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2016 All rights reserved.