Blantyre Disaster – 140th Anniversary

At 9.30am this morning (Sunday 22nd October 2017), it will be exactly 140 years to the minute since the 1877 Blantyre Pit Disaster, which killed over 200 men and boys.

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The terrible explosion, still to this day Scotland’s worst mining disaster occurred at Dixons Collieries in High Blantyre and at the time killed almost 5% of Blantyre’s entire population. Today, we stop for a moment to remember the victims of that disaster and the misery and grief that it caused to the families.

The Blantyre Disaster Memorial at Kirkton was erected in 1977, a hundred years later, but has in recent years been looking sorrowful, covered in moss, slime and with weeds growing at the steps.

It’s been another good month for our book sales, so this week, we donated £150 to charity, Blantyre Telegraph who immediately commissioned a clean up, in advance of the anniversary. Hiring ‘Ross Dunn Ogilvie Contractors’, and being on holiday leave, I also rolled up my sleeves and personally joined the workmen to clean the monument from head to toe. Some of the hardest work I’ve done, I tell you! Carefully using sponges to protect the surface and non-corrosive cleaners we spent several hours cleaning the memorial. The steps especially needed attention and all the moss, growth and weeds were successfully removed. Steps scrubbed, it’s certainly looking sparkling again!

Thanks also go out to Ederra & Complextions and The Cornerstone for providing a supply of water for our cleaning endeavours.

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Finally, for remembrance of the victims, I have placed over 200 lights, one for each of the men and boys who died, around the steps, as a temporary memorial. These were visible last night and will be for the next 2 nights to show not just our sorrow for the victims, but to show that ALL of Blantyre is thinking about them and that terrible day.

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Much more about Blantyre’s Mining Disaster can be found on the main website here https://blantyreproject.wordpress.com/blantyre-pit-disaster/

Featuring Blantyre Project Social Media with permission. Strictly not for use by others on or offline, our visitors said,

Davy Thomson Well done Paul,, a touching tribute 👍
Margaret Mary OSullivan Thank you so much for doing this,Paul. This Sunday as we read our papers; spend time with family; go about our daily routine:it is incredibly moving to pause and think about the tragedy that was unfolding in this very community 140 years ago today.
Elizabeth O’Brien Aw thats lovely. Well done u. 😊
Sally Jamieson My Dads poem he wrote when he erected the monument in 1977 contains the words “made of glass fibre will never be dross”. However it has lacked a clean over the years. Thanks for cleaning it Paul. A job well done. For my part I never think its looks sorrowful but perhaps that’s because I know/knew the people behind its origins and all three were Blantyre men.
Sally Jamieson Just one other thing Paul….are all your days twice as long as everyone else’s. Where do you get the time for all that you do? Amazing.
Blantyre Project lol. I was off on holiday leave last week for the schools being off. It was perfect opportunity. I’m not much of a TV person and working away from Blantyre often, i find time almost every evening to write in B&Bs, hotels and flats. It keeps me ‘sane and motivated’. In fact, even if i stopped writing about Blantyre right now, daily posts would appear on this page, automatically, already scheduled right through until April 2018!
Sally Jamieson Blantyre Project that’s amazing!!
Ann Boyd Well done paul great job done. I remember the day this was put up I was 7 years old and there with my gran,papa, and mum. My papa was a miner so very proud of this x
Jamie Rogers Does anyone know where the entrance to the pit would have been marked
Blantyre Project The pit shaft is exactly underneath the bar inside the new Redburn Farm Restaurant. Capped and made safe prior to building the recent building just off Hillhouse Road. A massive cloud arose from that shaft that could be seen for miles around. The noise heard for miles too.
Jamie Rogers I believe many of these houses were built over where bodies lie…the pit where i lived in 87 hillhouse rd where the row of shops is…which pit was this??
Michelle Leggat Fantastic job,well done to everyone involved 👍
Colette Currie Great job. Well done.
Fairlie Gordon Well Done Guys, Blantyre should be proud of yous
Etta Morrison My father worked in Dixon’s and remember stories that were told of the miners..the accidents and the fear underground..thanks for reminding me of this anniversary Paul..
Jean Boyd My dad was a miner at Dixon’s pit at Priestfield terrace where he lived from when he left school after it closed​ he worked in other pits for the next 40 years. I never pass this monument without thinking of the the lives lost on that morning. Paul what a lovely way in remembering these lost souls, your dedication to Blantyre is amazing 👍
Marian Maguire Thank you so much Paul, we just passed it last week and I said it was looking a bit sad. Does the council not clean it? I thought they might seeing it was privately paid for and only needs an occasional clean. That monument means so much to everyone, my dad, father-in law, and my husbands two grandfathers, one who was killed at gateside. Were miners so it’s in our blood. Why don’t you ask next time for a wee donation to help with this? Most miners families would be happy to oblige.
Blantyre Project Thats a good idea Marian. I’m sure the council do clean it on occasion. It just needed a good scrub.
Sally Jamieson Blantyre Project I think it was cleaned once years ago as it’s appearance changed slightly. I’m going up today for a wee look at all cleaned up.
Blantyre Project Sally, council pressure washers over the years have taken their toll on the paintwork. A lot of it was very flaky. We had to use sponges rather than brushes. It is needing repainted, but itself is still in good repair otherwise.
Sally Jamieson Blantyre Project I think it was the Council that put that coating on it years ago as the appearance changed.
Blantyre Project Sally it does look kind of more matt than shiny now, for some reason.
Sally Jamieson Blantyre Project just been up for a look. What a lovely job. I must try and look out some photos from the time it was erected. It’s original colour was more of a dark dark grey if my memory serves me right.I placed a wreath on the steps at the ceremony in 1977.
Elaine Speirs Thank you so much for this Paul. So many from Blantyre are from mining families, mine included.
Lesley Bethel Well done!
Peter Carney Yer a good man paul
Rab Graham Well put good tribute
Joan Cunningham Well done xx
Tracy Shannon Well done x
Anne G Barnshaw Great job! Well done everyone, what a lovely thing to do. Looks great.
Robert Henderson Well done I was there when this monument was erected
Gerry Kelly Fantastic work Paul !
Frank Welsh Well done that is a great thing to do for Blantyre.
Elizabeth Grieve Well done Paul. It’s a shame that you’re doing what the council should be doing every year. Was remembering the anniversary only a couple of days ago and the lives that were lost. Mining runs through my family and my husbands. Again well done a good job done
Liz Daborn Is it possible to read a list of names of those lost? My grandfather was a coal miner and so was his father who I know very little about but they lived in the Blantyre area.
Blantyre Project Hi Liz. A definitive list of names can be found here. https://blantyreproject.wordpress.com/blantyre-pit-disaster/ (other lists online have people missing). There’s also a large section to find out more stories about the disaster from that link. Cheers.
Liz Daborn Blantyre Project thanks very much! Grandad’s family is very hard to track…..McDonalds with no middle names lol
Andrew Davidson The miners welfare have a good presentation on the disaster.All the names are there as well.
Isobel Paterson Well done x
Jim McSorley Well done Paul and your team. Great community effort no need to wait for the council, Blantyre should clone about 100 of you.
Joy McLennan YES..the reason my forefathers left the coal mines….for Canada. Terrible.
Jean McIntosh I paasked monument today. It is looking good. A job well done x
Allan Love Well Done !!
Betty McLean a lovely memorial to a sad day in Blantyre all those years ago.
Fiona Dunlop Lovely idea. Good job done by all
Mary Swan The wheel was Powder Coated by Parklea Ltd of Whistleberry Road, my husband worked there for 25 years. I remember very well how proud he was of the contribution made by his employer. His father was a miner who had his back broken in a pit accident so it was a project close to his heart.
Blantyre Project thanks Mary. I have taken some notes on that. New information for me! As always, most of what i have learned about Blantyre comes from everybody here.
Mary Swan Paul, if you stand at the bottom of Stonefield Road and look across at the new Stained glass window in St, Joseph’s church you will see 203 snowdrops. Each one represents a life lost in the pit disaster. Best at night when lit up. Thank you for all your hard work, monument looks brilliant.
Mary Swan Sorry Paul, think it’s 213, also miners lamp there in honour of our mining community.
Jeanette Turvey Lovely idea about the lights my 3 rd great grand father thomas Wilson and two of his sons died then the family stayed in mining though not much other choice in work .thank you
Caroline Campbell Was the monument erected st the site of the disaster or can anyone tell me the location of the pit?? XXX
Blantyre Project Hi Caroline – The memorial is a little distant from the site of the explosion. The modern Redburn Farm is where the shaft was.
Caroline Campbell Blantyre Project thanks for the info, I have often wondered where is was! XX
Maggie Anderson I used to live across the road from this monument in the tenements now demolished……
Garry Lee Well done Paul, great to someone taking ownership of this project.
David Downie I was born in the tenements where the monument now stands. There is a monument raised where i was born but not to me lol.

1 Comment

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  1. Really impressed with your work, Paul! You give your time as well as money to the community causes.
    Blantyre’s a very special place in my family history too.
    Bev Smith, Australia

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