Today we look back at the life and remember James ALLAN, who has the unfortunate position of being first alphabetically in the list of 215 miners who died in the Blantyre Pit Disaster on Monday 22nd October 1877.
James Allan was just 22 years old, a single man when he died in Pit 3 in the explosion that terrible day.
James was the son of David Allan, a coal miner and Ann Moodie, a Dunfermline woman three years his senior. His parents married on Christmas day in 1852 in Dunfermline. A son, Robert was born in 1853. James was born in Dunfermline shortly after on 26th June 1855.
They settled down in 1871 at Whitburn in Midlothian. Sometime after 1872, the family came to Central Belt in Lanarkshire, in the pursuit of work. This ties in well with the opening of Dixon’s Pits and associated tied miner’s homes. The men of the family found work at Dixon’s Pits.
By 1875, settled in Blantyre, they were living all together at a house in Auchnraith, one near a shop. The property may have been quite large as rent was £12 per annum, a considerable sum by comparison to average miners rents of £6 at the time. The term Auchinraith could cover anywhere from the Cemetery Road eastwards towards the boundaries of Hamilton. It is likely this referred to a property in Main Street or Auchinraith Road, although the valuation roll is not clear. It was the property of a Mr Hamilton. There is no doubt though, that it was close to Pit 3 in High Blantyre, a short walk to get to work.
James was 17 or so when he arrived with family in Blantyre and being over schooling age, would have immediately set out to find employment, alongside his father. His working life as a Blantyre coalminer however, would not last more than 5 years.
Having gone down the pit by 5.30am, he died in Pit 3 on the day of the disaster, underground at a location where Redburn Farm is today.
There is no known lair for James Allan in the High Blantyre Cemetery but it looks likely that his funeral and interment took place on 14th November 1877.
His family remained in Blantyre into the 1880’s, but like many families touched by such tragedy, his parents chose to move away by 1891. His siblings, at least five of them lived well into the 20th Century.