By the afternoon of Monday 22nd October 1877, reporters up and down the country were scrambling to find out more details about the Blantyre Disaster that had unfolded that morning.
It would take larger newspapers like Edinburgh Evening News, who determined for the “scoop”, could call upon reliable contacts in the area. Their Hamilton correspondent was ideally placed to get to the scene, then telegram back expanded detail with surprising accuracy.
He sent an afternoon telegram back to the paper saying, ‘A terrible accident occurred this morning at Dixon’s collieries, High Blantyre, which it is feared upwards of 200 men have been killed.
About 6 o’clock [in the morning], 126 men were let down No. 2 pit and 197 into No.3 betwixt which statutory communication exists. In the splint of the lower seam of No. 2, men were engaged taking out stoops, and, so far as known, while they were blasting, an explosion of fire damp occurred, which swept the working and spent itself up No. 3 shaft.
The cages, the midwall and other apparatus were wrecked, and means of exit for the 107 poor fellows below stopped in. One man who escaped from No. 2, says he was working at the face when he heard the explosion. Not suspecting anything unusual he made his way leisurely to the bottom until the sight of dead bodies all around opened his eyes to what had occurred.
An exploring party was once organised to extricate those below by No. 2 shaft, and in the course of an hour and half, six dead bodies were brought to the surface, all dreadfully burned and mutilated. From their appearance the have little hope that any in the mine can be alive. Steps are being taken to restore ventilation at No. 3 shaft by repairing the mid wall.
The names of the dead already recovered are Joseph Gilmour, William Campbell, Charles Duffers, Archibald Lang, Wardrop. Women and children crowd the pithead and the scene most harrowing.”
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