Scotsman Reports Disaster – Part 2

Continued from Part 1 yesterday….from the Scotsman, Tuesday 23rd October 1877…..

“There are in the immediate neighbourhood four pits, working different seams of coal but number 1 and number 4 are connected underground; numbers 2 and 3 forming a second twin working.

The accident happened in number 2 and 3 pits. In these mines attention is solely directed to the digging out what is known as the lower seam of splint coal; and the vein of mineral runs underground mainly east and west, with a dip downwards from the east to the west. Number 2 working lies nearest (the village of High Blantyre and is reached by a shaft which pierces the shelving side of a low gentle hill to the north-west of the village. It is connected with the Strathaven and Hamilton branch of the Caledonian Railway by extensive sidings around the pithead.

There are in addition to the usual appliances and gearing for bringing the coal to the surface and for ventilating the mine, a number of brick-built offices, and a little way to the north-east of these are parallel rows of miners’ cottages.

1953 Priestfield Terrace and Smiddy Pit 2 back

1953 Dixons Pit 1 Smiddy. Priestfield Terrace in background with Dixons 2 pit at rear

Standing at number 2 pithead, the tall winding gearing attached to No. 3 can be seen through a screen of fir trees, which all but hides No. 1 pit from the other, although they are not more than half a mile apart and are connected with railway lines.

Over the shaft of number 3 pit is a substantial wooden enclosure, which combines protection for the oversman, the justiceman and the other operatives at the mouth of the shaft, with a covering from the weather for the railway wagons in process of being freighted with coal.

No . 2 pit is what is known as the “up-cast ” while No. 3 is the “down-cast”. That is to say, the greater part of the ventilation of the very extensive mine from the two conjoined pits comes from the air shaft of the latter pit. Owing to the dip of the vein of coal previously referred to, No. 3 pit has a depth of 152 fathoms, while No. 2 is only 130 fathoms deep.

The mine is worked upon what is known as the “stoop and room” system, a method which may in popular language be described as the excavation of coal from a series of chambers, each “face” extending in width from nine to twelve feet, while the chambers are formed by a succession of square pillars of coal left in the seam at intervals of 90 feet to support the roof . There are in No.3 pit – and the same plan is also carried out in the other working – two main levels running ‘north and south , with two main “dooks” on each side , running downwards with the dip of the seam.

The two ‘dooks’ on the North Level have been worked for sometime but those on the south are quite new. On either side of the “dooks” there are rise workings and these again, run north and south.”

To be continued…..

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