Scotsman Reports Disaster – Part 3

Continued from Parts 1 and 2 ….from the Scotsman, Tuesday 23rd October 1877…..

“When the colliers are at work, they dig the coal from the face, and throw it behind them.  The mineral is conveyed in hutches to the pit bottom, and thence to the surface but when the end of the seam has been reached, the miners in retiring, commence to take down the supporting square pillars of coal allowing the roof gradually to collapse upon the workings.

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This operation is invariably attended with some danger and also gives rise frequently to a rush of foul air or gas: ‘indeed it is often the case that by the falling in of the roof consequent upon the removal the stoops or pillars, some hitherto undetected reservoir or gas is opened, and the gas rushes down on the miners, and gives rise to such explosions as occurred with so disastrous results yesterday morning.

High Blantyre Colliery has hitherto enjoyed an immunity quite exceptional for so large a working from the inroads of gas. The ventilation of the pit has always been regarded as perfect; indeed , as one man described it yesterday, so thorough was the attention given to this important matter that it was necessary to have covered lamps in the air courses to prevent their being blown out by the constant currents of fresh air which were driven into the workings.

There is always some connection between the weather and colliery accidents, indeed so much is this recognised to the case now that in connection with every well regulated mine, the readings of the barometer are attended to with as much care as by the most watchful mariner, the correlation between the atmospheric pressure and the collection of explosive gas following a well-known natural law. It is to be noted that during the last week there was a rapid fall in the barometer. Additional care was therefore expected “to be exercised by those responsible for the condition and ventilation of all mines, and at the High Blantyre Colliery BS usual special attention had been paid to the mercurial readings.

Apart altogether from the state of the barometer, regard is had to the changes of the collection of gas likely to take place between the suspension of work on the Saturday  and the resumption on the Monday morning in as much in the likelihood from the interruption in the pumping of the water and other obvious causes of the ventilation being scarcely so perfect at the beginning of the new week as at the end of the former week.”

From the forthcoming Blantyre mining book, “Hollow Earth & Hardship” by Paul Veverka (c). To be continued….

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