By midday on Monday 22nd October 1877, news of the colliery disaster in Blantyre was travelling rapidly around Britain. Even in those times of slower, more basic communication, the established telegram network was being worked frantically as newspapers all over the UK picked up the breaking tragedy.
On Monday afternoon the Gloucester Citizen rushed to print with, “Fearful Colliery Explosion – A fearful colliery explosion has occurred today at Blantyre, near Glasgow. It is reported that 200 lives have been lost, but at present it is impossible to test the accuracy of this statement.”
Inaccurate or exaggerated reports were also circulating as one may expect on that first terrible day.
The Bolton Evening News reported in their afternoon paper, a standard message which had been issued to many newspapers by Telegram around noon, “This morning, an explosion took place at Messrs Dixons Pit at High Blantyre, near Glasgow. Four hundred men are imprisoned. On enquiry at Dixon’s office in Glasgow, we learn that a large number of lives have been lost.”
The Dundee Evening Telegraph expanded upon the Telegram news, adding that afternoon that “a great excitement prevails in the District and steps are being taken to reach the imprisoned men.”
Despite brief initial reports like this, there were newspapers, especially in Scotland who immediately deployed reporters or called upon their contacts in nearby areas and even by midday, as we’ll see in other articles, details were being recorded by newspapers.
Research and words from the forthcoming Blantyre mining book, ‘Hollow Earth & Hardship” by Paul Veverka (c)