As news of the Blantyre Pit Disaster spread on 22nd October 1877, a special train was laid on that afternoon to bring doctors quickly to the scene. The magnitude of so many miners below ground potentially needing medical assistance prompted a wave of many doctors responding. Arriving on the scene were doctors Marshall, Lennox, Loudon, Robertson and Crawford of Hamilton, Doctors Grant and Downie of Blantyre and Dr Gouff of Bothwell.
These men arrived with their bag and an abundance of medical equipment, armed for every eventuality, but their services unfortunately were not much required except in dressing the injures of the men who had been burned from Shaft 3.
The bodies from Pit 2 were placed in a building connecting to the colliery office. A temporary morgue which allowed doctors to signoff on each death. Some of the bodies were terribly disfigured or mutilated. William Campbell, a miner for example had his skull so fractured, that portions of his brain protruded, whilst most others were cut or bruised. In some cases, the clothes were almost torn or completely off, some burns so bad that skin came away in the hand, when touched.
Doctors easily concluded that the condition of the bodies meant the explosion had been tremendously violent. Death for many would have been instantaneous, or due to the choke damp (gas) would have been extremely quick, perhaps with most losing consciousness extremely fast.
Doctor Grant of Blantyre is pictured.
Extract from “Hollow Earth & Hardship” by Paul Veverka