Waddell’s Old Mining Lamp

Mary Roberts certainly had a hard life. She had been married previously to John Gold, but left a widow when John died in the Blantyre Pit Disaster in 1877. The terrible thing about this tragedy is she not only lost her husband, but she had also lost 3 brother in laws AND 4 of her own brothers in the Roberts family! On that one, horrible morning on 22nd October 1877, Mary lost 8 members of her family, something I’m not sure how she ever managed to get through.


Life immediately after the disaster would have been most difficult and with a large family it is not surprising that on 21st March 1879, she remarried, this time to Andrew Waddell (pictured on the left).

Young Benjamin Gold was only 10 months old when his father John died in the Pit Disaster. He was brought up by his mother Mary and stepdad Andrew Waddell and is pictured here at the back with them around 1910. Looking into Mary’s eyes in this photo, even 30 or so years on, you can see the pain on this woman’s face and can only imagine her hatred for coalmining and the lasting grief for losing 8 people.

Mary lived a long life until she was 90 years old, passing away in 1941 during WW2.

Adding to this story, George Park recently sent in this photo. It’s an old miner’s lamp, the very one which belonged to Andrew Waddell.

Andrew Waddells pit lamp

There’s little doubt these type of lamps ignited the explosion in that disaster. Those naked flames were literally lethal. I can’t imagine what kind of light they would provide. Very poor, I think. The lamps were sometimes sewn into leather pouches on the miners hats or hung from them. It seem ludicrous now as presumably if you forgot and bent over, the oil may have spilled! Dixons was actually in the process of removing these lamps in favour of enclosed safety lamps. Some of the miners had the new lamps following an earlier minor accident, but the majority of workers, including those in Pit 3 had these older, dangerous ones.

Featuring Blantyre Project Social Media with permission. Strictly not for use by others on or offline, our visitors said:

Margaret Mary OSullivan What a tragedy.

Leave a Reply