Blood on the Coal – Part 1

The Story of the Auchinraith Pit Disaster, Blantyre (1930)

Nothing was more shocking in Blantyre during 1930 than the Auchinraith Pit Disaster which took the lives of local men. Little has been written in any detail about this lesser known disaster, but though it was on a much smaller scale than the 1877 huge pit accident, it affected the community as deeply and once again rocked the entire mining community throughout Lanarkshire. This week on Blantyre Project, we’re exploring this story, a first here in any detail.

The Auchinraith Pit Disaster at the eastern side of Blantyre was one of the most serious mining explosions Scotland had seen for a considerable time. It took place shortly after 8 o’clock on Saturday 30th August 1930 at Number 1 pit of Auchinraith Colliery, a pit owned by Messrs Merry & Cunningham Ltd (pictured the week of the explosion)

The first man to sound the alarm and give news that the explosion had occurred was Mr Peter Scullion. He had been working in the section affected by the explosion and he at once communicated to colleagues that what they had heard, had in fact been a nearby explosion further along the mine. Deep within that mine below Blantyre streets, there was instantly an immediate rush of eager volunteers as workers bravely decided to see what had happened to colleagues.

Individual miners did tremendous work below ground and at the same time the ambulance crew based at the colliery took up a position at the pithead.

The force of the explosion had been so great that hutches were blown over, rails bent and twisted and broken pit props and other debris added to the difficulty in trying to reach anybody.

Pictured on the left is R Nelson who usually worked on the ill fated coal section but was called off the evening before. His sister was critically ill and he had asked for some compassionate leave. He told reporters later, “I suppose I am very lucky to escape but it is terrible my mates have been taken like this. Mr Neilson at the time was 60 years old and had been a miner in Blantyre since June 1882. On the right is Mr A Kallinsky (killed) who by the most unfortunate circumstances, had taken his place.

Continued tomorrow in Part 2

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