Pit Accident, Blantyre, 1912

On the 15th April 1912 the very day 1500 people lost their lives when the Titanic sank in the Atlantic, a tragedy also unfolded closer to home in Blantyre when Auchinraith Pit 1 collapsed.

The pit bottom of Number 1 shaft at Auchinraith Colliery trapping 2 men in the debris. The accident occurred about five o’clock, an hour after the backshift men had gone on duty.

Two other workmen who were repairing the haulage engine near the bottom of the shaft were suddenly startled by the falling in of the shaft and structures around them. The managed to give the alarm and all the miners were promptly raised in number 2 shaft. All that is except another 2 men, bottomers who were missing. The were known to have been actually at the bottom of the shaft when debris started collapsing in.

The were Lawrence Mines, married, living at Merry’s Rows with a family of six children. The other man was Robert Cox, unmarried living at 38 Broompark Road.

Mr John Hogg general manager, Mr John Menzies resident manager and other officials were quickly at the scene of the accident and a rescue party was deployed down shaft 2. They faced no easy task having to dig through some 40 tonnes of material to get to the bodies. News quickly circulated around Blantyre that something terrible had happened and large crowds quickly assembled at the pit to hear the news, some remembering all too well, the disasters of previous decades in the vicinity.

The accident happened at the pit shaft 1 which today would have been on the large grassy area in front of Murray Crescent, not far from the timber houses.

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  1. Hi Paul, thanks for posting about this awful story, I was amazed to hear of the bravery of the men digging through 40 tonnes of material to get to their work mates, what an indictment of our NZ government who have put a stop to retrieving 29 men from our latest pit disaster at Pike river, West Coast NZ. There is a lot of feeling here, that what happened in Blantyre back then, i.e. “a rescue party deployed immediately” ought to have happened here, but Health and Safety wouldn’t allow it. So so sad, I lost two great grandfathers in the pits back home and goodness knows how many others I haven’t researched yet.

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