Continued from Part 1 yesterday
The Story of the Auchinraith Pit Disaster, 1930
It was speedily realised that the explosion had been most serious and as people started arriving at the Pit, the arrival of the Lanarkshire Rescue Brigade confirmed the news as to how grave the matter was.
The men of the brigade are pictured arriving at Auchinraith Pit that day on Saturday 30th August 1930. They had come from Coatbridge to assist the rescue. Even by the time they quickly arrived, other local men had gone down into the pit to start the rescue themselves.
As this rescue brigade descended to join them just after 9am, Mr. A Stoker, the senior Inspector of the mines for the West of Scotland, accompanied by Mr. P.G. Doming arrived at the colliery, and were joined there by Mr. W.B. Small, general Secretary of the Lanarkshire Miners Union and other officials. These officials descended into the pit too and proceeded to the affected section, where an examination was made of the scene of the accident.
A rescue party member later told local press that one of the explosive firing devices was still in the hands of George Shorthouse’s dead body. Three of the dead men were severely burned, one being almost unrecognisable. The party had to use respirators and the situation was so volatile that doctors were unable to descend.
A member of the rescue party said that the pit in which the explosion happened suffered very little damage and fire and the force of the explosion killed the dead men. It is likely the dead men died quite instantaneously. When news of the pit disaster happened, off duty colliers from other pits, also rushed to the scene to volunteer their rescue services, but were advised to return home as only trained specialist equipment and rescuers would be permitted to enter the area.
When a rescue party of 12 young, but able men arrived promptly at the miners, they found to their horrors, amongst the group of huddled men, five of them were laying face down, with blankets over their bodies. Three of the men were practically unrecognisable from the fire injuries.
Whilst the Inspectors worked out what had happened, the rescue party continued throughout that morning all around them and it wasn’t long before bodies started to be brought up.
Continued tomorrow in Part 3
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Amazing, comparing with the pit disaster here in NZ just a few years ago when ‘Health and Safety” disallowed people to go into the pit to rescue anyone, still to this day families bereft at 29 of their loved ones who may have been saved were not. What a contrast! And how brave of those men to go in after their co-workers in 1930.