Blood on the Coal – Part 4

Continuing the Story of the Auchinraith Pit Disaster, 1930

Continued from Part 3 yesterday….

Fourteen of the fifteen men were entombed in frightening circumstances and after great difficulty, only 10 of them could be rescued. It was officially first stated that five men were dead with one taken to Hospital in a critical condition. The dead men were :

William Sprott (42) a shot firer of 2 Auchinraith Terrace,
Joseph Regan (55) a widower of 7 Watson Street,
Richard King (50) married of 182 Main Street,
George Shorthouse (63) of 10 Gladstone Street Burnbank,
Andrew Kalinsky (24) of 20 Merry’s Rows, Blantyre.

Richard Dunsmuir, a single man of 9 Small Crescent was one of the injured men, but in a critical condition when brought up. He was taken to the Glasgow Royal Infirmary hospital with extensive burns. Sadly, he died of his injuries the next day on the Sunday morning 31st August 1930. As such, the final death toll rose to 6 men which caused some confusion in newspapers. Note, many newspapers incorrectly reported Richard King as being Robert King, but I have since retrieved the death certificate to make absolutely sure. His name was indeed Richard, not Robert.

Three of the men killed are pictured. Left is William Sprott, Richard King with the pipe, George Shorthouse with the moustache. R Buchanan one of the injured men who had a miraculous escape on the far right.

Other men were injured:

John Smith of 15 Merry’s Rows,
William Stoddart of 69 Auchinraith Road,
John Wildman of 93 Beckford Street Hamilton,
James Russell of 74 Russell Street Burnbank,
Robert Buchanan of 28 Craig Street,
Alex Paterson 21 Merry’s Rows
William Fox of 4 Victoria Street and
John Copeland of Radnor Place, Blantyre.

Mr. James Hogg, the General manager in an official statement said, “I regret to have to report a serious accident in our Auchinraith collieries this morning. It occurred at 8.15am and in my opinion started as a result of ignition of the firedamp in a section of number 1 pit. Fifteen men were at work in the section when the explosion happened. The men in the other areas were totally unaware that the explosion had happened, were able to walk home. Doctors were unable to descend into the pit owing to the firedamp. If they had gone down, their own lives would have been in danger. The Lanark rescue brigade arrived at the pit in very short time, and equipped with respirators went underground to release the entombed men. At ten o’clock they had brought ten men to the surface. The rescue brigade found five of the men lying face downwards and huddled together with some of the injured.” They must have been instantaneously killed.

Blantyre was in deep mourning all through September 1930 with work suspended from the Monday after the accident for short time. The colliery owners were quick to announce that work would be suspended only briefly, for the threat had passed. The churches were very sympathetic in their sermons for many Sundays thereafter.

Continued on Part 5 tomorrow…..

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