Blood on the Coal – Part 5

The Story of the Auchinraith Pit Disaster of 1930. Continued from Part 4 yesterday.

By the afternoon of Saturday 30th August 1930, crowds had started to gather at the Colliery and reporters descended into the area too. The conducted some interviews at nearby Auchinraith Row, across from the school and next to the colliery. Auchinraith Row is pictured that day.

Some reporters took statements from the survivors at the pithead as those particular relieved families held them close. What formed was a picture of events that could be pieced together that morning.

Bringing up the Victims

The rescuers had clearly worked valiantly and shortly after 9am the first of the injured men had been brought up. Robert Buchanan who was badly burned around the face and body. By 10.30am ten men had been brought up to the surface alive. Some of them had been able to walk to the pit bottom , whilst others had been assisted in that dark depth by their mates.

At intervals within the next half hour, the bodies of the four men who had been unaccounted for were recovered and amidst scenes of the utmost pathos, the bodies were removed to the mortuary. It was obvious that both Dunsmuir and Stoddart were seriously injured and they were rushed to Glasgow Royal Infirmary. Stoddart would recover, but Mr Dunsmuir sadly died the next day.

The task of bringing up the dead was complete by 11 o clock, just three hours after the accident, a stark contrast to the 1877 disaster which took weeks to recover the bodies. As the last of the bodies was put into the temporary mortuary in the colliery, crowds looked over, some looking away as they caught sight of blankets over bodies.

The removal of the bodies from the cage to the mortuary was accompanied by heart rendering scenes. Women cried hysterically and strong men broke down as the mournful procession of stretchers, carrying the covered victims marched across the intervening ground.

With his arms swathed bandages John Smith, who had been badly hurt, told a reporter that he went on duty shortly after six o’clock. It is reported one of the men (Mr Kalinsky) had returned to work only that day after a long spell of unemployment, and his wife had risen from her sick bed when she heard of the news. Another newspaper reported that Mr. Copeland, one of the survivors said he was walking up the road to the hutch and was about to put on his chains when he was thrown through space and knocked unconscious. On recovering his senses, he found he was laying on the track. He crawled away as best as he could knowing that if he followed the railway, it would lead him out.

Thanks also needed to go to the three local doctors D.K Fisher, Adam Stewart and La Raine, who were in attendance to the survivors, as they had been there all day. Assistance was also given by a student named Aitken, the son of Mr. H Aitken, headmaster of Calder Street School.

Continued on Part 6 tomorrow….


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  1. So poignant Paul, so very sad, I can almost hear the laments of the women, the earlier explosion in Blantyre’s mine brought to life in the song found in youtube….
    thanks again Paul for submitting and making it real again, I had Dunsmuir family as well…

  2. Very enlightening articles. Made it very real

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