Blood on the Coal – Part 6

Continuing the story of Auchinraith Pit Disaster, 1930. Continued from Part 5 yesterday.

Today, we’re looking at some of the Interviews of the Survivors. The miners who walked away from the Auchinraith Pit Disaster of Saturday 30th August 1930.

A Blantyre Gazette reporters visited most of the survivors who had worked in the ill fated section on that day. Some chilling and alarming stories were retold.

Peter Scullion, who gave the first alarm about the accident he and some others were going up “Buchanan Road” the name of the Pit Road underground when there was a blinding flash and a deafening crash. One of his mates shouted “get down Pete!” and they all flopped to the roadway in anticipation that the explosion aftermath would arrive over them. He attributed his escape to dropping to the ground. All of the lights in the section were extinguished, causing the pit to fall into blackness. He managed to feel his way along to the pit bottom and raised the alarm.

John Copeland had a remarkable escape from death, though was injured. He was a driver in the section and had just walked up to his hutches to put in the chain and was about to draw them away when the explosion occurred. “I had bent down when the explosion occurred and most have been buried in a good distance and lost consciousness. When I came to the pit, it was in darkness. Instinctively, I crawled along the roadway which i knew very well would lead me eventually to safety. My horse was blown off its feet and i think i must have been thrown against it. “It’s my lucky day all right”, he added. “Poor young Kallinsky was just on the other side of my hutches only a few yards away and must have caught the full force of the explosion.”

Bob Buchanan had a somewhat similar story to tell. He was in bed when interviewed and obviously suffering from the effects of his injuries. He had been boring a hole for a charge when a scorching flame seemed to sweep along the working. The moment he saw the flame Bob said he threw himself on the floor of the pit and believed this is what saved him, “It was like a nightmare”, he said, “I can’t really describe it. All the lights went out and there in the darkness nothing could be seen or heard except the cries of the injured men and those trying to find them.”

As these events were unfolding, Blantyre families were gathering at the pithead, pictured that very morning.

Continued on Part 7 tomorrow……

1930 People gather at Auchinraith pit

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  1. Even in the survivor stories it is evident that these men were still in shock an element of “I still can’t believe it,” in the words they’ve used, survivor guilt as well, but my goodness the self preservation while still thinking of their mates comes through, these were good men, loyal, looking out for each other while coping with the struggle to survive themselves. Heroes all.

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