Blood on the Coal – Part 9

Continuing the story of the Auchinraith Pit Disaster of Saturday 30th August 1930. Continued from Part 8 yesterday…..

On the Tuesday following the disaster, Blantyre was a sad and melancholy place to be when five of the six victims of the Auchinraith Colliery disaster were interred in High Blantyre Cemetery. There were crowds and scenes unparalleled in Blantyre’s history, since the disastrous pit explosion in 1877.

The whole of the town was in mourning, and business, already affected by the market crash months earlier, came to a complete standstill. Shops were closed and blinds were drawn everywhere. For fully an hour before the time of the funerals traffic ceased in the streets and homes where the victims were resting and the only vehicles passing along were the slowly driven hearses which were to convey the coffins to the graves.

Thousands of people passed into the town from all parts of Lanarkshire and is it estimated that the population swelled that day to 50,000 who witnessed that mournful cortege, led by five bands, passing along the streets to the burial ground. It’s suggested this was perhaps the largest mass gathering Blantyre has ever seen and not seen since.

Pictured, the funeral of Mr Kallinsky leaves Merry’s Rows. St Josephs Brass band is in the foreground and the picture gives a good idea of the crowds in this one location alone.

There was a feeling of depression throughout the whole area and even in the streets people spoke in hushed voices of the tragedy which had befallen the men of Auchinraith Colliery and of the cost which men paid with their lives for coal so many people depended upon.

The funeral procession numbered between nine and ten thousand and was divided into five sections, each being headed by a local band and the hearse of one of the victims. There were no “scenes” or “incidents” on the route to the cemetery or at the graveyard itself, everybody most respectful. Just a silent, awe stricken multitude and despite the immensity of the crowds, there was no pushing or jostling for views.

The grief stricken relatives bade their last farewells in the sanctity of their darkened homes, but women and children with eyes red from weeping were conspicuous as the processions went slowly past. Men stood bare headed, their caps in their hands and with strained and drawn faces, while occasionally some small children startled by the solemnity of the occasions, were slightly frightened, crying softly and cuddled closely into their mothers.

Continued on Part 10 tomorrow….

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