Blantyre Disaster, 1877

This morning, as with each year on this particular day, we remember the 215 men and boys who sadly lost their lives in the Blantyre Pit Disaster.

At 8.45am on 22nd October 1877, a huge explosion caused by fire damp occurred in Pit 3, also significantly affecting Pit 2 in High Blantyre. Deep below the ground, approximately where Red Burn Farm Inn is today, all those miners lost their lives, the youngest being James Clyde, only 12 years old.

Throughout this week, we’ve been looking at the lives of more of the miners. Yesterday, on behalf of the community, I also placed a black wreath at the obelisk memorial at High Blantyre in readiness for today. I noticed also that a holly tree has sprung up behind the memorial between the obelisk and where many of the miners are buried.

Its now been 144 years since the disaster and as I reflect on the grief that so many families endured that Winter, I think on how much Blantyre has changed and how much more comfortable life is for most people, by comparison to the hardships those hard working mining families had to endure, simply to put the next meal on the table.

This was a most terrible disaster with a loss of life not surpassed in Scottish mining communities even to this day. We remember all the lives lost.

May they all rest in eternal peace.

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