Like many of the miners who lost their lives in the Blantyre Pit Disaster, some hadn’t been in Blantyre very long, arriving in the town in that particular decade of 1870s to pursue work in the new Dixon’s Pits. That certainly was the case for John Revie, though by the time the pit took his life, he had lived some 60 years. It’s worth remembering not all the miners who died were Blantyre men and boys.
John Revie was born in approx. 1818. He was the son of John Revie, a Handloom Weaver and Agnes Turnbell. John married Jane Scobbie in April 1836 at New Monklands, Lanarkshire and a family followed soon after. The 1841 census shows Jane & John living at Graham Street, Airdrie with 2 children Jane aged 3 and Agnes 1. Alexander was born on 21 January 1856 at Johnston Street, Airdrie, County of Lanark. In 1861 they were living at Limerig Row, Slamannon with 5 children, Jane aged 23, John 18, Archibald 13, Alexander 5 and Janet 1.
John worked as a coal miner and the opening of pits in nearby Lanarkshire likely was an atrractive employment prospect as he pits in Airdrie became exhausted. In 1871 John & Jane had moved to 20 Watsonville, Hamilton with their two youngest children, Alexander 14 and Janet 11. It is quite probable that even at 14, young Alex was following his fathers footsteps in the mines.
Coming to Blantyre
With Dixon’s Rows being built at Stonefield in the early 1870’s, coming to Blantyre offered not only work in the new Dixon’s Pits, but also a tied home in a mining community, close to that place of employment. The valuation record of 1875 still shows no Revie family in Blantyre, so John and Jane must have arrived after Summer 1875, tragically meaning John was in Blantyre for around only 2 years.
John aged 59 died on 22 October 1877 at No. 2 Pit Dixon’s Colliery, Blantyre and was buried in the High Blantyre Cemetery on 6th November. Cause of Death “Explosion of Fire-damp. His usual residence was Dixons Rows, Blantyre. Informant was John Revie Jnr, his eldest son of 67 Crownpoint Road, Glasgow. The son however did not only have to register the death of his father, but also of his little brother Alexander, who was by then aged 19. Alexander also lost his life in the pit that same day as his father and you may be wondering if they were together. The Scotsman Newspaper the next day confirmed 126 men and boys went down into Pit 2, the rest being in Pit 3. Amongst those listed on that shift were John and Alex Revie together.
Reports in newspapers indicate that John Revie may have been his formal name, and he may have been known more commonly by middle name, as Alex Revie Senior. Alexander Jnr is buried at High Blantyre Cemetery.
What Became of the Widow?
Jane Scobbie was born in approx. 1818. Her parents were William Scobbie, Handloom Weaver and Jane Little. As noted above, the family moved several times in their lives, following work in the mines. After being evicted from the Dixon’s Rows (the Coalmasters needed the houses for the next influx of miners when things resumed!), Jane moved to Cross Row at Blantyre Works, perhaps to seek work in the mills. However, her grief would not be long, losing both husband and son for on 11th December 1879, she died at Cross Row. Cause of death was “Broncho Pneumonia”. Informant was again her son, John Revie, son by now who was living in Stonefield, Blantyre. The daughter Agnes went through a difficult paternity case between 1888-1891 when her estranged husband tried to get custody of her child.
With thanks to Alex Rochead for the documentation in relation to this article. Pit number 2 at the bottom of Sydes Brae is illustrated that terrible day.