Escaping Number 2 Pit

This week, as we approach the 145th Anniversary of the Blantyre Pit Disaster, as usual, we’ll be exploring some new and further stories and accounts of the tragedy and remembering the miners who died.

On Monday 22nd October 1877, the following men made their escape from No. 2 Pit in High Blantyre immediately after the explosion occurred, and who were with one or two exceptions, uninjured. If your surname is here, perhaps you owe your existence to that remarkable escape:—

John and William Hill
Hugh Brown and neighbour
John Nelson and neighbour
Duncan McMillan and party of three
George Watt
George Watson
Patrick McCouskar
Michael McCouskar
William Kirkland
Thomas Martin
John Sharp
Alexander Woods
Edward Docherty
Wm. Welsh, sen., and Wm. Welsh, jun.

The following are statements obtained from two of the men who were brought early in the morning from No. 2 Pit : — William Kirkland was about ten yards from the bottom when the explosion took place. Got himself sorely burnt about the body. His neighbour Martin, on hearing the explosion, shouted to him to lie down. He said he must look for his brother, who was in another part of the pit. Martin said, “You must go to the pit bottom,” and finding his efforts to find his brother fruitless he did so, and was ultimately rescued. He was about 10 yards from the pit bottom when the explosion took place.

John Sharp said — “I went down at six o’clock in the morning to my daily labour as a roadsman. I went to work in the north side and remained there until about 20 minutes before nine o’clock. I then came towards the pit bottom to breakfast, and as I was coming along the road I felt the blast. I knew that there had been an explosion in the pit, but where I could not tell. I ran to the pit bottom and made for the communication with No. 1 Pit but was turned back by the choke-damp. I went round about the shaft to what was called the “boot gate.” Saw Gilmour, the oversman, there, and he called on me to run to the pit bottom and open the door at the big dook. I found it impossible to do so from the choke-damp, and I then ascended the shaft to see that all was right at the top.”

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