The Blantyre Explosion

‘The Blantyre Explosion’ is the title of a song from 1951, by an unnamed singer. I was reminded of the words lately by my fellow history Colleague Ed Boyle, who runs the Cambuslang history website. Whilst the melody is haunting and the words sombre, I don’t want to point out too many inaccuracies in somebody else’s work, but will say that 310 miners never died. 215 did. Additionally, it wasn’t summer, but was in late October, in the midst of late Autumn, early Winter when the explosion took place.

‘By Clyde’s bonny banks where I sadly did wander,
Among the pit-heaps as evening drew sigh,
I spied a fair maiden all dressed in deep mourning.
A-weeping and wailing with many a sigh.

I stepped up beside her and this I addressed her.
‘Pray tell me fair maiden, of your trouble and pain?”
Sobbing and sighing, at last she did answer.
‘Johnny Murphy, kind sir was my true lover’s name.”

“Twenty one years of age, full of youth and good looking,
To work down the mines from High Blantyre he came,
The wedding was fixed, all the guests were invited
That calm summer evening young Johnny was slain

The explosion was heard all the women and children,
with pale anxious faces they haste to the mine
When the truth was made known, the hills rang with their moaning,
three hundred and ten young miners were slain.

Now husbands and wives and sweethearts and brothers
That Blantyre explosion they’ll never forget
And all you young miners that hear my sad story,
Shed a tear for the victims who’re laid to their rest.

It’s still a little piece of nostalgia and was otherwise well written in terms of the other words and music. To hear the song, Luke Kelly, the late Irish singer sang a great version of it here

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