Blantyre Accident Fund 1877 – 1930

When the Blantyre Pit accident happened in 1877, a whopping sum of £48,246 (about £8m in today’s money) was collected in the immediate period of National grief and shock. It perhaps reflects the amount of grief and shock throughout the nation. The amount of interest was significant in the following years with a further £33,172 added, though there were years for example when the buying power of such money was seriously suppressed, such as for example in WW1.

Annual General meetings were held usually in West Nile Street in Glasgow in Government buildings where reports were submitted showing the progress of what had been paid out and to whom. The 19th such meeting for example took place on Wednesday 25th November 1896. That year, one of the rescuers had become unable to work, and so it was accepted he should be added to benefit from the fund. One adult recipient had died in the preceding 12 months leaving 59 adult persons who were then receiving aid, the same number as the previous year. That figure included 36 widows and 23 infirm adults. There were also a significant number of children benefiting too. A Mr Forbes who submitted the report told how £45,342 8s 11d had been spent since the accident and that £25,872 17 s still remained.

In allowances, medical aid and education assistance, a sum of £63,989 had been paid out by 1915.

Another annual meeting took place in Glasgow on Monday 20th December 1915, to discuss what amount was left in the Blantyre and Udston Colliery Accident Funds. The fund had merged with the Udston Disaster fund which was collected in 1887. The Executives of both funds liked the idea of merging them and even in 1915, the idea that the funds could be wound up by 1918 was being mooted. Just 8 of the recipients was in relation to Udston.

That year, in 1915 as WW1 raged, some 38 years beyond the disasters, 77 people (adults and children) were still being paid an annual amount. Not all widows as one may think. Just 26 widows were on the roll, for generally the women were not paid from the sum if she ever remarried. 51 men were being paid in 1915 ranging from 41 years to 84 years.

However, it took until 5th May 1930 to wind up the fund, some 53 years after the explosion. Just 8 people were still alive receiving benefit and from the remaining amount of just over £3,000, sums were agreed to give each of them for the rest of their lives, with charitable donations given to Miners Societies with the remainder.

The Accident fund in Blantyre therefore benefited people for 53 years.

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