Explosion of Fire-Damp at Blantyre Colliery

The following is an extract [Page A1 and A2] from the Blantyre Colliery Explosion Inquiry Report, dated 21st December 1877. In particular a sub report by Messrs Ralph Moore, TE Wales, and James Willis, Inspectors of Mines. 

Transcribed word for word by P. Veverka this extract touches on lamps, events leading up to the explosion and a lucky escape by the firemen. Illustrated by an image never been seen before, created exclusively for Blantyre Project by AI. Continued from yesterday:

“Naked lights and blasting were allowed in the whole of the workings with the exception of a few places at the extreme end of the splint-coal workings of No. 2 pit where “Stooping” operations had been commenced; in these places and for a short distance around, the miners, 12 in number used gauze lamps and were prohibited from blasting. These gauze or safety lamps were not Davy lamps, but of a kind in common use throughout Scotland. They are much larger than the Davy lamp and give a better light. Mr Moore has frequently tested them in gas, and on no occasion has the gas exploded outside.”

“According to the report books none of the officials seem to have thought that the workings were otherwise than in their ordinary condition up to the time of the explosion. The four firemen descended No. 2 pit at 4.40am and the workmen began to descend at 5.30am. The custom was to meet the firemen at the bottom of the shaft and this appears to have been performed in the usual manner. One of the roads men, John Sharp, who got out alive, states that he heard of nothing being out of place on that morning. The two firemen of No. 3 pit descended at the usual time and examined the workings. They found everything all right and the men descended and continued at their work until the explosion occurred.”

“These firemen and the oversman still survive. They were fortunate enough to ascend, as was their usual custom, for the purposes of signing the report books and taking their breakfast, a few minutes before the explosion. The last reports in the firemen’s books are dated Saturday the 20th, and contain no notice of fire-damp having been seen. So far, therefore, as the books or any available information can show, the workings were supposed to be in their normal condition on the morning of the accident.”

“The appearances of the explosion, in the surface, were a blast, accompanied by flame and steam up No. 3 pit, which lasted from one to four minutes; a rush of smoke out of the upcast shaft, and a slight rush of air out of No. 2 pit. Nothing appears to have been observed at the top of No. 1 pit, but it was felt slightly in the workings of that pit and the miners at once ascended.”

“At the moment of the explosion, the manager, Mr. Watson, and some mechanics were adjusting a cage on the pit head of No. 3 pit and the flame burned Mr. Watson, while some of the others were knocked down and more or less injured by the force of the explosion. The explosion was felt at a considerable distance, and the smoke which hung around the pits for some minutes was seen by miners and managers in the neighbourhood who at once hastened to the place.”

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