Lighting and Blasting

Part of the summary from the official Inquiry Report for “Blantyre Colliery Explosion” of 1877. Transcribed by myself word for word for the first time appearing online, this particular section, summarises the lighting and blasting activities.


“Open oil lamps were ordinarily used in working. Safety lamps in exceptional instances were used in cutting faults, or where much firedamp had been met with. At the part of the colliery called the Stoopings, where accumulated gas was being met with, safety lamps were in use at the time of the explosion; otherwise naked lights wee used throughout the pits.

The safety lamp used by the firemen in trying places was the Davy, but that used by the miners was called the gauze lamp. The principle of the two lamps was the same, the different being that that gauze lamp was larger and gave better light. The gauze lamps were of two sizes, each being much larger than the Davy. The larger gauze lamp, produced at the inquiry as a sample, had a gauze cylinder 6.5 inches in height by 3.5 inches in diameter, surmounted by a conical top 3 inches high, the gauze at the upper part of the cone being double.

The smaller one had the gauze cylinder 4.5 inches high by 2.75 inches in diameter, with the cone 2.5 inches high. Each lamp had a padlock and key. The gauze of the smaller lamp had a mesh of nearly 784 apertures to the square inch, but that of the larger one was more open. These lamps have apparently been long used for partial working in Scotland, and are said to have stood many tests without flame passing through the gauze, although is seems that in a few instances they are now giving place to the Davy. The Davy, having only a 1.5 inch cylinder is presumably, but not necessarily safer, and it gives a poor light. The firemen in going their rounds carried gauze lamps to light them, and the Davy for trying.

Blasting was allowed in the lower part of the seam, but was forbidden in the upper part, ostensibly lest it might shake the roof. It is said by the manager to have been forbidden by him at the ‘Stoopings, but was practiced there, and the shots fired by the special fireman.”

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