Scottish Mining Villages

Tollcross 28th September 1846

On Monday morning a dreadful accident from an explosion of firedamp caused the loss of 6 lives in a pit connected with the Clyde Ironworks, property of Messrs Dunlop, at Tollcross. The pit is called Bogles Hole pit and is situated within a stones throw of the riverside. We understand it is a working which has been daily open of late, and no premonition of danger had taken place in connexion with it. About 4 o’clock on Monday morning five men and a boy went down in the course of their ordinary occupations and immediately on the lights which they were carrying coming in contact with the foul air and explosion took place by which the whole have been deprived of life. The consternation which this occurrence excited in the neighbourhood can only be imagined by those who have been witnesses to similar scenes of distress. Steps were promptly taken by those connected with the management for recovering the bodies and in the course of the morning those of one man and a boy were got out. The remains of the other 4 men were not recovered till about 5o’clock Monday evening.

Bogles Hole Pit, the property of Messrs Dunlop is situated between the Clyde Iron works and the north bank of the river, being close to the latter and about 3 miles from Glasgow. It consists of a vertical shaft of 55 fathoms communicating with the horizontal workings which are 263 fathoms in length and branching out from this latter is, at certain points in it course, is a working of 59 fathoms in length communicating with a back mine driven from the main coal to another seam. It was in this section of the pit that the explosion took place. The passage to the back mine is divided longitudinally in the centre by a brick partition which is terminated at the near end by a door crossing the main pit. The air from the pit mouth traversing the main working is, in ordinary circumstances, when this door is shut, turned aside into the back mine, and rushing along one side of the brick wall, escapes at its further end, returning on the other side and thus completely purifying this section of the works. The door, on the occasion in question, having inadvertently been left open, the current of air took its natural course along the main pit leaving the back pit altogether unventilated and here consequently the deadly gas was allowed to accumulate undisturbed from Saturday evening when the men dropped work until 4 o’clock on Monday afternoon when the accident occurred.

We understand that12 or 14 men are employed in the pit altogether, but the parties who lives have been thus suddenly terminated formed the shift appointed for the morning referred to. It was the regularly appointed duty of one of their number, David Jamieson, 64 years of age, to have gone down the pit to see that all was safe before th main body of workers commenced operations, and for this purpose he is provided with a Davy lamp. Most unaccountably, however, he appears on this occasion, to have neglected this precaution, entering the mine with a naked lamp and taking the whole party of workers with him. Had he inspected the place alone with his Davy lamp, as he was bound, he would at once have discovered the fatal mistake which had been committed in leaving the door open, and all danger would have been averted.

The men who have suffered in addition to David Jamieson are:-
Duncan MacFarlan, aged 40
James Jamieson, 25
Chas. Laird, 29
John Sneddon, 24
and a boy named William Jamieson, 14 years of age.

All the men were married and have left families with the exception of Sneddon, who, however, is stated to have been on the point of marriage, his betrothed having been one of the first persons whom the alarm attracted to the scene of the disaster. The poor fellows case is rendered more distressing by the fact that he met his fate in attempting to rescue the men of the shift to which he himself did not belong. He went down in the course of the morning after the explosion had taken place along with two others to render assistance, when the choke damp overpowered him and his life was sacrificed in his generous efforts to save others. Thomas Kerr one of the two who accompanied him, made his escape badly burned, but his life is not in danger. Several attempts were successively made by other workers to render assistance to the sufferers as long as a probability existed of any of them surviving, and the utmost solicitude was evinced by everyone connected with the works to afford facilities for so doing but all were unavailing. It was not till 4 or 5 o’clock on the evening of Monday that the bodies were recovered.

The disaster spread a gloom throughout the neighbourhood of Tollcross which will not be speedily dissipated. The Procurator Fiscal has been engaged at the works investigating the accident.

We understand the pit has been worked for 15 years, principally for consumption at the ironworks and no occurrence of a similar nature has ever taken place before in connexion with it. [Glasgow Herald October 2 1846]

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