Scottish Mining Villages

Cadder 3rd August 1913

22 men were killed by fire in No15 Cadder pit near Bishopbriggs, owned by Carron Coal Co.

Names of Dead

Hugh Anderson, bencher, Lambhill House, single
Charles Armstrong, drawer, Flemington St, Garscube Rd, single
Cuthbert Bell, machineman, 61 Bardowie St, single
Alexander Brown, hole borer, Mavisvalley, single
John Brown, hole borer, Mavisvalley, single
William Brown, pumper, Mavisvalley, single (3 brothers)
Pat Darroch, brusher, Lochfauld Rd, married with 1 child
George Davidson, redsman, Mavisvalley, married with 2 children
Pat Duffin, brusher, Drummond St, Lambhill, married with 2 children
Andrew Dunbar, redsman, Lambhill Square, single
James Flynn, second machineman, Drummond St, Lambhill, married with 10 children
George Harvey, brusher, Drummonds Land, married
Thomas Hollins, gummer, 88 Mansion St, Possilpark, married with 1 child
Owen McAloon, pony driver, Lambhill Cres, single
Hugh McCann, hand pumper, Lochfauld Rd, married with 9 children
Alexander Macmillan, machineman, Jellyhill, Bishopbriggs, married with 2 children
George Macmillan, stripper, 3 Carbeth St, Possilpark, married with 1 child
Robert Ramsay, redsman, Mavisvalley, married with 3 children
William M B Ramsay, redsman, Mavisvalley, single
Pat Regan, brusher, Drummond St, married with 3 children
Charles Reilly firemen 14 Park Place Maryhill, married with seven children
John Worthington, redsman, Blackhall Row, married with 3 children


Only 4 out of the 26 men in the nightshift were rescued:
Robert Dunbar, brusher, Peters land, Lambhill, married with 1 child
Michael Keenan, brusher, Hawthorn St, Possilpark, married
Michael McDonald, brusher, 128 Barclay St, Possilpark, married with 3 children
Felix O’Neill, brusher, Garscube Rd, single

Newspaper Reports

Scottish Pit Fire – 22 Lives Lost
The pit where the fire occurred belongs to the Carron company and is situated at Mavis Valley in the Cadder District of Lanarkshire near Bishopbriggs, a few miles from Glasgow. It is known as No. 15 and is 175 fathoms deep. About 300 men are employed in colliery and at 3 o’clock on Sunday afternoon 26 of these, belonging to what is known as the back shift went down the shaft to begin their working day of 8 hours. In ordinary circumstances they would have finished work at 11 o’clock last night. About 8 o’clock William Brown one of the firemen engaged at the mine, went down the shaft according to custom to see that everything was in order. When he reached the bottom he found the working a mass of flames. He returned at once to the surface and informed another firemen and an engineman who were on duty at the pit head. In the meantime another employee John Marshall, switched off the electric current from the cables which drive the pumps and control the lights underground. The county fire brigade was summoned from Cambuslang, but when the firemen arrived they saw that it was hopeless to attempt to do anything to extinguish the fire. Their hose was not long enough to reach the bottom of the deep shaft.

After two fruitless attempt of rescue a third attempt was made shortly after 2 o’clock. When the rescuers returned to the pit head they were surrounded by a crowd of anxious men and women appealing for news of relatives and friends. The report confirmed the fears which had been felt. Five bodies had been discovered and it was clear that 22 men had lost their lives. By noon yesterday all the bodies had been found. 15 were discovered in the early morning lying close together. The others were picked up separately at intervals. The last of the missing men, Michael Macdonald, a brusher, was found about 11 o’clock and to the surprise of everyone he was still alive. He had been 19 hours in the pit when he was discovered and was in a very exhausted state. Last night he lay in the Glasgow Royal Infirmary in a critical condition. Three other brushers who were in the mine at the time managed to escape before the catastrophe occurred. Of the men who were killed 13 were married and 9 single. Three brothers named Brown and two brothers named Ramsay were among those killed.

Great heroism was shown by the miners who volunteered for rescue work while the fire in the pit was still raging and the atmosphere was laden with smoke and poisonous fumes. Bands of ready workers tried time and time again to reach the bodies of their comrades. The rescue parties, composed of men who worked at pits in the district, were without the rescue appliances which would protect them in their work but they faced the danger without flinching, and more volunteers than were required offered themselves for service in the danger zone. From before 10 o’clock on Sunday night until 6 o’clock yesterday morning more than 50 miners took part in attempts to reach their fellow workmen, and many instances of conspicuous pluck and daring are reported. A detachment of men at length arrived from Cowdenbeath with modern equipment for rescue work and assisting in removing the bodies.

One of the rescue party, Arthur Warden, who was present when the 15 bodies were found, said that from their appearance it looked as of the men had been overcome by gas. There where no marks of fire upon them. The attempt to penetrate to the spot where it was known that other members of the shift had been engaged was repeatedly unsuccessful. Each gang took a turn at trying to pass through the smoke and foul air but each was overpowered by the fumes and had to retreat. In many cases the rescuers were overwhelmed by the poisonous atmosphere and had to be dragged back into safety. Other members of the rescue party state that the 15 bodies were seen lying together under a dense cloud of smoke. Almost all of them were lying in the same direction. Apparently they had been alarmed by the fire and had started to run for safety when they were overcome by after damp. When the first bodies were found the fire was still raging in the pit at a distance of about 400 fathoms away. The current of air in the pit was reversed and the flames were by this means driven back in the direction from which they came, but the reversal of the current took some time. [The Times 5 Aug 1913]

Funeral of Victims
Some 50,000 people congregated around the funeral procession in Glasgow yesterday of the victims of the Cadder pit accident. The largest section assembled in front of St Agnes Roman Catholic Church where services were conducted for 11 Roman Catholic miners, and amid impressive scenes the 11 coffins were borne on the shoulders of miners and other relatives from the chapel to the cemetery, a mile distant. Among the mourners were the widows and the fatherless children. Numerous wreaths and other tributes were placed on the graves.

Pathetic scenes also marked the funeral of seven Protestant victims at Cadder Cemetery. Before the burial a service was conducted in Mavis Valley Hall. Among the dead were the three young brothers Brown and the two brothers Ramsay. The young wife of Robert Ramsay entered the hall and lay over the coffin crying bitterly. The Reverend J Robinson who officiated paid tribute to the work done by Nurse Winchester after the accident.

Three internments also took place at Lambhill cemetery, where the gospel band played selections at the graveside.

Before attending the funerals the executive of the Scottish Miners Federation met in Glasgow and passed a resolution expressing deep regret that the Lanarkshire Mine owners had not yet seen their way to make provision for rescue stations and brigades which might be used in circumstances such as those which led to the death of 22 men at Cadder. They further decided to call the attention of the Home Secretary to the necessity for action being taken immediately.

The fire at the pit has not been completely extinguished, but good progress has been made considering the conditions underground. The men at work describes the pit as “like a blazing inferno” and state that the operations had been carried out under extreme difficulty [The Scotsman 7 Aug 1913]

An image of the funeral scenes can be viewed here

Award of Edward Medal
Whitehall March 27, 1914
His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to award an Edward Medal of the Second Class to Robert Dunbar under the following circumstances:-

On the 3rd August 1913, a fire occurred at the Cadder Colliery, Lanarkshire, and on the alarm being raised, a panic ensued. Most of the men, not knowing where the fire had originated, turned into the main airway down which the smoke was being carried, and were overcome by fumes. Robert Dunbar, a miner, however, by presence of mind and by utilising his knowledge of the workings, succeeded in bringing two of his fellow workmen into fresh air by another route, after having courageously waited for and revived one of them who had collapsed. After returning to the surface, Dunbar again descended underground to assist in the work of rescue, and, in the course of the subsequent operations, succeeded in saving one of the rescue party who was overcome. The Commissioner who conducted the public enquiry into the disaster made special mention of Dunbar’s sustained courage and coolness.  [London Gazette 31 March 1914]

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