Ayrshire pre-1855 Accidents

This section contains newspaper reports on selected pre-1855 accidents in Ayrshire. Please check the indexes in the Accidents Section for other areas.

23 January 1769

We hear from Saltcoats that on Monday last, the dead body of William Speir, late of Dalry, was taken out of a coal pit at the town-head of Salcoats, where he had been drowned, and had lain twelve or fourteen days : it is remarkable that this is the fifth instance of this kind which has happened within these few years. It is much to be wished that the old pits near public roads were either filled up or built round with a stone wall. [Caledonian Mercury 28 January 1769]

25 September 1789

Yesterday se’ennight, in the parish of Beith, Ayrshire, while a man was hewing coals, the roof suddenly gave way, and fell upon him. He was taken out alive, but died in a few hours after. [Caledonian Mercury 3 October 1789]

9 February 1796

Tuesday, the following melancholy accident happened in one of the coal pits in Kilmarnock, belonging to the Marquis of Titchfield:- It is customary for the men underground to collect at a stated time of the day (it is possible, to refresh and to see that all is well) ; on such meeting, one of their number was discovered a-missing ; they repaired to his room, and found him buried under a large flag that had fallen from the roof, with only one of his arms extended from the rubbish. Life was in him, but he was so dreadfully bruised as to expire in a short time after. [Caledonian Mercury 13 February 1796]

26 April 1799

Friday morning, as two colliers were working in a coal pit in the neighbourhood of Kilmarnock, the roof suddenly gave way, by which one of them was killed, and the other severely bruised. [Caledonian Mercury 27 April 1799]

31 December 1804

On Monday, the 31st ult., a melancholy accident happened at Kilmarnock Coal-pits. As Adam Miller and Peter Stewart stepped into the bucket to go down to their work, the rope unfortunately broke, by which they were both precipitated to the bottom, and killed on the spot. It was found that the rope was injured by the intenseness of the frost; and it is hoped this fatal accident will be a warning to others, at all times during such severe weather, to examine carefully that the rope not be frosted, and run the buckets down and up the pit, before any of the workmen be allowed to venture into it. The former has left a wife and two children, and the father of the latter was killed in the same pit about fourteen years ago. [The Times 11 January 1805]

14 November 1815

On Saturday night, the 14th instant, Alexander Brown, one of the colliers at Ayr colliery on his way home, having-gone into the engine house to procure a light, and in coming out with the light in his hand, unfortunately missing his way, fell into the coal pit, which is 54 fathoms deep. The. two coal baskets hanging opposite to each other, half way down, he fell into one of them, where he was found about six hours afterwards by a person going down the pit. His thigh bone was broken, and he was otherwise severely bruised, so that his life was despaired of; but, astonishing to relate, after having fallen a height of 162 feet, he is now expected to recover. [Caledonian Mercury 18 November 1815]

25 June 1818

We regret to record the following final accident in the coal pit at the Newton Green, Ayr. About seven o'clock on Thursday morning, Mr Millar, the manager of the works belonging to the Messrs Taylor, in the prosecution of his duty, went into the pit; and he and the oversman of the pit, after providing themselves each with a safety lamp, proceeded to examine a part of the mine wrought some time ago, in order to open a door by which to increase the circulation of the air, and they were followed by six of the ordinary colliers. When they had proceeded a considerable way, the lamps indicated the presence of hydrogen, but having confidence in their efficacy, they proceeded until both lamps became red hot, and then the gas exploded, scorching and tossing them about. The oversman, although severely hurt, escaped with his life, but the manager was found dead, from all appearance suffocated by the choke damp which succeeded the explosion. The colliers escaped with little or no injury, and with the oversman, got out immediately; but the body of the manager was not found till an hour or two afterwards. Mr Millar was a young man of exemplary conduct and promising abilities, and his loss is much deplored. [Scotsman 27 June 1818]

We are requested to state, that the safety lamp which occasioned the explosion by which Mr Millar lost his life, as mentioned in our last, upon being examined, was found to have a small defect at the socket. We are further informed, that a candle was used in the lamp, by the melting of which some tallow had fallen on, and adhered to, the wire gauze. From these facts, and from that formerly stated of the lamp being excessively heated, it is concluded that the combustion proceeded either from the communication of the gas with the flame through the defect of the socket – from the illumination of the grease on the gauze by the high temperature of the lamp – from the extraordinary heat of the lamp itself – or from a combination of these circumstances, and not from any deficiency in the original invention of Sir Humphry Davy. We feel satisfied in making this statement, as it thus appears, that the unfortunate accident which happened ought not to lessen the confidence of miners in those lamps, when sufficient care is taken that they be not faulty or imprudently used. We are also assured, that upon one occasion a lamp used at the Ayr Colliery continued safe, with the inflammable air burning in it for the space of three hours, and that at that colliery the greatest confidence has been placed in them by the workmen. It is hoped, those journals which copied our last statement will also insert this explanation. We are sorry to add, that the Oversman, after suffering indescribable torments, died on Tuesday last. This person was injured by a former explosion, and had recovered, and just returned to his work, when the accident which has terminated his life happened. [Ayr Journal – quoted in The Times July 1 1818]

20 February 1819

On the morning of the 20th ult., a melancholy accident happened at one of the coal pits at Fairley, near Ayr. Two colliers, viz. James Dunlop and William Rae, stepped into a creel to go down to their work, when, they were unfortunately precipitated to the bottom, a depth of 24 fathoms. They were brought above ground with all possible dispatch, both alive:, but Dunlop expired soon after. Rae's back was broken, and he was otherwise shockingly cut and bruised. He survived about three hours. They were both young men, about 26 years of age, and one of them (Dunlop) was lately married, and has left a widow to deplore his untimely. fate. [Caledonian Mercury 8 March 1819]

8 June 1820

About nine o'clock on Tuesday night, while [illegible] O'Hara was at work in one of the apartments at Green Pit, Newton, Ayr, a large piece of the roof of about a ton weight, fell on him, and killed him on the spot. All those who were in the pit immediately set to work to extricate the body but as they had to cut through a considerable thickness of coal and stone, it was about half an hour before they could accomplish their purpose. The unfortunate man was a native of Ireland, and of about 40 years of age at the time of his death. He was of industrious habits, and has left a widow and seven children. [Caledonian Mercury 12 June 1820]

29 September 1820

In the Ann coal-pit, at Prestwick Toll, the roof of which is supported by pillars of wood and cross trees a young man named Robert Humphrey, about 17 years of age, was killed on Friday last by one of the cross trees suddenly giving way. He attempted an escape, but in the flight the cross tree struck his neck, and he was instantly smothered in the rubbish which came down along with it. [Glasgow Herald 2 October 1820]

21 December 1821

On the morning of Friday last, a collier of the name of James Spence, while working in one of the coal pits near Gargieston, in the act of removing one of the posts which hold up the roof, part of it gave way and killed him instantly. The boy that was holding his lamp gave the alarm, but it was of no use, as the vital spark was fled. He has left a wife and two children. [Glasgow Herald 24 December 1821]

14 March 1822

On Thursday last, as James Neil, one, of the colliers in Deuchry coal-pit, was in the act of descending, he unfortunately lost his hold of the rope, and was precipitated to the bottom, where he fell a lifeless corpse at the feet of his son, who was at work below. - On Saturday last, a man in the Fort pit was much scorched by an explosion of inflammable air. [Glasgow Herald 22 March 1822]

9 October 1822

On Thursday last; Alexander Cairns, a sinker in-one of Messrs. Taylor's coal-pits, Ayr, was killed by a stone falling upon him from the inside of the pit. The lifeless body fell from the scaffold on which he stood, into the water at the bottom of the pit, which was 18 feet deep and was afterwards recovered by grapplings. [Glasgow Herald 18 October 1822]

21 March 1826

A most distressing accident occurred this morning, at the coal pit lately opened by Mr Taylor, at the Bell Rock Quarry, opposite Prestwick Toll, by which three men lost their lives and five have been materially injured. The pit has only been wrought about 3 weeks. The men who first came to go down this morning, were doubtful as to their safety, and sent for William Pride, an experienced collier, in order that his opinion might be taken. Pride arrived, along with Mr Gordon, a nephew of Mr Taylor's, and who acted as master or inspector of the works, and it was resolved to go down. John Dunlop and William Smellie went first down, Pride and Mr Gordon next, and after them Joseph Ewings and John Rice. Two boys were standing at the pit-head waiting the return of the creel to go down, when a dreadful explosion took place, which burst the building at the pit-head, and drove the two boys to the ground, at a distance of 8 or 10 yards from where they stood. In about 10 or 15 minutes, a cry was heard from below, and, upon going down, Mr Gordon, Smellie, and Rice, were found in a senseless state. William Pride was able to speak, Ewing and Dunlop were dead, and Rice expired a few minutes after he was brought up. These unfortunate men have all left wives and children to bewail their loss. We are happy to state, that no fears are entertained for the recovery of the others.- Ayr Courier, 21st March [quoted Scotsman 25 March 1826]

21 October 1831

Two Men Suffocated – On Friday last, the 21st ult., at Grass-water Limeworks, in the parish of Auchinleck, two young men of the name of Baird, sons of a farmer in the neighbourhood, came to a coalpit, five fathoms deep, that was sinking. One prevailed on the other to let him down the pit to see it; but, when near the bottom , he fell down, from the effects of the choke-damp. The brother gave the alarm, when a man of the name of Murdoch came to his assistance, and went down the pit , but he shared the same fate. David M'Leod, another man now went down , and he also shared the same fate. James Davidson, a third person, next went down but before reaching the bottom, he called out to be taken up. He got a rope fixed round his body and attempted it again, but did not succeed. A fire was got and let down into the pit and one of them was heard to moan. The smoke was quite close in the pit and nothing could be seen. However, when the windlass was turned it was found some of the three persons below were attached to the rope, and when the windlass was hoisted to a certain height , there appeared but one of the men, David M'Leod, hanging by one hand to the rope. He was immediately rescued by the people at the pit mouth. The other two men were dead before they could be got out . We understand Murdoch has left a wife and young family to lament his loss. M'Leod recovered so far as to be able to walk home to Auchinleck in the evening. [Scotsman 2 November 1831]

3 November 1835

Extraordinary Case of Accidental Entombment - On the morning of Thursday the 8th ultimo, part of the roof of the coal works belonging to the Duke de Coigny, at Kilgrammie, near the village of Dailly, set down and before the men could get clear of the workings John Brown, a native of Mid Lothian, about sixty years of age, was intercepted in his egress, and consequently confined in this subterraneous abode until Saturday last the 31st, at four in the morning, when he was restored again to light and liberty, being thus twenty three days without one morsel of food! When entombed, he had with him a small portion of tobacco , sufficient for one day's consumption, and two small flasks of lamp oil, some of the latter he attempted to swallow, but he was unable to do so and the only substance he took besides the tobacco, during the whole period of his confinement was a strong chalybeate water within the range of his prison, and which he declared was “very bad indeed." His mind remained quite composed and continues very distinct - he never despaired of ultimately escaping, and his greatest anxiety, he says was for the fate of Thomas Watson, the person with whom he had for more than two years resided, whom he supposed had perished when the accident occurred, leaving a wife and helpless family. He calculated time by the noise made by the men at their stated periods of work:- for the first and second week he moved about in his gloomy cell, an area of thirty yards, seeking every avenue of escape, but latterly he became so weak as to be unable to reach his only, but disagreeable beverage - the water. The feeling of hunger left him about the second day; which may be attributed, in some measure , to the astringent quality of the water. When found he was extended on the ground, and lying on his breast, nearly extinct, his extremities cold; his voice reduced almost to a whisper, or childish treble, and his emaciation so great as to make him a complete personification of the Anatomie Vivante. His dark unshaven beard, sunken features; and glistening ere have given him an unearthly appearance. Generally great danger arises from imprudently giving food too freely to persons who have suffered from abstinence but in Brown's case his brother labourers cautiously first lubricated his parched mouth with butter, then gave him milk, arrow root, and sherry in small spoonfuls at regular intervals - milk being the first thing he asked for when he was discovered. His pulse is regular and strong, and his tongue clean and moist; indeed , there is every hope of his ultimate restoration to health; should he receive sufficient nourishment in the same cautions way. When Dr Hill, the minister of the parish, visited him; he put out his hand to the reverend Doctor and asked him to return thanks to God for his deliverance. He feels much pleased at the interest his case has excited in the country; and he bestows a ghastly smile of satisfaction on the numerous gazers, which the circumstance has drawn from considerable distances to the humble cottage where he now lies. On a former occasion he was entombed in a coal pit for three days and three nights , and we have also been informed that he once suffered shipwreck. A subscription has been opened on Brown's behalf. - Ayr Observer. [Scotsman 7 November 1835]

In the last page will be found an account of a man's having been entombed in a coal pit in Ayrshire for a period of 23 days, and taken out alive. The Ayr Advertiser of Thursday contains the following:- We regret much to state that the thread of an existence thus wonderfully preserved, amid circumstances of honor and privation almost incredible, has at last broken. Hopes had been entertained that by careful and judicious treatment, his strength might be gradually secured, but his frame had been so completely wasted by want, as to be unable to rally its feeble powers, and he sunk into death without any appearance of pain, between the hours of 10 and 11 o'clock of the night of Tuesday the 3d inst. [Scotsman 7 November 1835]

14 July 1841

Ayr Circuit Court – The Autumn Circuit was opened here on Monday week , by the Lord Justice Clerk and Lord Mackenzie. The calendar this year was exceedingly light . Only five cases were from Ayrshire, and, what is somewhat singular, there were none from Wigtonshire. John M'Culloch, ploughman, Wheatpark , parish of St Evox, was charged with culpable homicide, having, on the 14th July last, recklessly thrown a dog into a coalpit, situated on the farm of Wheatpark, by which a person of the name of David Steel, who was coming up the pit at the time in a bucket , was precipitated to the bottom and killed on the spot . The prisoner pleaded not guilty. After the examination of witnesses , the Jury returned a verdict finding the prisoner guilty as libelled, but recommending him to the leniency of the Court . The Lord Justice Clerk , after alluding to the rashness and culpability of the act which he had committed, sentenced the prisoner to three months imprisonment. [Scotsman 29 September 1841]

28 April 1842

Dreadful Accident - Thursday morning, two men named William Oliver, and James Wilson, met their deaths in the Lochrobin Coal Pit, near Whitletts- by a fall of stones from the roof. They were crushed to death on the spot. Oliver was unmarried, but Wilson has left a wife and five children. We also learn that two men have been severely burned in the Braehead Pit, at Whitletts, early this morning. [Caledonian Mercury 30 April 1842]

22 April 1843

Fatal occurrence - A melancholy accident took place at Craighall colliery, parish of Tarbolton , on Saturday morning the 22d ult. A boy about thirteen years of age, named Hugh Kennedy, son of Sir Kennedy, agent, Wallacetown, went to visit an uncle at Craighall; and learning that his cousin was to remain at the pit-head during the night to let the men down to their work, he expressed a strong desire to bear him company , which was reluctantly complied with. About three o'clock several of the workmen came; and while in the act of being lowered into the shaft, young Kennedy, unknown to his cousin, ran forward to the mouth of the pit , and it is thought, in the attempt to lay hold of the partition , he overbalanced himself, and fell headlong down. His body was got out with all speed , but of course life was extinct. One of the arms was severed at the shoulder, and he was otherwise shockingly bruised and mangled. The casualty, lamentable as it is, might have been still more so, had he fallen down the same side of the partition as the men were descending in the bucket . —Ayr Observer [Scotsman 3 May 1843]

25 March 1844

Fatal Accident.- On Monday morning last, while one of the miners, named John Aitken, employed at the Kilbirnie Station coal-pit, was engaged in undermining a part of the coal wall, the roof fell upon him, and he was buried in the ruins. He was speedily extricated, but life was found extinct. He was a steady and inoffensive young man, and was the principal support of his aged parents. - Apr Advertiser. [Glasgow Herald 1 April 1844]

16 December 1844

Fatal Accident - We regret to learn that a collier, named John Thomson, was killed on Monday in a pit on the farm of Drumdow, parish of Stair. It appears that he and another individual were employed in rebarring the pit with new wood and, in carrying this operation into effect, had constructed a fixed scaffold several fathoms from the top. Upon this they seem to have allowed a considerable quantity of earth and other rubbish to have accumulated, no doubt with the intention of completing what they were engaged upon before clearing it away; and, unfortunately, an additional quantity of gravel having fallen from the side, the scaffold was unable to resist its weight , when it gave way, precipitating Thomson to the bottom with such violence that he died instantaneously . His companion, with great presence of mind, grasped some of the bars at the side, by which he was enabled to hold till a bucket was sent down to his rescue. Thomson, we understand , was a man about sixty years of age. He was very much respected in the neighbourhood, and has left a wife and family to mourn the melancholy event. - Ayr Observer [Scotsman 21 December 1844]

Fatal Accident - An accident occurred at Springs Colliery, on Monday last, which proved fatal to John Thomson, Gadgirtholm, who was advanced in years, and has left a widow and family. He was working along with a man named Hay, barring an old shank, when Hay observing the side of the pit shot, gave the alarm, and seized on one of the new bars, by which he was supported, but the deceased failed in his attempt is to save himself, and was precipitated to the bottom, a depth of 15 fathoms; and there so buried under the fallen earth, that it was an hour and a half before he could be extricated. The deceased's son met his death under similar circumstances in the same pit, fifteen years ago, when the same workman, Hay, had an equally narrow escape. [Caledonian Mercury 23 December 1844]

18 September 1845

Melancholy Accident – On Thursday last, at one of the pits belonging to the Glengarnock Iron Company, on the farm of Ryeholm, in the parish of Dalry, which they are at present sinking down to the ironstone, two men – a father and son – of the name of Muir, of the relative ages of 45 and 20 years, after charging the shot, were ascending the shaft in the water bucket, when James Muir, the father, looked down to see if the straw would ignite, when the mid partition took hold of the back part of his head, and tore him out of the bucket. He fell to the bottom, and the shot exploding, he was killed on the spot. The son held on by the tow, and was saved. [Scotsman 20 September 1845]

19 November 1845

Stevenston - Fatal Occurrence and Narrow Escape - About five o'clock, on the evening of Wednesday week, as John Ballantine, and his son Campbell, a boy about 10 years of age, were descending the coal pit. No. 2, Turf- dyke Stevenston Colliery, and when about 10 feet from the mouth of the pit, the rope attached to the creel in which they stood, by some means came off the pulley at the pit-head by which it is led from, the engine and the sudden jerk threw both out of the creel. The boy was precipitated to the bottom, a depth of 306 feet, and killed on the spot. His father's hand stuck in the hook that suspends the creel, until a man named Archibald Fulton heroically slid down to his assistance, and having made a rope fast round Ballantine, he was drawn up by some of those who were Witnesses of the awful scene. Fulton, whose conduct merits the highest praise, was then pulled up in the same manner. When the boy was brought up he was found to be mangled in a most dreadful manner, as might have been expected from the depth of his fall, which was no less than 80 feet more than the height of Ayr steeple. It is supposed that a gale of wind blowing at the time, had caused the rope to diverge from its place, as it slipped the moment the engine started to lower them. [Glasgow Herald 1 December 1845]

18 December 1845

Boy Killed. - A very distressing occurrence took place at Dalquharran coal-pits, on Saturday week, the 18th inst. A young man of the name of Brydone, about 14 years of age, had just finished his day's labour, having sent up his last "creel," on the top of which, as is the common practice, he had placed a lump of coal for his own fuel. He was standing at the bottom of the shaft, preparing to follow in the same mode of conveyance, when the piece of coal slipping off the "creel," and descending with great velocity, struck the young man on the shoulder with such force as to cause almost instant death. - Free Press. [Dumfries and Galloway Standard 31 December 1845]

15 January 1846

Fatal Coal Pit Accident.—At Tarholm coal works, in the parish of Tarbolton, on Thursday the 15th, as three boys belonging to the works were amusing themselves, during an interval of labour, at the bottom of the shaft, a slight part of the rock adjoining the raising-of the shaft, about 10 fathoms from the bottom, gave way, a very small piece of which struck one of the boys on the head and cut it so severely that he died in half an hour after the accident occurred. No blame whatever can be attached to the manager, Mr. Drinnan, as he had repeatedly warned the boys of the danger of standing in the bottom of the shaft, exposing themselves to dangers completely uncalled for. - Kilmarnock Journal. [Glasgow Herald 26 January 1846]

17 January 1846

Dalry - Coal Pit Accident.—At the Coal Heugh Glen Colliery, in this vicinity, on Saturday last, a young man, of the name of Williamson about seventeen years of age, in coming out of the highest seam of coals fell down to the lowest - a depth of fifteen fathoms. He survived the injuries received only a few hours. [Glasgow Herald 23 January 1846]

24 January 1846

Fatal Colliery Accident - About five o'clock, on the morning of Saturday last, as two men, named James Vance and Samuel Leech, who had just descended the Lochrobin coal pit, in the parish of St. Quivox, were about to commence their labours, a stone fell from the roof, a height of about five feet, and crushed them severely. The stone was about three feet long, and two thick, and was supposed to weigh 9 cwt. Vance, who was an old man, was sitting in a stooping posture, and the stone alighting on his back; broke his spine, and likewise his leg, and we are sorry to say he expired on Wednesday morning, from the effects of the accident. Leech had his arm and some ribs broken, besides being otherwise crushed, but he is expected to recover. Deceased was a quiet and obliging man, and was much respected by his fellow workmen.—Ayr Observer. [Glasgow Herald 26 January 1846]

15 February 1846

Fatal Catastrophe at a Coal-pit. - On the morning of Sunday last a lamentable catastrophe occurred at Fulshia Wood coal-pit, a short way beyond Whitletts. Men were employed during the night in pumping the water from the pit, and in working fanners for the better ventilation of it; and about six o'clock in the morning, four men went down to relieve the night-gang. Preparatory to beginning their labours they were in the act of renewing the candle in a safety lamp, when the flame ignited the firedamp, and an instant explosion took place. The explosion threw the unfortunate men with great violence against the walls of the chamber; and from the injuries they received; two of them, we regret to say; died on the spot. The names of the two men were respectively, M'Gee and Harper; The father of the former was also one of the party, and he was so seriously injured that, though he lived to be taken from the pit, he died on Monday. The fourth - a man named Caddows - escaped with some severe cuts and bruises, and was conveyed to the surface. As soon as possible a number of individuals descended the pit, and the bodies of the two unfortunate men were brought to the surface. M'Gee was also convened to his own houses where medical assistance was procured. He has left behind him a wife and family. About thirty-five years ago, we believe Harper was severely burned by a similar explosion in one of the pits in this neighbourhood. By that accident a number of lives were lost, and the deceased was one of the very few survivors. He subsequently enlisted in the 26th regiment of foot, from which he was discharged some years ago. He was unmarried. - Ayr Observer. [Glasgow Herald 20 February 1846]

Melancholy Coal-Pit Catastrophe – Explosion of Fire-Damp - A fatal and lamentable catastrophe took place on the morning of Sunday last, by which three lives have been sacrificed at the Oswald (commonly called the Fulshia) Coal- pit, a short distance beyond the village of Whitletts. During the preceding night men were employed in working the fanners for the better ventilation of the pit, and in pumping the water from it; and about six o'clock in the morning three men and a boy went down to relieve the nightgang. Two of those who descended went to the fanners, and the others to the pumping of the water. The foul air it appears had accumulated to such an extent as to cause an explosion when the two who had just descended came in with their lamps uncovered. The explosion threw the unfortunate individuals against the walls of the chamber with great violence; and from the injuries they received, a man named Hugh Harper, and a boy, about 14 years of age, named Christopher M'Gee, died on the spot. The father of M'Gee, who was the person engaged at the fanners before the arrival of his son and Harper was likewise so severely injured that, although he lived to be taken from the pit, he died on Monday forenoon. M'Gee has left a widow and family.-Ayr Advertiser. [Caledonian Mercury 26 February 1846]

7 March 1846

Fatal Accident - On the night of Saturday, or morning of Sunday last, a young man having charge of the engine it Barkip coal pit, near Dalry, was so severely injured, by coming in contact with some part of the machinery, that he died almost immediately. - Kilmarnock Journal. [Glasgow Herald 9 March 1846]

16 March 1846

Explosion of Fire-damp. - Early on Monday morning, an explosion of fire-damp, fortunately not serious in its results, occurred in the Fulshiewood (the Oswald) pit. In one of the mines where the hewers were at work, a quantity of the gas, known as fire-damp, accumulated in several small cavities above them. One of the colliers raising himself up, the lamp which he carried attached to the front of his bonnet came in contact with, and immediately exploded the subtle gas ; and the faces and exposed parts of the bodies of five of the workers were somewhat burned - Ayr Observer. [Glasgow Herald 20 March 1846]

31 July 1846

On Friday week a fine young man, not long married, lost his life in Mossend pit, near Kilbirnie. It would appear he had been employed in the shaft, when the ropes of the scaffold gave way, and he was precipitated to the bottom, a distance of thirty fathoms. His name was John Penman, a, native of Holytown. He has left a wife, near her confinement, to deplore his unhappy fate.- Surely it is time the authorities were looking into those accidents, now almost of daily occurrence - not one-half of which ever find their way in the public press. - Saturday Post. [Glasgow Herald 3 August 1846]

29 September 1846

Fatal Coal Pit Accident - James Watson, miner, Turf Dick Coal-pit (belonging to the Stevenston Colliery) lost his life underground on Monday last. Contrary to instructions, and to the rules of the colliery, he had left his usual place of working, where the men were all safe, and proceeded to take coals from one of the props in the old workings, when a stone fell from the roof and killed him on the spot - Ayr Advertiser. [Caledonian Mercury 5 October 1846]

27 October 1846

Friday March 15 - Wark v. Russell and Wardrop - This case came on for trial today. It was an action for damages at the instance of Mrs Mary Anne Macnair or Wark and several of her children (who sued as paupers) against Mr Robert Russell, residing in Langbar, parish of Beith, and county of Ayr, and Mr Robert Wardrop, coalmaster, Beith, the individual partners of the now dissolved concern of Messrs Russell &. Wardrop, sometime carrying on business as coal-masters at Langbar. The summons set forth that James Wark the husband of the pursuer was employed as a coal- hewer by the defenders at the Langbar pit and that on the 27th of October 1846, the said James Wark, while in the performance of his duty .as a coal hewer under the defenders in the said Langbar it, had gone from another part of the pit or mine to the pit bottom with a creel of coals, and while there waiting to send the said coals to the shaft, a large portion of coal, being part of a door stoop of coal, at or near the pit bottom, gave way, and fell across the pit bottom, whereby he was crushed and wounded so severely that he died in about two hours afterwards. The summons then went on to allege that the said prop or door-stoop. and various parts of the roof and working, were for some time previously in an insufficient and dangerous state, and known to be so to the defenders or their managers; and that as the attention of the defenders or their managers was frequently drawn to the dangerous condition of the workings at various places, and more particularly to the cracked and dangerous state of the said door-stoop, the deceased was killed by the gross and culpable negligence, or by the ignorance, inexperience, or unskillfulness of the defenders, or their underground managers and others for whom they are responsible. In defence it was alleged that the deceased came by his death through a pure accident, such as every worker in a coal mine is at all times inevitably subject to. The defenders regretted, and still regret the unfortunate occurrence at the same time they could not, in justice to themselves and others, acknowledge the liability attempted to be laid upon them by this action. The issue which went to the jury was as follows :-It being admitted that on or about the 27th day of October 1846 the deceased James Wark was killed while in the employment of the defenders, in a coal pit belonging to them and that the pursuer. Mrs Mary Anne Macnair or Wark, is the widow, and the other pursuers the children of the said James Wark. Whether the death of the said James Wark was caused by the fault, negligence, or unskillfulness of the defenders, or others for whom they are responsible, to the loss injury, and damage of the pursuers?" Damages claimed, L.400 to Mrs Wark and L.100 to each of the children. After a long trial, and the examination of a considerable number of witnesses on both sides, the Lord President summed up. The jury retired at half-pasts even, and after being absent for about a quarter of an hour, returned into court with a verdict for the pursuer, and awarding L.200 damages to the widow, and L.50 to each of her children (six in number) thus making L.500 in all. Counsel for the pursuers - R. Macfarlane, Esq. and James Lorimer, Esq. Agent, G. Greig. Esq. W.S. Counsel for the defenders - John Inglis, Esq. and A. S. Logan Esq, Agent, William Meikle, Esq. S.S.C. [Caledonian Mercury 18 March 1850]

22 December 1846

Fatal Accident - New Cumnock, 22d Dec - At Mansfield Colliery, in the neighbourhood of New Cumnock, this day, one of the workmen, named George Brown, was in the act of undermining that portion of the seam he meant to take down for the day's "dark," when it unexpectedly gave way, and crushed the unfortunate man to eternity in a moment. The deceased was a sober, inoffensive, individual, and in the prime of life. He has left a wife and small family to lament their irreparable loss. [Dumfries and Galloway Standard 23 December 1846]

18 January 1847

Beith - Fatal Accident - Thomas Craig, a lad, sixteen of years of age, son of John Craig, Langlands, in charge of a tyre of waggons on the railway from Broadstone quarries to Glengarnock Iron Works, was found on Tuesday last, lying crushed to death before the waggons at the bottom of an inclined plane on the farm of Windyhouse. It is difficult to account for the way in which this distressing accident happened. His relations were deeply affected when they arrived at the spot and beheld the dead body of the youth. The deceased had his thigh bone broken on the railway about two years ago. [Glasgow Herald 22 January 1847]

6 July 1847

Coal-Pit Accident - Two Men Killed - Tuesday last, a fatal coal-pit accident occurred at a shafting pit on the farm of Kilbirnie Mains, belonging to the Glengarnock Iron Company, whereby two men lost their lives, through the supposed negligence of the engine-driver. While a barrel of earth and stones was ascending, it is supposed he had fallen asleep, as the barrel was allowed to reach the wheels, when the chain broke of course, precipitating the barrel with its contents down the shaft, and killing the two unfortunate men. It would appear that the engine-driver has absconded, and we believe the police are in search of him. [Glasgow Herald 12 July 1847]

7 July 1847

Fatal Accident - On Wednesday, a man named Sommerville, was killed in one of the ironstone pits on the farm of Burn, parish of Dalry, belonging to the Glengarnock Iron Company. He was coming up the pit for the last time, and when near its mouth the tow broke. He fell to the bottom, and was killed on the spot. He was only married about six months ago. Ayr Observer [Glasgow Herald 9 July 1847]

14 July 1847

Fatal Accident at Cumnock.-On Wednesday week, Robert Orr, a boy aged eleven years, was accidentally killed by falling into the machinery of a steam-engine at a mine near Lugar Iron Works. He had, it appears, been sent to a house in the neighbourhood of the mine, to bring some water to the engine-keeper. Returning out of the engine-house, his foot slipped on a plate of metal, and he fell on the pinion wheel of the engine. He was dragged over into the machinery and killed in an instant. Ayr Observer [Glasgow Herald - Monday 19 July 1847]

5 August 1847

Fatal Accident - A melancholy and fatal accident occurred at Moss End mine, parish of Kilbirnie, on Thursday last. It appears that as one of the joiners of the Glengarnock Iron works was ascending the shaft, where he had been making repairs, some material was falling down ; and, in order to jink these he leant too far over, by which he came in contact with the frame work, He was precipitated to the bottom, and killed on the spot.- Ayr Observer. [Glasgow Herald 13 August 1847]

17 September 1847

Fatal Accident. - A collier, named David Lang, and aged 14 years, met with the following fatal accident at a coal-pit near Cumnock, on the 17th instant. It appears that on the morning of the above day, as the workmen were at breakfast, he went to the bottom of the pit with a hutch of coals, and while it was ascending he remained standing below. On the hutch arriving at the top of the pit, and while being taken off by the hillsman, a large piece of coal came off and fell down the pit, striking Lang on the head, and fracturing his skull. He was still alive when brought home, but died soon after. His mother and brothers are in great grief, the more especially as his father was killed by a coal-pit accident in March last. [Glasgow Herald 27 September 1847]

11 October 1847

Serious Explosion of Fire-Damp - On Monday morning last, an explosion of fire-damp, which, it is feared, may prove fatal to one of the sufferers, happened in the Black Diamond Pit, near Auchincruive, belonging to J. T. Gordon, Esq. As usual, the night-shift of men had gone down at twelve o'clock to prepare the pit for the colliers ; and about two o'clock, while thus engaged, a quantity of foul air was ignited by a lamp (not a safety one) which one of the party had incautiously opened, and an explosion immediately occurred. Three men and a boy - viz., John Vance and his son James, Francis Dickson, and William Winders - were very seriously burnt. They were all removed to their homes at Whiteletts village. The men are doing as well as can be expected, but up till the time we write (Wednesday night), the boy Vance is not expected to recover.—Ayr Advertiser. [Glasgow Herald 18 October 1847]

14 October 1847

Accident at Cumnock. - A young man of the name of John M'Beth, a mining contractor, was killed at a coal pit on the farm of Mosshouse, near Cumnock on the 14th inst. It appears he had occasion to go down the coal pit, for the purpose of raising a few coals to supply an engine at an iron-stone pit convenient to the coal pit, and after arranging his tools and preparing a bucket to descend, he called to a man named Thomas Henderson, who happened to be near at hand, to come and lower him down by the windlass. Henderson did so; and after M'Beth was nearly at the bottom of the pit, the sachet ascending, attached to the other end of the rope, by some means came out of the hook when near the top, and fell down the pit and struck M’Beth on the head. The man at the windlass, hearing the bucket fall became alarmed, and ran for assistance. Some of the miners from another pit immediately went down and found M’Beth lying at the bottom apparently dead, with a large cut on the back of his head, and the bucket lying to beside him. He was removed as possible, but expired on reaching the top of the pit. M'Beth was unmarried, and was the principal support of an aged and a widowed mother. - Ayr Observer [Glasgow Herald 22 October 1847]

12 December 1847

Fatal Accident at New Cumnock. - A young man, named John Riggs, met his death under very painful circumstances, in one of the Nithsdale Iron Company’s coal pits, at New Cumnock, on Sunday week. It appears that he was employed in driving a horse in a ginn, drawing water out of the pit, and had got a boy belonging to the works in to drive the horse for a short time. He then took the notion of going down the pit, and seeing the workings below. The pit-head's-man remonstrated with him against going down, as it was against his orders. Riggs took a lamp and went down, and was watched to the bottom by the pit-head's-man and another person. He got safe down; examined the workings; and was seen getting into the bucket to return to the top, and was spoken to and answered by the people on the pit-head several times. They, however, observed his light go out in an instant, and heard a plunge in the water. Thinking that he had fallen into the pump, one of the men immediately went down, and found him in a sitting position, and in about two feet of water. He was then, to all appearance, quite dead. It is thought that he died in a convulsion fit, to which he wars subject. Deceased was a native of England, and a very steady, industrious young man.-Ayr Observer. [Glasgow Herald 17 December 1847]

2 May 1848

Coal Pit Accident - On Tuesday, George Tait, a collier, while working in one of Mr. Christison's pits, not far from the Croft Inn, on the road to Irvine, by a fall of a portion of the roof had his spine fractured, and was otherwise so severely bruised internally that little hope is entertained of his recovery. Even should he survive, he will be unable for work. He is a married man, and has a large family, mostly young. He is a native of Galston, and only recently left Hurlford, where he had wrought in the pits there for several years. - Kilmarnock Journal [Glasgow Herald 8 May 1848]

4 May 1848

Fatal Accident near Kilmarnock -.In our paper of the 4th ult., in narrating the circumstances that an individual was found dead at the bottom of a coal pit at HurIford, we were inadvertently led into the misstatement that the accident had occurred at one of the pits belonging to Mr Howie. This we have since learned was not the case- the melancholy event alluded to having happened in a pit belonging to other parties, closely adjoining the works of Mr Howie, but with which that gentleman has no connection.-Ayr Advertiser [Glasgow Herald 5 June 1848]

5 May 1848

Accident. - On Friday, Adam French, collier, was severely injured while working in one of Mr. William Howie's pits at Hurlford, by the falling of a portion of the roof which bruised his body very severely in many places, and fractured three of his ribs. He is, however, expected to recover. He is married, and has a family.- Kilmarnock Journal. [Glasgow Herald 8 May 1848]

7 October 1948

Fatal Accident at Craigmark Mines - We regret to report that between the hours of 8 and 9 on Saturday night, a man named James M’Gleanon lost his life in the blackband mines of Craigmark, near Dalmellington. This was caused by a stone, upwards of a ton weight, falling on him from the roof, severely bruising his head and neck, and breaking his right thigh bone and three of his ribs. He was an Irishman; and has left a wife and child to deplore his fate. - Ayr Observer [Glasgow Herald 13 October 1948]

5 April 1849

Accident - An explosion of fire damp occurred on Thursday, about eleven o'clock, in No 3 pit of the Portland Iron Company, by which a collier, named John Mair, residing in Crookedholm, was so severely injured that he died in about an hour afterwards. Other three men were also scorched, but not dangerously. Mair is married and has one child. - Kilmarnock Journal [Glasgow Herald 9 April 1849]

2 May 1849

Fatal Accident - On Wednesday morning, John Cowan M'Clelland, son of the late Mr. Hugh M’Clelland, sen., in Stevenston, lost his life in No. 2 Turf Dyke Coalpit, belonging to the Stevenston Colliery. The creel in which he was ascending came against a board that was in the shaft, and being thrown out by the concussion, he fell to the bottom, a distance of 25 fathoms, and was killed on the spot. He was unmarried, but has left a widowed mother to mourn his loss.-Ayr Advertiser. [Glasgow Herald - Monday 7 May 1849]

19 June 1849

Fatal Accident – Two Men Killed - About six o’clock on Tuesday morning, an accident occurred at the Howhill Colliery, belonging to the Blair Company, Dalry which has been attended by very lamentable consequences. The following are the particulars. The pit is one in which a seam of coal and one of ironstone are wrought. The ironstone is thirty fathoms lower than the coal seam, but both minerals are brought up in the same shaft by the same machinery. At the level of the coal seam a pair of folding doors, similar to a hatch, close over the mouth of the pit. When coals are being brought up the cage rests on these, and the collier brings forward his bucket and places it on the cage. A boy, about fifteen years of age, was entrusted with the opening and closing of those hatches. On the morning of Tuesday three miners, Samuel M‘Kerrell, Alexander Thomson, and John Connolly, were descending to their work. They had passed these, and had nearly reached the bottom, when Stephen Hawthorn, a collier, pushed along his basket of coals, without noticing that the hatch was open, and the consequence was, that it went down the shaft, dragging him along with it. Hawthorn himself was killed instantaneously by the fall. Samuel M’Kerrell, one of the miners whom we mentioned as descending in the cage, was struck on the head, and only survived a few minutes. Thomson is not expected to recover from his injuries. The only one of them who escaped unhurt was John Connolly, who, hearing the noise of something falling down the pit, leaped from the cage, which was near the bottom, into one of the doors of the mine. – Kilmarnock Journal [Dundee, Perth, and Cupar Advertiser 26 June 1849]

25 July 1849

Explosion of Fire Damp - On Wednesday morning, about five o'clock, William Boyle, a collier, residing in Irvine, was killed by an explosion of fire damp in the Broomlands Pit, belonging to Messrs. Young and Black, in the parish of Dreghorn. Two pits are there, only a short distance from each other. One of those had been put down on account of the other being inundated by water, that the engine could not drain it off, so as to allow of the coal being wrought. The miners were making a passage from the one pit to the other, where the engine wrought, and a short space only required to be cut; but till this passage was completed a proper ventilation could not be got to prevent the formation of fire damp. Boyle, on the morning of Wednesday, went down first, as was his custom, carrying with him his Davy lamp, but very foolishly also his working lamp lighted. Arriving at the extremity of the passage the gas exploded, and threw him with such violence against the sides of the pit that his skull was fractured, and death took place instantaneously. The noise caused by the explosion was heard at a considerable distance. Boyle has left a widow and five children. —Kilmarnock Journal. [Glasgow Herald 30 July 1849]

3 August 1849

Fatal Accident at Fergushill Colliery, Kilwinning. - On Friday evening last, while the engine belt shaft at No. 9 Fergushill coal pit was in motion removing the water, three young lads, unawares and unknown to the engineman, had got on the belt shaft for a swing, when the head of one of them having got out betwixt it moving quickly round and the building adjoining, he was so severely injured that he survived only five minutes after the accident. He had been warned previously of the impropriety of similar rashness. He was about 13 years of age, of the name of Thomson; and his father, a collier, works at the colliery. The other two lads were unhurt. [Glasgow Herald 10 August 1849]

28/29 August 1849

Dalry - Fatal Accidents - On Tuesday, the 28th, ultimo, three men, working in the Westyfauld pit, belonging to the Glengarnock Iron Company, prevailed upon the assistant-engineer, in the absence of the engineman, whose duty it is, to let them down the shaft. Instead of descending, however, the cage began to ascend, and, fearing he might be driven over the pit-head frame, one of the men of leaped out, but failing in clearing the mouth of the pit, he fell in, and was precipitated to the bottom. He instantly to expired. Deceased has left a widow and a small family to lament his sudden loss. The two men who were with him in the cage got out in safety. - On the following day, Wednesday, a young man, named John Ferguson, while at work in the No. 2, Langside Ironstone pit, belonging to the Messrs. Baird & Co., was killed by the falling in of the roof. He had unfortunately neglected to put in a wooden support in the morning, as advised by his fellow-workmen. He was a well-behaved young man, and his melancholy death is much regretted.-Ayr Advertiser [Glasgow Herald 10 September 1849]

9 October 1849

Fatal Accident. - On Thursday last, a collier, named Mathew Caldwell, was killed at one of the pits of the Caprington coal works, in Riccarton parish, in consequence of a fall of a portion of the roof upon him. Deceased was married, and a numerous family depending on him have thus lost their only support. - Kilmarnock Journal. [Glasgow Herald 15 October 1849]9 October 1849

11 October 1849

Ayr Circuit Court - Culpable Homicide - Robert Reid, pitheadman, Lugar Iron Works, pit No. 12, was charged with causing the death of James Mackay. The indictment stated that Reid, who was in duty on the pithead, and who had charge of removing the boards upon the pitmouth when a cage was ready to descend, entrusted that duty to John Crawford, a boy of ten years of age, who removed the boards prematurely, whereby the cage descended with such force as to bring the cage from below with such velocity to the pithead that James Mackay was thrown from it to the ground, and killed on the spot. The prisoner, who was a respectable looking man, of from thirty to forty years of age, pleaded not guilty. - The evidence of the engine-man at the work, John Findlay, went to prove the facts of the case, which were briefly these. The engine was employed for the double purpose of drawing stones and water, but could be used for either of these purposes without the other, gearing suitable for each being attached. In the one case the gearing is called "pumping gear," in the other "winding gear." At the time of the accident the engine was pumping, and he (Findlay) was assisted by Knox in his work. On a signal being given from below that something was coming up the pit, he (witness) stopped the engine, and Knox took a lever to shift the "winding gear" on to the machinery of the engine, and had accomplished it so far that the teeth of the wheels met in each other. He then stooped down to put in a key that keeps it in. The cage at the top of the pit was then resting on what, are called the "shuts" or "snecks," which are simply folding boards going over the mouth of the pit, and preventing the cages from ascending or descending till withdrawn. Before being folded back, however, the cage must be lifted from off them. During the time Knox was arranging the gearing, the engine, though stopped, moved a little, which is often the case, whether from a slight escape of steam or some other accidental cause. The cage was thus lifted a little from off the boards, when Knox, lifting himself up to get more force to shove the machinery together with the lever, lost his hold, and the wheel slipped out from connection altogether. Had the shuts not been folded back during the interval, the sole effect of this disconnection would have been that the cage at the pit-head would have fallen on to the top of the "shuts," just as it was before; but, on the contrary, these having been removed, it began to descend rapidly down the pit, bringing up the cage from below with equal velocity. It descended, because it was the heaviest of the two cages, there being what is called the balance weight in it, which was used to assist the engine which of itself was not powerful enough for the double work of pumping and lifting material. Witness then rushed from the engine-house, and seizing the lever, joined his force to Knox's, to try to make the teeth of the wheels meet, so as to break the force or stop it altogether; but this was ineffectual, and the cage from below, containing a man, came up with such velocity that it was drawn over the pully on which the rope worked, and the man was thrown with violence to the ground and killed on the spot. It was the duty of the pithead-man (Reid the prisoner), to withdraw the shuts. At the time in question, Reid was emptying a hutch of stones a few yards off, which also was a part of his work. Owing to Reid having to perform this double duty, it had been concerted between witness and him that when everything was ready for the "shuts'' to be withdrawn, witness should give him a signal to come and do it. He was of course not ready to call him on this occasion, as the gearing had not been properly attached ; and he (witness) was not aware the " shuts" had been lifted till he saw the cage descending as described. He did not know who had done it.

After many witnesses had been examined, the Lord Justice-Clerk summed up. The jury having retired, returned in a short time, unanimously finding the charges not proven, but recommending greater caution in future. The panel was accordingly discharged. [Glasgow Herald 12 October 1849]

30 October 1849

Dreadful Coal Pit Accident Near Dalmellington - Between seven and eight o'clock on Tuesday night , a great part of the coal pit, known by the same of No. 1, about half a mile from the village of Dalmellington, fell in. It appeared, on examination, that a great part of the bog, to the extent of nearly half an acre, had sunk, a little below the junction of the town and Cumnock burns - the waters of both running in and filling up the pit . It happened, however, that only two men were in the pit - one of them belonging to Dalmellington, the other living at Craigmark. The two men have not yet been found. On Wednesday, workmen were busy trying to turn the water off, which lay so deep around the mouth of the pit that boats had to be put on. There is no hope of the men being got out alive. - Ayr Advertiser [Scotsman 3 November 1849]

Fatal Catastrophe – Providential Escape of Upwards of Fifty Lives (From the Ayr Observer.) - A melancholy catastrophe occurred at one of the coat pits belonging to the Dalmellington Iron Company, on Tuesday evening last by which two lives were lost. The following particulars will be read with interest:-On Tuesday evening last, between 7 and 8 o'clock the inhabitants of Dalmellington, and those in the district were much excited on learning that part of the Silliehole Moss (where the waters of Cumnock and Muick meet, about half a mile below the village) had fallen in, and that the water at that place had forced a passage into the coal workings of the Dalmellington Iron Co.’s Pit No. 1, whereby that pit was filled with water, and that two men had perished. Nearly the whole of the inhabitants turned out to witness the scene, which was awful in the extreme. The noise of the water rushing down a gulf thus made more resembled thunder than the hissing, rolling sound heard from Dalcairney Linn in the neighbourhood. The rivulets having been somewhat swollen at the time - on account of the day's rain - continued emptying their contents down this gulf until about one o’clock in the morning, when the water having, it is presumed, found its level in the coal workings below, commenced to take its old course to the river Doon. Notice was first given by a party coming up the Ayr road, a little after seven o'clock, to the engineman at the No. 1 Pit, that the waters were making a great noise, and that something material was wrong. The engineman immediately found that the shaft of the pit was filling quick with water, and that the engine was powerless, the pumps being completely chocked up with sand. At this time all chance of saving two men then in the pit was given up; for even although they had heard the noise, and made for the shaft, they must instantly have perished. The only and last resource left was to try the adjoining pit No. 2, about a quarter of a mile distant, and with which there was only one communication (about five feet square) with the workings of No. 1 - in event of their having run to this shaft for safety. On some of the workmen making the first trial to go down, scarcely had they got to the bottom of the shaft when their lamps instantly went out with foul air. They therefore returned without delay. After procuring one of Davy's patent lamps, they returned down the shaft, and reached as far as the place where a horse was standing, and no further. After another trial, and arranging about getting up the horse, the foul air was so far dispersed as enabled them (under the guidance of Mr. Hunter, manager of the works, and Mr. A Prentice, over- seer of the coal pits.) to go as far as the junction of the two pits; but the water being knee-deep at that place, and the passage almost blocked up with moss and gravel, forced there by the great current of air when the water broke in, they found that all chance of saving the two unfortunate men was gone. When the water had ceased to run into the pit, there were about 9 fathoms of water up the No. 1 shaft ; and at the place in the moss there is about one-quarter acre fallen in, and covered with water: at some places 30 feet deep. The distance between the water-race to the coal workings below, was about 29 fathoms so that the accident was quite unaccountable. Messrs Houldsworth, Mr. Williams, M.E., and others, examined the whole workings that afternoon, and found no apparent danger. So soon as notice was sent to Burnfoot where Mr. Houldsworth and the other gentlemen were dining, they immediately came up and remained all night, taking an active management, and giving directions to those anxious to assist. By blocking up the communication between the two pits, at which place it is higher than the level of No. 1 workings, the workmen, of No. 2 will, in a few days, be enabled to resume their labours. The workmen belonging to No. 1 have been engaged in cutting a new race for the two rivulets. When it is finished, and the water out of the old channel, the Iron Co. will be ready with new pumps to commence without delay to pump No. 1 pit dry. This accident has caused a sensation over the minds of the inhabitants of the village which will not easily be forgotten - more especially as one of the two men, named Joseph M’Culloch was not only a quiet, industrious, and well-behaved person, but on account of his having left a wife and three children, under six years of age, to mourn his loss. The other person is a native of Ireland, named Rody, and lodged at Craigmark. The duty of the deceased was to repair the roads when the colliers were absent, so that had the water broke in about 12 o'clock noon, instead of the time it did, there would have been a sacrifice of more than fifty lives. [Glasgow Herald 9 November 1849]

16 November 1849

Kilmarnock – Fatal Accident – A lamentable accident occurred at Mr Kennet's coal pit, near Southhook, about a mile and a-half from Busby, on Friday week, to a young man of the name of William Watt. The unhappy sufferer was working at his seam, when, without any previous indication, a part of the roof, weighing about three tons, fell in, and crushed him. He was heard to call twice out in his agony, but death soon came to his relief. It was with some difficulty the load could be removed.-Ayr Advertiser. [Caledonian Mercury 26 November 1849]

19 November 1849

Fatal Accident At Galston - An accident attended with fatal results occurred at a shank for a new coal-pit on the estate of Holms, in this parish, in the course of last week. Two men were being drawn up the shaft, having just sprung a powder blast in a rock, when the bucket, coming in contact with the side, capsized, and one of the men fell to the bottom and was killed, while his companion saved himself by clinging to the bucket rope. Deceased, who belonged to Muirkirk, was a young man and unmarried. [Caledonian Mercury 19 November 1849]

Man Killed.-While two men, employed at a shank for a new coal-pit on the estate of Holms, parish of Galston, were, one day last week, being drawn up the shaft-out of the reach of a powder-blast they had just sprung in a rock-the bucket came in contact with the side, and capsized. One of the men, young, unmarried, and belonging to Muirkirk, was precipitated to the bottom, and killed on the spot. The other clung to the bucket-rope, and was saved.-Ayr Observer. [Glasgow Herald 16 November 1849]

4 December 1849

Fatal Accident - One of those distressing accidents, attended with fatal results, which are so frequent in collieries, even when the greatest caution is employed, occurred on Tuesday night, about eleven o'clock, in No. 1 pit of the Portland Iron Company, at Crookedholm. The seam of coal now working in this pit is about 11 feet thick, and the incumbent stone forming the roof, being but thin, a portion of it gave way, and falling on the head of John Riley, one of the colliers, killed him instantaneously. Within a few hours of the time he had left his home in Newton, of this town, to engage in work, he was borne back by his sorrowing fellow-workmen a lifeless corpse. The painful situation of his wife at this result may be easily conceived. Riley is a native of England, about 30 years of age. His family consisted of his wife and two children, of whom the youngest is only a few weeks old. Kilmarnock Journal. [Glasgow Herald 10 December 1849]

12 December 1849

Coal-Pit Accidents - On Wednesday morning James Falconer, a boy about eleven years of age, son of John Falconer, collier, Hurlford, was killed in one of Messrs Sturrock & Gilmour's pits. The boy was employed at the time in turning the fanners, used in ventilating the pits, when the cage came down upon him and killed him on the spot. Thursday, about twelve o'clock, another accident occurred at the same work, by which a collier, named David Black, had one of his of limbs fractured, and otherwise so much bruised, that slight hopes are entertained of his recovery. Black was engaged in the working, when a portion of stone from the roof fell on him. He is a married man, about 30 years of age, and has a small family. [Caledonian Mercury 17 December 1849]

4 March 1850

Accident. - On Monday, an accident occurred at one of the coal pits at Busbie, by which a collier of the name of Blackwood was killed instantaneously. The melancholy result was caused by a stone falling upon him from the roof. The deceased was married, and had one of his sons working along with him when the accident took place. - Kilmarnock Journal. [Glasgow Herald 11 March 1850]

25 April 1850

Ayr Autumn Circuit Court - Thursday, September 12. - Robert Gilfillan, engine keeper, was charged with the crime of culpable homicide, as also, culpable neglect of duty, in so far as on the 25th day of April last, in the pit No. 11, belonging to the Muirkirk Iron Company, and lying in Wellwood Muir, he failed to use due care and caution for the lives and safety of three men who were descending the pit to their work, by which James Gibson was so much injured that he immediately or soon thereafter died; Thomas Craig had one of his legs broken in two places, and was otherwise bruised ; and George MacMurdo had one of his legs broken and was otherwise injured. Panel, a young man, seemingly not much above 20 years of age; pleaded not guilty. Evidence was then led. Mr. Boyle appeared for the panel. The jury, at the conclusion of the case, found Gilfillan guilty of culpable neglect of duty as libelled. Lord Moncrieff passed sentence of four months' imprisonment. [Glasgow Herald 16 September 1850]

3 July 1850

Coal Pit Accident. - On Thursday, the 25th ult., an accident occurred at Common Coal Works, which has resulted in the death of John Nimmo, a boy twelve years of age. While in a reclining position in the pit, a large stone fell from the roof upon both of his legs, breaking one and bruising another. He lingered till Wednesday last, when he expired, after much suffering. His body was brought to Catrine, where his widowed mother resides. - Ayr Observer. [Glasgow Herald 12 July 1850]

10 August 1850

Accident. - On Saturday morning, an accident, which proved instantly fatal, occurred at Gauchalland Coal Pit, in the neighbourhood of Galston. The pit belongs to Messrs. Findlay and Morton, and the unfortunate man, who has come by his death so suddenly, is Stephen Wallace, who was in their employment about the pithead. There are two seams of coal wrought in the pit, and the deceased had gone down to clear away some rubbish in the upper working, and in some way unexplained, fell down from the door of the upper to the lower, and was killed instantaneously. Deceased was but recently married and leaves a widow and a young child.-Kilmarnock Journal. [Glasgow Herald 12 August 1850]

16 November 1850

Fatal Accident. - On Saturday morning last, an accident of a distressing kind happened to a young man, at a new coal pit which is being sunk by Archibald Finnie, Esq., near the farm of Kirkland Thornton. It appears that whilst engaged in drawing off a barrel of water, which had been raised to the mouth of the pit too hurriedly, the barrel was forced back, and caused him to miss his footing, and he was precipitated to the bottom of the pit, which, as a seam of coal had been reached, was of a considerable depth, (about 25 fathoms) and the fall produced instant death. The young man is named James Morrison, and is a native of Paisley. Morrison was doing the work of the hillsman, in which he had no experience, and the consequences unfortunately were fatal. His body has been removed to his bereaved parents in Paisley - Kilmarnock Journal. [Glasgow Herald 25 November 1850]

24 September 1851

Fatal Accident. - On Wednesday morning, a young man of the name of William Ross lost his life in a coal-pit at Hurlford, belonging to Mr. John Galloway. While working, a large mass of stone suddenly descended from the roof, crushing him instantly to death. The stone was so ponderous as to require the united strength of several men to lift it off the body. Deceased was unmarried, and about eighteen years of age. - Kilmarnock Journal. [Glasgow Herald 29 September 1851]

5 November 1851

Accident - On Wednesday, David Jones, collier and innkeeper, HurIford, while working in the pit No. 3 of the Portland Iron Company, had his leg so severely bruised by a fall of stones from the roof that it was found necessary to amputate the limb a little below the knee. The operation was performed by Dr. M'Letchie, of Hurlford, and we are happy to say that the sufferer is doing well. [Glasgow Herald 7 November 1851]

21 November 1851

Fatal Colliery Accident at Mansfield Colliery, New Cumnock on Friday last. Two workmen being hauled up the shaft when half way up a rock fell from above causing them to fall to the bottom of the shaft killing both George Houston and a John Campbell. Houston left a wife and family. Campbell was unmarried [Ayr Advertiser Newspaper dated Thursday 27th Nov., 1851]   With thanks to Jim Steel for providing this information.

26 November 1852

Accident - On Friday last, Thomas Paton, collier, Hurlford, was severely bruised in one of the pits at Hurlford, in consequence of a portion of the coal seam, which he was labouring to bring down by the usual operations, falling upon him. The coal was nearly a ton in weight, but, in descending, it broke, or Paton would in all likelihood have been killed on the spot. He was extricated as speedily as possible from under the coal by his brother workmen, and conveyed home. On a surgeon being called, it was found that he had sustained a fracture of the collar bone, and his body as otherwise severely bruised, although no vital injury had been inflicted. Paton, who has a wife and five small children, will be unable to resume work for some time to come, and the accident deprives the family of their usual support. The pit, we may mention, is in the best order, and no blame attaches to any one. Kilmarnock Journal [Glasgow Herald 29 November 1852]

15 January 1854

Fatal Coal Pit Accident. - On the morning of Sunday, 15th inst., as Adam Graham, under-ground manager of the Dalmellington Iron Company's pit at Downieston, was in the act of clearing a pit road of a fall that had occurred in that pit between Saturday night and Sunday morning, not having examined the state of the roof above him, an immense portion that must have been partially loosened fell upon him, and produced instantaneous death. His remains were conveyed to his house in Patna, where they were received by his widow and five children thus called suddenly to mourn for their support and protector, who had left them but two hours previously full of the vigour of manhood. - Kilmarnock Journal [Glasgow Herald 30 January 1854]

8 February 1854

Fatal Coal-pit Accident –On Wednesday week, a boy, named Thos. Walker, aged about 12 or 13 years and residing at Mainholm check bar near Whitletts, was killed instantaneously in the Black Diamond Coal-it, by a fall of stone. Another boy was very seriously injured by the same fall. [Glasgow Herald 17 February 1854]

24 November 1854

Coal Pit Explosion at Hurlford – Four Lives Lost – On Friday morning, an explosion of firedamp took place in a pit, belonging to Messrs Gilmour & Co., at Hurlford, killing four men. The rubbish had so completely buried them that it was not until after 15 hours of incessant labour that their lifeless bodies were brought to the surface. [Scotsman 9 December 1854]

Fatal Fire-Damp Explosion Near Kilmarnock - An explosion occurred in the village of Hurlford in the No. 12 Skerrington pit, belonging to Messrs. A. Gilmour and Co., and such was its violence that nearly twenty-six fathoms of the wooden partition of the shaft were blown down. Falling upon those at the bottom of it, the rubbish had so completely buried them that it was not till after fifteen hours incessant labour that their lifeless bodies were disentangled am brought to the surface. They were little scorched or disfigured, and death seems to have been caused by suffocation. The names of those who have been thus so suddenly deprived of life are John Orr, a young vigorous man, and unmarried; Andrew Millar, James Crawford, Robert Kayle, married and with families These were the whole who were in the pit at the time of the explosion. They were employed, we understand in making what are called doors for the purpose of ventilating the pit, which is a new one, and has not been long wrought. The precise cause of the explosion cannot be anything but conjecture, as none of them have survived it to give an account. During the whole any numerous crowds of colliers and others were collected round the pit while the search for the bodies was being prosecuted, and among these were several relatives of the sufferers, whose grief and distraction it was most painful to witness. About seven o'clock in the evening an the bodies were brought to the surface. [Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper 3 December 1854]