Clackmannanshire pre-1855 Accidents

This section contains newspaper reports on selected accidents in Clackmannanshire. Please check the indexes in the Accidents Section for other areas.

25 August 1816

Monday, at Devonton colliery, in consequence of the rope being by accident thrown off the pulley of the fly jack, as the tub was descending its contents, consisting of four persons, a husband and wife, a father and daughter, were thrown to a great distance. The young woman was killed on the spot, the two men died a few hours after the accident, and the wife was so severely injured that her life is still despaired of. Should she not survive, a numerous family, all unprovided for, will be left to deplore their unexpected fate. [Caledonian Mercury 29 August 1816]

Clackmannan - An Old Pauper, and What She Came Through - There died, a few days ago, at Blackrow, Clackmannan, in the 90th year of her age, a, widow named Margaret Bairnerd or Blair. When her husband was alive, she worked with him in one of the coal pits at Devon. One day, 45 years ago, her husband and she, with another man and his daughter, were being drawn up in the "hutch" or "tub" to the pit-mouth, when, by the neglect of the person in charge, they were dragged over the pulley at the top, and were all killed but herself. The injuries she received were so numerous and severe that her recovery might be considered almost miraculous. Her nose was shattered, her collar bone broken, several of her ribs fractured, one of her ankles dislocated, her right hand permanently disabled, and she lost so much blood, that it caused incurable blindness. She had been for 30 years chargeable upon the parish, and amongst her neighbours she had the name of a quiet, contented, well-living woman. [Dunfermline Press 4 July 1861]

24 November 1820

Accident At Clackmannan Colliery – On Friday last week, a boy, 12 years of age, while handing in pit wood into the bucket at the mouth of one of the above coal pits, lost his balance and fell down the pit, a depth of 23 fathoms. The unfortunate young man was found quite lifeless, with his neck dislocated, and his body shockingly mangled. This is the only instance of a life being lost at these works for the last forty years, although they are well known to be carried on to a great extent. [Caledonian Mercury 27 November 1820]

8 March 1823

On Saturday last, about six in the morning, as one of the men belonging to Alloa colliery was engaged in hooking on a basket at the pit mouth, while the regular banksman had gone to give the engine a fire, he rather incautiously brought the basket on the shutter, and, instead of going smoothly out the wheels of the basket, it caught the point of the shutter and forced it back, when, dreadful to relate, the whole were precipitated into the yawning chasm, a depth of nearly 48 fathoms, which proved fatal to the poor man. He was only 21 years of age, and has left a wife and three children to deplore his premature and melancholy fate. It is singular that scarcely a blemish was to be seen on his body, the head excepted, which was shockingly shattered. [Caledonian Mercury 15 March 1823]

28 February 1826

Fatal Accidents (From the Stirling Journal, March 9) – Francis Batterson, an industrious workman at Devon Iron Works, had, on Tuesday the 28th ult, been, with four of his sons and a daughter, engaged in driving a level in one of the company's coal-pits; and about three o'clock in the afternoon, the whole were assembled at the bottom of the shaft waiting for the bucket to take them up. The colliers all having left their work, and no engine going to draw them to the top, they were about repairing to another pit, in which there is a stair provided for the ascent of the workmen (and by which they are expressly enjoined to go to and return from their work) when they heard some people in the shaft changing a box in the pump for drawing water, whom they ordered to tell the engine-man at the top to draw them up, which they neglected to do, so that when the engine started it was only to place, as usual, the bucket in mid-pit till next day, and consequently one guard was taken away from the safety of their ascent. It is customary, and, indeed, a rule that ought in no case to be deviated from, when people do ascend, to hook the bucket securely previous to going into it, but at this moment the unfortunate father had either been impressed with the idea that they had too little time, or had trusted to a dexterity of performing it after they were in it, which a long practice had rendered familiar, but not safe. Accordingly, his two youngest sons and a daughter were placed within the bucket. the two elder sons taking their station on its edge, and the father had placed only one foot on it, when the engine suddenly started with the unfortunate group with only one of the hooks secured; the father was instantly thrown out, the two elder sons leaped off but the two younger, with the daughter, were in a few seconds carried up in perilous situation beyond the reach of help, and even beyond the dreary limits of hope, the bucket hanging by one side. Their case was now truly awful, and infinitely more so on account of their being fully alive to their danger, which was evident from the bitter cries of the poor girl, and the agonizing and frantic shrieks of her little brother, while attempting to make himself heard by the engineman above. When they had ascended upwards of 100 feet, the sound reached the top, and the man at the engine suspecting something wrong, immediately reversed the motion; but this only hastened the catastrophe, for the bucket beginning to descend, the bottom was caught on the frame-work of the pit, and tearing off the iron band or lug, in which the only hook was fixt, dropped, and precipitated the whole to the bottom. Humanity shudders to carry her eye to the sequel!—the poor girl, who had just attained her 16th year, was in a moment dashed on the iron plates which cover the bottom, and dreadfully mangled; the elder boy, who was about eleven years of age, by the same rough passage was hurried into eternity; and the third, who is nine years old, was also taken up for dead, while the father and the two other sons very narrowly escaped being crushed to death by the descending bucket and their helpless relatives. We are glad to announce that the youngest boy is now in a fair way of recovery, though he met with a fractured thigh and arm, and was otherwise much bruised.

8 March 1826

Yesterday afternoon, while our correspondent was sealing the packet containing the accounts of the above, another fatal accident happened in the same pit. A young man, John Hunter, about 20 years of age, was coming up on a bucket of coals, and had ascended a considerable way, when a beam of wood, which supports the partition of the pit, fell down upon him and killed him. The body was taken, up at the bottom of the shaft, without a single symptom of animation; Hunter had only lately recovered from a fractured thigh which he met with by part of the roof of the workings falling on him [The Times March 14 1826]

17 December 1829

On the evening of Thursday the 17th inst., as six of the Devon Iron Company’s colliers were ascending the shaft of one of their coal pits in a tub or bucket, the engine by which they were drawn up was stopped by a rope having got entangled with the spindle of the drum wheel, leaving the men suspended In the bucket about one hundred feet from the bottom. Being nearly an hour before the engine was got to work, the men thus suspended became alarmed and impatient, not being apprised of the cause of their detention when Charles Wilson, one their number, following the example of a young lad, imprudently resorted to the dangerous expedient of endeavouring to descend to the bottom by means the runners, and losing his hold fell to the bottom, and was so much bruised by the fall as to live only a few hours, leaving a widow and three children to lament his lost. [Edinburgh Evening Courant 28 December 1829]

28 May 1836

A fatal accident occurred on Saturday the 28th ultimo, to the person who had charge of the steam engine at Mr Maxton's colliery, near Dollar. The unfortunate deceased was in charge of the engine during the night, and from having fallen asleep on his dangerous post, or some other cause, had become entangled with the machinery, by which means his death was occasioned before his situation was known, and his body mutilated in a most shocking manner. It is our painful duty to add, that when the news was communicated to his wife, who had the day before been delivered of a child, she was so much affected by her loss, that she died on the following day (Monday), with her helpless child. A family of six children are left to feel the extent of their bereavement for whom, it is hoped, the benevolent and wealthy will exert an active and zealous concern. [Glasgow Herald 13 June 1836]

[NB According to the Dollar OPR Burials, John Sorley, died 3 June 1836, killed by Mr Maxton's engine. His wife Marion Campbell is not listed. Five of their children, John, born c1822, Mary or Marjory c1826, James c1829, Robert c1831 and Adam c1834 were all still living together in Dollar in 1841. The sixth child, Helen, c1824 was not with the family in 1841 - she married Thomas Walker and died in 1877. ]

7 December 1838

Melancholy Accident At Devon Ironworks - On Friday, the 7th instant , a very serious accident occurred at Devon Iron-Works , whereby a man of name of Hunter lost his life, and two others , of the names of Sharp and Chalmers, were severely hurt . It appears there is an old pit, of a conic description , about twelve or fourteen feet deep, near the door of the engine-house , which had been covered for some years past with wooden planks , and over which they had been in the habit of taking heavy carriages as occasion required. In the present instance, the men were in the act of getting a heavy piston for the engine drawn over it, as usual; with a horse and carriage suitable for the purpose, when the planks giving way, both carriage, horse, and men, were precipitated to the bottom. Hunter was so much bruised that he died same day, leaving a wife and six or seven children to lament his death. The other two men are in a fair way of recovery. [Scotsman 2 January 1839]

February 1839

Fatal Accident – On Tuesday forenoon, two young men belonging to Alloa Colliery met their death at the Sauchie Coal-Pit, No 1, in consequence of their ascending the pit in one of the coal tubs, contrary to the regulations of the Colliery. The coal tub in which they were, on coming to the top of the pit, ascended higher than is usual; the consequence of which was, that the tub came in contact with the frame, which broke the chain by which the tub was suspended, and the young men fell to the bottom of the pit and were killed. [Scotsman 13 February 1839]

8 June 1840

We regret to state that a fatal accident of a frightful nature took place at the Devon Iron Works on the forenoon of Tuesday last. One of the water engine men, of the name of Thomson, was about to descend the pit, in order to repair or rectify some part of the machinery connected with the pump pipes, but not being sufficiently fastened to the rider, he lost his balance when about to be lowered, fell from the top to the bottom of the pit, which is of great depth, and was killed. The deceased was a sober steady man, of middle age, much respected by the Company with whom he served, and has left a widow and five children to lament his untimely death. [Caledonian Mercury 13 June 1840]

11 July 1840

Melancholy Accident - Another coal pit accident occurred at Hillend colliery, near Alloa, on Saturday morning last, about four o'clock. One of the colliers, Joseph Cook, was preparing to descend the pit to commence his accustomed labour, when, on stepping into the tub, one of the eyes to which the hook is fastened gave way, and, lamentable to relate, le was precipitated to the bottom. When taken up, the body was found to be much mangled, and life quite extinct. [Caledonian Mercury July 18, 1840]

3 September 1845

Fatal Colliery Accident - We regret to state that, on Wednesday week, a fatal accident occurred in one of the pits at the Devon Iron Works Colliery, whereby an old man of the name of Paterson was instantly deprived of life by a large piece of coal giving way and falling upon him while at work. He has left an old and very infirm widow to lament his untimely end. [Stirling Observer 11 September 1845]

17 November 1845

Fatal Colliery Accident - We regret to state that, on Monday last, a woman, belonging to Alloa Colliery, was killed in one of the coal pits, by part of the roof falling on her, which crushed her so that she immediately expired. Her husband was working in the pit at the time, and she had gone in for the purpose of delivering to him some communication. [Glasgow Herald 24 November 1845]

16 December 1845

A fatal accident occurred on Tuesday week, at the Devon Iron Works, to a young man of the name of Bain, a smith there, who was precipitated down one of the pits, whereby he was instantly deprived of life. The deceased was in the act of making one of the water-pipe screws fast, when the key slipped, and he lost his balance. His body was not recovered till the day following, owing to there being a considerable quantity of water in the pit. [Stirling Observer 25 December 1845]

5 March 1846

Fatal Accidents - We regret to state that a fatal accident took place on Thursday week, at a coal pit at Devon Iron Works. While one of the colliers was in the act of banking one of the tubs, he unfortunately lost his balance and fell into the pit, and was killed. We also regret to state that another coal-pit accident took place on Tuesday last, at Clackmannan, which likewise proved fatal. A man was ascending the pit in a tub, and the engine by some means got unmanageable and " ran off," when the man, seeing himself in danger of being thrown over the pulley wheels, endeavoured to save himself by leaping out at the pit's mouth, but something unfortunately caught his clothes, whereby he was immediately precipitated to the bottom, and when taken up was found in a shockingly mangled condition.—Stirling Journal. [Glasgow Herald 9 March 1846]

29 September 1851

Fatal Accident - On Monday last, while a man of the name of John Hunter, a collier, at Brothieburn, was at work in the Oakley pit of the Clackmannan Colliery, a large stone fell from the roof of the pit, which struck him on the head and caused his death. Deceased only survived the accident about ten minutes. [Falkirk Herald 2 October 1851]

17 April 1852

Fatal Accident & Wonderful Escape – On the forenoon of Saturday last an accident occurred at one of the pits of the Craigie colliery by which a man named Thomas King, a miner, near Clackmannan lost his life. The pit in which the accident happened is newly sunk, and for the last week or two the deceased, along with other two men, has been engaged in driving a mine from the pit bottom for the purpose of commencing regular operations. On the morning of the day on which the accident happened, an increase of water was observed which was communicated to the contractor for the sinking, about 9 o'cIock, when the three men came up to breakfast. The contractor, it would appear, went down with the men after breakfast, and ordered them to desist working that day, and to clear away the loose coal. The contractor then ascended and no danger whatever was apprehended. Within an hour after a large quantity of water burst in upon the men from, as is supposed an old waste, which was not known to exist, and the pit was immediately filled to a depth of six or seven fathoms. The three men, however, after considerable struggling in the water, managed to lay hold of a bell rope, suspended from the top of the pit, for the purpose of giving signals. To this rope all three clung, raising themselves as the water increased, by which means they were enabled to keep their heads at least above water. The noise caused by the rush of water being heard at the pithead, a bucket was immediately sent down. In its descent it struck the deceased King on the head, causing him to quit his hold of the rope. The unfortunate man was never seen alive again. The other two had managed to seize hold of the bucket as it passed them in its descent, which carried them under the water to the pit bottom, but the engine was almost immediately reversed, and the bucket raised to the surface. One of the men had got into the bucket while he had hold of the other survivor by one of the legs his body hanging downwards. and they were thus rescued. Both men were much exhausted, but shortly afterwards recovered, they are pretty severely bruised however. The body of the deceased was recovered on Sunday morning by means of grappling irons. [Falkirk Herald 22 April 1852]

4 August 1852

Fatal Accident - On Wednesday, 4th inst., a man of the name of Alex. Fife, collier, Devon, lost his life while at work in Burneye Pit of the Alloa Colliery. It appears that while deceased was engaged in drawing out some coal from the facing, a large stone had fallen from the roof upon his side. He was immediately extricated, but only lived about two hours after the accident. [Falkirk Herald 12 August 1852]

24 September 1852

Fatal Colliery Accident - On Friday morning a colliery accident which we regret to say was attended with fatal results to four persons, occurred at one of the Alloa Colliery Pits, well known by the name of Brandyhill pit. Nine persons were employed to remove a piece of waste to give air to another pit which was considered not in the least dangerous. The men, under the able management of one of: the oversmen, Mr Joseph Sharp, commenced removing part of this waste, when all of a sudden the earth, stones &c., accompanied by a large quantity of water which they had no idea of being there, came down upon the unfortunate workmen, four of whom were carried away, while five escaped without injury. The oversman had only left the spot where the accident occurred a few minutes before. On learning what had occurred, he immediately proceeded to the manager, Mr Paton, who fortunately happened to be in the neighbourhood at the time. After being made aware of the accident, Mr Paton, accompanied by the oversman, Mr Joseph Sharp, went down the pit, and remained until about 8 o'clock, to render every assistance to recover the four unfortunate men; up to that hour only two bodies were got, and, when found were quite dead. In this instance we are glad to say no blame can be attached to either managers or oversmen. [Clackmannanshire Advertiser – quoted in Scotsman 29 September 1852]

(Names of dead from Inspector of Mines Report: Robert Mitchell, John Bain, William Paterson, Robert Hunter)