Lothians pre-1855 Accidents

This section contains newspaper reports on selected pre-1855 accidents in the Lothians. Please check the indexes in the Accidents Section for reports by the Inspector of Mines and accidents in other areas.

20 March 1776

This morning, about eight o'clock, as one John Hardie was crossing a field near Libberton kirk, riding one horse, and leading another, in order to harrow a field; the man, and the horse on which he rode, fell into an old coal pit, which had not been sufficiently covered, and both perished. The other hone was preserved, by darting back when this melancholy accident happened. [Caledonian Mercury 20 March 1776]

11 August 1777

Monday last, as a journeyman wright was going down to a coal pit in the neighbourhood of Musselburgh, he fell out of the bucket in which he was descending, and was unfortunately killed. The poor man has left behind him five children, and a wife big with the sixth, together with an aged mother, all of whom, in a great measure, depended upon his labour for support. [Caledonian Mercury 13 August 1777]

October 1789

We hear from Polmount, that as John Anderson, overseer of the coal-works at Brighton, was coming out of one of the coal-pits in a bucket, the rope broke, and he unfortunately fell to the bottom. He was so much bruised with the fall, that he only lived a short time after. [Caledonian Mercury 3 October 1789]

8 July 1797

On Saturday se'ennight, a melancholy accident happened at Tranent: As William Notman, an unmarried man of about 50 years, and a nephew of his, a boy of 13, were going down a coal-pit, they were, owing to the quantity of foul air, almost immediately suffocated. [Edinburgh Advertiser 14 July 1797]

24 November 1800

One night last week a man of the name of Tate, about fifty years of age, having taken up his lodgings for the night in a hut at the mouth of one of Sir George Clerk's coal-pits, was discovered by the workmen next morning at the bottom of the pit, dead, and most miserably mangled. His body was immediately conveyed to a adjacent village, and preparations made for its decent interment, previous to which some of the people present had the curiosity to examine the rags with which he had been covered, when, to their great astonishment, they discovered a silver watch, and about eleven pounds in cash. - The deceased was well known in the neighbourhood of Lasswade, and particularly remarked for his wretched appearance, going bare-footed in the most inclement seasons. [Caledonian Mercury 24 November 1800]

5 January 1801

Distressing Accident - On Monday last, Henry Black, farmer on Sir James Dalzell's estate, returning home from Bo-ness on horse back, fell into an old Coal-pit on the road, about 14 fathom deep; both the man and horse were killed on the spot. His body was got up on Tuesday, with much difficulty, by six of the miners, and was buried yesterday at Kirkliston. He has left a widow and eleven children. It is surely the duty of the Police of every County to prevent such accidents, by ordering proprietors of coal pits to build walls round the old pits, under a very severe penalty. Is not this part of the duty of the overseer of the Turnpike Roads? [Caledonian Mercury 10 January 1801]

1 November 1804

Thursday a young lad fell accidentally into a coal-pit in the neighbourhood of Dalkeith, and was unfortunately killed. [Caledonian Mercury 3 November 1804]

4 January 1808

On Monday se'ennight the following melancholy accent happened at a coal work in the neighbourhood of Borrowstounness, belonging to the Duke of Hamilton:- James Livingstone, one of the coaliers, having mounted by a ladder, to perform some repair on the machinery overhanging the pit, by a sudden failure of the prop which supported the ladder, was precipitated to the bottom (an abyss of 90 fathoms) and literally dashed to pieces. He has left a widow and three children in a helpless situation, for whose assistance the fellow labourers of the deceased, much to their credit, immediately set on foot a subscription, they themselves contributing according to their ability, and being zealous in their application to the generous and humane in and about Borrowstounness. [Caledonian Mercury 9 January 1808]

10 December 1808

On Saturday morning last, as three engineers belonging to Fusit Colliery, about two miles south from Dalkeith, were repairing the engine, the windlass, to which several tons of pump was attached, gave way, and precipitated the scaffolding on which the men stood, to the bottom of the pit. We are sorry to states that two of them were killed and the other very severely hurt. One of the men killed has not yet been got, owing to the depth of the water, and the great quantity of wood which fell in and chocked the pit.- Two widows, with four children each, have been left to deplore the consequences of the melancholy and fatal accident. [Caledonian Mercury 17 December 1808]

1 February 1809

On Wednesday se'ennight, a woman,a bearer in the collieries at Gilmerton, lost her life in coming up the pit in one of the buckets used for drawing up the coals. She was in an advanced state of pregnancy, and it would appear was afraid to hazard herself coming up the stair; and when got into the bucket, she neglected to give the accustomed signal to the person at the head of the pit, to let him know that some was coming up in it. When a good way up, a piece of coal most unfortunately fell down the pit, which lighted on her and overset the bucket, whereby she was precipitated to the bottom, and killed on the spot. [Caledonian Mercury 9 February 1809]

7 September 1811

Loanhead Sept. 8 - Saturday evening, while some boys were amusing themselves at the coal engine, one of them, a fine boy of eight years of age, went to the edge of the pit, when, taking hold of the rope, it ran, and, before it was known, he was down upwards of 40 fathoms; had it not been for the activity of a young man passing at the time, who immediately ran and threw the rope from off the wheel, the method to stop it, the boy would have been killed; he was soon taken up, with his right thigh and leg broke, and his head much cut; but we are happy to hear he is in a fair way of recovery. [Caledonian Mercury 12 September 1811]

31 January 1820

On Friday last, a large piece of coal fell from an ascending basket at Sheriffhall colliery, upon a woman, named Ellen Miller, employed in the coal-pit, and so shattered one of her legs, that amputation was resolved upon; but before the operation could be performed mortification took place and the poor woman died on Monday. [Caledonian Mercury 3 February 1820]

30 March 1820

Thursday se'ennight, an old man who keeps a gate upon the railway at Pinkie, was killed, under the following circumstances:- The loaded waggons were descending an inclined plane from the coal pit, as usual, without assistance, when the deceased hastened to open the gate for their passage, but being unfortunately too late, he was thrown down, and five or six waggons passing over him, caused his instant death. [Caledonian Mercury 8 April 1820]

23 April 1821

On Monday, while some children were amusing themselves near a coal pit at Bonnyrig, one of them (supposed to have been going backwards at the time) unfortunately fell down the shaft, and was killed. [Caledonian Mercury 28 April 1821]

February 1828

Fire In a Colliery and Loss of Life - We regret to announce a third colliery on fire in the vicinity of Lasswade, about six miles from this city . It appears to have existed for some time, occasioned by the accidental circumstance of hanging a lamp with burning coals in one of the pits, for the purpose of rarifying the air and producing ventilation, as is the common practice in mining. Two workmen, of the name of Davidson and Kerr, with Sommers, the oversman, and two others, Ferguson and Brown, having gone into the mines, got enveloped in the sulphurous vapours, when the former, Davidson and Kerr, dropped down, and could not be relieved, as Sommers and the other two men were nearly suffocated, but recovered on being brought into good air. .... The Polton colliery is very near the Whitehill colliery where fire is existing, and the burning is in both instances in the same continuous bed of coal, the water is now rising in the Whitehill colliery, and has reached the first of the burning masses,. so that there is every view of the fire being very soon extinguished. [Scotsman 1 March 1828]

27 November 1830

On Saturday morning last, a melancholy and fatal accident took place at Benhar Colliery. A young lad of 14, James, son of Mr Alexander Thom, farmer at Whelpside, parish of Currie, had gone to the colliery with the farm servants early in the morning, and while they were sitting in a hut waiting their turn of service, young Thom went out, and in the dark fell into one of the pits, a depth of 120 feet. His body was dreadfully mangled, but his death was instantaneous. [Caledonian Mercury 2 December 1830]

9 January 1834

Melancholy Accident - On Thursday morning a fine young man of 23 years of age, employed in one of the coal pits at Gilmerton, lost his life in the following manner:- He had just been drawn up from the pit, and being afraid of coming in contact with the machinery at the mouth, he leaped from the basket, but unfortunately missing his footing, he was in consequence precipitated to the bottom of the pit, being a depth of from 80 to 90 fathoms, and killed on the spot. He had recently recovered from an accident of a similar kind. [Scotsman 11 January 1834]

25 September 1835

Melancholy and Fatal accident - Yesterday about 3 o'clock afternoon, while a collier of the name of Ferme, and his son, were ascending the shaft, commonly called the engine pit at Arniston colliery , either by something going wrong with the machinery, or the inexperience of the person in charge of the gig (engine), the basket was drawn with great violence on the pulleys and the men being dashed with force on the woodwork, were both deprived of life, the father instantaneously , and the son in about an hour afterwards. Ferme has left other three children orphans, his wife having been cut off by the cholera at its first approach to this country. [Scotsman 26 September 1835]

23 June 1836

Fatal Accident - On Thursday last, a lad of the name of Jack, about 16 years of age, employed at Barleydean Colliery, parish of Carrington, descended the pit to go to work, and his lamp having gone out, he slipped his foot and was precipitated to the bottom, a depth of eight fathoms, when, it is unnecessary to add, he was killed on the spot. [Caledonian Mercury - Monday 27 June 1836]

17 January 1839

Distressing occurrence - Early on Thursday morning the 17th instant ; when the banksmen went to their work at Tranent colliery, they were shocked to find the body of a man burned to death in the Lodge , where a fire is always kept for the convenience of the work-people. It is thought he had fallen into the fire in a fit , as his head was under the grate, and no exertion appeared to have been made to extricate himself. One of his hands was burned off ; and his body to the knees very much scorched. The unfortunate man is supposed to have been an old soldier, as on the previous day he was loitering about the colliery , and showed "Pension Regulations," bearing the name of Donald M'Rae, 26th regiment, pension 9d. per day. He mentioned that he had received his pension in Edinburgh a few days since, and had been there robbed of £3 of it. His clothes, which were in tatters, and his papers, were consumed by the fire. The remains have been decently interred in Tranent church [Scotsman 26 January 1839]

22 February 1839

On Friday the 22d ultimo as one of the workmen in Newbattle Colliery were setting off one of their waggons, on an inclined lane, underground, it was not observed that it was unconnected with the crane which regulates the descent of the vehicle, when it came with its accumulated violence against Catherine Pryde, and produced such severe injury on her body that she died on her way home to the village of Easthouses. An aged and blind widowed mother has, by this event, been derived of her principal means of support. [Caledonian Mercury 7 March 1839]

26 February 1839

On Tuesday the 26th, a young man David Smith, also lost his life at the same colliery[Newbattle], by part of the coal-pit where he was working falling upon him. [Caledonian Mercury 7 March 1839]

4 January 1841

Fatal Accident – On Monday morning, James Jardine, a workman employed at Mucklitt’s coal pit, near Inveresk, while standing near the mouth of the shaft, fell into the pit, and was killed on the spot. [Scotsman 9 January 1841]

4 February 1845

Fatal Colliery Accident - On the name day of the above accident[Tuesday last], three men were killed in a pit at Langridge, near Whitburn. [Dundee Courier 11 February 1845]

21 September 1845

Fatal Coal Pit Accident - On Sunday evening week, two men named Hugh Adams and William McDonald, lost their lives at the Wellington coal pit, Miller Hill, near Dalkeith, under the following circumstances: - It appears that they, along with another man named David Cluny, went into a basket or hutch between seven and eight o'clock that evening, for the purpose of going down to the pit to stop an air hole which had been discovered, and that when half-way down, something went wrong with the machinery, and precipitated the basket in a moment to the bottom. The basket, on reaching the water (120 feet in depth) at the bottom of the pit, capsized, and threw them all out. Cluny was fortunate enough to lay hold of the boards which line the pit, and to hang there till assistance came to him. The other two, however, were drowned. [Dumfries and Galloway Standard 1 October 1845]

5 May 1846

Fatal Accident - On Tuesday. William, aged 15 years, son of Alexander Cairns, carrier in Musselburgh, was standing at the edge of Cairnie coal pit, when the engine was put on, and the rope caught the boy and swept him into the pit. He was immediately got out, but was dead. [Caledonian Mercury 7 May 1846]

6 May 1846

Fatal Accident - On the forenoon of Wednesday last George Wilkie, collier, Redrow, descended a coal-pit near Redrow, parish of Newton, called the Cairnie Pit, for the purpose of getting a shovel which he had left the previous day, when he and others left the pit in consequence of foul air. While in the act of being let down in the box, he was heard crying, and those on the top immediately turned the windlass, which they had only done three times when he fell to the bottom. He was got out shortly after by means of the "creepers," but was quite dead. He was strongly advised not to go down, but could not be persuaded to the contrary. [Fife Herald 12 May 1846]

4 May 1847

Fatal Accident at Bo’ness. -  On Tuesday forenoon last, during the severe gale that prevailed, the stalk recently erected at the Schoolyard pit, Bo'ness, was blown down upon the adjoining houses, completely levelling them to the ground ; and we are sorry to add that the accident was attended with fatal results - Mary Thomson, the wife of a collier, was found killed in the ruins, and several other individuals were very severely injured. [Stirling Observer 6 May 1847]

28 August 1847

Death From Foul Air - On Saturday last a collier named Andrew Smith met his death under very melancholy circumstances at a coal-pit, about two miles from Loanhead. It seems that about ten days previously, foul air was found to have collected in the pit, and in consequence the colliers ceased working in it, and were employed in sinking another one fifty yards distant, to procure ventilation. On Saturday, Smith, as was customary among the men, had left his companions, and repaired to the old pit to see whether the foul air was diminished. He had accordingly descended the pit some 30 feet when he found he was unable to return. Some time elapsed before he was missed, and his perilous situation discovered; even then it was found impossible to relieve him; and no less than ten attempts to descend the pit were successively made and as often abandoned, from the person being unable to descend to a sufficient depth. At last a man, James Fowler succeeded in getting a rope round Smith's body. When it was drawn to the surface, where Dr Falconer was in attendance, but who immediately announced that life was extinct. The unfortunate man was heard moaning for fully two hours after he was discovered- but three hours and a half elapsed before his lifeless body was extricated. He was 31 years of age, and has left a widow and three children. [Caledonian Mercury 6 September 1847]

23 September 1847

Fatal Accident In A Coal Pit – On Thursday last a man was killed in one of the Arniston coal-pits, by a heavy stone falling upon him from the side of the pit. The name of the deceased was John Tweeddale, and he resided at Hunterfield, parish of Cockpen. [Scotsman 25 September 1847]

11 November 1847

On Thursday, while a man named Robert Flucker, residing at Millerhill, was engaged in blasting a rock in the Wellington coal pit, near that place, the blast accidentally went off, and injured him in so severe a manner that he died shortly afterwards. Fortunately, none of the other workmen were near the spot at the time of the fatal occurrence, otherwise the consequences might have been of a more serious character. [Caledonian Mercury 15 November 1847]

4 February 1848

Man Killed - On Friday morning last, while William Reid, collier, Old Craighall, was working in the Wellington coal pit, near Millerhill, about two tons of coal fell from the wall where he was working, and injured him so severely, that he died shortly afterwards. [Caledonian Mercury 10 February 1848]

18 February 1848

Fatal Coal Accident - About four o'clock yesterday morning, as James Cowie, labourer, Mill-hill, Musselburgh, was preparing to enter the cage at the bottom of one of the pits at Craighall , belonging to Sir John Hope, M.P., in order to make his ascent, he missed his footing, when he was driven against the wall with great force by the cage, and killed on the spot. [Scotsman 19 February 1848]

15 September 1848

Whitburn. -We regret to state, that a serious and fatal occurrence took place on the 15th current, at the Royal George Ironstone Pit in this neighbourhood, belonging to the Coltness Iron Company, whereby one man lost his life, and another is so seriously injured that but faint hope is entertained of his recovery. It appears that the two men in question, D. Deans and J. Johnston, miners, were coming up from their work ; the engine, it was said, was not stopped to enable them to come out at the "strike board," and they were carried up right over the pully-wheel, when Deans was thrown with great violence between the large wheel of the engine and the engine house, and so dreadfully mangled, that life was found to be quite extinct before he could be extricated. Johnston was thrown to a considerable distance in another direction, and was most severely bruised, and, though still in life, he is considered to be in a very dangerous state. Deans has left a widow and two children ; Johnston is also a married man. [Glasgow Herald 22 September 1848]

12 February 1849

Fatal Accident - On Monday last, an accident occurred at a coal pit, in the neighbourhood of Loanhead which resulted in the death of a boy named Alexander Howie, aged fourteen years. It appears that Howie was removing one of the trees, about twenty feet below the surface, when he overbalanced himself, and was precipitated to the bottom of the pit, a distance of 25 fathoms. When taken up it was found that his head had sustained a severe fracture in two places, and that one of his legs was broken, and that he was otherwise injured in various parts of the body. The poor boy was immediately conveyed to the village of Loanhead, where he received every aid that medical skill could suggest, but we regret to state that he died in a few hours after the accident. [Caledonian Mercury 19 February 1849]

7 July 1849

James Stevenson was accused of culpable homicide and wilful or reckless neglect of duty, in so far as having charge of the underground workings, tackle and implements of the Victoria coal pit, near Ormiston, in this county, he allowed the rope used for drawing hutches or boxes on an inclined plane, to become worn and unfit for use, and in consequence of the knotted state of which, George Sneddon, a collier employed at the pit was, on the 6th July last, entangled in it, and pulled against the shaft or barrel of a crane, whereby he was so seriously injured that his life was in danger; secondly, that owing to this insufficient and knotted state of the rope, another collier, named John Somerville was, on the subsequent day, caught by the rope and entangled in it, and drawn against the shaft or barrel of the crane, whereby he was so much injured about the head that he died a days afterwards. After the examination of a considerable number of witnesses, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty. [Scotsman 25 August 1849]

Culpable Homicide – Mr James Stevenson, underground oversman in the employment of the Arniston Coal Co , was then placed at the bar, upon a charge of culpable homicide, and of wilful or reckless discharge of duty, in having failed to see that the rope used for drawing hutches or boxes employed in conveying coal on an inclined plane in the Victoria coal-pit, at Arniston Colliery, county of Edinburgh, was in good order and repair, and in sufficient working condition, by which, from its knotted and insufficient state, after having been repeatedly broken. George Snedden, a collier, working in the said pit, was, on the 6th of July last, caught by the knots on the rope when in use, and was thereby entangled and drawn upon or against the shaft or barrel of a crane placed at or near the plane already mentioned, to the injury of his person and the danger of his life Further, on the following day, notwithstanding his knowledge of the insufficiency of the same rope, the panel failed to repair or renew it, and, in consequence, while John Sommerville, a collier, was at the crane and rope already mentioned, a hook attached to a strap on his back, employed by him while at work, was caught by or became entangled with the knots on the rope, by which he was drawn to or against the shaft or barrel of the crane, in consequence of which he was so severely injured on the head and spine, that he died three days afterwards.  The panel pleaded not guilty, and the case went to trial.  Mr. James Moncreiff, Advocate, appeared on behalf of the prisoner, and Mr. Cleghorn, Advocate, for the prosecution.  Evidence having been led, Mr. Cleghorn addressed the jury for the prosecution, and recapitulated the leading points of the evidence in support of the libel.  He abandoned the first part of the indictment so far as it related to the personal injuries sustained by the man Snedden, but retaining his testimony to the insufficiency of the rope which had been the occasion of the accident. He maintained, in conclusion, that the evidence was such as to substantiate the charges in the indictment.  Mr. Moncreiff on behalf of the prisoner, contended that the accident, lamentable as he felt it to be, was the result of the unfortunate man's own imprudence, and not the fault of the rope in use.  He maintained from the evidence he adduced. that the existence of knots upon a rope did not prove its insufficiency, and as the accident had resulted from the man wearing his back-strap or "gabby," contrary to the general practice, he called upon the jury to dismiss the charge against his client, who was as innocent as any man in the Court. Mr. Sheriff Gordon having summed up in his usual able and lucid manner, the jury consulted for a short time, and returned a verdict of unanimously finding the panel not guilty. [Glasgow Herald 27 August 1849]

27 December 1849

Fatal Accident At Grangemouth Colliery - On the evening of the 27th ultimo, while a miner at this colliery, named George Clark, was ascending the pit after his day’s work, the crank•shaft of the winding engine suddenly broke, and the flywheel continuing in motion, without the possibility of being stopped by the engineman, tilted the hutch, containing the miner, up into the air, above the pit•head, and broke it to pieces. The miner, seeing his danger, leaped from the hutch, at a height of about twenty feet from the ground, but unfortunately fell on his head, and sustained such serious injury that he died within a few hours. [Falkirk Herald 10 January 1850]

14 December 1850

Fatal Coal Pit Accident At Bo'ness - At the Schoolyards pit, in the middle of Borrowstouness, an engine was put up about two years ago to pump out the waste water, and thereby allow access to the lowest seam of coal. This was accomplished some weeks ago; and, on the 9th inst, three colliers were employed to open up the roads in the old waste, which they continued to do during last week, generally coming up from their work in the afternoon, about three or four o 'clock. On Saturday last, however, four o 'clock having arrived without their having made their appearance, the engineman began to doubt that there was something wrong; A man was accordingly sent down the pit, who, on proceeding about twenty yards from the bottom of the shaft, and within a few yards of another pit, at the turn of a road, got the three men lying above each other, quite dead - to all appearance suffocated with choke damp. It can only be a matter of conjecture how long they had been dead, but the medical gentlemen said that one of them had warmth in him. Their names were - Charles Robertson, and his son, James Robertson, and Richard Robertson, his nephew. They were all married men, leaving widows,, and two of them families. At eight o 'clock in the morning when they went to work, George Gray (who thus discovered them), went along with them for the purpose of examining the air, which he found quite good, and safe to work in, and left them under this idea. It is supposed that, from the sudden gusts of wind that took place on that day, the current of air may have been changed, and thus brought the choke damp from the waste to where they were working. The place where the unfortunate men were working was about eighty yards from where they were found dead, and about a hundred yards from the pit-bottom. [Scotsman 18 December 1850]

17 January 1851

Fatal Colliery Accident - On the morning of Friday last, while a young man about twenty years of age, named Archibald Thomson, was driving a wagon, in an ironstone pit at Ainslie colliery, parish of Cockpen , the wheels by some means went of the rails, and came in contact with one of the wooden props supporting the roof. The shock was attended with so much violence, that the post was knocked down, and a mass of the mineral, about a ton in weight, fell with a fearful crash on the poor lad's head and shoulders, killing him on the spot. No blame is attachable to any person. [Scotsman 22 January 1851]

18 October 1852

Fatal Accident in Mineral Shank Stonehead - 0n Tuesday night the 12th, a fatal accident befel John Young, aged 21, a shanker at Stonehead pit, presently being sunk for minerals, on Crofthead estate, Whitburn parish. Young, with one of the contractor's, was working at the bottom of the shank which is 50 fathoms in depth. A large barrel of water had been taken up to the top, and after the tackling had been uncoupled from it, to be attached to a kettle, the end of the chain with the loose muzzle at it from some cause or other, slipped or was drawn off the side of the barrel on which it was resting, and the muzzle, which weighs fully 3 pounds, was jerked off and dropped down the shank. It struck Young on the head fracturing it frightfully. He was brought up quite insensible, and died on the following Thursday afternoon. The matter is undergoing investigation. [Glasgow Herald 22 October 1852]

23 October 1852

Pit Accident. - Another accident, happily not fatal as yet, whatever may be its issue, and shewing the great necessity for a much safer system of machinery and apparatus for the working of pits than appears at present generally to exist, occurred on Saturday morning last, at a pit called the Royal George, on Eastfield farm, Whitburn parish. It has been long worked by the Coltness Iron Company, and is in the immediate neighbourhood of another of their shanks (at Crofthead) in which a workman was killed lately. Early on Saturday morning one of the miners, named David Paton, got into a cage at the pit bottom, giving the signal to be drawn up, and other two men at the same time entered a cage at the top, in order to descend. The cages soon attained a great velocity, and the engineman, it seems, not observing the mark on the rope when the cage came near the top did not get the steam put off in time, and the cage, with Paton in it, was carried rapidly up beyond the pithead. Seeing his danger, however, he leaped out of the cage, at the imminent risk of his life, and fell a height of about 20 feet on the scaffolding, striking and severely wounding his head on a bell crank in the fall. The cage was carried over the pully-wheels, and fell near Paton. He is confined from the injuries, but is expected to recover. The men in the other cage received a severe shock on coming to the bottom. [Falkirk Herald 28 October 1852]

25 November 1852 & 1 December 1852

Fatal Pit Accidents - An accident of somewhat rare occurrence, but unfortunately terminating fatally, happened on Thursday morning, the 25th ult., to John Stevenson, one of the contractors for sinking a mineral pit or shank, No. 7, on Crofthead Estate, parish of Whitburn, for the Coltness Iron Company. He was working with his partner on the shank, then fully seven fathoms down and had sent up a kettle or bucket nearly filled with clay, and as the kettle neared the pit-month a stone fell on his head, fracturing it severely. The soil through which the shank goes is of a stiff clay, with a considerable proportion of blae-stone, and it is supposed, as the bucket used was not wholly filled that one of these stones was adhering to the wet clay on the bottom of it, and had come away during its ascent. Stevenson was brought to the top, and with some assistance, walked home, a distance of fully two miles. He grew worse and expired on Thursday afternoon. - An accident of a kind more frequent in their occurrence, and also resulting fatally, happened in No. 6 Ironstone Pit, Kinneil, on Wednesday morning the 1st current. A portion of the roof fell suddenly in upon Richard Paterson, a miner, while busily engaged in his work. He was speedily extricated by the other work-men near him, but was so severely injured that he died on the following evening. Both of the deceased were widowers, and had families. [Falkirk Herald 9 December 1852]

Fatal Pit Accidents - A fatal accident happened to one of the contractors for sinking a mineral pit or shank on Crofthead estate , parish of Whitburn, for the Coltness Iron Company. He was working with his partner on the shank, then fully seven fathoms down , when a stone fell on his head , fracturing it severely . He was brought to the top , and, with some assistance, walked home, a distance of fully two miles . He grew worse and expired on Thursday afternoon . - Another fatal accident happened in an ironstone pit at Kinneil on Wednesday last. A portion of the roof fell suddenly in upon Richard Paterson, a miner, while busily engaged in his work . He was speedily extricated by the other workmen near him, but was so severely injured that he died on the following evening. Both of the deceased were widowers. [Scotsman 11 December 1852]

14 June 1853

Fatal Coal Pit Accident - On Tuesday morning serious accident occurred at Stoneyburn pit, Whitburn parish, presently in the course of being sunk for minerals. The water pipes had got out of order last week, and were taken out and cleaned. They were in course of being replaced in the pit on the Friday morning, and two men, named John Gray and James Thomas, shankers, were engaged on a scaffold suspended in the shank, about 18 fathoms down, screwing the end of the pipes together. Immediately beneath the scaffold there was water to the depth of 5 fathoms the entire depth of the shank being 23 fathoms. After the men had got the fourth pipe jointed, the fastening of the large rope by which the pipes were hung from the top gave way from some cause, and pipes (weighing 4 1/2 tons) were plunged to the bottom; but the rope being connected in a peculiar way with a crane or windlass over the pit mouth, the great weight of the pipes going down caused the crane to fly up in the air and strike the bell crank of the engine machinery. The crane was knocked to pieces, and the bell crank broken in two. A portion of the latter, with pieces of the broken crane, fell down the shank, and a portion of crank struck Gray and knocked him off the scaffold down into the water, where he perished. Thomas escaped with slight injury. A labourer, Alex. Hamilton, belonging to West Calder who was beside the handle of the crane, was struck by it on the head as the crane flew up, and his skull was knocked in. Another man named William Robb, was also struck by the crane, but not injured seriously. All the machinery and bearings connected with the shank were in good condition at the time, but it would appear that the rope by which the pipes was suspended, had not been properly or securely fastened at the top.- Falkirk Herald. [Glasgow Herald 20 June 1853]

18 June 1853

Fatal Occurrence Near Dalkeith - On Saturday morning an occurrence terminating fatally happened at the Cowdencleugh coal-pit - the property of the Duke of Buccleuch near Dalkeith . The mine has not been worked for a very long period, but operations in one of its seams having been determined upon , three men were employed to make the necessary alterations previous to the ordinary work being commenced. One of these men, John Donohue, a labourer, residing at Fisherrow , was descending the pit on Saturday last, his two companions letting him down by a rope fastened upon a windlass - when the rope suddenly snapped and he fell a considerable distance upon some stones at the bottom of the shaft. Assistance was soon procured , but the unfortunate man did not survive many minutes. It is stated that the rope, which was thick and strong, had been cut by the other two labourers, for what reason or with what motive we have not heard. They have, however, been taken into custody, to await the result of an investigation which has been commenced with reference to the circumstances of the case. [Scotsman 22 June 1853]

Friday, July 22 - Trial For Murder At Cowden Cleugh Colliery - The Court met again to-day at ten o’clock- the Lord Justice-General, Lords Cowan and Anderson on the bench. John M‘Callum and William Corner, labourers, were accused of murder, in having conspired to kill or to do serious bodily injury to John Donaghue, labourer, now deceased, with whom they were employed in clearing out an old coal pit at Cowden Cleugh Colliery. A number of witnesses were examined, the purport of whose evidence was to show the guilt of the prisoners, although not quite clearly. The facts of the case, as brought out, appeared to be that the prisoners and the murdered man had agreed to clear out the old pit for 8s a fathom, and that the prisoners after working some time, considered the remuneration too little, and with the view of breaking the contract, conspired to do serious bodily injury to Donaghue. This they attempted to carry out by cutting the rope, about seventy-five feet from the bucket, and afterwards winding it up, so as to appear whole. On Donaghue attempting to descend next day (the 18th June) the rope of course gave way at the place cut and he was precipitated to the bottom - a fall of about 50 feet, as afterwards ascertained - and consequently killed. The Jury having retired, returned, after a few minutes absence, with a unanimous verdict of guilty of culpable homicide against both prisoners; and the Lord Justice-General sentenced them to transportation tor ten years. [Dundee Courier 27 July 1853]

31 August 1854

Melancholy and Fatal Accident – On Thursday, while two men named Adam Dow and Walter Stewart were engaged in raising the pumps from a pit near the village of Tranent, belonging to Mr Cadell, the scaffolding on which they stood gave way beneath them, and they were precipitated to the bottom of the pit, falling into upwards of eight feet of water. Before either of them could be rescued life was extinct. [Scotsman 2 September 1854]