Ayrshire Accidents 1901-1914

This section contains newspaper reports on selected accidents in Ayrshire between 1901 and 1914 inclusive. Please check the indexes in the Accidents Section for reports by the Inspector of Mines and accidents in other areas.

29 July 1903

Fatal Mining Accident At New Cumnock - Three men were yesterday buried in a heavy fall from the roof at Burnfoot pit, New Cumnock, belonging to the Lanark Coal Company. When got out, two of them, named Glendinning and Hammond, were dead, and the third, named Clapperton, was seriously injured. All three were married. Glendinning leaves a widow and seven children. [Scotsman 31 July 1903]

January 1905

Fatal Result of an Accident - John McDonald (81), surfaceman, in the employment of the Dalmellington Iron Company, at No. 1 Bowhill pit, Dalmellington, has died in Ayr County Hospital from injuries received by being knocked down and run over by a waggon. Deceased, who was a native of Portree, Skye, had been in the employment of the Dalmellington Iron Company for 50 years. [Scotsman 7th January 1905]

18 January 1907

Miner Killed - A young man named John Wilson, who resided at Riccarton, was killed in the Nursery pit, Kilmarnock during the weekend shift. While he was proceeding along one of the roads behind a pony and hutch, the animal took fright and knocked down some props, causing a heavy fall from the roof, and Wilson was instantaneously killed. [Scotsman 21 January 1907]

13 January 1908

Miner Killed In Ayrshire - Information reached Irvine yesterday of a sad fatality at Cauldhame Pit Dreghorn, the day before. It appears a miner named William Adams, was engaged running some ashes from the cage on the lower scaffold, and on returning with the hutch he thought the cage was still in position, with the result that he ran the hutch over the pit mouth, and he and the waggon fell to the bottom, a distance of between 70 and 80 fathoms. The body was badly mutilated. Deceased was a married man. [Scotsman 15 January 1908]

15 May 1908

Miner Killed Near Irvine - Yesterday a miner named Thomas Kirkwood was killed while at work in Sourlie pit, at Low Sourlie, near Irvine. He was buried beneath a fall from the roof, and was suffocated. He was 24 years of age and unmarried. [Scotsman 16 May 1908]

22 July 1908

Ayrshire Pit On Fire - Miners' Narrow Escape - As already reported, about eight o'clock on Wednesday night, an alarming fire broke out in the engine-house of the Highhouse coal pit, Auchinleck, belonging to Messrs William Baird & Co., iron-masters. There were eighty-four men in the pit at the time on the night shift. As the fire spread rapidly, and defied the most strenuous exertions to extinguish it , attention was at once turned to the getting of the men out of the pit. Although the engine-house was in a blaze, and the pithead frame burning fiercely, yet the engineman stood bravely at his post till both were just about to collapse. Just as he was escaping the erection came down with a redoubled blaze and a crash, which lighted up the country, far and near, and which put an end to the rescuing of the men for the night.

Soon a great crowd of people gathered at the pit. Mr. Robert Angus and his son, however, were soon upon the scene, and did much to direct the rescue, give confidence, and inspire hope that the men still in the workings would soon be rescued. To guard against emergencies, doctors had been summoned from round the district, ambulances had been brought to the place, and other perhaps needed necessaries provided. The flames happily, were got under before yesterday morning, when the air shaft being still pretty much intact, a kettle and wind lass were provided, and by means of these the entombed men were got out safe and sound by shortly after midday.

It is impossible yet to estimate the amount of damage done, but it will be very considerable. Some two hundred men will be thrown idle.

Scenes At The Pithead - Another account states that there is great destruction of property, the extensive range of buildings, including six steam engines and some railway plant, having been practically destroyed. The colliery is a double one, and among the most extensive in the district. It consists of No. 1 and No. 2 pits, about thirty yards apart, each with an upcast and a downcast shaft. The extensive buildings , machinery, and plant are partly common to both pits, and the fire seems to have originated in or around the engine house, where is the motive power for working the apparatus for unloading the coal. A pretty strong breeze was blowing towards No. 1 pit, and it became first involved and was within a very short time a burning mass of ruins.

Work at the pithead had ceased for the day, but it was ascertained that there were at the time of the outbreak eighty men working below. After the outbreak had attacked No. 1 pithead, No.2 was still intact. The haulage machinery at No. 2 was accordingly set agoing to bring the men up from below, and by working hard forty men, were got up this shaft by the cages, in the usual way. The fire was, however, slowly but surely making its way to No. 2, and the men were forced to abandon the haulage engines, which were soon thereafter destroyed by the fire, leaving forty men still below, but it was hoped and believed in safety. Shortly after his arrival, Mr Angus, on the advice of the engineers of whom there were a number present from the other company's pits, and from Kilmarnock, stopped the fans supplying the underground workings with air, as the downward draught was carrying the smoke and heat to the bottom. It was decided that this was the best means of keeping the air as good as it could be kept. The last two cagefulls of men really ran the greater risk of all the men entombed, for the pithead men continued to work the cages till they were nearly surrounded by the fire. The second last cage to come up contained James Ross, William Malcolmson , and John Ramage. The cage was even then so hot that the men could not hold on to the bar and Ross, a young, strong man, steadied himself against the side of the cage, and held the other two. The last cage to run brought up James Brown, Charles Russel, and James Bryce, and the three men were in a very exhausted state. Bryce, who is an elderly man, nearly collapsing from the effects of suffocation. The rest of the men, about forty in number, had to be left in the pit.

In the early hours of the morning the Cumnock Fire Brigade arrived, and getting a connection for their hose to the Auchinleck water main, poured a copious supply on the burning material and though they were unable to save anything they facilitated matters by cooling down the masses of red hot iron about the pit head, extinguishing the burning embers, and so allowing the engineers to rig up a temporary haulage apparatus, to re-establish communication with the underground workings. This took some hours, and during that time some thousands of people, congregated in the vicinity of the pithead, among them the wives and families and relatives of the entombed men. Some of the women whose husbands and fathers were below became hysterical on first coming on the scene but on assurance that those below were in no immediate danger they calmed down. The temporary winding appliances consisted of a powerful winch and wire rope, and as the cages had all been destroyed, a pit sinker' s kettle was attached to the end of the rope, to be let down to the bottom. Four men descended in the kettle when it first went down – viz., William Miller, oversman, Robert Simpson, and Archibald Irvine, pit sinkers and James Muir, pit contractor. In about an hour the kettle, wound up by six men at the winch handles, reached the top again, and three of the entombed men were in it, in addition to the four that went down. This was about half-past seven o'clock. The men were received with loud cheers by the assemblage at the top, and it was soon ascertained that all the men were at the pit bottom little the worse of their adventure, and that it was only a matter of time till they would all be brought safe to the surface. The first three men brought up were William Routledge, Harry Russell, and James Liddell. They reported that the smoke and especially the heat were hard to endure, but that they were making the best of their circumstances, and had every confidence in their rescuers. The work of rescue was, however, a slow one, for it took the cage three-quarters of an hour to make the ascent and descent, and as it required two men to guide the kettle going down, only three or four men could be brought up each time, and it was not till half-past four, o'clock in the afternoon that the kettle came up for the last time.

From the statements of some of the imprisoned men it appeared that it was well on in the morning before some of them were aware that anything amiss had happened. The ramifications of the pit are very extensive, and some of the men were working as far away as half a mile from the pit bottom. As soon as the fans stopped the air circulation in the roads also stopped, but the air was so good, and there were so many fewer than the full complement of men below at the time, that little or no inconvenience was felt from the stoppage of the air current. Gradually, however, they all noticed the fall of the air, though that was at first attributed to a temporary stopping of the fans, and did not put them about.

A feeling of great relief was felt when the last man was helped out of the kettle; and this satisfactory termination, so far as the men were concerned, of an accident which had an ugly aspect to begin with, testifies to the excellence of the temporary arrangements made for the rescue of the men.[Scotsman, 24 July 1908]

20 October 1909

Fatal Colliery Explosion - An explosion took place yesterday in Berry Hill coal-pit No. 2, about two miles from Auchinleck, an Ayrshire mining village. The explosion occurred about 1 o'clock in what is known as the "Dook " section. About 70 miners were in the pit at the time, and the report was heard throughout the entire workings; indeed, men in other seams were thrown to the ground. Miners from all sections were soon on the scene, and two men were found lying near the roadway. One of them was dead, and although efforts were made to save the second he died in a few minutes. The lifeless bodies of two other men were beneath a fall of stone.  It is said that on the previous night a part of the roof was discovered to be in need of repair, and two of the men who lost their lives were at this work when, it is reported, gas was discovered. A third man was sent to inform the authorities, and he had just gone when the explosion occurred.  Several other miners narrowly escaped injury from the effects of the after-damp and from the slight fails from the roof that occurred all over the pit. One man received a bad cut on the head from a fall of stone.

The names of the killed are:-
John Anderson, Common-row, Auchinleck, single.
Robert Anderson, Common-row, Auchinleck, married, with a young family.
James Currie, Auchinleck, married, with a young family; and
Hugh Ralston, Auchinleck.
The two Andersons are brothers. [The Times 21 October 1909]

3 May 1911

Miner Killed Near Kilwinning - A roadsman named Andrew Blackley was accidentally killed in No. 1 Redburn pit, near Kilwinning, on Wednesday evening by a fall from the roof. [Scotsman 5 May 1911]

20 January 1913

Engineer Severely Injured - A Kilmarnock engineer, named Robert Humphrey, residing at 3 Tichfield Street, met with a serious accident yesterday. He is a foreman in the employ of Messrs Grant, Ritchie, & Co., and was engaged superintending the removal of some heavy machinery at the Kirkstyle pit, which has been recently opened at Riccarton. While the crane was raising a heavy load, a link of the chain snapped. Humphrey was struck by the falling mass, and sustained a bad fracture of the skull. He was removed to Kilmarnock Infirmary, where last night he was in a precarious condition. [Scotsman 21 January 1913]

27 March 1913

Miner Killed At Irvine - Yesterday afternoon a brusher named Robert M'Grevey, 39 years of age, was instantaneously killed while at work in the Lady Sophia pit, situated between Irvine and Kilwinning . It seems that the deceased had fired a shot, and was in the act of knocking away some props when he was struck by a fall of coal, which killed him outright. M'Grevey was unmarried, and resided at 174 High Street, Irvine. [Scotsman 28 March 1913]

8 April 1913

At Ardler Colliery, Stevenston, Ayrshire, yesterday morning, a pithead man named Edward Dale, who resided at Saltcoats, was killed. He was pushing a coal wagon at the pithead towards the shaft, evidently thinking that the cage was there to receive it. The cage, however, was at the bottom, and the man and hutch went over the staging and down the shaft, a distance of 108ft. [The Times 9 April 1913]

7 August 1913

Explosion In An Ayrshire Pit - One Man Killed and One Injured - The mining district of Fergushill, in Kilwinning parish, was yesterday thrown into a state of excitement by a pit explosion involving the loss of one life and serious injury to a second miner. The pit is known as No. 22 Fergushill, and locally it is called the Diamond pit. It belongs to Messrs A. Finnie & Sons. It is reported that two miners named Andrew Allardyce and Hugh Galone, were at work in a section of the pit by themselves when the accident occurred. Amongst the first to suspect that something was wrong was another miner named Hugh Montgomery, who was working in another part of the pit some hundreds of yards distant. He became conscious of a vibration, and was at first inclined to think that something had gone wrong in No. 23 pit, which connects. On further inquiry, however, he had reason to believe that the explosion had taken place in the workings occupied by the two men named, and this belief was soon confirmed by two pony drivers, who emerged from the direction of the occurrence, and reported that an explosion had taken place. It was impossible to proceed in the direction, indicated owing to the state of the atmosphere, but assistance was quickly secured, and attempts were made to reach the two men. These efforts, however , were unavailing. Later, in travelling along the air course, the rescuers were surprised to come across Galone, who had crawled from the danger zone to the pit bottom, a distance of about 300 yards. Galone was in a semi-conscious condition, and was unable to tell anything of the occurrence. He was removed with all promptitude to the surface, when it was found that he had sustained serious burning injuries besides shock, and he was taken to Kilmarnock Infirmary for treatment. The remains of Allardyce were recovered later. Deceased, who was forty seven years of age, resided at Wellington Row, Fergushill, and was well known and held in high esteem by a large circle of friends. He leaves a widow and six dependants. Galone is unmarried, and resides in the same row. [Scotsman 8 August 1913]