Blantyre mining disaster

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The Blantyre mining disaster, which happened on the morning of 22 October 1877, in Blantyre, Scotland, was and remains Scotland's worst mining accident. Pits No. 2 and No. 3[1][2] of William Dixon's Blantyre Colliery were the site of an explosion which killed 207 miners, the youngest being a boy of 11. It was known that firedamp was present in the pit and it is likely that this was ignited by a naked flame. The accident left 92 widows and 250 fatherless children.[2]

At the time, rescue provisions were inadequate.

Repeated prior complaints about the working conditions at High Blantyre had been ignored. In fact, a year before, Blantyre miners had been so fearful for their safety in the mines that, when Dixon's refused them a wage rise to compensate, they went on strike and were immediately sacked.[3]


It is reported that, six months after the accident, Dixon's raised summonses against 34 widows whose husbands had been killed and who had not left the tied cottages which they and their husbands had rented from the mining company. They were evicted two weeks later, on 28 May 1878.[2][4]

On 5 March 1878 at No. 3 Pit, six men were killed when the cage they were in was drawn up to the pithead wheels and overturned, throwing them to the bottom of the 150-fathom (900 ft (270 m)) pit.[5] The following year, on 2 July 1879, there was a second explosion at Dixon's Pit No. 1, with the loss of 28 lives.[6]

The mine owner erected a 5.5-metre-tall granite monument to mark the two explosion disasters. An engraved dedication reads: "William Dixon Ltd—in memory of 240 of their workmen who were killed by explosions in Blantyre Colliery on 22nd October, 1877 and 2nd July 1879 and many of whom are buried here".

The Blantyre disaster in music[edit]

  • Irish folk artist Christy Moore recorded a song called "Blantyre Explosion". It appears on his 1985 album Ordinary Man. It had previously been recorded by Ewan MacColl. The exact origin of the song is unknown.
  • Scottish singer/songwriter Alex Hodgson wrote a song about the Blantyre Disaster simply called "Blantyre". He recorded it on his 2010 album Jeelie Jars 'n' Coalie Backies.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Blantyre Disaster 22 October 1877 at Scottish Mining Website
  2. ^ a b c A Brief History of Blantyre at
  3. ^ Blantyre and the blackness of darkness
  4. ^ The Ejection of the Blantyre Widows at Blantyre's Ain Website
  5. ^ Blantyre Disaster 5 March 1878 at Scottish Mining Website
  6. ^ Blantyre Disaster 5 March 1879 at Scottish Mining Website

Further reading[edit]

Coordinates: 55°46′53″N 4°06′07″W / 55.781472°N 4.101991°W / 55.781472; -4.101991