Historic Hamilton By Garry L McCallum
Historic HamiltonBy Garry L McCallum 

Fire at Clyde Colliery. May 1905

PIT FIRE AT HAMILTON. ONE LIFE LOST; SIX MEN RESCUED (May 1905) 

Great excitement was created in Hamilton last evening that the news that fire had been discovered in No. 2 pit, Clyde Colliery, belonging to Wilsons Clyde, Ltd. The fire had originated in the haulage engine-room at the bottom of the shaft in the main coal seam.

Fifteen men were engaged on the back shift in Nos. 2 and 3 pits. The fire was first discovered by the men working in No. 3 pit, through which a current of air, after passing through No. 2 pit, finds its way to upcast shaft. A number of the men speedily came to the surface, but it was found that seven were entombed in Pyotshaw and main coal seams, their names being: David Gibson, Park Place; Peter McGuire, boy, Old Town, Hamilton; James McKillop and Alexander McKiliop, boy, Holyrood Street, Burnbank; Henry Nicol, jun., Holyrood Street; John Sharkie, brusher, Hamilton; Robert Dickson, brusher, Beckford Street, Hamilton.

A rescue party was organised, headed by Andrew Hepburn, manager, and James Boyd, oversman, and consisting of 25 men. They once descended the pit. About ten o'clock information reached the surface that they had succeeded in diverting the smoke into another air-course. A later hour word reached the surface that tho rescuers had been successful in bringing to the surface six of the men entombed, the sole victim being James McKillop. When the fire broke out of the men were as far as half a mile into the workings. Their escape was completely cut off by smoke. Luckily one of their number, who had all his life worked in the pit, and was acquainted with its workings, gathered the men together, and led them to an air shaft about 800 yards from the pit bottom. Here they remained in comparative safety, and here they were found by the rescuers.

Unfortunately, the boy McKillop was noticed by his elder brother, James McKillop, to collapse, and this appears to have upset him that he fell down the air shaft, a distance of some 72 feet. Of the six rescued, Dixon and made their way to the surface unassisted, and the others were brought the shaft wrapped in blankets and conveyed their homes in cabs. Their condition is favourably reported on by the doctors.

The body of James McKillop was afterwards found at the bottom of the ventilating shaft, and brought the surface up No. 3 pit. The colliery  was one of the first to be opened 30 years ago in connection with the development of Hamilton coalfield, opened by Mr George Simpson, of Benbar fame. It afterwards came into the hands of the Wilsons & Clyde Coal Company, the head of which is John Wilson, M.P. lias been singularly free from accidents, anything approaching the present being a fire nearly fifteen years ago.

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© Garry McCallum