Shale Pit Explosion

type: Safety - mine disasters

The Scotsman
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Shale Pit Explosion

West Lothian Accident - One Miner Killed

Yesterday forenoon a state of excitement prevailed in the mining district of Philpstoun, near Linlithgow, when it became known that an explosion had occurred in one of the shale mines, No. 6 Whitequarries, belonging to Scottish Oils (Ltd.) The Mine is one in which about 100 men are employed but only one section of the mine was, happily, involved.

The accident, which was of an alarming nature, happened just as the men were about to take their forenoon snack, or, in mining phraseology, at “corning” time.  The shift started work shortly before seven o’clock.  At this time William Duff was the man in charge of the section, and had control of what are called the “proppers.” These men were William Duff, residing in Linlithgow; George Archibald, Bridgend Rows; Alex Paterson, Bridgend; Thomas Gilcannon, Bridgend; Michael Hall, Linlithgow.

FORCE OF EXPLOSION. Work proceeded as usual until about half-past ten o’clock, when the men “knocked off” for their snack.  Duff was at this time engaged in his working place bringing down shale. A loud explosion was heard and the noise passed along the roads and lyes connected with the mine.  The force of the explosion blew the men off their feet, and hutches standing in the lye were displaced and overturned.  The men suffered more or less from the damp and smoke, which affected their eyes, but in a staggering condition they managed to grope their way to the haulage road or air-course.

While there was a deal of dust and debris about, no fall could be seen on any of the roads.  The man Hall went to the bottom of the mine, and gave the alarm to the officials on the top.  Mr Robert Crichton, director of mines for the Scottish Oils, and Mr Caldwell, mining manager, were quickly on the scene.

SEARCH FOR MISSING MAN. Some of the men, after being brought to the surface, and having recovered from the effects of the explosion, returned to assist in the search for Duff, who it was noted, was missing.  They found his jacket and waistcoat hanging in his working place, but no trace of himself.  The men below left off work soon after the explosion, and the back shift did not start.

When the accident occurred, rescue parties from Bathgate and Coatbridge were promptly in attendance, together with ambulance wagons.  An anxious search continued a long time for the missing man without avail.  The prevailing theory was that he had, after the explosion, wandered into a “waste” or disused part of the section, and had been buried in the debris.  It was not until nearly five o’clock that the searchers discovered the lifeless body of Duff, which was found near his own working place.  Duff, who was a married man and resided in Linlithgow leaves a widow and ten of a family.

The Scotsman, 27th November 1926