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MINING AROUND FALKIRK 

THE QUARTER PIT EXPLOSION


THE FALKIRK HERALD – SATURDAY 27th APRIL 1895.

THE QUARTER PIT – DUNIPACE – STIRLINGSHIRE – SCOTLAND.

(FRIDAY 26th APRIL 1895. )

 

Disastrous Pit Explosion At Denny – Rescue of 164 Men – Loss of 13 Lives.

About one o’clock yesterday afternoon a terrific explosion occurred in the Quarter Pit , the property of Messrs William Baird & Co. Ltd. Gartsberrie.  Resulting a serious loss of life. At the time of the explosion there were 177 men engaged in the pit, and the greatest anxiety was aroused throughout the district as to the safety of the men.  Consternation prevailed on all hands. The news of the accident spread like wildfire, and the people from the town and district flocked to the pit bank.

Meantime the men were being brought to the pit head, and shortly after two o’clock 164 had been brought above ground. But after this a pause took place, and the worst fears began to be entertained concerning others who were known to be still in the pit.

It transpired that the seat of the explosion was the new dook section, where the long wall system is in operation, and the men amissing, to the number of thirteen, were engaged here: consequently their dangerous position was the occasion of the fears entertained.  The men who were fortunate in reaching the bank in safety spoke as to the violence of the explosion, and a number of them having been tossed hither and thither by it’s force.

The explosion was felt all over the pit, though the workings reached extreme distances.  The new dook action is over 400 fathoms from the bottom of the shaft, and the pit is about 740 fathoms in depth.   The pithead man states that at the moment the explosion occurred small particles of coal were driven out of the mouth of the pit, a fact which goes to show the extreme violence of the explosion.

Companies of explorers were organised, and their work was fraught with much danger. The workings had been much wrecked, and he dangerous after-damp precluded them from penetrating too far. An hour had passed, when FRANCIS M’DONALD, one of the explorers came to the bank somewhat exhausted having gone too far in the foul air, and he reported that he had discovered a horse lying dead at the mouth of the dook. The driver of this pony WILLIAM MILLER, it appears was thrown violently over on the occurrence of the explosion, and luckily succeeded in making his escape : otherwise it is possible that he might have been overtaken by the same fate as caused the death of his charge.

The discovery of the dead horse naturally increased the fears entertained, and many affecting scenes were witnessed at the pit head.

Many women, the wife’s, relatives, and friends of the men who were employed in the pit, had gathered at the scene of the occurrence, and the discovery of the dead horse and the fears which gave rise to caused pitiable anxiety amongst them.  Many wept bitterly, and the whole sight was melancholy in the extreme.

By this time the names of the missing men had been discovered to be –

PATRICK DUNION ( married, no family ) *    
BERNARD DUNION ( brother of Patrick Dunion, single.) *
JOHN M’GOVERN  ( single )
HENRY M’GOVERN ( brother of John M’Govern, married, 3 of a family)
JOHN COMRIE  ( married, 1 of a family)
PETER TULLIE  ( married , 1 of a family)
PATRICK KERR  ( married, no family)
JOHN M’MILLAN ( married, 3 of a family) *
ROBERT MITCHELL  (single )
JOHN NICOL, Fireman , ( married , no family)
JOHN BUSBY  (married , 5 of a family)
PETER CONNAWAY  (married, 1 of a family )
JOHN HERON  (single )

  Most of the men resided in the Stirling Row, Dunipace.

The explosion parties, which consisted of between 20 and 30 men, and who went down the pit in turns, were meanwhile making vigorous efforts to reach and rescue, if possible the missing miners.  Shortly after 4 o’clock news reached the bank that the body of JOHN BUSBY, residing at Gladeshouse Dunipace, had been found in the dook road, and upon this intelligence being received, hopes for the safety of the others seemed blotted out.  About 6 o’clock the  body was brought to the bank. It presented a ghastly appearance, and gave an indication of the deadly violence of the explosion.  On examination by Doctors JOSS and LUMSDEN, Denny ( who it may be stated, were on the spot shortly after the occurrence, and who rendered valuable aid )  the head was found to be  terribly shattered, one of the arms broken, and several of the fingers of the hand blown off. His body was also very badly burned.

About half-past six, Mr RONALDSON, Government Inspector of Mines, along with Messrs MOTTRAM and PEARSON, assistant inspectors, arrived on the scene and contributed what assistance they could. From this hour the crowds who were gathered at the pit head had an anxious time of waiting.  Operations below were under the direction of Mr ALEXANDER BAXTER, under ground manager, and although the work of exploring was being carried forward with vigour progress was considerably retarded owing to the condition into which the workings had been put by the explosion.  As party after party ascended the shaft and brought intelligence that the work of exploration had not been successful in discovering the missing men, the anxiety which was felt by the crowds at the pit bank became intense.  The probable fate of the unfortunate miners was made the subject of subdued conversation.  The evidence of grief among the women who lingered about the pit head, and who refused to leave, was saddening, and their bewail lings were heart rendering.

The Rev. Mr DURWARD. Free Church Denny, and the Rev. Father ROONEY, who had been constant in their attendance at the scene, were able only after strong entreaties, and at a very late hour, to induce the women to return to their homes.

About ten o’clock a party, consisting of Mr LOCHHEAD, underground manager to Messers ADIE & Sons, and Messers Wm. DICKSON, GRANT and MURDOCH, who had been down the pit for almost seven hours, returned to the surface.  They then reported that it was their fear that there could be no hope of rescuing the miners who were entombed in the debris of the dook section.

They also stated that there were still some 60 to 70 fathoms to be gone through before they reached what they expected to find – the missing miners.

Towards 11 o’clock news came to the bank that other two bodies had been reached, and this intelligence caused a renewal of the great anxiety.  It was fully half-past 11 before the two bodies could be brought to the surface from the spot where they had been discovered, and eager enquiries as to who they were elicited from the resounding party the information that so disfigured was their appearance that it was not possible to identify them.  The bodies were conveyed to a shed close by, where after some little time, they were identified as those of BERNARD DUNION and PETER TULLIE.

At midnight, when our representative left the scene of the disaster, the work of exploration was being vigorously carried on, but no intelligence had been received that further discoveries had been made, and hopes of finding any of the entombed miners alive had, so far as could be ascertained, been given up.

A large number of people still remained at the pit head.  Volunteers for rescuing parties were numerous indeed.  Mr JOHN BRANDER, manager, who supervised the operations above ground, stated that so far from finding any difficulty in making up the numbers required, the number of volunteers far exceeded what were required.  It may be added that in the course of the afternoon, Mr WELSH,

Procurator Fiscal, Stirling, and Superintendent GRANT, Stirling, visited the scene of the disaster.

An explosion followed by such disastrous results as that of yesterday, has happily been unknown in the history of mining in Denny district.  Some sixteen years ago an accident occurred at the same pit, which resulted in the loss of two lives, while an explosion of a more recent date was that at WOODYETT two years ago, when two miners were killed.

 

THE FALKIRK HERALD 1st & 4th MAY 1895.

 THE DISASTROUS PIT EXPLOSION AT DUNIPACE

Recovery Of The Bodies

 

The worst fears that were entertained as to the extent of the loss of life in connection with the disastrous explosion at the QUARTER PIT, DUNIPACE,

Belonging to Messrs Wm. BAIRD & Co. Ltd.  Have been fully realised.

While the search parties were prosecuting their hazardous and toilsome work, and the bodies had yet been undiscovered, there was still some hope entertained, that one or two of the unfortunate men had made their way to some part of the mine where life could be maintained with a supply of comparatively pure air, and that they might be got out alive.  But such hope was unhappily found to be groundless, the bodies of all the thirteen men reported missing having on Saturday been recovered.  The work of exploring the mine was continued without intermission throughout the night and during the whole of Saturday.

Notwithstanding the unwearied energy with which the rescuing parties set themselves to their heavy task, the progress was necessarily tedious and protracted owing to the serious difficulties they had to overcome.

 

For a distance of fully 200 fathoms from the pit bottom, the roadway was practically uninjured, and could be traversed, except for the afterdamp, without inconvenience.  The air was however, charged with gas, which had to be driven back before the men could advance.  For this purpose the usual method was adopted of clearing the passages by means of bratticing and screen cloth, and in the earlier stages this was comparatively easily accomplished.

The inner part of the workings were however, greatly damaged, the roadways in some places being almost entirely destroyed, while in others they were blocked with falls from the roof and enormous masses of debris. These had to be removed before a passage could be effected, an operation involving a great deal of time as well as laborious and hazardous effort on the part of the explorers.

Owing to the imperfect ventilation the heat was excessive and the choke-damp was so dense and overwhelming, that the men had frequently to retreat in the direction of the pit bottom in order to recover from its effects.  Un daunted by the magnitude of the work before them, the explorers returned to it again and again without flagging courage and perseverance.  Every yard of their progress was won at great personal risk, but bit by bit the roadway was sufficiently restored to make it serviceable, and to enable a further portion of the workings to be examined.  But the terrible choke-damp, which filled every fresh opening, rose up before the men like a wall, so that they could only approach it by carrying screen-cloth before them as a protection.

After the discovery of the three bodies on Friday night the exploring parties worked till four on Saturday morning without coming upon any more of the bodies of the missing men.  The portion of the pit had now , however been reached in which the unfortunate miners were known to have been engaged when they were overtaken by the fatal blast, and the searchers had soon the melancholy satisfaction of finding the bodies of two of the victims of the disaster.

They were those of PETER CONNAWAY and JOHN HERON. Both were badly burned especially about the head, but they were not so disfigured and bruised as the bodies recovered on the previous night.  CONNAWAY was married and resided in Dunipace, where he leaves a widow and one child. HERON was a young man and was unmarried.

Without delay the work of the rescue was continued, and after four hours further laborious effort, four more of the bodies were discovered at eight o’clock.

Like the others  these were badly burned, but otherwise bore little or no traces of the violence of the blast.  They were easily identified as PATRICK DUNNION , JOHN COMRIE , ROBERT MITCHELL and JOHN NICOL.

All the bodies were as speedily as possible sent to the surface, where they were dressed, and afterwards conveyed to the homes of their families.  As may be imagined, the progress of the covered van by which this sad office was carried out was watched with profound interest and awe by the large gatherings of people who had now assembled in the village streets and along the country highway.

Shortly after ten o’clock the exploring party succeeded in recovering another body. It was that of HENDRY M’GOVERN and found still further in the road than any of those previously taken out, and was in a terribly mangled condition. The unfortunate man seems to have received the full of the violence of the blast, and the body was frightfully mangled and burned.

JAMES MILLER, one of the party who assisted in bringing out the body, described it as literally charred to a cinder. On being brought to the bank it was identified by FRANK KELLY, the pithead man, whose wife is M’GOVERN’S sister.

It was not until late in the afternoon that the rescuers came upon the bodies of JOHN M’GOVERN and JOHN M’MILLAN, and sometime the work of the recovery was completed by the finding of the body of PATRICK KERR.

On Saturday morning MRS BUSBY, the wife of one the men who lost his life in the pit, gave birth to a child.  The announcement was received with pathetic interest by the mining community, and the deepest sympathy was expressed with the poor woman in her sorrowful circumstances.  Mr CHISHOLM ROBERTSON, the Stirlingshire mining agent, visited the mine on Saturday forenoon, and made inquires regarding the explosion. Mr ROBERTSON stated his intention of going to London with view of obtaining a Government inquiry into the cause of the explosion.

The following telegram from the Home Secretary was received at the mine on Saturday:- Whitehall, 10a.m.-RONALDSON, Mines Inspector,  Denny.- Mr ASQUITH expresses deepest sympathy with suffers and their families, and anxiously awaits further information.

On Sunday the scene of the disaster was visited by large numbers of people from the surrounding district.  At eight o’clock in the evening the remains of the nine men who were members of the Catholic congregation were taken to the chapel.

Two lorries draped in black and white were used for their conveyance.  In two cases a couple of coffins were taken from one house.  On the way to the chapel the road was crowded with sympathetic onlookers.  In front of the procession the Rev. Father ROONEY walked, prayer book in hand, accompanied by surpliced boys carrying the cross and lighted candles.  The members of the families and friends followed the lorries, and the mourners included a large number of women, many of whom were in tears.

The chapel was draped in black and white by Messrs WYLIE & LOCH HEAD

Glasgow.  The coffins were laid in front of the alter, and an impressive service was conducted by the Rev. Father ROONEY.  The chapel was filled to overflowing.

At the pit on Sunday about thirty men were engaged clearing up the places and searching for the remaining lamps. One of Her Majesty’s Inspectors  watched the operations, and several of the company’s officials were also in attendance.

The electric light was used in carrying on the work under the charge of a Glasgow firm of electrical engineers, and the men spoke in high praise of the light. With such a light much more work could be done.

The clearing of the roads and the search for the missing lamps were continued yesterday in the presence of Messrs RONALDSON, MOTTRAM and PEARSON, H.M.I.  There are still three lamps missing.

  PULPIT REFERENCE.

 

The Rev. P.C. DURWARD, M.A., preaching on Sunday night in the Denny Free Church, alluded to the catastrophe in the following terms: -

Easter has directed our thoughts to the resurrection of our Lord, and to our resurrection with him, and to the life beyond the grave.  And at the close of the Easter season a calamity has occurred in our midst which has brought death and eternity home to us with terrible emphasis.  God has permitted to occur at our doors one of these catastrophes which arrest the attention of a community and speak to its heart.  Never in its history has this town been visited by so awful a calamity. Ever and anon in the pits that surround us accidents have occurred, and the tidings of another explosion, of another death, has cast its gloom over our society.  Only two summers ago, in another of our pits, there was a serious explosion  attended with the loss of several lives.  But the terrible calamity of Friday is unparalleled in this neighbourhood,  heavy as our losses in the pits have been.  Without warning, and when 200 miners were down the shaft, the explosion occurred. And though the great majority managed to reach the surface in safety, 13 were suffocated, and only after many hours, and with much peril, were their remains disinterred.  And today in Denny, there are many homes in mourning, bewailing the loss of husbands and fathers and brothers and friends. It is  some consolation for us to know that those who were so suddenly called away were good men. They were good husbands, good sons, the weeping sister of one of them told me at the pit head yesterday afternoon.  One of them sat last  Sabbath at Communion in a neighbouring church. It is also comfort to know that help has already began to flow to those who have been deprived of their breadwinners.  Of this we are sure the aged mothers, the nine widows, the fourteen orphans will not be neglected.  Christ has lived and taught in vain if Christian charity is not ready on such an occasion with sympathy and substantial help.  Such a calamity too, reminds us painfully of the continual danger of the miners life.  And in the strife that is waged in these times over wages, we should remember that it is not toil merely that the pit man sells, it is peril of life and limb.  His work is not only most laborious and performed under most disagreeable conditions, but it is carried on at imminent and deadly peril.

And when he serves society at such risk society should in justice see that he is well paid, and that the conditions of his life are safe and wholesome as possible.

They tell us that wages must vary with the markets, that pay is entirely dependant on supply and demand. But shall not the conditions of toil be taken into account also ?, shall not the many accidents, the many deaths, have some bearing on the rate of remunerations. And while we see that the conditions of his life underground are as healthy and wholesome as science can make them, and his remuneration adequate and just, let us not forget to remember in our prayers those who are engaged in perilous occupations, not only those who are fighting for us on the distant frontier or sailing the treacherous deep, but those also who are toiling amidst constant danger in the bowels of the earth.  Let us not forget to commend them daily to the care of the great father, who hears the groans of the wounded soldier, who rules the tempestuous waves, and who when the gas explodes and the roof falls in, can hold the miners head.

This great calamity has brought widespread and great sorrow, but it will also have to be borne some good result if it draws our sympathy and consideration to the miners, and helps to enforce their claims on the attention of society.  But perfect as all our mechanical appliances for preventing disaster may be, and however ready and overflowing our love and assistance, death will come, and bereavement and anguish.  And for the sting of death and the yawning grave, and the near eternity there is no comfort but the Easter gospel.  Only he is truly safe for time and for eternity, who can say with the patriarch, “ I know my redeemer liveth “, and with the apostle,  “ I know in whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him until that day “.  May this calamity be to us all, may it be to the whole town the voice of God saying in tones that we shall hear and obey, Be ye also ready.  May it be the finger of God pointing to eternity, and compelling us to pause and think.  And so for this calamity also, as for all Gods Providences, we may be able to give God thanks.

 

FUNERAL OF VICTIMS

A Touching And Impressive Scene.

 

On Monday the funerals took place of eleven of the victims.  At  11  o’clock Requiem Mass was celebrated in the Roman Catholic Chapel, which was crowded by the relatives of the deceased men and by members of the congregation, many of whom had travelled a considerable distance.  Father ROONEY, the pastor of the congregation had charge of the arrangements. The little chapel had undergone much adornment for the occasion with drapery and flowers.  The alter was draped in black and white, the very simplicity of the hangings lending quite an impressiveness to the surroundings.  The coffins were arranged on trestles placed in front of the sanctuary, and were surrounded by a large number of lighted wax candles.  Here and there, too, were placed beautiful wreaths of flowers, entirely white in bloom, relieved by beautiful hot house palms. The effect of the arrangements of the chapel, carried out entirely under the  supervision of Father ROONEY, was touching in the extreme.  The white and black draperies were furnished by Messrs WYLIE & LOCH HEAD, Glasgow, while the flowers were supplied by Father ROONEY.  The Mass was celebrated by the Very Rev. Cannon MORRIS, Falkirk, and at the close the Rev. DONALD EASSON, Linlithgow, preached the sermon, and afterwards read telegrams of condolence from Archbishop EYRE, Glasgow, Archbishop M’DONALD and Father HANNON, Bathgate, a former pastor of the congregation at Denny.  The music consisted of the  Kyrie, Sanctus, and Agnus Dci from Turners “ Mass of St. Cecilia “,  and was rendered by the  choir with intense feeling, the Miscr c.c especially touching the hearts, as it seemed indeed to appeal to the mercy of God on behalf of the deceased.  The music was indeed of a very high order – the light and the shade, the modulation, the precision, and intonation showing the painstaking training of the respected priest of the parish.

At the close of the service the relatives of the deceased took their places beside the coffins and engaged in earnest prayer before leaving the chapel.  Nearly all the members of the congregation, including many Protestants from the town and surrounding districts, marched down the passage and paid the last respects to the memory of the deceased.  The service was altogether most impressive, and drew tears from old and young alike.

At four  o’clock the coffins were conveyed in separate hearses to the burying grounds.  The cortege was a great one – the greatest that has been witnessed in Denny – and was made up of all ranks and classes.  In front of the hearses was a company of some 50 girls, draped in white and wreathed with lilies, and two walked behind each.  Several boys carried banners, and there were cross and light bearers.  The clergymen and the general public came behind.  On the way the children chanted hymns, and the whole scene was impressive.  The road was lined with people, and the shops in the town were closed.

Five of the bodies were interred in Denny Cemetery, viz:  JOHN M’GOVERN

And HARRY M’GOVERN ( brothers) laid side by side : PETER TULLIE and JOHN HERON close by in the same grave – both graves are on the north side of the western hill – and JOHN M’MILLAN was buried in the east border.

Four  were taken to the old kirkyard of Dunipace, beside the mounds – the “ hills of peace “ – viz: PATRICK DUNION and BERNARD DUNION ( brothers ), PATRICK KERR, and PETER CONOWAY,  The Rev. Father ROONEY conducted the customary impressive service at the graves.  At three  o’clock JOHN ROBERTSON was interred at Dunipace, and at five JOHN COMRIE was interred in the cemetery.

On Tuesday afternoon the remains of JOHN BUSBY – the first body taken from the pit – were committed to their last resting place in the cemetery amid considerable manifestations of grief.  JOHN BUSBY was a member of the St. Andrews Lodge of Freemasons and the Thistle Lodge of Free Gardeners and  societies were in attendance – the latter robed in the regalia of the order.  During the time of the funeral the shops in the town, as on the previous day, were closed.

The Rev. D.C. MACKELLAR, of the U.P. Church, Denny, offered up prayer at the grave, and the Gardeners filed past, dropping flowers on the coffin.  Among wreaths was one from the brethren of the Masonic Lodge.

 

  SUBSCRIPTIONS RECEIVED

 

Mr PATRICK WELSH, Procurator Fiscal for the County, has received the following letter:- 32, Pont Street, April 28th 1895. – Dear Mr Welsh, - I am much grieved to read of this sad disaster which has occurred at Dunipace, with I fear, a loss of 13 lives.  I know that a donation, however small, if it be at once available, is sometimes the means of alleviating such distress as must ensue among the families of those who have been so suddenly and sadly removed.  I shall be much obliged if you will please place this cheque in the hands of the ministers of the different denominations to which the suffers belong, in hope that, though a small amount, it may be of some use – Believe me, yours faithfully, ( Signed) MONTROSE, A cheque for  15 guineas accompanied the letter.  Among other subscriptions intimated are one by Mr JAMES WRIGHT of Gogar-field of £10, and one by Archbishop EYRE of £5, one of £5 from Mr J.C. BOLTON of Carbrook, and one of £3 from Dr. BENNY, &c.  We understand that on Thursday the men employed at Messrs ADDIE  & Sons, pits here, on the suggestion of the manager, Mr LOCH HEAD, agreed to subscribe a days pay each.  The collection at the Woodyett Pit, which was not quite completed last night, amounted, we understand, to about £60.  Mr WILLIAM FORBES of Callender, has sent a subscription of £50.  Mr WILLIAM JACKS, M.P. for Stirling sent a cheque for £10-10s.

 

PROPOSED INQUIRY

 

Mr CHISHOM ROBERTSON the representative of the Stirlingshire miners, saw a number of Scottish members of Parliament in the House on Monday night in connection with the request that an immediate public inquiry should be ordered by the Government into the circumstances of the disaster.  Mr JACKS obtained by a question in the House a reply from the Government that a public inquiry will be granted into the cause of the disaster, and Mr CHISHOLM ROBERTSON got an assurance from the Lord Advocate, whom he saw in his private rooms at the house, that if the inquiry be granted it will be held at the earliest date.  Mr P. WELSH, procurator fiscal for the county, was engaged on Tuesday in the Royal Oak Hotel precognoscing witnesses.  Seven were examined – viz. SAMUEL MARTIN, miner, WILLIAM MILLER, Denny, the driver of the pony that perished, JOSEPH MOFFAT, miner, JAMES ANDERSON, miner, ROBERT MARTIN, WILLIAM HUNTER, engineman at the Fans, and J. LOCH HEAD, underground manager to Messrs ROBERT ADDIE & Sons. Mr Welsh sat again on Wednesday in the Royal Oak Hotel Denny, precognoscing witnesses in connection with the disaster.  Nine were examined, viz:-  ALEX. BAXTER, oversman, CHARLIE FINDLAY, oversman, ROBERT PATERSON, fireman, GILBERT DUNCAN, miner, JAMES M’QUADE, miner, JAMES BENNIE, checkweighman, JAMES M’MILLAN, miner, JAMES FRANCE, miner, and FRANCIS M’DONALD, miner.  It is now an open secret that tobacco-pipes, matches, and appliances for opening safety lamps will figure among the productions in any inquiry instituted.  A number of the safety lamps have been taken possession of by the authorities with a view, it is understood, of having them tested.

 

 

The Prudential Assurance Company

 

We were informed that nine of the men who lost their lives were assured in the Prudential Assurance Company.  The company with its usual promptitude and thoughtfulness, wired their superintendent at Falkirk, a Mr W.T.VARLEY, to settle all the claims at once, and dispense with the usual formalities. This instruction was immediately obeyed, and the various sums were paid over to the sorrowing relatives on Saturday, the day following the accident.

 

PUBLIC MEETING IN DENNY – PROPOSED RELIEF FUND

 

A public meeting of the inhabitants of Denny, called at the instance of the Police Commissioners, for the purpose of organising a fund for the relief of the widows and families of the men who were killed by the explosion at Quarter Pit last Friday, was held in the Public Hall Denny, on Wednesday evening.  There was a large attendance, and Provost HUNTER, who presided, was supported on the platform by the Rev. Messrs. MACKELLAR , ROONEY , and DURWARD, Bailies FERGUSON and SHEARER, and Councillors  M’QUEEN , RITCHIE , NISBET , and BRANDER.  Parish Councillors HORNE , M’LAUGHLIN , ROSS , and JOHNSTON.  Mr BULLOCH , Mr JAMES DAVIDSON, Bank of Scotland, Mr JAMES SCOTT, &c.

The  Provost said he had taken the liberty, in conjunction with his fellow Commissioners and others in the town, of calling this meeting together for the purpose of considering the subject which had been filling their minds with very great sorrow.  They had met that evening under the shadow of a great calamity, and it had been filling their minds to a great extent for nearly a week now, that it was quite unnecessary that he should enter into very much detail with regard to the disaster which took place at the Quarter Pit last Friday. There was one broad fact, before all their minds that 13 brave working men had in a moment, in the twinkling of a eye, lost their lives. The disaster was one which was found to appeal to the sympathy of every heart.  But there was more than sympathy required in circumstances such as those which surrounded them.  There were the families – the wives and the children of those men who were killed in the disaster – who had been bereaved and left behind to mourn the loss of those bread winners who had been so suddenly cut off.  It was quite true in all their minds here was a great deal of sympathy – feelings which could not be very well expressed , feelings that were of such a nature that when they tried to give expression to them words only seemed to mock their thoughts.  It was his solemn privilege to visit one of the bereaved homes at least, and to speak to one of the widows, and he must say that he never felt so helpless in any circumstances as he did upon that occasion in trying to give consolation to a woman left with seven children and who had been deprived so swiftly of her husband.  Those were feeling which were quite natural. Indeed it would have been unnatural on their part, if they had not those feelings in a large degree.  There were those wives and those children who were deprived of those who won their bread for them, and as there was a very dark future before the wives and families and friends of those men, it was clearly their duty as citizens, as Christians and as patriots to do what they could to help those people in the sad circumstances in which they were placed, and who had came into those circumstances through no fault of their own. ( Applause ).  As citizens they had been called together to organise a fund, to set in motion certain machinery, and to take certain steps which would result in tangible relief being given to those who had been bereaved, and those who had so suddenly lost the heads of their houses.

The meeting was to take practical shape, and certain resoundings were proposed, which he had no doubt would meet with their hearty approval.  The promoters had had a preliminary meeting in order to set this meeting in motion and to arrange for it, and gentlemen upon the platform would speak to the resolutions which would be proposed. He therefore did not whish to cover their ground. But his wished to say that this was a matter in which they could all take part.

They could all contribute a little, they could all help a little by asking their friends to help.  He had a delightful little letter that day from a working man in Helensburgh who said that he had read of the disaster with the deepest sorrow and regret. He stated that he was not in a position to give much, but he sent on 2shillings, which was all that he could afford, remarking that he knew that little sums like those always helped. ( Applause ).  He ( Provost HUNTER) knew that there were throughout the length and breath of the land gentlemen who would subscribe liberally to a relief fund, and it would be to the credit of the working men of Denny if they did not allow their sympathy to pass away, but if they did what they could to contribute themselves and get others to help, and if they all worked together for this one object, he had no doubt that in a  short time they would be able to raise a fund to give relief of a kind which would be helpful to the bereaved families for many days to come. ( Applause).  Subscriptions had already been coming in, although they were not very numerous. He had in his possession a sum of £14 – 7s, and other sums had been got by various gentlemen on the platform.  He was speaking for the gentlemen on the platform when he said that they were all willing – every man of them – to do what they could, not only by their means but by their effort, to make the relief fund a success

( Applause )  They did not feel that they were bound by every law of God and man and of their country to do what they could for those families who had been so suddenly bereaved.

Ballie FERGUSON moved the first resolution which was as follows:- That this meeting deplores the sad disaster which took place at Quarter Coal Pit on Friday last, by which 13 miners were killed, causing great grief in the homes to which they belong , resolves to do all that they can, by earnest appeal to the public generally, to raise money to relive the distress in those homes, and to provide as far as possible for the future comfort and support of the wives and children who have been so sadly and suddenly bereaved. ( Applause ) He thought that such a resolution required very few words of his to commend it to the working men of Denny.  It was certainly a good thing that during an average life they had never been called upon in this community to deplore such a calamity as that which occurred last week.  He thought it was Dr. GUTHRIE of Edinburgh, who said that no death bed was so sad to him as to be near the death bed of a husband or a father who found in his last moments that he had made no provision for those of his family he was leaving behind.  But those men who had been cut off in the disaster of Friday last had not time to reach their homes.  They were taken at their work and their wives and families had not the consolation of seeing them breath their last breath.  When they read of a disaster in the newspapers which had occurred in some part of the country it might strike them for a day or two, but when it came into their very midst, when their fellow workmen were cut down at their daily employment, and when their widows and children walked the streets beside they saw then what need there was for making provision for their relief.  As the Chairman had so well said, they must not only make an appeal to every working class community in Scotland, but they must remember not to neglect their duties here.  Every one in Denny must make up his mind to do what he could to have a suitable provision made for those wives and children. They must not refrain from giving a small sum because they might not be in a position to give a large one.  If each one of them resolved to do something they would organise a fund from which the widows would obtain relief until their children were able to work for themselves.

Mr JOHNSTON of Randolphill seconded the resolution, and in doing so said on such an occasion as the present he was quite incompetent to give adequate expression to his thoughts.  Sufficient however, had been said to make them acquainted with the resolution, and of its worthiness of their support.  As they all knew the disaster was one of unprecedented in the district, and it was surely sufficient to arouse their sympathy when they thought of the wives and the orphans of the bread winners who had been cut off.  He was speaking for the papermakers of the district when he said that they gave their hearty sympathy to those who had suffered by the disaster. ( Applause. )  They felt that they were all working together – that without the miners they would be no where – and he thought and felt that they would all do their best to make the relief fund worthy of the district.  To make their effort more effectual it ought to be made right away “ He gives twice who gives quickly “ ( Applause.)

The Rev. Mr DURWARD said it gave him great pleasure to support the resolution so eloquently commended to them by the two gentlemen who had spoken.  He knew that some of the cases were cases of singular disasters.  He believed there were two sisters who had been deprived of their husbands, and one woman who had lost two brothers and a husband.  They could not but sympathise with them very deeply in their calamity.  Thirteen bread winners had been cut off, and widows and a large number of children deprived of their means of support, and it was their duty to come forward manfully and assist them.  They could all do something, rich or poor.  He believed that in all cases where money was needed for a noble cause that the poor gave as liberally as the rich according to their means.  If the poor supported this cause it would not be the first in Scotland which had benefited much by the small givings of those who had not much to give.  He trusted that as men they would all rally to the support of this movement, and give what they were able to give.  As Christians it was their duty to do what they could.  They had very little of the Masters spirit if they did not readily come forward to carry out His command to comfort the fatherless and to relieve distress.  If they gave their best support to this movement they would be doing their duty as men and as Christians – they would be doing the angels work. ( Applause. )  The resolution was agreed to.

Mr BULLOCH moved the second resolution, which was in the following terms:-

That this meeting resolves to appoint a large influential, and representative committee, consisting of a president , secretary , treasurer , and members, to take part in the collection of funds and in the wise and impartial administration of the same amongst the families who have been bereaved.  It was essential that there should be such a committee to carry out the details of the work, and he trusted they would appoint men who would heartily undertake the duties.

Bailie SHEARER seconded the resolution, and said that as one who knew the dangers of the coal mine he could deeply sympathise with the bereaved wives and families of the miners who were killed by Fridays disaster.  He trusted the committee would work with a will to make the fund a complete success.

Rev. Mr MACKELLAR supported the resolution, and remarked that he could say that the congregation which he represented – and he had abundant evidence of it on Sunday forenoon when he directed their attention to the calamity – very deeply sympathised with those who had been so sorely and suddenly bereaved.  This, however, was not the time for speaking.  It was the time for working, and he might say that whether he was a member of the committee to be appointed or not he meant to do all in his power to help and succour those whom he knew  were in lamentable circumstances to-day.  He had much opportunity of seeing the distress which the calamity  had brought into many of the houses in the town, and he did not know how any man could go into those houses and come out again without resolving to labour earnestly for the support of their inmates.  He could not speak to the resolution, as he feels too much about it.  He gave it his cordial sympathy, as he would give his hearty support. ( Applause. )

 

The Rev. Mr ROONEY also supported the resolution and said there was a great danger, unless they took action at once , of public sympathy evaporating and subscriptions being lost.  The movement originated by Provost HUNTER and his fellow commissioners for the relief of the widows and children was a most praise worthy one, and he earnestly trusted it would meet with the success which it so much merited. ( Applause. )  The motion was adopted.

It was unanimously agreed that the whole of the gentlemen on the platform should form themselves into a committee, with power to add to their number.

Provost HUNTER was appointed President, and power was given to the committee to appoint other officials.

Mr ROBERT TENNENT, teacher, Dunipace. Mr PATRICK LONEY, Mr HUGH MURNIU, and Mr FRANK M’DONALD were added to the committee.

On the motion of Mr DAVIDSON a hearty vote of thanks was accorded to Provost HUNTER for his conduct in the chair.

At a meeting of the committee held afterwards Provost HUNTER was appointed chairman of committee, Mr W.J.H. RICHIE, secretary, Mr JOHN F. M’QUEEN Clydesdale Bank, and Mr J.S. DAVIDSON , Bank of Scotland, joint treasurers.

The office bearers and the Rev. Mr MACKELLAR and Mr DANIEL ROSE were appointed to act as sub-committee.  The parishes are divided in to districts, and there is to be an immediate canvas. The Provost is to approach neighbouring burghs, and the newspapers are to be asked to open their columns.  It was reported that the Celtic Football Club had offered their services for a match, that a concert was being arranged for the City Hall, Glasgow, by a well known gentleman ; also that the Clydebank prize band had offered their services for a concert in Denny on a Saturday afternoon, and a sacred concert on the Sabbath afternoon following.

 


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Tom Paterson  with thanks to Margaret O'Donnell for sending this to me.