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Newspaper Accident Records

1850's

1860's

ACCIDENT – Early on the morning of Friday last week, an engineer named William Duff, 35 years of age, met with an accident at the new Oil Works, situated in Keith Place. It appears that there is a certain period after the parrafine oil has been run out of the still before any person can approach it, especially with a light, and Duff incautiously went with a lighted candle to the man-hole at the still (although previously warned) before the time had elapsed, when the vapour arising therefrom took flame, whereby he was severely scalded on the face, breast, and arms. Dr Bartholomew was immediately in attendance, and we are happy to state that he is in a fair way of recovery. Source: The Fife Herald, 12th January 1865

SHOCKING COAL-PIT ACCIDENT – It is our melancholic duty to record another coal-pit accident, very shocking in its details, and resulting in the death of a miner in the prime of life. About midday, yesterday, as Patrick Campbell, a miner residing at Gavieside, parish of Midcalder, was descending into the Gavieside coal-pit, he suddenly sprung from the cage in which he was being lowered on to an intermediate landing. The cause of what followed is not precisely known, but it is supposed that, as he made the leap on to the landing, the iron guards of the cage had caught him, and in a minute had ripped up his abdomen in a fearful and shocking manner, besides breaking his thigh bone. The poor fellow was carried to the pit-head; but although medical aid was promptly rendered, his injuries were too severe a nature to admit of curing, and he expired in about nearly an hour. Source: Caledonian Mercury – Saturday 18th February 1865

UPHALL - GUNPOWDER ACCIDENT - On Friday Joseph Neille, aged about eighteen years, employed at 2 Pit, Stewartfield, near Uphall, was severely injured by an explosion of gunpowder in the lodge adjoining the pithead. It appears that at breakfast hour, Neille placed a tin flask on the fire, supposing it to contain his tea, which after heating he intended to partake of, but unfortunately he made a serious mistake, and placed on the fire a flask containing about two lb. of gunpowder. An explosion almost immediately took place, and the unfortunate lad was dreadfully scorched about his head and face. He was at once conveyed to his father's house, where he lies in a condition not free from danger. Source: The Scotsman, 3rd April 1865

ALARMING FIRE NEAR PORT-DUNDAS - MAN BURNED TO DEATH - Yesterday afternoon, about half-past one o'clock, an alarming fire broke out in the premises of the British Asphalte Company, asphalte manufacturers, and distillers of tar and mineral oil, &c., situate at 88 Stirling Street, Port-Dundas. The fire was occasioned by the bursting of a still containing shale oil, situated to the North of the works; and immediately caught after the oil, which flowed into the furnace, lofted and blazed with great fury. To the south of the works is situated the extensive soap manufactory of Messrs. James Parker & Co., and when the Northern and Central Fire Brigades arrived the soap works were in imminent danger. By the exertions of the firemen, however, the flames were prevented from spreading to the factory; and the large stock of oils in the yard, forming part of the premises of the Asphalte Company, was similarly preserved. Although a plentiful supply of water was at hand it was of no use, previous experiences having proved that water thrown upon burning oil only causes the flames to spread; and on this occasion, had the hose been brought to play upon the fire, the flames would, in all probability, have extended to the soap works, and caused a greater destruction of property. When the bursting took place, a worker named John M'Gown, 60 years of age, residing in Rumford Street, Bridgeton, was knocked down in front of one of the furnaces, and rendered insensible by the gases which escaped from the still. Although the workmen knew where the poor man was lying – against a quantity of coal – it was impossible to render any assistance, as any attempt to remove him might have been attended with fatal consequences. As soon as the brigades arrived, a branchman was stationed on the wall on the west side of Port-Dundas Road, and when the floating oil ignited the coals where M'Gown lay the branch was brought to play upon them, and by this means the body of the unfortunate man was saved from being quite consumed. As it was, however, his head and part of one of his legs were fearfully charred. The body was recovered about five o'clock, by which time the fire was considerably spent. Deceased has left a widow and three of a family. As we have already stated, the fire raged with terrific fury, shortly after its outbreak, and continued till nearly four o'clock. About half-past three the flames ascended to a height of fully fifty feet, and at this time fears were entertained for the safety of the chimney stalk, situated in the centre of the works. Dense volumes of black smoke ascended from the burning oil, and at times no parts of the works or stalk were visible. There are five or six stills in the premises, but those situated to the west of the one which gave way were saved; the oil, however, which the stills and tanks at the east side of the factory contained, was all consumed. We have not learned the cause of the accident; but it is supposed that too much gas has generated within the still, and the bursting was the result. The value of oil destroyed has not as yet been ascertained, but we are informed that the damage will amount to upwards of £600. The stock destroyed, it is said, is not insured. At five o'clock last night all danger was at an end, although the oil contained in the still which burst continued to burn. Firemen were left in charge of the premises. The dense volumes of smoke, which were blown over the city in a south-westerly direction, attracted such large crowds to the scene of the conflagration that Superintendent M'Farlane, of the Northern District, deemed it necessary to call out a number of night constables to assist the day officers in keeping the spectators out of danger. Source: The Glasgow Daily Herald, Thursday, November 30th 1865

FATAL PIT ACCIDENT AT WEST CALDER - On Wednesday, about mid-day, while a miner named William Wardrop was engaged at his usual employment in the Shale Pit, No. 5, situated at Addiewell, on the property of Mr. Young, of Limefield, a large quantity of shale and loose earth fell from the roof of the pit and killed him on the spot. The poor fellow was completely buried among the debris, which is supposed to have been about eight tons in weight. The other miners on hearing of the accident quickly mustered and dug the body out. Dr. Home, of West Calder, examined the body and found that one of the legs was broken, the head, shoulder, and other parts of the body being severely bruised. Deceased, who was forty-three years of age, leaves a widow and nine children. -Scotsman. Source: Glasgow Herald, Friday 2nd March 1866

DROWNED IN AN OIL TANK – Yesterday, Peter Smith, labourer, aged 17 years, and residing at Calder Ironworks, was got drowned in an oil tank at the Palacecraig Oil Works. It appears that on the 10th of last month deceased had gone into the work to ask for employment. On being told that he could not get work, he turned, and as was supposed, went out at the gate. Since then he had not been seen, and every search was made among friends and others, until yesterday, when on searching the tank where the oil and ammoniacal liquor is run into, his body was found. No one can tell how he fell into such a place. Source: The Glasgow Herald, 2nd March 1866

FATAL PIT ACCIDENT AT ADDIEWELL – On Sunday morning, while John Ralstons, a fireman, residing at Addiewell, near West Calder, was employed at No. 2 Pit there, belonging to Mr James Young, of Limefield, he incautiously came in contact with the crank of the pumping-engine. His right leg was in consequence severely cut and injured, and severe internal injuries were sustained. The poor man was immediately assisted home, and medical aid sent for; but the injuries were so serious a nature that he expired on Tuesday morning in a great agony. Source: Dunfermline Saturday Press – 15th September, 1866

JURY TRIAL – Thursday (Before Sheriff Davidson and a Jury.) CHARGE OF CULPABLE HOMICIDE. James Lind was put upon his trial, charged with culpable homicide, or culpable neglect of duty in his capacity of engineman at the Paraffin Oil Works Colliery, Addiewell, West Calder. It was his duty to set the engine in motion on receiving a signal from below by a person named the "bottomer." Upon the occasion in question the engine was set in motion when the bottomer was assisting in getting a truck upon the carriage at the bottom of the pit, when it suddenly began to rise, taking him with it. He was driven violently against a door with such force that he died almost immediately. A number of witnesses were examined for the prosecution, and nine for the prisoner. It was declared, in defence, that the signal was given, for the witnesses admitted that though they did not hear it, the bell might have rung. After addresses by the Procurator Fiscal and Mr Dundas Grant, who appeared for the prisoner, and the charge by the Sheriff, which was adverse to the prisoner, the jury returned a verdict of not proven. Caledonian Mercury – 8th March 1867

WEST-CALDER.FATAL ACCIDENT IN A MINE – On Monday afternoon, a miner, named Wm. Mathers, forty years of age, was killed in No. 1 shale pit, Addiewell, West Calder, by a piece of shale, about a ton weight, falling upon him from the roof of the pit. It was a quarter of an hour before he could be extricated from the mass which had fallen upon him, and when this was accomplished, he was found to be quite dead. Source: Falkirk Herald – 16th May, 1867

COATBRIDGE - ACCIDENT – An accident of a serious character occurred at the Coatbridge Oil Works on Thursday afternoon, whereby Mr Rennie, manager, and Mr Graham, of Messrs John Graham and Sons, boiler makers, Glasgow, were both severely burned. Mr Graham was making an inspection of the works in company with Mr Rennie, who was showing him something about the furnace, and had raised the damper for the purpose when the sulphurous gas was forced into the furnace and an explosion followed, burning the two about the face and neck, and also Rennie's hands and wrists, Dr Adams attended on Rennie, and Mr Graham was sent home. The Glasgow Herald – 8th February 1868

On the above date (9th October 1868), Robert Hare, 23 years of age, was slightly burned at City Side Oil Works, belonging to Bell & Hamilton, near Greenhill, in the parish of Shotts. Hare was working at one of the retorts, and having lifted the lid of an oil tank a portion of gas escaped, and coming in contact with a burning lamp carried by Hare, an explosion took place, but fortunately without doing much injury either to person or property. Glasgow Herald - 15th October 1868

AIRDRIE. ACCIDENT – Edward O'Boyle, labourer, Rawyards, got his skull fractured yesterday morning by a brick falling on his head from the top of a stalk in course of erection at Stanrigg Oil Work. He was attended by Dr. Rankin, Airdrie. Glasgow Herald – 15th June 1869

1870's

A SCOTCH SHALE PIT ON FIRE - SEVEN LIVES LOST - MANY MINERS SEVERELY BURNED - A heart rending calamity occurred on Saturday, at the Starlaw Shale Pit, near Bathgate, Linlithgowshire. In out yesterday's issue we gave some particulars of a dreadful catastrophe by fire in Cardiff; and the one we have to record to-day is even more horrible in its details – seven men having lost their lives, many being severely burned. The pit in question forms part of the Boghall Shale and Coal Works, belonging to Messrs E, Meldrum & Co. – a firm which, besides Mr Meldrum of Dechmont, includes Mr M'Lagan of Pumpherston, M.P., and Mr George Simpson, Viewfield, Parish of Shotts. The Starlaw pit has been in operation for about three years, and has been worked to the extent of several acres. On Saturday the pit was at work as usual, there being employed in the various workings fifty-six men and boys. The furnace is said to have been fired about half past eleven, and it must have been fired about half past eleven, and it must have been very shortly afterwards that Robert Moffat, who was employed as fireman in the pit, observed that the soot covering the wooden lining of the upcast had caught fire. It is supposed that the cause of ignition was a spark from the furnace. The engineman, James Steel, appraised of what had happened below, had set to work with a will to render all the assistance in his power. In the excitement of the moment the usual signalling apparatus was dispensed with, and Steel kept lowering the cage, allowing it rest at the bottom for a sufficient time to let men get in, and then heaving up with all possible despatch. An attempt to quench the fire proved utterly futile. In spite of all the water that could be poured down, the flames kept gathering strength with frightful rapidity, till they blazed out with such violence as to render it almost impossible to approach the pit mouth. Meanwhile the brave Steel, though exposed to scorching heat, stuck manfully to his engine, lowering and raising with the utmost precision the cage which formed the only hope of the poor miners below. Of course only the cage in the downcast was available. The other being attached to the same drum, had made two or three descents into the roaring furnace of the upcast, when the rope yielded to the fire, and it dropped to the bottom. Fortunately the rope in the downcast held out for a few minutes longer, though it, too, caught fire shortly after the other. Thanks to Steel's nerve and presence of mind no time was lost, the cage, we are told being lowered and raised in little more than a minute. For five or six trips it came up crowded with miners, 8 or 9 men having in each case packed themselves into a space intended for four. So deftly was the operation managed, that as fast as the poor fellows, running from various distances in the workings, arrived at the pit bottom, the cage was there to receive them and whirl them aloft to safety. It may readily be supposed, however, that the passage to the open air swift as it was, seemed all too long to the occupants of the cage. The wood-work of the apparatus caught fire; the iron-work was nearly red hot; in the up cast shaft, separated from them only by a thin partition, a raging furnace threatened destruction; while the burning rope by which they were suspended seemed likely every instant to give way and leave them to their fate. So far the actual progress of the fire had been confined to the upcast, but the down-draught carried the smoke and flame over the top of the partition into the downcast and so into the pit, rendering the air quite stifling. All the men suffered more or less from this, but, strange to say, most of those who came up in large parties escaped without even having their whiskers singed. At length, after several batches of eight or nine each had been safely brought to bank, the cage on its next descent came up empty. By this time the fire had burst through the top of the partition and was blazing in full volume from both sections of the shafts cutting off all possibility of ventilation, and giving rise to the most serious apprehensions as to the safety of those still in the pit. The cage was forwith sent down again, and presently returned with two men. So blinding were the flames and smoke that the men were not seen by those on the pit bank, and some one having called out that the cage was empty, it was straightway lowered again before its occupants had the chance of getting out. The feelings of the poor miners on being thus sent back to the frightful prison from which they had all but escaped may be more easily imagined than described. On reaching the bottom, Grant in desperation was on the point of throwing himself out of the cage, but fortunately the apparatus was whirled up again before he could accomplish his purpose, and this time he and his companion lost no time in scrambling out. Notwithstanding that they had passed three times through the burning shaft, both men escaped with comparativoly [sic] little injury. Their hair and whiskers were singed. After they had been rescued the cage made three fruitless descents; but at the fourth it came up with other two men, named Thomas M'Lean and William Rankin, who had in the interim managed to crawl to the shaft. On getting into the cage, they had endeavoured to bring along with them a third man, named William Wands, but he was too much overcome by the heat and smoke to keep his position, and slipped off as the cage began to ascend. M'Lean and Rankin were unfortunately without their coats, and as they were drawn up through the burning shaft the flames told with terrible effect on their naked arms and shoulders. When they reached the top the exposed portions of their bodies were so badly scorched that the skin peeled off at the touch. M'Lean was able to stagger from the cage, but Rankin, in getting out, entangled his foot with some portion of the apparatus, and having fallen heavily, broke his leg. After the cage had made one or two more descents, each time coming up empty, the burning rope gave way, thus cutting off all hope of escape from the seven miners still remaining below. During the ten minutes or so that this terrible scene had been going on at the pit head, the alarm had spread to the various rows of cottages connected with the colliery. The wives and children of the miners, in a state of wild consternation, hurried to the pit, and very affecting were the greetings that were interchanged as one after another of the survivors emerged in safety from the smoke and flames. As time wore on, the crowd rapidly increased, old and young trooping to the colliery from all parts of the surrounding country. Two men after repeated attempts contrived to reach the bottom of the pit; and there, making their way with great difficulty, on account of the stifling state of the air, they found, about eight fathoms from the shaft, on the dip-side of the workings the bodies of two brothers, named James and John M'Neill. Both of these men had been working near the top of the rise, and in order to reach the place where their bodies were found they must have passed the shaft. They had come up, it is supposed, after the breaking of the rope, and finding their chance of escape cut off, had moved into the dip-workings in the hope of finding better air. Their strength, however, had been nearly spent in the effort to reach the shaft, and after stumbling along for about fifty feet they sank down together and expired. The bodies were found lying on their faces. There were no mark of injury observable, and the faces wore a calm and peaceful expression. The body of Wm. Rushford was also discovered in the dip workings, about 10 fathoms from the shaft. The bodies of Peter Comiskie and David Muir, the latter at the head of the dip and the former in the rise workings were next discovered. The body of Muir showed a slight abrasion on the face, and the poor fellow's cap was firmly clenched between his teeth, as if in the agonies of death he had endeavoured to keep out the smoke which was suffocating him. The explorers penetrating some eighty fathoms into the dip, found the body of Patrick Comiskie, brother of Peter above mentioned. Owing to the difficulty which had been experienced in penetrating the workings, the recovery of the bodies above specified had occupied the whole of Saturday evening, and it was not till eleven o'clock that John Wallace and Thomas Snodgras discovered the remains of William Wands. This unfortunate man, had actually been got into the cage by two friendly comrades, but, being unable to support himself there, had staggered off and dropped down to die at no great distance from the shaft. The various bodies on being brought to bank were examined by the medical gentlemen present, who gave it as their opinion that the deceased had succumbed very rapidly after the complete stoppage of ventilation, which must have occurred when the mid wall of the shaft was burnt through. As may be supposed, the scene at the pit head during the evening, as one ghastly object after another was brought up, was one of painful excitement: The crowd was kept back to some distance from the shaft, but it was only with the utmost difficulty that the wives and other relations of the deceased could be restrained, and the lamentations of the poor creatures were heart-rending to hear. The bodies were in the first instance conveyed to the carpenter's shop, and having there been coffined, were removed as soon as possible to the homes which the accident had rendered desolate.

The following is a list of the deceased, with such particulars as have been ascertained with respect to their families:-

All the above, with the exception of Patrick Comiskie, who lived in Bathgate, residing at Starlaw Rows.

Concerning the terrible calamity, one of the survivors, named Patrick Grant, says: - It was the "corning" hour, and I was sitting taking my smoke, when a man came running and told us the pit was on fire. My neighbour and I at once made for the bottom of the shaft, but he got there before me. When I reached the shaft the cage was at the bottom, and there were eight or nine men about it. All got in except another man and myself, and the cage was raised. At this time the foot of the shaft was full of smoke, and I had great difficulty in breathing. In a few seconds after the cage had left us it returned, and I threw myself across it, catching hold of the cross bar with my hands. The man who was with me got in too, and then the cage was launched to the top. The shaft was full of fire and smoke, and to keep myself from getting suffocated I stuffed the sleeve of my coat into my mouth. It was so dark, and we reached the pit-head. Some person at the top cried there was nobody in the cage, and before I could scramble out it was sent to the bottom. I do not know whether my companion got out; but I think he did not. When the cage reached the bottom I cried out, "Are there any men there?" But I got no answer. By this time the cage had got very hot, and not knowing well what to do I thought of throwing myself out. I was not able to do so, however, before the cage again commenced to ascend. The flames in the shaft seemed to have increased, and the smoke to have become thicker, when I was shot through it the second time; but I managed to escape being suffocated by keeping my coat sleeve stuffed in my mouth. I saw that the rope of the cage was on fire, but I had no time to think of the possibility of its breaking. I could not see when the cage reached the surface, but I kept feeling the edges; and when I thought it was up all the way, I made a leap without very well knowing where. I fell on the ground, and the next moment was caught by some of the men and pulled out of the smoke. Another survivor of the name of John Doyle says: - I was working in the rise workings, the matter of fully two hundred fathoms from the bottom of the shaft. My son was working with me, but when the "corning" hour came I sent him out. Before he had time to have got passed the bottom of the pit I heard him coming back, and crying "Father, father, come on." I was speaking to another man at the time, and when I heard my son cry I ran up to my road head and cried to him to know if there was anything wrong. Says he, "The pit's on fire; come on quick or you'll lose your life." I asked him if it was a gas fire. "No," says, he. "it comes from the tube. The tube's on fire on the rise side of the shaft." So says I "Make you the best road you can to the bottom yourself, and never mind me. "No," says he, "go you on, and I will overtake you." There were four men- Matthew Brown, David Reid, and the brother's Wilson- working beside me at this time, and when they heard what my son said, they made for the shaft. I again told my son to push on and save himself. "I am an old man," I says, "and so it's not much matter about me; but you are young, and must save yourself." "No," he says, "I am not going till I see the whole of the men out." He then ran to the road head and called to the men above – the Comiskies and the M'Neills- that if they were not at the foot of the shaft in two minutes their lives were done. He got no answer. I had gone twenty or thirty yards towards the shaft bottom, but returning I again called on my son to come and save himself. The only answer I got was that he would perish rather not warn all the men. He once more called to the Comiskies and the M'Neils, but still getting no answer, I got him induced to come with me to the shaft. When we got to the bottom of the shaft, the trap doors were on fire, and all about was thick with smoke. The cage was at the bottom, and seven men were in it. They cried for more, and my son pushed me into it. As I got in somebody objected that there was too many; but some one else cried, "Let as many come in as there's room for." The signal bell was then rung, and the cage began to rise. For ten or twelve feet at the foot, the shaft was in flames, and all the way up was filled with smoke; but we shot through it so quickly that none of us were injured. When we had been landed the cage went down again, and brought another lot of nine men, my son being one of them. After them, only four men – Grant and Forrester, and M'Lean and Rankin- were brought up. – Scotsman.

On Sunday one of the men who had been rescued from the pit died from the injuries he received- making eight deaths in all. Seven widows and twenty orphans have been left. Source: The Dundee Courier and Argus - Tuesday, April 12th, 1870

ACCIDENT - Between seven and eight o'clock on the morning of Monday last, Henry Comiskie, a brother of Peter and Patrick Comiskie, who lost their lives in the Starlaw Pit accident, got himself severely burned at the Bathgate Chemical Oil Works. Comiskie, who is a retort-man, was employed discharging one of the retorts, when a gas-pipe in connection with the retort burst, and the flames leapt up, burning him severely about the hands, arms and face. He was conveyed to his own house in Bathgate, where he was attended to by Dr Longmuir, Bathgate. The hope is entertained that he will recover. Source: Falkirk Herald – Thursday 21st April 1870

QUEENSFERRY - ACCIDENT - John Carlin, miner, Hamilton's Close here, was severely bruised by the fall of 7 tons of rubbish from the roof of Dalmeny shale pit about 7 a.m. On Saturday, 18th inst., while employed in his working compartment in that pit. His cries brought his fellow workmen to his assistance. They conveyed him home, where he was attended by Dr Greig. He is now progressing favourably. Source Falkirk Herald – Saturday 25th June 1870

UPHALL SERIOUS ACCIDENT - On Tuesday, while a miner named John Beveridge was working in the shale pit at Uphall, belonging to the Uphall Mineral Oil Company, he observed a deficiency in the brushing in his working, and was in the act of putting up some support when the roof gave way, and about two tons of material fell down and buried him, with the exception of his head. His cries for help were heard by a fellow-workman, who brought more assistance, and after considerable exertion, the poor fellow was extricated. It was then found that his back and legs were fearfully crushed, and he was at once removed to the Edinburgh Infirmary. Source: Falkirk Herald – Thursday 14th July 1870

BROXBURN - SHOCKING ACCIDENT - On Friday afternoon an accident of a distressing nature occurred at Mr Bell's works at Greendyke, near Broxburn. A young man named Wm. Linn, jun., had the contract for removing the shale from the breaking machine in trucks, and while thus engaged he went up a ladder to the scaffold where the machine is fed. While coming down his left foot slipped and was caught by the fly-wheel of the breaking machine and dragged partly among the machinery, his left leg and part of the left side being stripped of the flesh. He lived only 15 minutes. Source: Falkirk Herald – Thursday 1st December 1870

BATHGATE - SHOCKING ACCIDENT – A MAN FALLING DOWN A COAL PIT – On Tuesday morning, 27th ult., while some of the men employed at No. 11 Shale Pit, near West Calder, the property of Messrs Young & Co., paraffin and mineral oil manufacturers, Addiewell, descended the pit to commence their work, they were horrified to find the mangled body of a man at the pit bottom. On the body being removed to the pit-head, it was identified as that of William Moon Jackson, a pointsman at Cuthill siding of the loop line of the Caledonian Railway. From what we have been able to learn, deceased had gone to West Calder on the previous night to attend the annual festival of St John's, and was seen to leave the lodge after midnight a little the worse of liquor, and nothing more was heard of him until his body was discovered. It is supposed he had wandered and fallen down the pit, which is 105 fathoms deep. The body was much mutilated, one of the arms being torn away from the body. Deceased was about thirty years of age, a native of Ireland, and unmarried. Source: Falkirk Herald – 31st December 1870

BATHGATE. FATHER AND SON KILLED – On Monday morning week, an alarming accident happened at No. 2 Pit Gavieside. A father and son, both named John Shaw, had just stepped on the cage for the purpose of descending. Just at the moment the rope, which was a wire one, snapped, precipitating them to the bottom, a distance of 20 fathoms. They were both killed instantly. The boy was only 11 years of age, and the father 34. Source: Falkirk Herald – Thursday 26th January 1871

AIRDRIE – SERIOUS ACCIDENT– Yesterday, a steam boiler burst at Loanhead Oil Works, near Airdrie, and two men – Mr John Aitken, manager, and John Bulloch, labourer- got themselves much injured. The boiler was thrown with great force a considerable distance, scattering bricks and other debris in all directions. The two men were struck by the flying stones and severely cut on the face and legs. Glasgow Herald – Thursday 26th October 1871

JOHNSTONE - ALARMING ACCIDENT - Yesterday afternoon, about five o'clock, an exciting accident occurred at Binning's Shale Mill Pits, near Johnstone. A number of bricklayers, while building an oil-house, on a scaffolding at an elevation of twenty feet, were suddenly alarmed by the scaffolding giving way. Two Labourers, named James M'Callum, residing at Rankin Street, and Edward M'Ginn, Dimity Street, Johnstone, were precipitated to the ground, and the later former sustained severe injuries about the head, while the latter had his right foot considerably injured. A large number of bricklayers who were on the framework at the time escaped by climbing to the top of the wall. Source: The Scotsman, 28th May 1872

SERIOUS ASSAULT IN SHALE PIT – At the Sheriff Summary Court, Edinburgh, on Saturday, before Sheriff Hallard, Donald M'Kay and Alexander M'Kenna were charged with assaulting John Demsie, signalman in No. 2 shale pit, Addiewell. From the evidence it appeared that Demsie was responsible for the working of the cages sent up from the pit bottom. The prisoners who are "drawers," and bound to obey Demsie, came to the pit bottom with some hutches filled with shale, and, after having been forbidden to do so, shoved the hutches on the cage, notwithstanding that Demsie had signalled to the engineer at the top that the cage was coming up with men. Demsie, after a struggle, got the hutches out of the cage, when the prisoners attacked him with great ferocity, knocking him down and unmercifully beating him. The Sheriff said this was not an ordinary case of assault; it was also a breach of discipline, where human life was endangered by the conduct if the accused; and as it was essential that an example should be made to prevent the recurrence of a similar offence, he sentenced each of the prisoners to thirty days' imprisonment. Source: Falkirk Herald – 27th June 1872

WEST CALDER - FATAL PIT ACCIDENT – A miner, named John Lyon, residing at West Calder, on Monday met with a fatal accident while employed at No. 15 Shale Pit at Addiewell. He was engaged at the time of the accident in putting timber into the shaft, and was standing on a platform halfway down the shaft, while a piece of timber was being lowered down the shaft. The rope by which it was hung broke, and, falling on the scaffolding on which Lyon was standing, precipitated both to the bottom of the shaft, a fall of thirty feet. The unfortunate man was killed instantaneously. Source: Falkirk Herald – Thursday 15th August 1872

BATHGATE - SERIOUS ACCIDENT AT YOUNG'S OIL WORKS – ONE BOY KILLED AND THREE INJURED – On Friday morning a very serious accident occurred at the above works, whereby a boy named George Rolland, aged 12 years, lost his life, while three young lads were injured. It appears that while some of the workmen were in the act of lifting an iron still by means of a crane and block-and-tackle, the rope gave way near to the still, which came down with a fearful crash, severely injuring the four parties. The young lad Rolland expired shortly after being brought home. The other three are still alive. Source: Falkirk Herald – Thursday 22nd August 1872

AIRDRIE - Fatal Accident – On Tuesday, a young man named James Walker, residing at High Riggend, Airdrie, was accidentally killed on a siding near Stand Oilworks. The deceased was employed as a waggon driver, and was taking some waggons from the siding, and in shifting the points, he slipped and fell before the wheels, which went over him, killing him on the spot. The Falkirk Herald, 1st September 1872

PIT ACCIDDENT – TWO MEN SEVERELY BURNT – On Monday forenoon an accident of a somewhat serious nature occurred at West Calder in No. 15 Shale Pit, belonging to Messrs Adams & Co., Addiewell. It appears that the two sinkers or borers named James Fairlie and James Patterson, after igniting a fuse, at the end of which was a quantity of powder for the purpose of blasting, ascended the pit as usual in order to avoid the explosion. After waiting for some time, they, thinking, perhaps, that the train had failed, descended and commenced to reopen the bore. The powder immediately exploded, severely burning Fairlie on the face and arms, and Patterson on the face, chest, arms, and legs. The former was taken home, and Patterson was conveyed to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, where he lies in a critical condition. The latter is thirty-seven years of age, and had only been engaged five days at the pit. Source: Falkirk Herald – Thursday, 17th October, 1872

WEST CALDER - FATAL PIT ACCIDENT AT ADDIEWELL – On Tuesday morning, at six o'clock, Jacob Shore and John Morgan, pit sinkers, residing at Mossend, West Calder, were lowered in the "kettle" down No. 15 shale pit, Addiewell, for the purpose of commencing work. When about 70 fathoms down, Shore mistook the instructions of Morgan, and the "kettle" being thus misguided, came in contact with a scaffolding, and was upset. Shore was thrown out, and falling to the bottom, a depth of 15 fathoms, was killed instantaneously. Morgan saved himself by catching the chains, and holding on until rescued. Source: Falkirk Herald – Saturday 2nd November 1872

JOHNSTONE – FALL OF A BUILDING - Five men were somewhat seriously injured yesterday at the Clippens Shale Oil Works (Mr. Bunning's), near Johnstone, by the falling of a large archway of brick built over a kiln. The men were seated at their meal inside when the catastrophe occurred. John Gillespie, Canal St, Johnstone; and James Grant, High Street, Johnstone, are the most dangerously injured, and were removed by Dr. Cunningham to the Paisley Infirmary. It is feared Gillespie will not rally, being severely cut about the head, and seriously injured internally. The other were removed to their homes in a cab. The walls stand intact. The accident is attributed to the state of the weather and the softness of the lime. Source: The Scotsman, 28th June 1873

CHARGE OF CULPABLE HOMICIDE – On Thursday at the Sheriff Criminal Court, Edinburgh – before Sheriff Davidson and a jury – William Knox, engine-man, residing at Mossend, West Calder, was charged with having on the 5th June at No. 15 Shale Pit, Addiewell, culpably and carelessly, and in neglect of his duty, failed to stop his engine when a cage which was being drawn up the shaft had reached the landing, in consequence of which a sinker, named James Black, was thrown down the shaft, a depth of 115 fathoms, and killed. The prisoner, who was defended by Mr Dundas Grant, advocate, pleaded not guilty, and the case went to trial. Twelve witnesses were examined, and in the course of the evidence it came out that the indicator referred to in the indictment was out of order on the occasion of the accident – that even when in order it did not indicate correctly the position of the load in the shaft; that it didn't move until after the load had been raised by the engine from two to six feet; and that it was repaired about a week after the accident occurred. It was also proved that the view of the engineman to the pit-mouth was obstructed by a fly-wheel and its railing, and that the scaffold or cage on which the man who was killed by falling to the bottom of the pit was coming up had been changed since the prisoner left in the morning, and returned in the evening to his work. Other changes had also been made which had not been intimated to him before he resumed work. After addresses from the Fiscal and Mr Grant, the Sheriff summed up against the prisoner. The jury, however, after a very brief absence, returned a verdict, by a majority, of not guilty. The trial lasted the entire day. Source: Falkirk Herald – Saturday 26th July 1873

WEST CALDER - ACCIDENT IN A PIT – The other morning, a miner named John Spence, residing at Gavieside Row, West Calder, was seriously injured in No. 2 shale pit. While standing at the face of the workings about a ton of shale unexpectedly came away and fell upon him. He was extricated as speedily as possible, and on being removed home it was ascertained by a medical man who had been called in that his spine was so severely injured that he is not expected to recover. Source: Falkirk Herald – Thursday 16th October 1873

COURT OF SESSION OUTER HOUSE – SATURDAY, JUNE 5 (Before Lord Gifford) - Ferguson v. Young's Paraffin Light and Mineral Oil Company. The pursuer in this action, Charles Stewart Ferguson, resides at 3 Graham Street, Addiewell, near West Calder, is 50 years of age, and, after being a blast-furnace keeper at Wishaw and other places for 32 years, came to Addiewell in February 1870, and was employed by the defenders to charge a furnace in the refining department of the defenders' works there, and to discharge the same of soda tar. A short time previous to the 30th June 1870, he says, he observed that the furnace was getting apparently into a bad state of repair, and he at once communicated the fact to the foreman of the department and other officials. He was, however, he adds, told to continue working until there should be time and materials to repair the furnace, and he accordingly continued to work on very cautiously. But, between twelve and one o'clock on the morning of the 1st July 1870, the furnace exploded, and he was struck down by the heated mass and some of the bricks and sustained severe injuries. The accident, he avers, was caused by the negligence of the defenders' servants, for whom they are responsible, and he asks damages, which he lays at £1000. The defenders' resist the notion on the pleas that the explosion in question (1) was not due to any cause for which they are responsible. (2) but was caused, or (3) was materially contributed to, by fault and negligence on the part of the pursuer. The record in the case has been closed, and issues ordered. Counsel for the Pursuer – Mr Millie. Agent – Thos. Lawson, S. S. C. Counsel for the defender – Mr Balfour. Agents – Webster & Will, S. S. C. Source Falkirk Herald and Linlithgow Journal, Saturday June 13th 1874

WEST CALDER - SERIOUS COAL-PIT ACCIDENT AT ADDIEWELL – A pit-sinker named Thomas Kennedy sustained very severe injuries, on Tuesday morning last, by the falling of a large quantity of coal in No. 19 Coal Pit, belonging to Messrs Young & Co. Kennedy was engaged in the pit mining out coal to commence the workings of the pit, when about half-a-ton of coal fell from the roof upon him. One of his fellow workmen managed to extricate him from the mass of coal, and got him removed to the pit mouth. On being taken to his house (at Murchison Buildings, Muirhall), Dr Hope, of West Calder, was called in, and that gentleman found the unfortunate man's back was broken, and that the lower part of his body was paralysed. Kennedy lies in a very precarious condition. Source: Falkirk Herald – Saturday 8th August 1874

A pitheadman, named David Beveridge, was killed at the Pyothall Pit, near Broxburn, on Wednesday by falling down the pit-shaft, a distance of 86 fathoms. Edinburgh Evening News, 11th February 1876

MINING ACCIDENT AT WEST CALDER – A young lad named Patrick Duffy, while working in No. 2 Shell [sic] Pit, Addiewell, near West Calder, on Tuesday, had one of his legs broken between the ankle and the knee. It is stated that Duffy, who is drawer, was in one of the dips when the hutches were being run down, and that one of them left the rails and struck him on the leg. Source: Edinburgh Evening News – Thursday 4th July 1878

1880's

TWO MEN INJURED - DAMAGE £2500 - Last night a disastrous explosion and fire occured at the extensive works of the Walkinshaw Oil Company (Limited), about a couple of miles north-west of Paisley, where two men were injured and damage was done to the extent of £2500. In the centre of the works stood a brick building about 80 feet long, 40 feet wide, and 20 feet high, used as a paraffin refinery, and the whole of the mischief was confined to the south-east end of the structure. The occurrence was attended with some degree of mystery, or rather uncertainty, and in the excitement which followed a great many conflicting statements were made, but the facts, as far as they could be gathered on the spot, are embodied in the following narrative: - Towards half past five o'clock, a young man whose name is believed to be Pollock went to examine the works of a clock, set in the southern wall of the refinery, for the purposed of reparing them, and in order to effect this object he mounted a ladder in the interior of the building. One of the employees named Robert Dean, who along with him, is alleged to have, in contravention of the rules laid down for the guidance of those engaged in the works, taken a naked light into the place, in order that the inspection of the machinery of the timepiece might be more easily made. It is believed that Dean had ascended the ladder on which Pollock stood, and had held the flame over his head with the view of sending the light inside of the clock. It is surmised that the flame thus raised aloft had ignited the light vapours from the oil in process of refining, and at any rate, either from this or from some other cause, a terrific explosion took place..... The actual effects of the explosion were milder than could have been reasonably expected, seeing that the force of it was sufficient to lift the heavy corrugated iron roof from one half of the erection several feet in the air and hurl it to the ground, and also to produce a shock which was felt a great distance..... The roof of one-half of the refinery having been blown off, the crude oil in four cylinders, each capable of containing about ten thousand gallons were set ablaze. Source: The Scotsman, 14th January 1885

FIRE AT CLIPPENS OIL WORKS, NEAR JOHNSTONE – MAN BURNED TO DEATH - Another serious fire took place at Clippens Oil Works near Johnstone on Saturday night, resulting in the death of one man, and the destruction of property officially estimated at from £2000 to £3000. The fire broke out in No. 4 shed, preceded by an explosion. Five men were in the apartment at the time of the mishap, four of whom escaped unhurt, but one, named Thomas Stranachan, perished in the flames. The fire would have been much more serious had it not been that a division wall had just be completed on Saturday, which had the effect of confining the flames to the portion of the building where the explosion occurred. The fire will not interfere with the operations of the work, and damage is covered by insurance. Stranachan was married only a few weeks ago. Source: The Scotsman, 2nd February 1885

FOUR PERSONS KILLED AND TWO INJURED - Intelligence was received this forenoon at the County Chief Constable's office in Edinburgh of a terrible accident at No. 11 Gavieside Shale Pit, West Calder, whereby three boys and a man lost their lives, and another man and boy were seriously injured. It appears that while a shift of workers was being lowered into the pit this morning the descending cage left the slides, it is supposed through coming in contact with an ascending cage at the other side of the shaft. The jerk threw out some of the occupants, who fell to the bottom of the shaft, a distance of 80 fathoms, and were killed. Meanwhile the rope was being uncoiled at the pit-head, and the cage having got clear of the obstruction fell at once to the bottom of the shaft, and some of the other occupants were also killed. Full particulars have not yet been received, but so far as has been learned, three boys and a man were killed, another man has had one of his legs broken, and another boy has got one of his jaw-bones broken. The pit belongs to Young's Paraffin Light and Mineral Oil Company. A telegram this afternoon gives the following list: Killed – Andrew Sanderson, 15 Gavieside Row; Samuel M'Curley, 20, Mossend; Thomas Duggan, 19, Mossend; Alexander Bulloch, 14, West Calder. Slightly hurt – Matthew Howieson, 23, Mossend; Thomas Reid, 14, Mossend. Mr Robson, assistant inspector of mines, has arrived to investigate the circumstances. Over 200 men are idle to-day in consequence of the accident. Source: Edinburgh Evening News – Monday 16th March 1885

TWO MEN SCALDED AT DALMENY OIL WORKS – This morning while two middle-aged men named James Johnstone, a labourer, residing at Queensferry, and Henry White, a boilermaker, residing in Edinburgh were at work inside a boiler at Dalmeny Oil Works, the fireman turned off the steam from a boiler connected with the one in which the men were at work. The steam entered the boiler in which they were, and Johnston was severely scalded about the face and all over his body, while White had both arms and hands rather badly scalded. Both men were conveyed to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, where White had his wounds dressed and was afterwards taken home, while Johnston was kept in the Infirmary. Source: Edinburgh Evening News – 25th March 1885

EDINBURGH EVENING NEWS SATURDAY 21 NOVEMBER 1885 ACTIONS AGAINST THE LINLITHGOW OIL COMPANY - In the Second Division of the Court of Session today, issues were ordered to be adjusted for trial by jury of an action at the instance of Terence Golligley, labourer, Winchburgh, against the Linlithgow Oil Company. Pursuer sues for £600 as damages for personal injuries. He states that during the night of 29th of May last he and another man were propelling a loaded hutch down an incline to the "tip," when they observed that the chain by which it was to be hauled back when empty, was too short. They shouted to engine-keeper to "heave out," but, he, mistaking their cry, thought the hutch had been "tipped," and began to wind the chain. The result was that the hutch was suddenly jerked back upon the men in charge of it, and pursuer was thrown down and dragged backwards, and his head was hurt by coming into contact with a bridge. He maintains that the signalling arrangements were defective, and that the bad condition of the road prevented his getting out of the way. Defenders say that signalling apparatus was not required in a short distance of less than 40 yards, that pursuer knew that everything was of a temporary nature, the works being only in course of erection, and that he ought to have used precautions in his work. The accident, they allege, was greatly owing to his want of caution. Issues were also ordered for trial of an action by Terence Donnelly against the same company. Donnelly sues for £100 as damages. He states that on the night of 5th of June, while he and another man were turning a loaded hutch at the "tip" it suddenly came against him, and hurt one of his legs. The road was, it is stated, in a defective condition. Defenders say that the road was known to pursuer to have been only a service one, and that if he knew it was defective, he ought not to have worked upon it. Pursuer's counsel, Mr Gunn, Agent, John D. Duff. W.S. – Defender's agent, John Macpherson, W.S. Source: Edinburgh Evening News, 21st November 1885

FATAL ACCIDENT AT OAKBANK OILWORKS – On Thursday afternoon the gas-pipes from the condensers at Oakbank Oilworks, Mid-Calder, having become choked with frost, David Penman, a foreman retortman , and others went up to the top, and tried to remedy this by pouring boiling water down the pipes. While doing so Penman was suffocated through inhaling the noxious fumes of the gas. Hugh Wallace, a retortman, observing Penman become unconscious, went with others to his assistance, and Wallace inhaling the gas also, lost balance and fell from a ladder to the ground, a distance of over 20 feet, breaking his left thigh and collar bone. Penman resided at Mid-Calder, and Wallace lives at Oakbank Huts. Source: Edinburgh Evening News, Saturday, December 12th, 1885

SHOCKING ACCIDENT AT OAKBANK OIL WORKS - James Miller killed in No. 2 Shale Pit. Source: Edinburgh Evening Dispatch - 25th March 1886

FATAL RESULT OF A PIT ACCIDENT – John Cameron, fifteen years of age, had died in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary from severe burns on the face and body sustained by him through an explosion of fire-damp, which occurred about ten days ago in the Pentland Shale Pit of the Clippens Oil Company. The fireman at the pit was fined £1 by Sheriff Hamilton in Edinburgh, on the 6th inst., for his carelessness and neglect of his duties in the pit, which, in part at least, caused the explosion. Source: Edinburgh Evening News – Friday 16th April 1886

ACCIDENT AT A SHALE MINE - John O'Brien hit by shale which fell from a hutch and rolled down incline. Mine owned by Holmes Oil Company Ltd, Broxburn. Source: Edinburgh Evening Dispatch - 28th July 1886

KILLED AT BATHGATE OIL WORKS - Daniel Campbell, 20, killed in works from broken neck. Source: Edinburgh Evening Dispatch - 15th September 1886

MINER SUFFOCATED AT OAKBANK - Robert Gibb overcome by fumes. Source: Edinburgh Evening Dispatch - 28th November 1886

FATAL ACCIDENT AT BURNTISLAND OIL WORKS - James Dunachie killed by hutches when trespassing across works. Source: Edinburgh Evening Dispatch - 13th December 1886

ACCIDENT AT OAKBANK OIL WORKS - John Whitfeather. Source: Edinburgh Evening Dispatch - 29th December 1886

FATAL RESULT OF AN ACCIDENT AT OAKBANK - Charlie Gallacher, retortman, died on 9th February from internal injuries due to an accidental fall. Source: Edinburgh Evening Dispatch - 10th February 1887

EXPLOSION OF FIREDAMP AT BROXBURN HAYSCRAIG MINE - James Sneddon, Thomas Rate, James Chapman and George Carrol burned. Source: Edinburgh Evening Dispatch - 3rd March 1887

FATAL PIT ACCIDENT - Death of Peter Anderson (33), roadsman at Clippens Oil Company's Pentland Shale Pit on 28 March, hit by hutches underground. Source: Edinburgh Evening Dispatch - 29th March 1887

FATAL ACCIDENT AT OAKBANK - John Smiles, miner, killed at Oakbank Shale Pit by premature explosion. Source: Edinburgh Evening Dispatch - 6th April 1887

ACCIDENT TO A MINER - Hugh McCree, miner, hit by stone from the roof in Champfleurie Mine. Source: Edinburgh Evening Dispatch - 9th April 1887

EXPLOSION OF FIREDAMP AT BROXBURN - Three men burned in Broxburn Oil Company's Albyn Mine. Source: Edinburgh Evening Dispatch - 21st April 1887

EXPLOSION IN BATHGATE OIL MINE - Death of Samuel H. Haywood in Deans Mine. Source: Edinburgh Evening Dispatch - 6th June 1887

EXPLOSION AT BROXBURN, TWO MEN KILLED - William Wilson, oversman and Andrew Beith, contractor killed in Sandhole Pit. Source: Edinburgh Evening Dispatch - 8th July 1887

ACCIDENT AT CLIPPENS OIL WORKS - William Wright, carter, run over by wagons on slope. Source: Edinburgh Evening Dispatch - 25th July 1887

ACCIDENT AT PUMPHERSTON OIL WORKS - Thomas Galven injured by premature shot in No. 2 Pumpherston. Source: Edinburgh Evening Dispatch - 15th September 1887

AN INTERESTING MIDLOTHIAN MINING CASE - James Robertson, fireman, Pumpherston No. 1 Mine fined £2 or 14 days for not inspecting all workplaces on 3rd October. Three miners were burned as a result. Source: Edinburgh Evening Dispatch - 9th November 1887

EXPLOSION AT BATHGATE - Deans Oil Works. Source: Edinburgh Evening Dispatch - 30th November 1887

ACTION AGAINST THE BROXBURN COMPANY - sued by Andrew Craig who was injured by a wagon at Hayscraig Mine. Source: Edinburgh Evening Dispatch - 3rd December 1887

FIRE AT STANRIGG OIL WORKS. Source: Edinburgh Evening Dispatch - 5th December 1887

A BROXBURN MINER KILLED - William Lyon killed at Holmes Mine in a blasting accident. Source: Edinburgh Evening Dispatch - 15 December 1887

ACCIDENT AT ADDIEWELL - An unnamed worker aged 19 run over by a hutch at a tip. Source: Edinburgh Evening Dispatch - 19th January 1888

EXPLOSION IN A SHALE MINE - Patrick (25) and William (23) Clark injured at Clippens, Loanhead. Source: Edinburgh Evening Dispatch - 2nd March 1888

ACTION AGAINST THE WEST LOTHIAN OIL COMPANY - Claim on behalf of John Russell jnr re burns caused by explosion at works on 30 November 1887. Source Edinburgh Evening Dispatch - 16th March 1888

MAN DROWNED AT UPHALL - Joseph Hume, enginekeeper (60) at Pumpherston Oil Works, fell into a pond of hot tarry water from plank and drowned. Source: Edinburgh Evening Dispatch - 19th March 1888

Frank Morgan, miner, killed at Burntisland Oil Company's Work, Binnend, by fall of shale. Source: Edinburgh Evening Dispatch - 22nd March 1888

PUMPHERSTON - MAN KILLED - On Saturday night, about 10 o'clock, while John Shaw (19), a retortman at Pumpherston Oil Works, was placing a chain in motion upon a hutch to convey the latter down an incline platform to the breakers, the hutch left the rails, and swinging round fell over the platform, a distance of about 20 feet, carrying Shaw with it. When picked up the poor fellow was dead, his back having been broken at the spine and other injuries inflicted. He only came to this country about a month ago from County Antrim. Source: Glasgow Herald – Tuesday 3rd July 1888

UPHALL - PAINFUL ACCIDENT AT THE OILWORKS – On Sunday night a serious accident took place to a young man named Alexander Brown (19), residing at Uphall, and employed at Young's Oil Works. He had been engaged near the tanks of hot paraffin in the refinery department, when his feet slipped and he fell into one of the tanks up to the waist. He was immediately rescued, but the liquid being some 180 degrees of heat, he was severely burned. The unfortunate lad was carried home and attended by Dr Stewart. Source: Glasgow Herald, Tuesday 3rd July 1888

1890's

DISASTROUS EXPLOSION AT PUMPHERSTON, THREE MEN KILLED – TWO INJURED - On Saturday night a disastrous boiler explosion took place at Pumpherston Shale Mines and Oil Works, Mid-Lothian, by which three men lost their lives, two were injured, and great damage was done to plant. The works, which are the property of the Pumpherston Oil Company (Limited), are situated about two miles south from Uphall, rather further from Broxburn, and about the same distance north of Mid-Calder. The boiler which exploded was one of a battery of 22 double-flued Lancashire boilers, placed horizontally side by side, and built round by brick. Running parallel and close to these on the south side is a series of large tar tanks, supported on brick pillars about 12 feet high. The tar is used as fuel for the boiler furnaces, and is led into them by pipes. Some 30 yards to the north of the boilers is a bench of retorts for shale distillation, about 25 feet high, and immediately north of this runs the public road. The boiler which burst was of the usual pattern, some 25 feet long by 7 feet in diameter, and it worked at the low pressure of 5lb, on the square inch. The steam obtained from it and its neighbours was used for feeding the retorts.

Fortunately, at the time of the accident, a few minutes before ten o'clock, very few men were about, as the majority had gone for supper, and this fact most likely explains why there was not a very much greater loss of life. The men in attendance close to the spot at the time were Edward Dempsey, John Scott, and John Welsh, boiler firemen, and Andrew Taylor, retort foreman. The latter had gone to see about the steam supply. All at once the boiler exploded with a terrific noise and with disastrous effect. The men about the works, alarmed by the sound, hurried to the spot. The air was full of dust and steam, and at first nothing could be discovered. The boiler was found lying about thirty yards to the south of its original position, with its ends blown out, and only one of the furnace tubes remaining in it. The other tube had been blown against the retorts a similar distance to the north. In its flight the boiler had carried away two of the large tar tanks, with their brick supports and the corrugated iron roof which covered them. The ground was everywhere strewn with bricks and broken timbers. Scott was found lying on an ash heap some thirty yards away. He was still alive, but unconscious and he expired about an hour afterwards. Dempsey's body was blown to the top of the bench of retorts, and half twisted round an iron railing there, the distance being about forty yards. But the terrible force of the explosion was still more fully demonstrated in the case of Taylor. He was blown into the air right over the retorts and across the public road, and his body landed on a hedge at the further side. The crushed condition of the hedge still shows the force with which the body struck it. All the bodies were fearfully mutilated, and the clothing was almost entirely torn from them. Welsh miraculously escaped with a scalp wound. A van-man named Smith, in the employment of a grocer at Broxburn, was standing at his van on the road supplying some of the workmen's wives with goods when he received a heavy blow on the back from a flying brick. Fortunately his injuries were not serious. Close beside where Taylor's body was found are a number of tile-roofed workmen's cottages belonging to the Uphall Company. A large part of the shower of bricks reached these, and went crashing through the roofs, and in one case broke in part of the gable. Through all the houses are inhabited, and great alarm was caused, none of the inmates were injured. Some of these damaged houses are quite 300 yards from the spot where the explosion took place. The two boilers on each side of the wrecked one were very much damaged, and their brick covering partly torn away.

Soon after the accident Dr Steward, the works doctor, and Drs Wilson and Smith, from Broxburn, were on the scene and tendered what help they could. The bodies of the deceased were coffined at the works, and were afterwards removed to the houses where the victims had dwelt. Dempsey was over 50 years of age, and lived in lodgings at Pumpherston. He is believed to have been married, and his comrades think he has relatives in Airdrie or Greenock. Scott was about 27 years of age, lived at East Calder, and leaves a widow and three children. Taylor, who was about 40, also leaves a widow and three of a family to mourn his loss. He lived at Pumpherston. The sound of the explosion was heard for a long distance round, and people from the neighbouring rows and from adjacent villages crowded to the scene of the accident, but outside the works in the darkness there was little to satisfy curiosity. No cause can be assigned for the explosion. Source: Glasgow Herald, Monday 3rd March 1890

COURT OF SESSION - SECOND DIVISION – WEDNESDAY, JULY 2 (Before the Lord Justice Clerk, Lords Rutherfurd – Clark and Lee). Appeal – Aitken v. Airdrie Iron Company. The Airdrie Iron Company are here sued by James Aitken, labourer, Broomhouse, by Winchburgh, for payment of £500 for injuries received while working for the defenders at Young's Paraffin Light Oil Works at Addiewell, on 7th November, 1889. One of the planks of the platform on which the pursuer stood broke from its fastening, and be dropped suddenly a distance of about ten feet, landing astride on an iron plate about three feet high, and which was seen standing on edge. He was badly injured, and permanently incapacitated for work to a great extent. He avers that the plank was secured with only a single nail to the platform, and that it was defective in length. The defenders reply that the pursuer walked along the scaffold without the instruction or authority of the foreman while it was in course of erection, and the accident was caused by the pursuer recklessly springing upon a part of it which was then in an unfinished state. Issues were ordered for jury trial of the case. Counsel for Pursuer and Appellant - Mr Rhind. Agent – Wm Otagear, S. S. C. Agent for defenders and respondents – Macpherson & Mackay, W. S. Source: Glasgow Herald – Thursday 3rd July 1890

GALLOWAY v. PUMPHERSTON OIL COMPANY - Their Lordships ordered issues for trial by jury of an action by Mrs Maria Graham or Galloway, 110 Pumpherston, against the Pumpherston Oil Company (Limited), in which she sues for £400 for herself and £600 for her three children, or for £259 2s, as damages for the death of her husband, Robert Galloway, who was mining oversman in one of defenders' pits. Galloway was injured by the fall of material from the roof of an upset in the mine on 7th March last, and died two days afterwards. The upset, it is maintained, was not properly timbered. Defenders say the deceased's injuries were the result of his falling off a plank. Source: Glasgow Herald –Monday 17th October 1892

AN OIL COMPANY FOUND LIABLE IN DAMAGES – In the Linlithgow Sheriff Court John Hamilton, miner, Mossend, West Calder, sued the Hermand Oil Company, West Calder, for £100 in respect of the death on 19th March, 1892, of his four-year-old boy, William Hamilton, through his head being crushed in by the pumping gear at defenders' No. 1 pit Breich Works, near West Calder. After a lengthened proof Sheriff Melville has now issued an interlocutor awarding the pursuer the full sum, with expenses. In a note to his interlocutor the Sheriff says the defenders were bound to foresee such a likely occurrence as that which befell the child, and to provide against it. They might have done so by fencing the whole shafting so as to prevent the child going near the pit. If the gate at the opening of the shaft had been in position the boy could not have put his head in danger. But the engineman had removed the gate, and the defenders were responsible for his act. Agents for pursuer, Mr James F. Macdonald, S.S.C., Linlithgow; for defenders, Messrs Drummond & Reid, Edinburgh. Source: Glasgow Herald – Monday 20th March 1893

MAN KILLED AT PUMPHERSTON - Yesterday morning a miner named Walter Hislop Currie, aged 19, and residing at Pumpherston, was killed at No. 1 mine by a mass of shale falling on him. Source: Glasgow Herald – Thursday 22nd June 1893

OAKBANK OILWORKS NARROW ESCAPE OF VILLAGE, DAMAGE, £10,000 - One of the most dangerous fires in the history of the Scottish mineral oil trade broke out at the works of the Oakbank Mineral Oil Company at noon yesterday. The works, which have been established for nearly 30 years, occupy a considerable area, and are situated in close proximity to the village of Oakbank, and about a mile and a half from Mid-Calder. The outbreak occurred in the despatch department, where the barrels of oil are loaded into wagons, and was caused by a spark from one of the works' locomotives. In a minute the shed, which has a frontage of about 300 yards, was wrapped in a mass of flames. One of the workmen blew the works' horn to alarm the firemen. The works possess a well-equipped fire brigade, and under the superintendence of Mr Reid, manager, they were soon at work trying to extinguish the flames. The fire, however, had now got a good hold, and the Edinburgh Fire Brigade was telegraphed to. In a few minutes the heat became so intense that the locomotive sheds, which are situated on the opposite side of the railway from the despatch department, caught fire, and as the firemen were now in great danger, being placed between two fires, they were forced to beat a retreat, one of the hose-pipes being burned through. After the woodwork of the despatch department had been burned down, the fire spread eastwards, and here several tanks of oil, from which the barrels are filled, caught fire. Some barrels were full, while others were about half full. After these caught fire all hope of saving the adjoining departments was abandoned. About 300 barrels of valuable lubricating oil were lying near, and as no effort could be made to save them they were completely destroyed. A strong wind kept the fire spreading, and the next department to fall a prey was the settling tanks. The bleaching houses and lubricating department were also speedily reduced to ashes. The entire cooperage department, including the sheds in which the casks are glued and painted, caught fire, and soon shared the fate of the other buildings. Within two hours from the time they were telegraphed for the Edinburgh Fire Brigade arrived on the scene, and at once set to work in a most effectual manner. It was feared that the large stock tanks – seven in number – some of which hold 100,000 gallons of oil, and which are situated only a few yards from where the conflagration was raging, would catch fire. A large brick wall, about 30 feet high, however, erected to shield them some time ago, acted as a barrier to the flames. For a considerable time the flames played alongside the wall, and created the greatest alarm among the officials, for had the stock tanks caught fire the village, which is only distant a few yards, must also have fallen a prey to the flames, and 200 families would have been rendered homeless. Just at this juncture the wind, which had hitherto been blowing from the south, fortunately began to veer round to the west, and turned the flames from the stock tanks away to the east. The flames spread rapidly to three large bings of barrels, containing about 20,000 empty barrels. In a short time these were ablaze, and, with the exception of about 1000, which the women from the rows gallantly saved, the whole mass of barrels were completely destroyed. About 7 p.m. the fire was under control. The officials could give little idea of the actual damage done, but it is estimated at from £8000 to £10,000. The loss is covered by insurance. Source: Evening Telegraph, Monday 25th June 1894

SAD MINING ACCIDENT - On Tuesday night an accident of a melancholy character, and one which terminated fatally, occurred to a miner named Thos. M'Gowan, in No. 1 mine belonging to the Linlithgow Oil Company. The deceased, it appears, was engaged on the night shift, and had only been a short time at work when a fall of "top" shale came upon him, crushing him severely. As showing the extent of the "fall," it might be mentioned that the material measured something like five feet square and eighteen inches in thickness, and was computed to be about two and a half tons in weight. In consequence of this some difficulty was experienced in having the unfortunate man extricated. After the accident he was conveyed by several of his fellow workmen to his home at Strawberry Bank, Linlithgow. Dr Gilmour and his assistant, Dr Cameron, were summoned, and on making examination it was ascertained that the spine had been seriously injured, his legs were broken, and also his ribs, while there were other external and internal fractures of a more or less serious nature, from the effects of which he succumbed shortly after being taken home. Source: Falkirk Herald – Saturday 25th August 1894

LINLITHGOW FATAL ACCIDENT AT THE OILWORKS - On Thursday night a miner named John McLaren, residing at Linlithgow, met with an accident in one of the mines belonging to Linlithgow Oil Company. He had been walking up the carriage brae when a hutch came up behind him and knocked him down, and passed over his body. He was taken home and attended to by Dr McKenzie's assistant. The injuries sustained were found to be of a very serious nature, and they unfortunately proved fatal, Mr McLaren having died on Friday morning. Source: Falkirk Herald, 19th September 1894

CONNOLLY V. YOUNG'S PARAFFIN LIGHT AND MINERAL OIL COMPANY (LIMITED) - The second division disposed of an action brought by Mrs Ellen Hughes or Connolly, 43 Livingstone Street, Addiewell, and her three children, against Young's Paraffin and Mineral Oil Company (Limited), Glasgow, for payments of £500 damages in respect of the death of her husband. The deceased, who was a labourer, died from the effects of inhaling poisonous gases while employed at the defenders' works. The pursuer contended that her husband's death was caused by the gross negligence of the defenders. The Court to-day held that the action was irrelevant as common law, and that sufficient notice had not been given for an action under the Employers' Liability Act. The action was accordingly dismissed, with expenses. Counsel for pursuer – Mr Campbell. Agent – Win. Considine. S. S. C. Counsel for defenders – Mr Comrie Thompson and Mr Wilton. Agent – John Rhind, S. S. C. Source: Glasgow Herald – Monday 19th November 1894

FATAL ACCIDENT - On Friday night a man met with a fatal accident by falling into what is known as a shale quarry or open cast at Bridgend, near Linlithgow. The man had evidently been making his way to the oilworks, and must have gone over the embankment at the open cast, the depth of which is about 30 feet. When discovered the unfortunate man had two handkerchiefs tied round his head, showing that death had not been instantaneous, but life was extinct when the body was found. A society card found on the person of the deceased showed that he had evidently belonged to one of the workmen's societies, presumably to that for bricklayers, and which card bore the name of Daniel Wyse. The body of the deceased having been conveyed to the Linlithgow mortuary, inquiries were instituted by the police, with the view of the body being identified. The results of these inquiries was the identification, by a son of the deceased, of the body as that of Daniel Wyse, a bricklayer, aged 69, and formerly resident in Edinburgh. Deceased's son had last seen his father on 5th December, on which occasion deceased told him that he intended to make his way to Lanarkshire to look for work. Source: Falkirk Herald – Saturday 22nd December 1894

ACCIDENT IN CHAMPFLEURIE MINE - On Saturday a young lad named Robert Muir, pony driver, met with a mishap while at work in one of the mines, by which he sustained slight injury to his head and side. He was able, however, to resume work on Monday. Source: Falkirk Herald – Saturday 18th May 1895

ACCIDENT TO A SHALE MINER – James Mungall, 17 years of age, a shale miner, residing in Linlithgow, was admitted to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary yesterday morning suffering from a compound fracture of one of his legs, caused by 1 ½ cwt of shale falling upon him while working at No. 3 Pit, Champfleurie, belonging to the Linlithgow Oil Company. Source: Glasgow Herald – Tuesday 13th August 1895

EXPLOSION IN PHILPSTOUN MINE – On Friday last a miner named James Anderson (36) got himself severely burned while at work in No. 1 mine, Philpstoun. It appears that Anderson had been in the act of fixing a fuse into a cartridge, with which he was to fire a shot. While doing this one cartridge went off in his hand and ignited a quantity of gunpowder which he had in a canister beside him. The consequence was that he was burned on the face, chest, and arms. He was taken home and medical aid summoned. Source: Falkirk Herald – Saturday 28th September 1895

THE ACCIDENT AT CHAMPFLEURIE - The authorities have received intimation that the man, Hugh Logan, who met with an accident last week in No. 3 mine, Ochiltree, is recovering satisfactorily. When he met with the accident Logan had been clearing away loose shale at the face, when a piece of top shale, weighing about 1½ cwts, suddenly came away from a flat “lipe.” He was injured on the back and that left shoulder. The injured man was attended by Dr M'Kenzie. Source: Falkirk Herald – Saturday 12th October 1895

EXPLOSION AT CLIPPENS OIL WORKS - A fireman named James Brown employed by the Clippens Oil Company was admitted to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary about half past two o'clock this afternoon suffering from severe burns about the face and arms and also a cut head caused by an explosion of fire damp in the pit where he was working about 11 oclock this morning. It appears that Brown was the only person in the part where the explosion occurred, or the result might have been more serious. Source: Edinburgh Evening News, March 15th 1897

LINLITHGOW FATAL ACCIDENT AT LINLITHGOW OIL WORKS - A young man named Hugh Law was killed on Saturday morning at No. 3 Pit belonging to Linlithgow Oil Company. He was employed as a brakesman, and had charge of the winding drum for drawing hutches up and down an incline in the pit. It is supposed that he had omitted to check his brake after letting down a loaded hutch, with the result that before an empty hutch had been attached to the chain the back balance had set the drum in motion, and the poor fellow was drawn round it and killed. Source: Falkirk Herald, 10th April 1897

ACCIDENT TO A MINER - On Saturday last Malcolm M'Culloch, miner, residing at Kingscavil Rows, met with an accident while at work in No. 2 Shale Mine, Ochiltree, connected with Linlithgow Oilworks. M'Culloch, it appears, had been making up a shot, when it is supposed that a spark from his lamp had been blown on to the powder and ignited it. As a consequence M'Culloch was rather severely burned about the face, hands, and arms. He was conveyed to his home, where his injuries were attended to by Dr Easson, assistant to Dr Mackenzie, the works surgeon. The injured man is progressing favourably. Source: Falkirk Herald – Saturday 26th February 1898

A BOY'S CLAIM FOR £750 - In the Court of Session to-day Lord Pearson closed the record and ordered issues in an action at the instance of John Noble formerly residing at Mid-Calder, and now at 9 Waddell Place, Leith, against the Oakbank Oil Company for £750 damages for personal injuries. The Pursuer, who is 15 years of age, while engaged in oiling the crank head of the donkey-engine, had part of his clothing caught by the nuts. His left leg was caught and fractured. Pursuer attributes fault to the defenders in repet that proper precautions were not taken to prevent accident. Defenders denied fault, and alleged negligence. Source: Edinburgh Evening News, Tuesday, May 24th, 1898

FIRE AT LINLITHGOW OIL WORKS FIVE MEN INJURED - A destructive fire occurred at Linlithgow Oil Works on Saturday night, whereby the paraffin shed, containing a large quantity of oil, was destroyed. Much damage was also done to machinery and plant. Brick walls separated the building from the freezing house and the lubricating house, while an open-air passage about ten feet broad separated it from the candle house, and it is surprising that these places, which contained valuable plant and products, did not meet the fate that befell the paraffin shed. Mr James Beveridge, the works manager, and Mr Jeff, the works engineer, were on the works (which cover about 50 acres of ground) when the fire was discovered. The works' horn was blown to call out the workmen residing in Bridgend Rows, and in a comparatively short time plenty of assistance was available. With an abundant supply of water, the fire was confined to the paraffin shed. The damage, which is believed to be covered by insurance, cannot be less than £2000. While the fire was at its height a sad accident occurred. The west gable of the building, which was composed of brick, fell, and five men were injured thereby – one of them, named David Smart, retort foreman, so seriously that there is little hope of his recovery. Alexander Orr, candlemaker, and Charles Heggie, mineworker, had each a hand injured so seriously that Dr Mackenzie ordered their removal to the Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh, yesterday morning. The other two injured are Terrie Heggie, mine foreman, and Mark Lothian, mineworker. The injuries to these two are slight. Source: Evening Telegraph, 15th May 1899

DESTRUCTIVE FIRE AT LINLITHGOW OIL WORKS FIVE MEN INJURED – PLANT AND PROPERTY DAMAGED - Shortly after ten o'clock on Saturday night an alarming fire broke out at the works of the Linlithgow Oil Company, which are situated on the Champfleurie estate, some distance to the east of Linlithgow. The fire originated in the paraffin sheds, an important department of the works. Owing to the inflammable nature of the material treated in these premises, it was seen to be practically impossible to do anything towards extinguishing the flames. The alarm horn had brought large numbers of the employees from their homes at Bridgend and Champfleurie, and strenuous efforts were put forth to check the spread of the fire. The saving of the paraffin shed being hopeless, Mr Beveridge, the manager, directed the men engaged at the hose to concentrate their efforts in saving of the adjoining buildings. In this they were successful, and fortunately there was little or no wind blowing at the time, and rain was falling. Immediately adjoining the paraffin sheds – which are in themselves extensive – are the premises containing freezing machine and other plant used for cooling the paraffin and another house in which there was a large quantity of candles. Had the outbreak spread to those apartments the consequences would have been still more serious, and it would have been impossible to have saved what is perhaps the most important department of all, viz., the refinery. As it was the greatest apprehension prevailed, and with the aid of the works' hose and a plentiful supply of water everything was done to confine the fire to the one particular area where it originated. About half an hour after the outbreak a number of workmen were employed in breaking up a connection between the candle-house and paraffin departments, and while doing so the scaffolding and a number of steam pipes, together with the gable of an adjoining building collapsed and fell with a crash upon five of the workmen, whose names are David Smart, Terence Heggie, Mark Lothian, Alex Orr, and Charles Heggie. These men were more or less seriously injured. In the case of Smart it was found that he had sustained a severe fracture of the skull, and his right leg was broken. Smart and Terrence Heggie were buried in the debris, and the latter had his head cut and bruised, and he sustained severe internal injuries. Lothian was crushed about the legs, and Orr and Charles Heggie were injured about the hands, which were badly lacerated, and in their case it is feared that some of the fingers may have to be amputated. Dr Mackenzie, the works' surgeon, was in attendance on the unjured men immediately after the accident. The last named two were removed to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. Owing to the inflammable nature of the products manufactured in the premises, it was found that nothing could be done to extinguish the flames, so that the fire practically burned itself out five hours after the outbreak was discovered. Very considerable damage has been done, amounting, it is thought to over £2000. It is believed to be covered by insurance. It is feared that the whole of the refining portion of the works will require to be stopped for some time to permit of the paraffin sheds being reconstructed. The cause of the outbreak is unknown.

The works were established some 15 years ago. Another account states that Mr Beveridge, the manager of the works, while making his usual visit to the works on Saturday night, called at the paraffin sheds about nine o'clock, and found everything in order. About half past ten he was visiting on the north side of the works, when he observed smoke rising from the vicinity of the paraffin sheds. At first Mr Beveridge thought it might be teaming blowing off, but a few minutes afterwards he noticed flames rising, and apprehending that fire had broken out, he sounded the fire horn, and thereafter proceeded with all haste to the paraffin sheds, which he found ablaze. By this time the roof had fallen in, and the whole place was in flames. Large numbers of the workmen had assembled in response to the alarm, and Mr Beveridge arranged the men with the fire-hose around the building, and by this prompt action, they succeeded in confining the fire to the paraffin sheds. The whole building, however, with the plant and products therein, was completely destroyed. So far, no information can be obtained as to how or in what way the fire had originated. The damage has been estimated at about £2000, and is covered by insurance. The outbreak and the destruction it has occasioned has been generally regretted, but, at the same time, there is reason to feel thankful that the consequences were not worse, as they might have been had the fire spread to other departments.

ONE FATALITY. One sad sequence of the fire has been the death of David Smart, retort foreman, who succumbed to his injuries on Monday night. As stated above, Smart was one of the men injured by the collapse of a gangway and gable while was the fire was raging furiously. The deceased, who was a native of Fifeshire, had sustained a severe fracture across the vault of the skull by being struck by falling brick. So serious had been his injuries that from the first little hope was entertained of his recovery. He leaves a widow and six of a family. Two of the other men, Alex Orr and Charles Heggie, have had – the one a finger and the other part of the fingers of one of the hands amputated. Dr Mackenzie, the works surgeon, has been in constant attendance on the injured, who are going on satisfactorily. It is needless to say that the occurrence has occasioned much regret and sympathy in the whole district. Owing to the circumstances, and particularly as a mark of sympathy for the family and relatives of the deceased David Smart, the entertainment which was to have been given in Kingscavil Church has been postponed to Friday, 26th curt. The funeral of David Smart took place to Linlithgow Cemetery on Thursday, and was attended by the manager and officials and the employees generally. There were also a number of mourning coaches. As the cortege wended its way to the cemetery manifestations of sympathy and sorrow were general. Source: Falkirk Herald, 20th May 1899

SUDDEN DEATH AT THE OIL WORKS - About three o'clock on Thursday afternoon a hutch runner employed at the Champfleurie Oil Works died suddenly at his work. He had been engaged running hutches on the top of the retorts when he was observed to fall down at the side of a hutch. He was removed to a dross bing, and a stretcher having been obtained he was conveyed to his lodgings in Linlithgow, and Dr Mackenzie, who was summoned, certified that life was extinct. Death is supposed to be due to heart disease. Source: Falkirk Herald – Wednesday 13th September 1899

1900's

KILLED BY EXPLOSION. MINER'S SAD DEATH. Our West Calder correspondent writes: The most serious pit accident that has taken place in the village for a considerable time; occurred this morning. In Messrs Young's Oil Company's No. 32 shale mine a miner named Richard Sneddon was firing shot, and the explosion had evidently taken place before he expected it, as he was so near he received the full force of the shot, and was killed on the spot. Another miner named Boyce, who was working alongside of him, also sustained injuries, but not of a serious nature.  Source: Evening Post -11th January 1901

ACCIDENT TO A MINER - On Friday a drawer named Thomas Shaw, residing at Bridgend, met with an accident while at work in No. 2 Shale Mine, Champfleurie. The accident was due to a fall from the roof, and by which Shaw received a scalp wound, and also injury to one of his wrists. After the accident he was seen by Dr Mackenzie, who ordered his removal to the Royal Infirmary. It was thought at first that Shaw might lose one of his hands, but luckily this will not be the case. We understand he is making satisfactory recovery. Source: Falkirk Herald – Saturday 2nd March 1901

SAD MINING FATALITY AT PHILPSTOUN - On the afternoon of Tuesday a sad mining fatality occurred in No. 1 shale mine, Philpstoun, belonging to James Ross & Coy., whereby a miner named Magnus Dickson lost his life. It appears that Dickson, who had just left off work for the day, was walking up the main dook, Dickson was leaving his work and proceeding along the main dook. A rake of hutches was being drawn up, when the cleek of the last hutch broke and ran down the incline, striking Dickson and knocking him down. He was very seriously injured on the head and lower part of the body, and died within a quarter of an hour after the accident. The deceased, who was unmarried and resided with his parents at Philpstoun, was well known and much respected. He was an enthusiastic member of A Company (Linlithgow) Volunteers. The sad accident caused much regret in the village. Source: Falkirk Herald – Saturday 20th April 1901

ACCIDENT AT THE OIL WORKS - On Wednesday morning a workman named James Hopkins met with a rather serious accident at Linlithgow Oil Works. Hopkins was employed about the shale breaker, and while, it is said, adjusting some part of the machine, he was struck by what is called the back balance or lever, which inflicted a deep wound on the head. The injured man was seen by Dr Mackenzie, the works surgeon, who ordered his removal to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. Source: Falkirk Herald - Saturday 1st June 1901

SAD TRAGIC FATALITY AT LINLITHGOW OIL WORKS - On Sunday morning a gloom was case over Kingscaril and Linlithgow district by the intelligence that a young man, named John Dewar, aged 25, and engaged as an engineer at the Champfleurie works, had met his death under somewhat tragic circumstances. It appears that the deceased had gone to do some repairs about the machine on the Sunday morning. Before proceeding to work, he naturally went to the machine to see what was required, and on ascertaining this he left the engine-house at the breaker to go to the shop for his tools. In doing this he had occasion to cross the line and pass between two empty waggons. When in the act of doing this a loaded waggon came down and struck the empty one. The young man was caught between two of the waggons, and so severely injured that death ensued almost instantaneously. Source: Falkirk Herald – Saturday 15th June 1901

MINING ACCIDENT AT WEST CALDER. This morning a mining contractor named Robert Sneddon was seriously injured in Messrs Young's Oil Company's No. 32 shale mine at West Calder. Sneddon had the contract for sending up all the shale from the mine bottom to the surface, and had got in the way of the large bogey on which this shale is drawn up the mine, thereby sustaining serious injuries.  Edinburgh Evening News 1st March 1902

ACCIDENT AT HERMAND OIL WORKS - . An accident took place this forenoon at the new Hermand Oil Works, West Calder, whereby a shale miner named Smith was seriously injured. Smith was employed in the mine when a fall took place, and he sustained severe injuries. He was conveyed to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. Source: Edinburgh Evening News – 11th September 1902

FATAL ACCIDENT AT COUSLAND - On Monday an unfortunate accident in No. 2 shale mine, Cousland, whereby a miner named Robert Hoggan, residing at Seafield Rows, lost his life. It appears that the deceased had fired a shot and had been pincing down some of the loose stuff, when a large piece came away and knocked him down. When down, a second piece, weighing about 4 cwts., fell upon his leg, and crushed him against the stoops. The injuries he sustained were so serious that he was ordered to the Royal Infirmary, but died on the way. Source: Falkirk Herald – Saturday 6th December 1902

ALLEGATIONS AGAINST WEST LOTHIAN DOCTORS - Robert Hoggan, miner, who was fatally injured at No. 2 Cousland Mine, Seafield Works, belonging to the Pumpherston Oil Company, on 1st inst. While deceased was punching some loose shale from the roof of this working place a large piece of shale fell upon him, breaking his left leg and inflicting other injuries, from which he died on the way to the Royal Infirmary. In his evidence, Mr Renwick Cowan, manager, replying to Mr McLaren, H.M. Inspector of Mines, said the accident occurred between twelve and one o'clock at night. He heard of it between one and two in the morning, and on going to the pit he sent to Bathgate for the deceased man's doctor. The doctor, however, did not arrive till nine o'clock. The man had lost a lot of blood, he (Mr Cowan) who had had an ambulance training rendered first aid. Another works doctor was sent for, but he refused to come, the messenger said, as he was not the deceased's medical attendant. The manager then sent for two Mid-Calder doctors, and they also refused to come, the messenger said. As a matter of fact, at least three doctors refused to come. The deceased paid for Dr Simpson, Bathgate, and he arrived eight hours after the accident. Mr McLaren asked the Sheriff to pardon him for bringing this matter up, but he could not help thinking that this poor man died through that terrible curse in this country – professional etiquette. He did not blame the poor man, but the doctors. The Sheriff said the felling which Mr McLaren had give expression to was a very proper one, but there was one thing above all other that they had in a Court of Justice to be careful of, and it was not to condemn a man unheard. The doctors might be right or they might be wrong, but it would not do to condemn them in their absence. Mr Cowan stated that it was afterwards ascertained that Dr Simpson had been engaged in another case, and when he returned his servant neglected to inform him of this accident. A formal verdict was returned, the Sheriff remarking that he did not think that the jury could say whether the doctors had done anything wrong until they had heard their own statements. A juryman thought the doctors and messenger who went for them might have been present at the inquiry. The Sheriff said he rather thought that was outwith the scope of the inquiry, but no doubt if the parents thought the doctors had not done their duty there were other courses open to them. Source: Edinburgh Evening News 23rd December 1902

MINER BURNED BY GAS AT WEST CALDER. A miner named Michael Rennie, employed in Young's Oil Company's No. 32 shale mine, has been burned about the chest, on the right arm and face, by an explosion of gas in the workings. Assistance was at hand when the accident took place, and Rennie removed to the surface and taken to his house at Mossend. Source - Edinburgh Evening News, 24th February 1903

MINE ACCIDENT AT PHILPSTOUN.- On Thursday afternoon an explosion occurred at No. 1 shale mine, Philpstoun, by which Alexander Anderson, residing in Linlithgow, was burned about the face and arms. It appears that the explosion was due to what is known in mining circles as a "feeder" following upon the firing of a shot, and that Anderson in going back to the working place met with his injuries in that way. First aid was rendered at the works which are well provided with ambulance men, after which he proceeded to his home where he was attended by Dr Hunter. Falkirk Herald – Saturday 27th June 1903

ACCIDENT AT LINLITHGOW OIL WORKS - John Lennox, a labourer, residing at Bridgend, one of the workmen engaged in the dismantling of the plant at Linlithgow Oil Works, met with an unfortunate accident there on Thursday morning. It appears that he had, along with others, been baring what are known as the fine oil boilers, and removing the brickwork. At the particular part where the accident happened a set of rails ran close into the building. A scaffold on which the men were working, projected, and when the bricks were taken off the end of the rail, the scaffold came away, and Lennox was precipitated to the ground. By the fall he dislocated his collar-bone, and was cut about the face and head. The injured man was afterwards attended by Dr Thom, Linlithgow. Source: Falkirk Herald, 15th July 1903

Accident at Queensferry - Yesterday while John Minelias, miner, residing in Dalmeny Rows, was engaged in one of the working places in Dalmeny shale mine, a large piece of shale fell upon his back, crushing him to the ground, whereby his right leg was fractured at the thigh, and his head and body otherwise injured.  Source - Edinburgh Evening News 5th September 1903

Mine Accident West Calder.—A miner named James Bathgate, residing in Mungle Street, West Calder, and employed in Messrs Young's Oil Company's No. 20 shale mine, was caught between two hutches, and sustained severe bodily injuries. Source - Edinburgh Evening News 15th April 1904

1910's

SERIOUS PIT ACCIDENT AT TARBRAX - There were admitted to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary yesterday afternoon two miners who were suffering from serious injuries caused by an accident in a pit at Tarbrax, which was said to be due to an accumulation of gas. The men are Patrick Christie, 32 years of age, and Robert McCarroll, 40, who both reside in Tarbrax. Both men were reported to be in a serious condition, McCarroll suffering from concussion, and probable fracture of the skull. It is understood that another man who was concerned in the accident was fatally injured. Source: The Scotsman, 26th January 1912

MINING ACCIDENT AT WEST CALDER - A young man named James Boyd, son of Robert Boyd, residing at Mossend, West Calder, was severely injured in Young's Oil Company's Alderstone shale mine yesterday. Boyd had been pushing a hutch along one of the roads, when he came to a part which is spanned by a bridge. Before he could stop the hutch to get the bridge into position it toppled over and took him with it. Boyd was thrown over the hutch, and fell down the incline, which is steep. Fortunately for him the hutch jammed, or he would have been killed. When the workmen got him, it was found that his right leg was broken, and he had several severe scalp wounds. Source: The Scotsman, 16th September 1913

TWO MEN INJURED IN MINE A serious mining accident took place in Young's Oil Company's No. 32 Shale Mine at West Calder, by which two miners named John Kane and Walter Mackie were injured. A fall took place, and Kane was severely injured that he had to be conveyed to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. Mackie's injuries were not so serious, and he was conveyed to his home in West Calder. Source - Evening Telegraph - 2nd November 1914

Workman's terrible death at Deans Oil Works, Thomas Gray. Source: Edinburgh Evening Dispatch, 2nd January 1915, Page 2, Column 4

1920's

FATAL INJURIES TO SHALE MINER. A shale miner named John Brown, residing at Old Livingstone, was injured by a piece of shale falling on him in No. 40 Shale Mine, belonging to Scottish Oils, Ltd. He sustained a compound fracture of the leg, and suffered from internal injuries. After being medically attended he was conveyed to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, but succumbed to his injuries. Source - Evening Telegraph - 15th February 1926

1930's

Shale Miner Killed - Henry Hunter (27) 64 Livingstone Station. Mid Calder, was killed to-day in an accident in No.26 Shale Mine, West Calder. Hunter was putting up props to secure the roof in his working place, when he was partly buried under debris. He died shortly afterwards. Hunter leaves a wife and one child. Source - Evening Telegraph 7th December 1937

1940's

 

1950's

1960's