1877 Miners Funeral

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Blantyre, Lanarkshire, ScotlandBlantyre History of Mining

1877 Miners Funeral

The sky was dark and overcast that November day when those poor souls, who lost their lives when the explosion occurred at Dixon’s Pit, were laid to rest.

Some miners were buried in their own family lairs, and those who were Roman Catholic, for some reason, were interred at St. Peters Cemetery, now known as Dalbeath Cemetery, London Road, Glasgow. This may have been due to the fact that Blantyre, at the time, had no Priest to attend the funeral proceedings. It was not until 1888 that Father “The Doc” Hackett was appointed Priest at the old School Church.

It is hard for us to envisage the day of the funeral of those unfortunate miners.  The widows, mostly dressed in black dresses made of material sent by Queen Victoria for that purpose, with their remaining children, relatives, friends and neighbours, who all made their way, mostly on foot, some by cart, to the New High Blantyre Cemetery, to finally lay their dead to rest. Of course, some of the dead never made it to the surface which would have made it even more distressing for those relatives.

The streets were lined by mourners and onlookers, not only from Blantyre and surrounding areas, but also people from Cities within a train journey who came to see the spectacle.
High Blantyre Station

High Blantyre Station


Mass GraveWith the exception of the Roman Catholics, and there were not many of them, and those who had their own lairs, all the dead were laid side by side in two long trenches that had been dug in the newly made cemetery. The report of the funerals in one evening, as given in the Herald, was characteristic of them all: – “the scene in the parish burying ground, where the bodies where interred, was very impressive, and by the time that Mr Wright got as far in the service at ‘Earth to Earth, Ashes to Ashes, dust to dust,’ many of the onlookers were in tears. Few of them will soon forget the sight – the cold grey twilight, the dark overcast sky, the long deep trench, the silent uncovered multitude, and the solemn tones of the preacher’s voice”

 Dixon's Monument

A handsome granite monument, in the shape of an obelisk, is now erected over the graves of the poor miners. It has the following inscription: –

“Erected by William Dixon, Ltd, in memory of 240 of their workmen who were killed by explosions in Blantyre Colliery on 22nd October, 1877, and 2nd July, 1879; and many of whom are buried here.”

The inscription on the Dalbeith Monument reads:


In Memory Of

The Catholics Killed By

The Colliery Explosion

At Blantyre

On 22nd October


The names of the Roman Catholic miners who were buried at Dalbeath Cemetery in 11 lairs, paid by Messrs William Dixon Limited at 22 shillings each are:

 Dixon's Memorial Dalbeith

Month Day Forename Surname Age
Oct 24 Michael Brannan 26
Charles Devers 27
25 Michael Cairns 33
Patrick Kelly 27
Charles Gainer 23
28 John Conlan 14
Hugh Larkin 25
Francis Murphy 25
John Kenney
29 John Cavanagh 18
Hugh Morgan 35
John McLaughlan 23
Edward McLaughlan 18
John Campbell
James Murphy 39
William Boyle 49
Peter O’Brien
John or James Kelly 23
James Irvine 38
30 John Dolan 19
31 John Craw 23
Owen Brannaghan 19
Nov 1 John O’Donnell 26
Patrick Smith 37
2 James McCuskar
Simon Boyle 15
Edward McCallum 15
3 John O’Donnell 23
William Graham 14
John Connaghan 21
William Hanlan 23
James Murray 40
Thomas Burns 23
Peter Burns 13
4 Simon Boyle 15
5 Bernard McTavie 56
Hugh Martin 55
6 William Miller 24
James Clyde
William Clyde
James Clarke
7 James Kelly 34
Peter Carlin 33
8 Bernard Murray 21
9 James McGarry 36
John O’Brien
10 Edward Smith 22

Gradually the dead were buried; but the living remained, bereft of their breadwinners. No time was to be lost; starvation must be averted; so on the morning after the disaster, surrounded by widows and orphans, we issued, through the kind reporters, the following appeal: – “We, the undersigned, appeal to the sympathies of the nation on behalf of the mothers, wives, and orphans, who have, in very many cases, been rendered perfectly destitute by the terrible Colliery explosion which has occurred in this district. 216 men and boys have been killed, all the male members of several families had been swept away, and widespread desolation prevails. There is lamentation and bitter weeping. Contributions are earnestly solicited to meet the destitution of the afflicted families”

 Source:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blantyre_mining_disaster



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Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland

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