In May 1930, while workmen were engaged cutting a new roadway through Priory Pit, Blantyre, a charge of gelignite, which had been left buried by mistake the previous night, exploded, causing the death of one man and serious injury to another.
The man killed was William Stewart (57), who resided 51 Small Crescent, High Blantyre, and the man who sustained injuries was Richard McLean (31), of Rosendale Place, Blantyre. Stewart and McLean received the full force of the explosion, the former being killed outright, while the latter sustained severe facial injuries.
McLean was at once removed to the Glasgow Royal Infirmary and from there was sent to the Ophthalmic Institution, his eyes being badly hurt. His condition was serious, and there initially was danger of him losing his sight. The workmen had been engaged in shifts of three constructing this new roadway, said an official, and during the work a good deal of blasting was necessary.
He continued, “By mistake a charge of gelignite was left unexploded, and this appears to have been the cause of the accident. None of the men on the shift were aware of the presence of the charge, and they proceeded to bore into the wall with drills in order to load a new shot. “Stewart and M’Lean were working close together, when they came upon a loose wire used for connecting the charge to detonator. Both men were naturallv under the impression that the charge had been set off and continued to drill into the rock. The drill came in contact with the gelignite and the explosion took place. Although there was a group men the spot, only Stewart and McLean were affected, the charge blowing right out on them. Stewart when examined was found be dead, and M’Lean was pretty injured about face.”
Medical aid was at once summoned, and they were removed to the Glasgow Royal Infirmary and subsequently to the Ophthalmic Institute. “ William Stewart was directing the operations on this shift. His death was great shock to his fellow workmen, for he was a cheery chap and on account of this, very popular. His death must have been terrible blow to his wife and his son, Dr Adam Stewart, who operated a medical practice in Blantyre.
“I called at the home of Richard McLean 2 Rosendale Place, Blantyre, and had a talk with his twin brother. Richard was fortunately brought to him first and not direct to Mrs McLean, his wife, so that we were able to break it gently to her. Mr Stewart had three kiddies, two girls and a boy.” Both men caught up in the explosion were well known in the Blantyre district. Mr Stewart had been a prominent figure in religious work there, and a deep regret was expressed for this tragedy.
Pictured a lot earlier in 1904, is the Priory Colliery.
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Gord Fotheringham and i worked there……before that i played there……that wee bridge …..later became a large pipe…….and i fell off it…..hobbled home and never said a word….