Eye Spy Glasgow: A memorial to 61 miners who lost their lives in pit disaster

By Eye Spy Glasgow

Eye Spy Glasgow: A memorial to 61 miners who lost their lives in pit disaster

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Hundreds of passengers a day use the train station at Nitshill, on Glasgow's south side.

As they take the path to the station entrance from Nitshill Road, it is impossible for them not to notice the striking granite war memorial standing on a grassy area.

But if they look a little closer they will see - tucked away in nearby bushes - a monument to one of the blackest days in Nitshill's history.

On March 15, 1851, 61 men and boys died when a massive explosion rocked the Victoria coal mine, the deepest pit in Scotland.

The blast, just before 5am, could be heard several miles away and the underground explosion rumbled for two full minutes before the noise died down.

A newspaper report of the time described the disaster as a "deplorable calamity" and added that within a few hours, as many as 20,000 people had gathered at the pit head for news of their loved ones.

There were 63 men in the pit at the time of the blast - 55 men and eight lads or boys. Only two survived, John Cochran and David Colville, although they suffered horrific burns.

The majority of the men who died were married, some had their young sons working down the pit with them, and it was estimated that 65 children were left fatherless.

Victoria Pit was owned by the Coats family from Paisley and the family contributed £500 to a fund for the relief of the families of the sufferers.

A report in the Annual Register stated that, because the day of the explosion was "pay-day Saturday", a number of men had started work earlier than usual.

The report added: "A group of eight dead men were found sitting with their tobacco-pipes in their mouths, as if they were taking their morning's smoke, and some of them had just thrown off their jackets, previous to taking the pick in their hands."

Nitshill is now part of Glasgow but, at the time, it was a separate village in its own right.

The inscription on the monument beside the station reads: "In memory of the Nitshill Mining Disaster and the 61 miners from the Victoria Pit who lost their lives. Donations from the local community, traders, trade unions and Glasgow City Council."