Drum Fireclay Mine, Bonnybridge, Falkirk, Stirlingshire.

Drum Fire Clay Mine, Bonnybridge, Falkirk, Stirlingshire was possibly situated adjacent to Bonnybridge Station.

Bonnybridge Silica and Fire Clay Co (Note – SBH – In some of the newspaper archives the company is referred to as the Bonnybridge Fireclay and Silica Company).

14/09/1889 – Falkirk Herald – Accident. On Wednesday a young man, named John Young, about 30 years of age, met with a serious accident while following his work in the pit of the Bonnybridge Silica and Fireclay Works (Mr Griffiths.) While busily employed, a stone weighing close upon 12 cwt., fell from the roof burying poor Young beneath it, inflicting serious internal injury, in addition to injuring both legs.

10/09/1892 – Falkirk Herald – A somewhat serious accident occurred to Thomas Monaghan (23), miner, in the clay pit belonging to the Bonnybridge Silica and Fireclay Co. It appears that on Tuesday, shortly after 9 a.m, he had been putting a shot into ganister when it suddenly exploded and injured him severely about the head and face. He was immediately brought to the surface. His wounds were dressed and bandaged by John Rae in a very skilful manner, for which he was warmly complimented by Dr Roy, Bonnybridge, who ordered the man’s removal to Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

15/05/1894 – Glasgow Herald – Bonnybridge miners strike. The fireclay miners employed by the Bonnybridge Fireclay Company, who have been on strike for a week against a reduction of 6d per day, have come to terms with their employers and have resumed work. The employers claim the reduction as they gave advances in wages to their miners when the coal miners wages were advanced while competing fire clay miners got no advance. The arrangement is that the employers will make the drawing.

Below – 1896 – Bonnybridge Silica and Fireclay Co Ltd. (Note – SBH – According to the maps to follow it seems that when the BSF was started they were mining fireclay very close to their sheds etc. At some point they started mining the fireclay from a position south of the works and called it the Drum Fireclay Mine).

26/08/1896 – Dundee Advertiser – Warning to miners. At the Falkirk Sheriff Court on Monday, before Hon. Sheriff Substitute Watson, William Buchanan, miner, Longcroft, Denny was charged with having contravened the Mines Regulation Act, 1871, by having permitted a naked light to remain on his cap while charging a hole with gunpowder on 12th June last in Drum Fireclay Pit near Bonnybridge. The accused pleaded guilty, and the Fiscal said this case had been brought as a warning. One might imagine that if maiming and death would not warn miners, fining and imprisonment would also fail, but they had resolved to try what effect it would have. The accused – There is no place to put a lamp; there are no wooden props to hang it on. The Sheriff suggested that they might use a safety lamp. The Fiscal said an explosion had taken place on this occasion through a drop of water coming down from the roof onto the lamp, causing a splutter, which ignited the powder. In the expiation which followed the accused was severely injured. The accused said he had been off for nine weeks on account of the injuries received. He had been 10 years in the work, and this was the first time anything of the kind had happened to him. Lights were carried in that fashion daily by every man in the pit The Sheriff said that was all the more reason why it should be stopped. He was sorry to have to impose a penalty under the circumstances but he would have to do so warning others, and he could not make it less than £1, with the option of ten days’ imprisonment.

03/12/1898 – Falkirk Herald – Three inquiries under the Fatal Accidents (Scotland) Act were held in the Sheriff Court yesterday before Sheriff Bell and a jury. The first inquiry was into the cause of death of James Kirkwood, miner, Clay Row, Bonnybridge, who met his death from the effects of an injury received in the fire-clay pit, occupied by Bonnybridge Silica and Fire-Clay Company. Mr Gibson appeared for the procurator fiscal; J B. Atkinson. H.M. Inspector Mines; Mr Kilsyth, for the relatives; and Mr J. C. Allan, Falkirk, for the employers. John Rice, miner, Cadgersgate Row, Bonnybridge, said that on the morning of 4th November he was working along with the deceased in the pit, acting as his drawer. In the course of his work, they had occasion to fire a shot to blast away some fire clay. Having done this they retired to allow the shot to take effect, after which they both returned to the spot. He got onto a bench to examine the face, while Kirkwood remained on the pavement. He had just got there when he heard a crash behind him. When he looked around, he saw that a stone had fallen from the gannister rock upon Kirkwood. The stone would be about 2 or 3 cwt., and fell from about or 11 feet. Other witnesses having been examined, the jury returned a verdict in accordance with the evidence.

06/11/1901 – Falkirk Herald – ‘There were giants in those days’. The fossil remains of a man of unusual size have been discovered by workmen engaged in blasting ganister in the pit at tho Bonnybridge Silica and Fireclay Works.

26/11/1902 – Falkirk Herald – Fatal accident enquiries at Falkirk Sheriff Court … The next inquiry was into the death of John Buchanan, miner, Denny, who died in consequence of injuries he sustained in one of the pits of the Bonnybridge Silica Fireclay Company through a charge of blasting powder going off prematurely. There appeared Mr J  C Allan, solicitor, Falkirk, for the employers and Mr McLaren, H.M. Inspector Mines. Daniel Buchanan, a brother of the deceased, and also employed as a miner at the works, deponed that his brother was an experienced miner. On the day of the accident, the 4th November, he heard a shot go off while at work, and he ran to the place from which the sound came, and found that his brother had sustained serious injuries to his back. He took him to the pithead, and got Dr Young, Bonnybridge, to attend to him. His brother was then taken to the Falkirk Cottage Hospital, where he died. His brother said nothing to him as to how the accident happened; he was not in a state to speak about it. By Mr Mc’Laren – When I saw my brother he was about 12 feet from the face, and from the position of his injuries I assume he would be running from the shot. I cannot say that the sudden explosion was caused by the flame of the deceased’s lamp matching the squib instead of the wick and  I have no reason to believe my brother lit the wick and waited a little. By Mr J C Allan – This method of blasting has been a long time in use and we prefer it to any other. There was a proposal to change the method, but the men objected. Wm. Hoggan, the foreman in the pit, deponed that only a small quantity of the fireclay had been blown away and it was not at all an efficient blast. The deceased might have had a warning of the danger before the accident, and have been trying to escape when the shot went off. He could not say how the accident happened. After the evidence, the jury found that the deceased had met his death in the manner described. (Note – SBH – This article refers to ” one of the pits of the Bonnybridge Silica Fireclay Company”. As the exact pit is unknown I have recorded it here to ensure the information is not lost).

06/01/1905 – Kirkintilloch Gazette – A miners foolish act. At Falkirk Sheriff Court, on Wednesday, a miner named John Smith, Orchard Street, Camelon, was convicted on evidence of a contravention of the Mines Regulations Act in Bonnybridge Silica and Fireclay Company’s pit at Bonnybridge. He had charged a bore with gunpowder, and the charge failing to go off he extracted the explosive and re-charged it, an action that endangered his own life and those of other workmen in the vicinity. He was fined 20s or 10 days in jail.

28/01/1905 – Falkirk Herald – A young man named Hugh McKie, pit-drawer, Bonnyburn House, Bonnyhill, by Bonnybridge, was charged with having, on 11th inst., in the Bonnybridge Silica and Fireclay Company’s Pit at High Bonnybridge, assaulted a boy named John Muirhead, pony driver, Lochview, by seizing him by the throat and throwing him to the ground, and on his attempting to rise, striking him several times on the head and shoulders. He pled guilty and was defended by Mr Stevenson, solicitor. The Fiscal explained that the accused and the boy had a difference about the way to do certain work, and the accused struck the boy. The Sheriff – Punched his head? The Fiscal – Yes, my Lord; threw him down and punched his head. Mr Stevenson, for the defence, stated that both the accused and his father had been dismissed from the pit owing to the affair, and he thought that was ample punishment for such an offence. The boy had given the accused considerable impertinence before he ever lifted his hand to him. It was stated that the accused was 19 years of age, and the boy 16. The Fiscal pointed out that the assault was aggravated through being committed underground, where something serious might have resulted. The Sheriff, addressing the accused, said he was not entitled to lift his hand to anybody. If he knocked little boys about and they complained to the authorities and he was brought before the Court he had to suffer for it. Perhaps the boy deserved the punishment he got and perhaps he did not; his Lord-hip did not know. But he was not permitted to lift his hands neither above nor below ground. In this case, it was below ground and out of the light of day. A fine of 10s was imposed, or seven days’ imprisonment.

02/11/1907 – Falkirk Herald – Mining enterprise at High Bonnybridge. The Bonnybridge Silica and Fireclay Company (Messrs A. Griffith and’ Co.) are at present engaged in sinking a now mine, with air shaft, on the farm of Drum, to the south of the present works. This step has been rendered necessary by a subsidence at the present pit workings, which has rendered the working of the pit a task fraught with difficulty and danger. Last Sunday workmen were busily engaged erecting the frame, for working the pit, and much progress was made. It is proposed to carry the clay deposits from the mine to the works means of hutches worked on an endless chain. The fireclay industry, which means much to the district, owes its success to the rich deposits of silica and fireclay abounding in this district.

24/12/1909 – Drum Fireclay Mine, Stirling – Bonnybridge Silica and Fireclay Co Ltd – Alexander Cook (26), Drawer – While engaged breaking up ganister to fill into a tub a large stone fell off the face and killed him instantly.

02/11/1912 – Falkirk Herald – Pit pony for sale. 14 hands. Sound and can be recommended for this class of work. Apply Bonnybridge Silica and Fire Clay Company, Ltd.

Below – 1913 – This mine is linked to the BSF Works by a mineral railway line and is probably the Drum Fireclay Mine. It is situated near Wester Drum.

25/03/1914 – Falkirk Herald – In the Second Division of the Court of Session on Friday, judgment was given in an appeal from the Sheriff Court at Falkirk in an action by Alex. Cook, Grangemouth, against the Bonnybridge Silica and Fireclay Company Limited, Bonnybridge, for damages for the loss of his son, Alex. Cook, who in December 1910, while working as miners’ drawer in the defenders’ Drum Mine, Bonnybridge, was fatally injured by a fall of ganister at the working face. Sheriff-Substitute Moffatt, and on appeal Sheriff Lees, assoilzied the defenders, and the pursuer appealed. Court affirmed the judgment of the Sheriff but found no expenses due. Lord Salvesen who gave the leading opinion, said the occurrence of the fall of material was unprecedented, and could not be guarded against, and that every precaution had been to secure the safety of the workmen. He reserved his opinion as to the competency of such an appeal, although he thought it was incompetent. Lord Guthrie concurred on the merits but thought the appeal was incompetent. Lord Hunter held that the appeal was incompetent, but that the pursuer on the merits was entitled to judgment … (See also 09/12/1911 – Falkirk Herald).

13/09/1916 – Falkirk Herald – James Innes, miners’ drawer, Waverley Place, High Bonnybridge, was charged with having, on 1st September, in the underground working of Drum Mine, High Bonnybridge, occupied by Bonnybridge Silica and Fire Clay Company, Ltd., assaulted Peter Johnstone, miners’ drawer, Wester Lochgreen, Bonnybridge, and struck him to the face and cut his lip. Accused tendered a plea of not guilty, and the proof was fixed for Thursday, 21st September.

Below – 18/10/1933 – Falkirk Herald – Fireclay on the Estate of Drum for sale. Presently worked by Bonnybridge Silica and Fireclay Co Ltd.

04/11/1933 – Falkirk Herald – There was exposed for public sale in the office of Mr Hugh P. Black, solicitor, Falkirk, Thursday afternoon at the upset price of £3840, the site of Drum, in the parish of Falkirk, including the farms of Drum and South Drum, fireclay and other minerals, and certain wayleaves. The total assessed rental is £339 2s 5d, and the ground burden is £14 1s 5d. The property was purchased at the upset price by Bonnybridge Silica Fireclay Company, Ltd. Mr Galloway, of Messrs Thomas Binnie Ltd., was the auctioneer.

07/04/1948 – Coatbridge Express – There will be two paydays for the day shift miners in the fireclay pit of the Bonnybridge Silica Fireclay Co., Ltd., Chapelhall, Airdrie, next week. One will be official and the other unofficial. The latter will be the distribution among the 15 underground dayshift workers of over £700 won by them in a football pool …

25/06/1949 – Falkirk Herald – The Toe H (?) meeting on Monday evening took the form of a visit to the Bonnybridge Silica & Fireclay Co.’s mine at High Bonnybridge. The members were conducted on an interesting tour of the mine by Bill Godson and by Ken Wallace, mine manager. Tea was served in the canteen the conclusion of what proved to be a very interesting visit.

29/08/1953 – Falkirk Herald – Bonnybridge mine accident. Just after one o’clock on Tuesday, 22-year-old James McDermott, 15 Grahamsdyke Road, Bonnybridge was seriously injured by a fall of stone while working near the clay face in Drum Mine, High Bonnybridge, belonging to Bonnybridge Silica Fireclay Co., Ltd. After receiving attention from Dr Young, McDermott was removed to Falkirk Royal Infirmary, where he is dangerously ill.

Below – Information – British Geological Survey. Ganister from the Top Ganister Bonnybridge Fireclay Works, Stirlingshire. Ganister from the Top Ganister Bonnybridge Fireclay Works. A number of works and mines were active in the Bonnybridge area. They worked and processed the Carboniferous, Millstone Grit Upper Fireclay, a series of fireclays and ganisters.

The works at Bonnybridge included James Dougal and Sons Limited working the Bonnyside Pit and the Bonnyside Fireclay Works, the only pit recorded working the ‘Top Ganister’; the Bonnybridge Silica and Fireclay Company working the Drum Mine; Dykehead Ganister and Firebrick Company Limited working the Dykehead Mine and the Glenyards Fireclay Company working the Glenyards Mine. The ganisters were usually crushed at the works and sold in the ground condition to steel manufacturers for lining converters etc. Mixtures of ground ganister and fireclay were also supplied to foundries and chemical works.

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