Biography - Thomas Russell (b 1898, d 1916)

Thomas Russell, born 1898 in Larkhall, Lanarkshire, was the son of William Russell and Agnes Browning. Following a long tradition in the Russell family he was a coal miner.

Sadly his life was cut short at the age of 18 in a much publicised mining accident. Although accidents were common place at the time, this was one of only a few fatalities which occurred in Larkhall’s coal mining history.

Thomas died on 24 April 1916. His death certificate initially had his death as sometime on 24th or 25th April 1916 however after an inquest a correction was placed in the Death Register. He was interred in Larkhall Cemetery a few days later.

Below is an extract from the local newspaper....

Larkhall Pit Fatality – Three Men Killed at Dykehead – Strenuous Rescue Work.

A colliery accident – the most serious which has taken place in the district for a number of years – occurred on Monday forenoon at Dykehead Colliery, Larkhall, belonging to the Summerlee Iron Company, Limited, and resulted in the deaths of three men.

The mishap was due to an extensive fall from the roof which involved the place where Archibald Banks and his two sons worked. At the time one of the sons had left to visit another place, but a young man named Thomas Russell was in the working when the fall occurred, and was caught in it along with the elder Banks and his other son also named Archibald. The fall consisted largely of rock, and it was seen that the only possible means of rescuing the entombed men was by driving mines.

Under the superintendence of Mr John Stewart, manager, who was in the pit at the time of the accident and immediately repaired to the scene, several shifts of men were organised for the work. The rescuers devoted themselves to their task with great energy, and notwithstanding that they were greatly hampered by fresh falls, they wrought strenuously to free their imprisoned comrades. Some time after, the voice of Banks senior could be heard entreating help. He also indicated the position in which he was placed and how the fall had occurred and this spurred on the rescue party in their efforts. The work was carried on unceasingly, but it was not until 3.45 on Tuesday morning that the rescuers were able to reach the elder Banks. The unfortunate man had spoken shortly before he was extricated, but when he was got out he was unconscious, and died on the way to the pit bottom, from shock following on his injuries. The operations were continued with unabated energy, but it was 8am when the body of Archibald Banks junior was recovered.

Three hours later the party came upon the remains of Russell. Both men had died from asphyxiation. Mr Stewart, manager, who took charge of the rescue operations at the outset, remained on the scene throughout, and did not leave until Russell's body was recovered at 11am yesterday. Dr M'Nay was also in attendance and went down the pit when Archibald Banks, sen, was extricated. Thomas Russell, who was 18 years of age, resided in Victoria Street, Larkhall, while the Banks lived in Millheugh. The father was 55 years of age and the son 20. The news of the sad accident quickly spread and a large crowd gathered at the pithead and anxiously awaited throughout the day and night the outcome of the rescuers efforts. Among those who were present and rendered valuable assistance were Superintendent Taylor and Inspector Dalrymple of the County Constabulary. [Hamilton Herald 26 April 1916]

Father and Son Killed In Larkhall Pit

On Monday forenoon, while working in the ell coal seam in Dykehead Colliery, Larkhall, three miners – Archibald Banks, sen, residing at Millhugh, Larkhall; Archibald Banks jun (father and son); and Thomas Russell, Victoria Street, Larkhall were entombed in their working place by a large fall from the roof. As soon as the accident happened, willing hands set to the work of rescue, and several shifts of men were employed to effect succour. Their work was greatly impeded by the continued falling of material. The voice of the elder Banks was heard crying for help, but it was 5 o'clock on Tuesday morning before the rescuers came upon him. He was living when found, but died before being brought to the surface. The boy Banks was found at 9 o'clock in the morning, and was dead. The funeral of the three miners who lost their lives took place in Larkhall Cemetery on Thursday. The mens fellow workmen turned out in large numbers and the general public was well represented. [Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser 29 April 1916]