1862-May-21: Bank Pit

1.William Samson34crushed by wheel of engine

William Samson was born on the 8th May 1828 at Cairn Knockshinnoch in the parish of New Cumnock, the son of William Samson and Jean McCrae. Cairn Knockshinnoch is possibly a later name for Cairn Buchanny which stood to the south of Laight farm (part of the Knockshinnoch estate) on the Afton Road. An ancient cairn once stood there before the stone was carted away to build stone-dykes. There must have been a cottage near by in what was known as Cairn field for some time since Old Parish Records shows that a Hugh Gemmel was born at Cairn Buchwhanny as long ago as 1707!

Map 1 | Reproduced by Permission of the National Library of Scotland

William was the seventh born of 10 children. His elder siblings were born at Benston or Lowes while his younger siblings were born at South Boig.  As a teenager he found work on Marshallmark farm while his parents lived at the Bank Cottages. William remained a bachelor and later moved to live with his parents at the Bank Cottages; where in the 1851 Census his occupation is recorded as labourer, while in the 1861 record it is given as pit labourer.

The Bank cottages sat on the New Cumnock-Dalmellington road at the road-end to the Hyslop’s mansion the Bank House. Further along the Dalmellington road the Hyslops had miners rows built at Craigbank – the first, a single row called Peesweep Row, followed later by a square of rows.

Map 2 | Reproduced by Permission of the National Library of Scotland

William Samson worked as an engineman at the Bank pit where his main task was to keep the pumping engine working through the night. In the early hours of 22nd May 1862, some two weeks after his 34th birthday, he became entangled in the machinery and was crushed to death. His body was discovered later that morning by miners arriving for work.

The accident report (Scottish Mining web-site) concludes –

“I have no doubt that he had been in the act of oiling the shafting, when he was accidentally caught by the revolving machinery, or had missed his footing and got entangled with it. The fatal accidents of this description generally happen to the workmen who are in direct charge of the machinery, and in many cases from the absurd practice of cleaning and oiling dangerous parts of it while in motion.”

William’s death certificate records the cause of death  as ‘Injuries sustained by being crushed by the wheel of the engine of the pit. Death instantaneous. Certified by Alexander Murdoch Procurator Fiscal’. There is no record of William’s burial in the Auld Kirkyard.


Scottish Mining Web-site
Fatal Accidents
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland
Map 1 | Buchanny Cairn
Map 2 | Bank Cottages
Scotland’s People
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