The Lindsay Colliery was at Kelty, about three miles north of Cowdenbeath
(About the Colliery)
The Lindsay Colliery was at Kelty, about two miles north of Cowdenbeath. It had been in production since 1875 and at the time of the disaster comprised one vertical shaft and two surface mines. Coal was raised through the shaft and No.1 Surface Mine and the No.2 Surface Mine was used for ventilation and man-riding. At the date of the disaster the output from the colliery was about 1,100 tons a day, of which 400 tons came from the Glassee Seam. Seven hundred and ninety men were employed below ground and 170 in the surface.
The Colliery was in the West Fife Area of the Scottish Division of the National Coal Board and the principle officers were Mr. G. Milin, Area General Manager, Mr. J. Hutchinson, Area Production Manager, Mr. R.B. Dunn, Deputy Area Production Manager (Operations), Mr. J.C.B. Haynes, Group Manager and Mr. W. Reid as the Manager of the colliery. There were two undermanagers, Mr. W. Orr who was in charge of the workings of the No.1 Surface Mine and Mr. A. Bell who was in charge of the remaining underground workings.
The mine was worked in three shifts. In the Glassee Seam coal was filled on the day and afternoon shifts during alternate weeks, the deputies changing with their men.
The night shift deputies, however, remained permanently on that shift and so for one week had the first preparatory shift and the following week the second preparatory shift.
The seams that had been worked in the life of the colliery were, in descending order, the Little Splint, Seven Feet, Main Coal, Upper Jersey, Lower Jersey, Low Bank, Glassee, Mynheer, Five Feet and Dunfermline Splint. At the time of the explosion, the Seven Feet and Glassee Seams and development in the Mynheer Seam were being worked from the shaft, and the Little Splint and Jersey Seam from No.1 Surface Mine.
There had been an ignition of gas at the colliery on the 4th. May 1955, which injured two men and before that one man had been fatally injured in an explosion in 1930. The mine was worked by locked safety lamps. The workmen used Oldham Wheat electric cap lamps, type GW and the deputies were provided with Wolf flame lamps, types 7 RMBS and 7S, for the use of the statutory inspections. In November 1955, 73 workmen were trained to recognise gas caps on flame lamps with a view to compliance to statutory regulations governing the use of firedamp detectors. Workmen employed in development sections carried flame lamps for this purpose, but they were not used elsewhere. Not a single detector was in use in the No. 3 Unit at the time of the explosion.
The explosive used in the mine was "Unigel Eq.S.". Shots were fired by No.6 lowtension detonators and Davis-Derby single shot exploders. The system of searching for contraband was approved by the Divisional Inspector and required that 10 percent of the men forming a shift should be searched and that there should be a general search at quarterly intervals. All persons descending the mine other than on a shift were to be searched on each occasion. In addition, it was the practice to search a proportion of men at the deputy's meeting station and surprise spot checks were made.
The ventilation of the mine was by the shaft and No.1 Surface mine which served as intakes and the No.2 Surface mine was the return. Ventilation was provided by a axial flow exhausting fan designed to deliver 125,000 cubic feet of air per minute at a water gauge of 2.5 inches. This was operated at 1000,000 cubic feet per minute at a water gauge of 2.1 inches.
The workings in the Glassee Seam comprised two advancing longwall single-unit faces called Nos. 3 and 4 Units. They were at a depth of 1,260 feet below the surface.
They were worked in conjunction with a development in the Mynheer Seam, 60 feet below the Glassee No.3 Unit which was started when No.2 unit was stopped in April, 1957 and No.4 Unit was started when No.1 Unit was stopped in September, 1957. The approach to these workings was through Hodge's Mine, stone drift, 1,650 yards long dipping at 1 in 11 and then through a level cross-measure drift 635 yards long. Coal from the faces was transported by a gate conveyor to a common loading point and from there in tubs by endless-rope haulage through Hodge's Mine to the pit bottom.
Hodge's Mine formed the main intake airway from the area. The main return airway through Wilson's Mine to No.2 Surface Mine. Until the end of October 1957 these two Units were ventilated in series, air travelling round the No.3 and then round the no.4 Unit. Following the completion of an overcast in October, separate splints were provided for each Unit. Before the separation, the quantity of air measured in No.3 Unit main gate was approximately 5,000 cubic feet per minute. On 2nd November, after the separation, the quantity measured was 4,422 cubic feet per minute, while in the No.4 Unit main gate it was 6,120 cubic feet per minute.
The explosion occurred in the No.3 Unit. The face was 120 yards long and was advancing across the line of the true dip. The gradient of the face was 1 in 3.3, dipping from the main intake gate towards the tail gate. The gates rose towards the face at a gradient varying from 1 in 4 to 1 in 5. The seam was about 3 feet 6 inches thick and as overlain by a blaes roof. The unit was bordered on the rise side by the abandoned No.2 Unit the waste of which was contacted from time to time, and on the dip side, by a fault from which ran igneous intrusions. There was 'burnt' coal from these intrusions in the lower part of the face. The face was supported by a mixture of wood and steel props set to corrugated bars.
Intermediate packs were built and chocks were set along the edge of the waste to facilitate caving. Wet cutting was practice, the coal being undercut by machine to a depth of four feet six inches and hand loaded on to a bottom loading belt conveyor which conveyed it uphill to the main gate. In the main gate a short scraper conveyor carried the coal to the main belt conveyor.
The ventilating air entered No.3 Unit through the main gate and after passing down the face and through the tail gate, left by a return common to No.3 and 4 Units. Air sampling was regularly carried out and the highest firedamp content recorded before the separation was in the tailgate on 4th October 1957 at .39 per cent. No samples wee taken in the wastes but a few tests were made at the waste edge by holding a flame lamp at arm's length into the waste. The machinery at the coal face was electrically driven and included the gate and face conveyors, coal cutters, drills and pumps.