SHOCK FELT OVER WIDE AREA
Three men were killed and two seriously injured in Nobel's Ardeer
factory on Wednesday forenoon when a series of explosions
occurred in the Black Powder Section.
The casualties were: -
George McCully, Fitter, 49 Sidney Street, Saltcoats:
James H. Rainey, process worker, 3 Canal Street, Saltcoats:
Robert Niblock process worker, 8 School Row, Kilwinning.
James McNay Process worker 17 Hill Street, Ardrossan:
James Patterson, process worker; 6 Station square, Stevenston.
Despite the terrible havoc wrought and
the Possible danger still existing, volunteers ran at once to
the scene do what they could for the injured.
Doctors were rushed to the
Factory and, after the two injured men had had their injuries dressed;
they were conveyed in one of the Factories ambulances by road to Glasgow
The force of the explosion was felt over
a wide area. In Ardrossan and Saltcoats houses were shaken, while
Stevenston, closest to the factory, suffered damage in the form of
broken windows. Kilwinning and Irvine also felt the effects.
Great alarm was created in the district,
and exaggerated rumours got afloat. Large crowds flocked to the factory
gates. There an official statement posted up helped to allay anxiety,
although it engendered a feeling of deepest regret that three lives had
The official statement was as follows: -
It is regretted that an explosion
occurred in the Black Powder Section of the Ardeer Factory shortly
before 11 'o'clock this morning. Unfortunately, three workers were
killed, and two seriously injured. (The names were given.) The cause of
the explosion is being investigated.
CONDITION OF INJURED
AT Midnight Last Night.
In reply to a phone message from our office to
the Western Infirmary about midnight last night the following statement
was given: -
James McNay - Fairly comfortable and
sleeping. Condition otherwise unchanged.
James Patterson - Very Comfortable.
Sheet of Flame and Column of Smoke.
There were four explosions altogether, the fourth being tremendous. It
appears that four cornering houses were blown up one after the other.
Details have not been officially given, but it is stated that Rainey and
Niblock were in the hut which blew up first. McCully evidently had been
working in the powder mill, which is a short distance off, and was
running in an endeavour to get clear when he was killed.
One worker, in particular, had a very narrow escape. When he heard the
noise of the detonation, he made a dash for safety, and just got clear
when his hut exploded. He suffered to some extent from shock. The
explosions went off in succession, almost like heavy gun fire. A sheet
of flame went up into the air and then a column of smoke, visible for
miles, towered above, billowing out as it rose. This was the chief
intimation to the district that the detonations had a deadly
Many people outside the factory had a terrifying view of
the flames and smoke bursting upwards.Two golfers on Ardeer golf course
had an unenviable experience. At the time of the explosion they were on
the sixteenth tee, which is at the boundary of the factory and close to
the scene of the tragedy. They dropped their clubs when the shattering
roar broke the silence and ran for their lives. Fortunately, they were
uninjured, the force of the explosion travelling apparently in the
A Motoristís Experience.
A gentleman resident in Saltcoats who was motoring between Kilwinning
and Stevenston gave the following account to our representative: -
On hearing the first report, my
impression was that it was a blast at Hill House Quarry. I felt no
vibration in the car. There was a second explosion, followed by two loud
double explosions. I saw a huge column of black smoke shoot up from
Ardeer factory, and surmised something serious had happened. The traffic
on the road came to a stop. The column of smoke rose quickly and spread
out at the top until it looked like a huge flower on a thick stem. The
sunís rays had a curious effect on the column. From the point at which
they shone on it, the smoke turned from black to pure white like a
fleecy cloud. By the time I reached Stevenston people were hurrying down
the street to the factory gate. An eye witness of the explosion who
resides near the factory, described to our representative as terrifying
in its immensity; and also as something beyond the wit of man to
Anxiety in the District.
Great anxiety was evident in the district, the streets from Ardrossan to
Stevenston being filled with knots of people discussing the
possibilities. The householders near the factory were most affected by
the terrible noise, on the other hand, many of the workers employed
underground in the factory area, stated that dull thuds, such as from
the test blasts, were all that were heard by them, and it was not until
later they learned of the disaster. The Black Powder section is of
fairly recent addition to the factory, where it is now centralised.
THE DECEASED WORKERS.
Mr. James H. Rainey, who resided at Craigmore, Canal Street, Saltcoats,
was a son of Mr. and Mrs William Rainey, 23 Kinnier Street, Saltcoats.
The family are well known in the town, the father being the trainer to
Saltcoats Victoria, Football Club and deceased and another son being
identified with that club and also with Ardeer Recreational Club.
Deceased played in both teams for a number of years, and also played in
America. James was a carpenter to trade, and served his apprenticeship
in Ardrossan Shipyard where he remained for a number of years. After
returning to Saltcoats, he was assistant bathmaster at Saltpans Bathing
Pond. He was a member Saltcoats Masonic Lodge (Neptune Kilwinning, No.
442), and we understand that the Masonic rights will be performed at the
funeral, which is to take place tomorrow afternoon. Mr. Rainey leaves a
widow and two children, (both girls, aged 6 and 2 years.)
Mr. G. McCully, who resided in Sidney
Street, also belonged to a well known Saltcoats family. His parents are
deceased, but several brothers still reside in the town. He was a fitter
to trade, and had been employed in the factory during the last three
years. He was to have been married in September to Miss Isabella
Withnall, Kerr Avenue.
Mr. Robert Niblock, who is the son of Mr.
Robert Niblock, 113 Five Roads, Kilwinning, and resided at 3 School
Road, Kilwinning, is well known in the town and is highly respected. He
was only 32, and his widow is left with three children, the eldest aged
11. Two are girls and one a boy. Much sympathy is expressed with the
wido9w and other relatives. Mrs. Niblock has suffered her second
bereavement within a short space of time, her young brother dying only
seven weeks ago.
Mr. James Paterson, one of the injured men, who resides in Station
Square, Stevenston, came from the West Calder Factory about two years
ago. He is 40 years or age and unmarried.
Mr. James McNay is well known in
Ardrossan. He originally was a caulker to trade in Ardrossan Shipyard,
and then worked on the railway before entering Nobel's. He
formerly was drum-major in the Ardrossan Pipe Band, a position resigned
mainly because of being on shift time at the Ardeer Factory.Mr. McNay is
married and there is one child.
The funeral of George McCully will take place to-day (Friday) to
Ardrossan Cemetery; that of James H. Rainey to the same cemetery
to-morrow (Saturday), at, 3.30 p.m.; and that of Robert Niblock to
Kilwinning Cemetery to-morrow at 3 p.m.
From the deaths column of the same issue.
As a result of an accident at Ardeer, James Harvey Rainey 16th June 1937
of 3 Canal Street. Husband of Agnes Patterson, Son of William Rainey.
Funeral to take place on Saturday 19th June from 23 Kinnier Road.