Strontian Mines Inquest

by John Dye


He was employed by Donald Cameron, Woodman, to clear access and reopen a vein which had not been mined since Mr Barrat became manager
                                                                                                 12th August 1851

Compeared Hugh MacMaster residing at Scotstown in the parish of Ardnamurchan and Shire of Argyll who says (understands but can't speak English):

I am 25 years of age. I am employed at the Strontian lead Mines, I have been so employed constantly for more that a twelvemonth. James Floyd is the superintendent of the works underground. Donald Cameron, Woodman, has a charge under him. Some time ago I think about 6 weeks ago, Cameron employed me & John MacMaster, Archibald MacMaster and Angus MacMaster to clear away the accumulation of rubbish in the open Cast at a place where I understood Dunan Cameron, Alexander Lowrie and others had taken a Job of blasting - we were to clear an accumulation away for the purpose of giving them free room to the vein.

He reported finding the large loose stone

This place had not been wrought in for a long time, not since Mr Barret became Manager. After clearing away the loose stuff I observed a large stone in the hanger wall which was loose and I remarked this to Cameron and told him that it was unsafe to work under and should be removed. (It was 3 or 4 feet above the level - it was about 9 feet long) ( I don't remember saying this to Cameron tho' it was perfectly understood by all who saw it - I considered it dangerous).

Duncan Cameron told him in front of Floyd to blast it away, but Floyd overruled him

Cameron examined the stone and told me to put a shot in it and take it away, that it was dangerous. (This conversation took place at the surface of the mine in presence of Floyd - Cameron had previously seen the stone & had told Donald and Arcd. MacMaster to remove it) I was making preparations to put the shot into it and blast it out when James Floyd came to me desired me to desist that he would make the parties who had taken the Job remove it, that they were bound to do so and I desisted accordingly (I had not actually began - I was just going down to remove the stone when Floyd stopped me saying that it was the duty of those who had the job). He added the stone will stand for some time yet. This is the stone which fell & killed Duncan Cameron and this conversation occurred on the very day before they began work at this place.

From that time up to the date of the accident I heard some of the men mention that they were in danger in consequence of the looseness of that stone. Its position and situation was exactly about the place they were employed at work.

Sigd. Hugh MacMaster