This section is from "Scientific American Supplement Volumes 275, 286, 288, 299, 303, 312, 315, 324, 344 and 358". Also available from Amazon: Scientific American Reference Book.
On the afternoon of August 9, Earnock Colliery, near Hamilton, belonging to Mr. John Watson, of Earnock, was the scene of an interesting ceremonial which may well be said to mark a new era in mining annals. In proceeding to win the rich mineral wealth of his estate, Mr. Watson determined that, in respect of fittings, machinery, and general appointments, it should be a model, and he has been highly successful in giving practical effect to his aims. Among other things, he early resolved to, if at all practicable, substitute the electric light for the ordinary mode of illuminating the workings, and after investigating the various systems, he decided on giving that of Mr. Swan a trial. Accordingly, since April last, Messrs. D. & E. Graham, electrical engineers, Glasgow, have been engaged fitting up the Swan incandescent lamp, with modifications, to adapt it for safe use in the mine, and on Tuesday the inauguration of the new light took place in presence of a large company of leading gentlemen from Glasgow, Hamilton, and the West. Arrived at the colliery about half-past one o'clock, the visitors were received by Mr. Watson, and after a brief space spent in inspecting the three magnificent winding and fan engines, the Guibal fan, and the framework for screening the coal, they were conducted by Mr. James Gilchrist, manager, down into the workings in the ell seam at a depth of 118 fathoms. Here at the pit bottom, in the roads and at the face, twenty-one Swan lamps were burning, giving forth a brilliant, steady flame, the luminosity of which, while sufficient to supply the desired light, had none of the disagreeable intensity associated with most systems of electric lighting. Besides the pear-shaped Swan lamp, in which the glowing or incandescence is carried on in vacuo, there is an outer lantern, the invention of Mr. David Graham, consisting of a strong glass globe, air-tight, protected with steel guards. Each lamp was also connected with two different forms of Graham's patent safety air tight contacts and switches for cutting off and letting on the current, the effect of which, it is believed, would be to render the lamps quite safe, even in the presence of explosive gas. At first the intention was to employ the fan-engine to drive the dynamo-electric machine or generator, but this was departed from, and an engine of 12 horse-power was erected in the workshops on the surface for the purpose. From the generator the electric cables, two in number, are conducted along the roof of the workshops over ordinary telegraph poles to the pit-head at No. 2 shaft, and thence down into the workings. From the ridge of the workshops to the pithead, a distance of several hundred yards, the cables consist of ordinary copper wire, three-eighths of an inch in diameter; inside the workshop and below ground, to allow of their safe handling, they are composed of insulated wires, while on the way down the shaft they are inclosed in a galvanized tube. Near the bottom of the shaft, branches are taken off to supply light to the principal roadways and to the haulage engine-room, the main cables being carried into one of the sections of the mine a distance of half-a-mile. After a careful inspection of the lamps at the pit bottom, the party were photographed in three groups, with the aid of the electric light, by Mr. Annan, of Glasgow, who may well be credited with the distinction of being the first to exercise his skill in the bowels of the earth. They were then led to the haulage engine-room and into the workings, where they witnessed the effects of the light. At the latter point, while, of course, the visitors were at a safe distance, a shot was fired, bringing down a large mass of coal. Having spent fully an hour below ground, the party returned to the surface.--Colliery Guardian.