John Brown Memorial – Dailly, Scotland - Atlas Obscura

John Brown Memorial

Dailly Parish Church

The grave of a man who spent 23 days trapped underground after a mine collapse. 


A headstone in the Dailly Parish Church graveyard has a memorial that recounts the ordeal of John Brown, a 66-year-old miner who survived after being trapped underground for 23 days.

On October 8, 1835, a large portion of the Kilgrammie Coal Mine collapsed early in the morning. Over the next two days, further collapses made it dangerous to enter the mine. When the roof collapsed, Brown had been the only miner unable to make it to safety. The operator of the mine and four other men attempted to reach Brown, but after two of the other colliers were almost trapped in a further roof fall, the search was paused for two days while another plan was made.

When the next rescue attempt began, it was discovered that all the underground roads were blocked. A path had to be cleared to reach Brown, which meant digging through a solid wall of debris where only one man could work at the face at a time. The search continued day and night for two weeks, filled with the added danger of further collapses and gas seeping into the passage where men were digging.

Many believed that Brown must have died and the search should be called off. While miners set to work clearing the damaged main shaft, several continued to dig toward Brown in their own time. Despite having called off the search, the owner offered a reward if and when Brown was found.

Finally, on October 30, between 1 and 2 a.m., William Ross and his son broke through into a small chamber. They were exhausted from their efforts, so John Scobie and William Sime took over and tried to enter the chamber. Initially, they were driven back by the gas, but tried again a few hours later and managed to disperse the gases by wafting boards in front of them. Inside they found Brown very weak, but still alive.

The rescuers laid him on one of the boards they had used to disperse the gas and slowly pushed and pulled him through the passageway. A few hours later, Brown had been seen by a doctor and settled into bed. Unfortunately, Brown died three days later on the evening of November 3.

Know Before You Go

Head to the back wall of the church graveyard, you will see a plaque up on the wall, the headstone which is no longer legible is next to this.

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March 20, 2023

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