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British Industrial History

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William Galloway (1840-1927)

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1840 Born in Paisley

1851 William Galloway 51, Justice of the Peace & Coal Master, lived in Paisley with Margaret Galloway 33, Margaret Galloway 12, William Galloway 11, Robert Galloway 7, James Galloway 4[1]

1871 Mining engineer, lodging in London[2]

1874 Married Christiana Maud Mary Gordon in London[3]

1880 His wife died in Wales[4]

1881 William Galloway 41, practising mining engineer, widower, lived in Cardiff, with William A.D. Galloway 3, Christian F.J. Galloway[5]

1891 William Galloway 51, mining engineer, widower, lived in Cardiff, with William A D Galloway 13, Christian F Galloway 10[6]

1900 Married Mary Jane G D Killick (nee Wood) in Westminster[7]

1901 William Galloway 61, mining engineer, lived in Rumney with Mary G D Galloway 34 and Christian Galloway 20, mining engineer and 2 step-daughters[8]. Next door lived William Cubitt, mechanical engineer.

1907 Divorced

1927 Died in Cardiff[9]

1927 Obituary[10]


We regret to announce the death of Sir William Galloway, D.Sc., for many years Professor of Mining at the University College of South Wales, and a pioneer in the investigation of coal-dust explosions. He died in Cardiff on November 2, aged 87 years.

William Galloway, born on February 12, 1840, was the son of William Galloway, of Paisley. After private tuition he went to the University of Giessen and the Mining Academy at Freiberg, in Saxony, to which the fame of Clemens Winkler, only a few years his senior, afterwards drew many mining engineers. He also studied at University College, London. His D.Sc. was honorary and was conferred on him by the University College of South Wales, with which his work in Welsh mines, and as one of H.M. Inspectors of Mines for the West of Scotland and South Wales districts, had brought him in contact. Galloway first took the risk of sinking pits in the deep trough south of the anticline in the South Wales coalfield at Llanbradach in 1887, and he invented and introduced there, and later at Maesteg, many devices for increasing efficiency and safety ; such as rope guides for suspending a stage during sinking, pneumatic water-winding barrels, pneumatic coal-tram gear, and hydraulic columns for carrying rock-drills.

That coal dust endangered the lives of miners at great distances from the actual source of a colliery explosion had been recognised at the beginning of the nineteenth century, long before Faraday and Lyell reported to the Home Secretary that, in the Haswell explosion of 1844, firedamp could not have been the only fuel burnt or the only source of the choke damp. But the direct explosibility of the fine dust was not understood, and little attention was paid to the problem until the ’seventies, when Galloway and others began to experiment, both here and on the Continent. In the period 1876 to 1887, Galloway contributed a series of five papers to the Royal Society, on the influence of coal dust in colliery explosions. Unaware, at the time, of Faraday’s researches, he stated, in his first paper, that, if it could be shown that a mixture of air and coal dust was in itself inflammable at ordinary temperature and pressure, there would be no difficulty in accounting for the violence of colliery explosions in the absence of considerable amounts of firedamp. From his first experiments he concluded that the dust-air mixture was not itself explosive, and his final conclusion, that it was explosive, seemed to be based more on his study of a series of disastrous colliery explosions of that period than upon actual experiments, although, in the Llwynpia colliery, he made use of a wooden gallery, 2 ft. square and 126 ft. long. He noticed that wet dust and stone galleries free from dust, checked the advance of the explosive wave, and he introduced the practice of keeping the coal dust wet; later he proposed stone dusting.

A Royal Commission of 1891 to 1894 reported that coal dust alone, in the absence of firedamp, could not only carry on an explosion, but could also cause it. Miners, however, asked why explosions were unknown in non-gassy mines, and why they were not of daily occurrence in other mines, and it required further demonstrations in large-scale galleries, such as had been used on the Continent for the study of explosives and for this particular purpose, to convince the miners of the coal dust dangers. By 1906, the Royal Commission on Mines provided such an experimental gallery in the Altofts Colliery, where William Garforth, who was put in charge of these researches, had been experimenting since 1886. The report of 1910 on this work, by the Mining Association of Great Britain, was reviewed in three articles published in our columns in July and December, 1910. Sir William Garforth died in October, 1921*. The Government took over the work in 1911, using the new experimental gallery at Eskmeals, Cumberland, which has recently been removed to Buxton. Galloway was a member of the 1906 Committee. He received a grant from the Royal Society for his work on coal dust and safety lamps, in 1874. Most of his papers were on mining matters, and were presented to the South Wales Institute of Mining Engineers, of which he was a past president, and by which he was awarded a gold medal. He was on the Referee Panel under the Coal Mines Act of 1911. His services as mining expert were much in demand and took him all over the globe. It has been stated, however, that his insistence upon the coal dust danger led to his losing, in 1875, his appointment as inspector of mines ; public recognition of his work also came late. The Royal Society of Arts awarded him the Shaw gold medal, and a medal was awarded by the Institution of Mining Engineers in 1925. He was knighted in 1924.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 1851 census
  2. 1871 census
  3. BMD
  4. National probate calendar
  5. 1881 census
  6. 1891 census
  7. BMD
  8. 1901 census
  9. BMD
  10. Engineering 1927/11/18