Colliery Disasters 1861

Liverpool Mercury, Nov 5th, 1861

Dreadful colliery explosion

10 killed 5 injured

A woman killed by fright

On Friday morning about 9.30, an explosion of fire damp which proved fatal, 10 killed and 5 others seriously injured took place at the Prince Albert Pit, Shevington, belonging to Messers TAYLEURE and Co, situated about 4miles from Wigan. The pit is about 260yds deep and by it the Arley mine is worked.

About 9.30am on Friday morning the men at work on the south side of the pit [about 20] were startled by the sound of an explosion which occurred at a distance of about 300yds from the pit eye. Some few of the p[oor fellows succeeded in escaping both the fire and the choke-damp, but the great majority were not so fortunate. 10 colliers and drawers were scorched and choked to death, and 5 others seriously burned.

Searchers were soon down the pit and those still living had every assistance rendered them. 4 dead bodies were recovered in the course of the morning, but, it was not until 3.30pm that the remaining 6 were found.

The names of those killed are, William CROOK, aged 59, collier, widower

James ASHCROFT, aged 47, collier, married

John ASHCROFT, aged 15 and Solomon ASHCROFT, aged 12, drawers, sons of the above.

Edward GOULDEN, aged 22, collier, unmarried

James BARON, aged 12, drawer

John CULSHAW, aged 25, collier

James CULSHAW, aged 20, collier

James GASKELL, aged 40, collier, wife and two children

William YATES, aged 40, collier

All resident in Shevington and Standish

The explosion is supposed to have taken place at the lamp of an under-foreman named RIDING, who together with two persons, who were near him is severely burnt.

The wife of one old man a labourer, who is burnt, named Henry RAID, returned home from Wigan market to find her husband lying in the house, as she thought dead. The shock was too much for her, and she died almost immediately.

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Dreadful Colliery Accident

Two lads killed

On Friday an inquest was held at Aspull, near Wigan, on the bodies of two drawers, named Joseph SHEPHERD, aged 20 and Robert BOND, aged 16, who were killed under the following circumstances on the previous Wednesday :-

On the morning in question the two boys with a collier named William MELLING, got into the cage at the Morris Lane Pit, belonging to the Earl of Crawford and Balcarres, for the purpose of descending. According to the evidence of MELLING, they descended half of the way all right, when they experienced what the witness callled a "wriggling" sensation, and found the rope begin to slacken and coil. They fancied the rope of the ascending cage had broken, and thinking the position dangerous, BOND suggested they should slide down the rods. This was agreed to by MELLING, who first commenced the perilous journey. He reached the bottom in safety, but had not been down more than a second or two when the two lads came tumbling after him. BOND fell headlong on an iron plate, from which he rebounded into the shaft and SHEPHERD on the dib-hole scaffolding and thence on the bottom, the first having his jaw and back broken and dying almost immediately, and the second having his leg broken and living a short time.

The accident was caused by SHEPHERD's jacket catching between the cage and the conducting rods. The jacket was found firmly fixed in this position where it was evident that SHEPHERD had, had, to leave it before he could attempt to descend. Verdict, "Accidental death."

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