Colliery explosion in Darcy Lever

Liverpool Journal, Feb 10th 1877


Bolton Weds evening

Scarcely have the inhabitants of this district recovered from the disaster at the Stonehill Colliery, near Farnworth, by which 18 were suffocated, then they have been startled by the occurrence of a dreadful explosion at a colliery in the neighbouring township of Darcy Lever, resulting in the loss of 10 lives.

The pit in which the catastrophe occurred is known as, Fogg Pit, on the banks of the Bolton and Bury Canal, and is worker by Messers Andrew KNOWLES and Sons Ltd.

There is only one shaft to the mine, the lowest workings known as the, Cannel, are at a depth of 380yds. These, however, have not been operated for some time. The upper mine was styled the Doe, or Seven Feet, and was worked at a depth of 320yds from the pit-mouth, or 60yds above the Cannel.

The men had been at work for some hours, when, about 10 those employed on the pit-bank were alarmed by a sudden emission of smoke from the return air shaft, followed by a signal from those below to wind up the cage. The men were quickly hoisted up, one of the last men out being Absolom NORRIS, Fireman.

One and all reported their workings were rapidly filling with smoke but were unable to say whether it was a result of a fire or an explosion.

When the names of the men were called it was found, 10 engaged in the furthermost workings were missing. NORRIS the Fireman, and nearly all the miners at once re-descended, and in penetrating the area where the unfortunate men were lying, discovered the evidence of the exposure effect of foul gas.

A courageous attempt was made to force a way through the thick smoke, but all in vain, the men were compelled to ascend.

Meantime, Mr P. HOWARD, Manager to Messers KNOWLES and Co was informed and having reached the neighbouring colliery of Messers FLETCHER and Sons and of the Bridgewater Trustees, their managers also hastened to the scene.

An exploring party was formed, and having provided themselves with several SINCLAIR’S Respirators, they descended the mine. They reported that for 800yds from the pit-eye the workings were entirely free from foul air. Beyond that, however, they found too impossible to penetrate, and to the poor creatures, who by this time had congregated around the pit-bank, anxiously inquiring about missing husbands, sons and brothers, little hope could be held out to them of any unfortunate men alive.

Bolton Weds 9.30pm

Some of the exploring party at 6pm had to be brought out of the pit. They had become nearly insensible through inhaling the after-damp and had to be lifted out of the tubs. Restoratives were administered by, Dr DOUGLAS, they recovered in such a state of exhaustion that they were not allowed to descend again. The remainder of the party are still down. It is not expected the bodies will be brought up until tomorrow afternoon.

List of those killed

Abraham LAWTON, Macdonald St, Farnworth, married, 6 children

Robert HALL, Hall Lane, Farnworth, single

James BERRY, Little Lever, married, 2 children

George BERRY, Little Lever, single [no relation]

James PARTINGTON Snr, Darcy Lever and his brother Ralph PARTINGTON, Darcy Lever

Aaron PARTINGTON, Moor Lane, Bolton

James PARTINGTON, son of the above Ralph

James HOLDEN, Darcy Lever, single

Henry ASPINALL, Darcy Lever, married, I child


On Thurs am, another explosion occurred at Messers KNOWLES and Sons colliery, Darcy Lever, blowing up the shaft, the staging being levelled with the embankment, and the cage turned on its side.

Two men named, Thomas BARLOW and John THORNLEY, were seriously injured and a policeman had a narrow escape, he heard a rumbling noise and immediately withdrew from the pit mouth. He had no sooner done so than the place in which he had stood was blown into the air.

The second explosion must greatly impeded the exploration of the mine.

Feb 17th 1877

There is no possibility of the bodies being removed for some days, gas has accumulated and an explosion is apprehended. Smoke is also visible and on Wednesday it was resolved to brick up the workings as the ventilation is being upset.


Copyright 2002 / To date