Arley mine explosion 1854

Southport Visiter

Feb 23rd 1854

On Saturday afternoon last, at half past two, an appalling explosion took place in the Arley Mine of Ince Hall Coal and Cannel Co, at Ince in Wigan, attended with a frightful sacrifice of human life. The same mine was the scene of a similar catastrophe no later than the 23rd of March last, when upwards of 50 persons lost their lives by an explosion of foul air.

Since repairs have been effected, it is said, the colliers have felt the greatest confidence in the ventilation of the mine. Its depth is 415yds and excavations, both north and south extend nearly 2 miles. It has two shafts known as, “the down shafting,” and, “the up shafting.” Above this there are several other mines, all supplied with air from the same shafting. The furnace at the bottom of the shafting has been completely destroyed.

On Monday, in three out-houses adjoining the Navigation Inn, kept by Mr LATHAM, there lay 87 burned and mangled corpses.

On Saturday morning 250 persons, colliers and drawers, descended the mine. They were employed in the north and south workings. As Sunday is a short day a few men left work just after 12 o’ clock and fortunately escaped. Several others at the time were making for the mouth of the shaft, but the large body of workers were busily occupied, in order to have a large, “draw,” of wages on Wednesday, their pay day.

At about 2.30 pm a large explosion was heard at the pit brow, the mine was on fire, it was feared all had perished.

In a short time thousands gathered around the pit, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, all full of intense anxiety, and giving utterance to the most agonising cries.

In consequence of the guiding rods and winding apparatus of the shaft being uninjured, within half an hour a descent was made in the cage, under the superintendence of Mr James DARLINGTON, the company’s engineer.

The workings were filled with sulphureous air and blocked with rubbish, delaying the search.

The explosion was found to have taken place in the north workings, although the effects were felt 200yds in the south portion, the persons in that part, although knocked down, escaped without any material injury.

At 11.20pm the first man, Robert CALDERBANK was drawn up alive.

The 2nd was James MURPHY, the 3rd, William SMITH.

Next Stephen RENARDS, a boy, then John HERRINGTON, at the same hour Henry MOSS.

The following had got into an airway and remained together and were hoisted up alive, John LESFORD and Henry LESFORD [brothers], James LEIGH, Robert BARKER, Thomas BARNES, William FRANCIS, Benjamin SIMPKINS, John WHITTLE and Samuel MC ALLISTER, the last named had 3 brothers killed in the explosion in March last.

On Saturday at 4.30 a large number of corpses were found, the first that of Thomas DOBISON, aged only 13, son of the overlooker. By 9pm 65 dead had been brought out.

Nearly all the medical gentlemen of the locality were in attendance, amongst whom were, Dr FISHER of Wigan and Dr SETTLE of Hindle, Mr Supt FOWLER and Insp WHITE, Sgt FRANCE and the whole of the police force were employed.

The coroner Mr DRIFFIELD, on Monday, visited the scene and issued his precept for the holding of an inquest.


Copyright 2002 / To date