Explosion in a St Helens Colliery

Liverpool Journal 21st January 1882

St Helens News

The explosion in a St Helens Colliery

Inquest and Verdict

An inquest was held at Thatto Heath, St Helens on Wednesday by Mr T. W. BARKER on the body of Hugh PLATT, aged 29, who died on Monday last through injuries received by an explosion of gas in No 3 pit, Sutton Heath Collieries, on 28th ult.

Mr HALL, Government Inspector of mines was present.

Mrs PLATT said her husband had managed to walk home but was severely burned on the lower part of his body, he frequently said he did not know how the explosion occurred.

Patrick HEADON – had worked for 5mths in the next place to the deceased and was 12yds away when the explosion occurred. He went immediately to the place after the explosion and found the deceased and his mate [James FINNEY] crawling on their hands and knees.

When asked what they were doing with a naked light both said they had none.

In reply to Mr HALL witness said naked candles were used in the pit and had been that morning, but not after the explosion.

In reply to Mr CROSS, Miner’s agent, witness said there was no brattice-cloth to lead the air to the face of the working.

William FRYAR said he was a fireman and had been round in the morning and found gas, he put up a barrier, chalking on it, “DANGEROUS GAS.” He told PLATT and FINNEY he must look at their lamps, they said there was no need as they were going to work in the airway and would be through in an hour. But he did examine them and lock them.

He said candles were used but only after the men had been down a certain length of time with safety-lamps.

A lamp, candle and pipe were found in the place after the explosion.

James FINNEY also injured said the fireman locked the lamps but did not mention the gas. He could not read and moved the barrier to get to the place, he thought it meant there was gas and be cautious.

They did not use naked lights or smoke in the pit that morning.

Thomas JOHNSON underlooker, thought the explosion was due to either the pipe or the candle.

Mr HALL had examined the place, the airway had been cut through and there was a show of gas in the roof. He was told there was no brattice there at the time of the explosion, he concluded the explosion was caused by the candle, the manager ought to have had brattice in place as there had been a show of gas there a few days before.

Verdict – death was caused by the explosion, not sufficient evidence to show how the gas ignited. The place ought to have been bratticed and the explosion would not have happened if this had been done.

Liverpool Journal, March 4th 1882


Alleged breaches of the Coal Mining Regulation Act

St Helens, petty sessions, before H. S. HALL and William BLINKHORN.

William HOPTON, Manager of Sutton Heath Colliery, by Mr HALL for breach of Mines Regulation Act.

Mr COLLINS [Liverpool] prosecuted, Mr J. O. SWIFT defended

Mr COLLINS prosecuted for breach of the 1st rule of the act, which provides that an adequate amount of ventilation be produced in each mine, and for the 7th rule of the act, that in every working where there is likely to be an accumulation of noxious gas, no other than safety lamps be used.

On the 28th Dec last an explosion occurred in No 4 level, No 3 pit, by which two men were severely injured. Hugh PLATT has since died of his injuries. On the morning of the explosion gas was found in PLATT’s working space, it was the fireman’s duty to go round and report any danger and put the places right. Lamps were given to the men but there was no proper examination of them.. Shortly after the explosion , a pipe and candle were found in the locality. Smoking was allowed in this mine, as it was generally in mines where there was no gas. Mr COLLINS thought it was reprehensible to allow smoking in any mine. In order to prevent an accumulation of gas, bratticing, to lead the air to the face, should have been put up, but, there was none, the face was 8/9 yds where the air came, there fore, where the explosion occurred was like a lot of dynamite. The slightest injury to a lamp would have caused an explosion.

FINNEY the man who survived, said, the foreman did not examine the lamps by taking out the gauzes, as he ought, there was a board with something on it, but he could not read, there was no brattice.

Mr SWIFT submitted, that as the was a non-fiery one, the strictest regulations had not been enforced, not being necessary. The defendant had 51yrs experience in the colliery, 37 yrs as manager, and he had always taken precautions. Seven witnesses gave evidence that the lamps had been examined and locked. FINNEY and PLATT had no business crossing a brattice marked “Danger Gas,” - magistrate dismissed both charges


James FINNEY was summoned for unlawfully and wilfully using an unlocked lamp, while at work in Messer’s BOURNES and ROBINSON’S Colliery, contrary to the Mines Regulations Act.

Mr SWIFT prosecuted, Mr BUCKLEY [Leigh] defended.

FINNEY pleaded it was an accident and he was ignorant that the lamp was unlocked, it had been given to him like that by the fireman - case was dismissed.

Robert BRIERS was summoned by the St Helens Collieries, Co, Ltd, for neglecting to get props in his workings and to neglecting to comply with the orders of the fireman.

Mr SWIFT prosecuted, Mr RILEY defended - a fine of 10s and costs was imposed on the 1st charge and the 2nd charge was withdrawn.


Condemnation of the Davy Lamp.

The inquiry into the cause of death of two men killed by the explosion at the Abram Colliery, who died in the Wigan Infirmary was held n Wednesday before Mr ROWBOTTOM, Borough Coroner.

The Jury returned the following verdict :-

John RIGBY and William LEESE died from the effects of an explosion in the Abram Colliery, and that a sudden outburst of gas occurred at the weighting of the roof as explained by the witnesses, WESTHEAD and SPEAKMAN, as to the mode of the firing, the evidence was insufficient for the jury to form an opinion.

The strong suspicion in the reports of the engineers, was that the flame had passed the gauze of the Davy Lamp - which impresses the jury to urge colliery proprietors for the need for change in lighting the mines in the district. They should call particular attention to further evidence given today by Mr HALL, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Mines, as to the superiority of the Menseler and Tin-can Davy, over the lamps now ion use. The jury also suggested they should keep a supply at public fire stations of extinctions, the use of which at this explosion could have saved lives.


Copyright 2002 / To date