St Helens Colliery accident 1879

Liverpool Mercury Oct 23rd 1879


Yesterday morning a shocking accident, which resulted in the death of seven men and the injury of two others occurred at Pilkington’s Alexandra colliery, Ravenhead, St Helens. The men were going on the day shift at 6am, several gangs had already descended into the workings. The cage was brought to the top a gang of nine men stepped in, and the order to “lower” was given. The engine was started, but, instead of the cage going down it commenced to ascend at a good speed, and was drawn with great force against the heavy woodwork of the head gear. In the meantime the men had seen the danger, and two of them had presence of mind to leap out. One of them received rather severe injuries by his fall, but the other one escaped with only a few bruises.

The shock of the collision between the cage and the head gear caused the rope to break, and the liberated cage fell to the bottom of the shaft a depth of 400yds. Preparations were at once made to replace the rope, and raise the bodies. At 5.30pm the bodies of the seven persons were recovered out of the dip hole at the bottom of the shaft.

The dead.

William PARR, 40, leaves a wife and four children

Thomas RAY, 41, leaves a wife and eight children

Peter WISEMAN, leaves a wife and three children

Henry HILL, leaves a wife and four children

James WEBSTER, 30, leaves a wife and five children

David DIXON, 16.

A youth named MULLIN.

Two of the men who were in the cage had a marvellous escape. One of them William ECCLESTON jumped out and in doing so accidentally dragged out with him another man, Peter ESPLETT, ECCLESTON escaped uninjured but ESPLETT sustained several contusions about the legs, besides which his left elbow was severely crushed.

The whole of the deceased were members of the Lancashire and Cheshire, Miner’s Permanent Relief Society. Each of the widows will be entitled to 5s per week, and each of the children [until able to work] will receive 2s-6d per week.


Copyright 2002 / To date