With such a strong mining heritage, it is inevitable, if
unfortunate, that there will be an equally strong history of accidents and
This page (which will be developed further) hopes to serve in
some small way as a tribute to the miners of the past, in recognition of the
arduous and dangerous task which they had in order to provide the country with
the power needed to drive our industry. It contains just a few stories of the
accidents which litter the history of mining in the area.
Heroic Act Rewarded
In November 1922, two men were buried by a roof fall at the Coppice Pit,
Shipley. Two pit deputies, Stephen Richards and James Beresford, at once
started working to get at the men, at great risk to themselves as the roof
was "bitting" and falling the whole time. Richards got timber and made a
cover for the men while the pair worked to release them. The fall had got
one man pinned against a tram, with a big lump holding down his foot, and
his arm buried inside the tram - to get him free, Richards had to lie down
and "hole" the dirt away. Beresford was working to free the other man,
while the roof was still breaking away. It took over 3 hours for the two
brave deputies to release the trapped men, who would have undoubtedly died
had it not been for their rescuers; actions.
Deaths of Child Miners
(Excerpts from the diary of Joseph
Hutsby, who was an official at the Old Loscoe Pit from 1841 to 1846)
Thursday February 29 1844:
"Laystill at both pits in consequence of a boy falling in the soft coal
pit, namely Samuel Weston aged 14 years from Taghill. Mist his foot hould
in trying to get a chain to go down in the morning. The inquest was held
at William Row's at the Nag's Head in Taghill today. Brought in
accidental. Self on jury for the first time. Mr Wetstone the Crowner of
Sunday March 3 1844:
"Self and John (son) went to Samuel Weston funeral"
Wednesday May 29 1845
"Turning at both pits. Charles Allen caught hould of the end of the
chain coming out of the bottom of the soft cold pit and held while he
could, who told William Leivers who was at the bottom he could hould no
longer, and then dropt and killed himself, being about 10 years and 10
months old. Mr Whiston the Coroner being passing this way today, in
inquist was held at the Golden Ball, Loscoe. Self on the Jury."
Friday May 30 1845
"Turned all day at hard, ½ day at soft. Self at
Collry. John went to Charles Allen furnal to night."
There were no heroes who
could have saved young Samuel and Charles, given the primitive method of
descending and rising from the pit - just a rope or chain to hang onto!
In July 1923, Richards
and Beresford attended Buckingham Palace to receive the Edward Medal (a
medal for civilian gallantry in the mines, now superseded by the George
Cross). There was also an event at the Boat Inn, Shipley, where they were
presented with a gold watch and chain, £10 from the Company, £5 from Major
Mundy, and a Carnegie Trust Award.
A contemporary photo of the two rescuers after receiving
at Coppice Colliery
On Monday 28 June, 1943,
four men were fatally injured by an explosion at the Coppice Colliery,
Shipley. It was around 10 in the morning, while shotfiring operations were
taking place. Immediately prior to a controlled explosion being carried
out, there had been "a loud bump," which was probably part of the roof
giving way. It is thought that this caused a leak of methane gas, which
ignited when the shot was fired.
Wilfred Noon, Archibald Bestwick, John Holmes, and
James Draper, all of Heanor, were badly burned, and later died of their
injuries. Two other men were also badly injured.
Being in the middle of the war, the incident received
less publicity than would normally have been the case. No public enquiry
was held, as would have been the case today, though the Coroner did say
that he hoped that the technical evidence in the case would be of
assistance in preventing future such accidents.
|Pit Cage Accident
In 1900, a miner at Bailey Brook pit had forgotten to change his hat, and
went down the mine still wearing the bowler hat which he wore to and from
work. He was sent back to the surface to fetch his pit hat. On the way
back down the shaft, the cage stopped at the water lodge, about 45 yards
above the pit bottom - the man didn't realise this, opened the safety bar,
and fell to his death.
Details of a pit death circa 1848
"Joseph Bircumshaw was asphixiated after the ignition of firedamp and
consequent explosion whilst driving a head between the hard and soft coal
seams at Loscoe. He had attempted to get out of the pit and was overcome
by the fumes and found to be dead on arrival at the surface."
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