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1801 - A thirty three year lease was taken out on Crewe land in the Madeley Heath/Leycett area to mine coal. The agreement was between John, First Lord Crewe (1742-1829), Walter Sneyd of Keele, Thomas Breek of Keele and James Breek of Newcastle. Further leases for coal mining followed. The pits dug had names that reflected the times, and were called, for example, Nelson, Victory, Blucher, others were Fair Lady and Bang Up. Tramways were built to carry the coal, before railways, they ran from Scot Hay to Madeley, and from Leycett, through Waltons Wood to Madeley Heath

1947 - Leycett Colliery, under The National Coal Board, was known as Madeley Colliery, until its closure in 1957.


An explosion occurred in North Staffordshire on Sunday evening, the 21st October 1883 at the Fair Lady Pit of the Madeley Coal and Iron Co. at Leycett. Being the scene of the disaster, this caused the death of six brave men and the injury of three others. The seams worked were of an unusually gaseous nature.
On Monday the 15th Oct. Mr. Sawyer, H.M. Assistant Inspector of Mines, visited the colliery, and was informed that a gob fire had broken out in the Bullhurst seam.


Madeley, was known as Leycett
The main shaft on the left was called Fair Lady and the shaft on the right was called the Bangup
He at once descended and made a careful examination of the condition of the mine, and of the means which had been adopted to cope with the gob fire. He found that 14-inch brick and mortar stoppings had been built in most of the 17 places where it had been determined to shut off the seat of the fire. Gob stink was seen by him at many places on the rise, in the form of heavy white vapour oozing out of the stoppings, and it extinguished his lamp on several occasions. He found that several of the bottom stoppings leaked, and expressed surprise that no sand was rammed in against the stoppings to prevent this leakage. As, however, the manager seemed averse to this being done on the score that it was unnecessary, and felt very confident that the course he was adopting was the right one. Mr. Sawyer deferred from giving any orders at the time, though he distinctly said that he would use sand if he had to do that work.

On further consideration, Mr. Sawyer seems to have felt that Wainright, the manager did not see the danger, which must inevitably arise if the stoppings were not made good, and that the matter required no delay, and he wrote the following letter:

To Mr. Wainwright
Re. Gobfire in Bullhurst.

Dear Sir
After a careful consideration of the facts I think that unless the seat of the fire is hermetically sealed off by double brick and mortar stoppings, with about three
yards of sand between them, the heating will gain much in proportion, and will imperil the remaining Bullhurst workings, and certainly make it unsafe for men to work on them. Please let me know as soon as this is done.
Yours faithfully,

A.R. Sawyer.

On Saturday 20th Mr. Sawyer Inspector, again visited the colliery, and was astonished to find that his warning had been unheeded, and that the matter had got considerable worse. He met Mr. Setlle managing director, and went down the pit with him. They made a careful examination of the mine, and Mr. Sawyer raised no objection to the plan, which was proposed, of putting stoppings in the bullhurst seam if they were done without delay.

Early on Sunday morning, Mr. Settle managing director, accompanied by Mr. Wainwright colliery manager, and Mr. James Kirkwood, mining surveyor, descended the pit with a number of colliers to carry out the scheme decided upon. The workmen were principally obtained from the Harrison and Woodburn pits, which are adjacent. Great caution was of course observed to ensure the safety of those employed in the operations, and during the day work was pushed forward without any untoward event.

In the evening, however, about half past eight when the work had made considerable progress, a slight explosion occurred in the vicinity of the fire and the men hastened to a safer part of the mine, operations being suspended for a while.

A consultation was held as to the course to be taken. It was decided to resume the building up of the roadways. The men then returned to work and after a short time had elapsed, another explosion of a more serious nature occurred. The lamps were blown out and the men thrown to the ground. Six poor fellows who had been employed at the stopping nearest to the explosion were either killed immediately or were suffocated by the fatal afterdamp. The survivors at once made their way to the shaft, and as one of them, a collier named William Davis was hurrying along one of the roads, he came across Mr. Settle and the fireman named Albert Rowley.

They were lying prostrate and unconscious. Grasping one of the insensible bodies in each hand, Davis dragged them to the shaft, a distance of 400 yards. Mr. Wainwright, who was also affected by the afterdamp, was also rescued and the party were drawn up out of the pit,

One of the survivors William Vines, a collier, told a painful incident. He was hastening to the shaft bottom when he heard a voice, which he recognised as that of Thomas Webb exclaiming, "O Lord I'm done fore". No help could however be afforded to the unfortunate man, for the air was so foul that it was perilous to delay and he had to be left to his fate.

The report of the explosion did not appear to have been heard on the surface and the knowledge of its occurrence being for some time confined to those engaged on the pit bank. The painful scene so often witnessed after the noise of an explosion has attracted the wives and relatives of the workmen to the spot was avoided. With as little delay as possible, an exploration party was organised and descended the pit. This intrepid band consisted of Joseph Boulton, Henry Reynolds, Peter Leese, William Roach and Richard Roberts. They penetrated the workings to within a short distance of the spot where the victims of the explosion were supposed to lie and called out loudly to them. No answer was returned and it was concluded that the poor fellows had perished. The explorers were then obliged by the condition of the mine to retrace their steps and were raised to the bank.

Mr. Settle lay unconscious for several hours from the affects of the afterdamp while Rowley who was rescued with him in so remarkable manner, was in a more serious condition, having been cut badly on the head.

The names of the six men who were left in the pit were: -

James Kirkwood
age 23 married, 1 child
Thomas Webb
married, 6 children
Joshua Leek
age 38 married, 7 children
William Cartledge
age 32 married, 5 children
George Fox
age 29 married, 1 child
Richard Lewis age 26 married, 3 children

With the exception of Webb who lived at Madeley, all the deceased men lived at Leycett. Mr. Kirkwood, the surveyor, had only been married about twelve months.

 


Pit Terminology - Glossary

John Lumsdon