On Monday morning, Mr.T. Wynne, Government Inspector, and Mr. Sawyer Assistant Inspector, visited the colliery and consulted with some of the officials of the neighbouring pits as to the line of action to be adopted. The smoke and foul air ascending the shaft indicated that the fire still existed and that its area had probably increased. It was therefore thought wise not to risk a further sacrifice of life by permitting another exploration of the workings with a view of recovering the bodies, and measures were taken at once for the filling of both the upcast and downcast shafts to such a height as to preclude air from entering the workings and thus to overcome the fire.
Accordingly a strong body of men were set to work some filling the pit wagons with refuse and others wheeling them to the mouths of the shaft and tipping in the rubbish.
This work was continued till Wednesday, when no smoke ascended and it was found that the shafts had been filled to a height, which would prevent the ingress of air. As to the time that must elapse before the fire had been stifled and the pit re-opened safely so that a search could be made for the bodies, nothing could be said for the present. About 300 men were employed at the colliery, and they would be thrown out of employment unless work could be resumed in the upper level, which, was considered now to be cut off from the lower seam.
The circumstances of this explosion varied from those, who generally attended a mining disaster, when colliers perusing their daily vocation were suddenly cut down by the dreadful blast. Because the six deceased formed part of a gallant band that accepted a dangerous task in order to render the mine safe to the workmen usually at work there.
With the exception of Mr, Kirkwood, the deceased were members of the North Staffordshire Miners' Relief Society and their widows and children were entitled to pensions from this valuable institution.
The conduct of the manager in not having carried out Mr. Sawyers suggestions of effectually stopping off the seat of the fire, and of its spreading was considered. Also the fact that he had not taken any steps to try and save that part of the colliery, which was not effected, was open to censure: and an inquiry was ordered as to his competency to hold a certificate. The inquiry was held before Mr. Jordan, The County Court Judge with the result that his certificate was returned to him.
As none of the bodies had been recovered, a regular inquiry into the whole of the circumstances connected with this lamentable affair was postponed.
A Coroner's inquiry regarding the death of the six men who lost their lives on October 21st 1883 was held on Wednesday the 28th of May 1884 at the Offley Arms Inn, Madeley. Mr. J. Booth, Coroner, and all the witnesses attended along with representatives, officials, and several mining engineers were present.
A large model of the pit was shown in the room.
Mr. Wainwright, the former manager of the pit described the fire and the efforts made to extinguish it up to the 21st October. On that date he descended the pit about six am. with several others. Going to No.2 crut they found the fire had extended.
They broke the air crossing, in order to keep the air from the fire and after consulting with the manager from the adjoining pit; he decided to fill the up-cast shaft.
He had commenced to fill it, when Mr. Settle arrived and stopped him. Mr. Settle made some suggestions to combat the fire and Mr. Wainwright said if that were done he should give up the management, as he considered the pit unsafe for men to be in. Settle called him a coward and Wainwright resigned.
Mr. Sawyer, Inspector, told Wainwright, Settle was taking all responsibility on himself and asked him to remain at the colliery. He afterwards went down the pit as a volunteer and helped to put in the stopping.
When the third stopping was nearly finished, Leek, who was in charge, suggested the opening of the air door so as to allow air to pass up No1 slant to give fresh air to return in, on completion of the work, and also to afford means of escape if necessary. He opened the door and about twenty minutes later the explosion occurred.
Mr. H. Wynne, H.M. Inspector of Mines was called, he said it was a proper and judicious thing to do to put in the stoppings and with proper precautions was not attended with more than ordinary risk. The effect of opening the door would be to increase the danger, he also said the remote cause of the explosion was the idleness displayed in not putting in the stoppings earlier. Mr. J. Strick, mining engineer, Silverdale, expressed his concurrence with the evidence of Mr. Wynne.
After all the evidence had been heard the Coroner summed up, and the jury, after deliberating considerably over an hour found that the deceased were killed by an explosion while voluntarily trying to erect stoppings to extinguish a fire in the pit and that no responsibility attached to any person for the explosion.
Leycett Colliery Today