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Harriseahead colliery was situated between Packmoor and Mow Cop, it was flooded on Monday 10th March 1924 and 72 miners, who were at work below ground at the time, had an extraordinarily lucky escape. There was an exciting scene as the men struggled through the breast-high water towards the shaft bottom and drawn to the surface. Another 17 or 18 made their way out by a footway or drift.

But for the remarkable courage and coolness displayed by the whole of the men in the face of a dangerous situation. It was probable that the accident would have been attended by loss of life. As it was, all the men were got safely out of the pit, without any panic and within an hour of the inundation.

It was about the middle of the morning shift that the inrush of water occurred. There were about 150 miners employed at the Harriseahead colliery, and three shifts were worked, the morning shift being the largest. From some cause, which has not yet been determined, there was a sudden inrush of water and owing to the steep gradients of the workings, it poured with great force to the pit bottom, and quickly rose to a height of four feet.

An alarm was immediately raised, and as word of the flooding was quickly passed from mouth to mouth, the men were advised to remain calm and to make their way with all practicable speed to the cage. They had to struggle through the still rising flood to the cage where they were drawn up without mishap.

The men presented a bedraggled and pitiable sight as they emerged from the cage at the top, but they were all cheerful and glad to have come out without being cut off by the water. They were given a change of clothing or hurried off to their homes.

The depth of the pit was about 260 yards. It was evident that close to one of the working places, there had accumulated a considerable "pocket" of water, the presence of which had not been suspected. Water was still running into the pit bottom and although pumping had been proceeding since Tuesday morning, there was still no appreciable reduction in the depth of the water. Probably at least a week would elapse before the water could be removed, meanwhile, the pit was completely stopped.

One man gave a graphic account to the local newspaper, he said: -
"I was in my working place, when suddenly I heard a strange rumbling sound. I concluded it was a rush of water somewhere. Directly afterwards all the men were warned to leave the pit immediately and to do so as calmly as possible. We all realised then that the pit was becoming flooded, and in order to save ourselves from being cut off, as we did not know the depth of the flood at the time, we hurried as quickly as possible towards the cage. It was a difficult job to get there, as we had to fight our way through the water, which in my case was up to my armpits. I am glad to say that there was no loss of life, but it was one of the luckiest escapes I have ever known in the pit, and I have been a miner for a good many years."


Pit Terminology - Glossary

John Lumsdon