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Alan Beales Database of Fatalities in the Coal Fields

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Alan's Biography

Alan plate Database


Alan Beales
1938 - Dec 2022

Data Base Numbers As 13 Dec 2014

Alan Beales, Miner at Gedling 1953 - 1965, Deputy 1965 - 1988
Union Secretary for NACODS (National Association of Colliery Overmen, Deputies and Shotfirers)

Alan has been researching mining fatalities in the Midlands and Yorkshire for many years.

Gedling Plate2

Photo of Gedling Pit by Darren Haywood
Click on The Plate, Designed by Alan, to Enlarge it


The information given in the following tables is the result of seven years research into fatal coal mining accidents in several counties.

I have transcribed the detail found giving the sequence of events, if detail is missing it is noted or left blank.

The Mines Inspectorate was formed after the 1842 report into the lives and working conditions of children in mines. It took several years for a national system to be implemented and from July 1852 HMI published annual reports of deaths and serious accidents in mines and quarries, these covered every part of the country where this activity occurred. This reporting continued until 1914, after this date reporting became fragmented some inspectors produced reports as before naming individual victims the majority gave numbers and detail of some individual accidents.

For an accident to be classed as a disaster ten lives must be lost ensuring a public enquiry into the event and a command report published.

Also note, that for a name to appear in an annual report death had to occur within a year and a day of the accident. It is unlikely the true figure of coal mining deaths will ever be known, the names in these lists are from 1800 onwards with a few previous to that date.

In the tables the date of death is noted with a previous date if relevant. In many cases death occurred years after the injury but coroner’s juries decided that the injury contributed to the cause of death.

During this research I have come across many errors both in official and newspaper reports, where possible I have corrected them, but with such a large number of names and dates it is likely that others remain.

Anyone wishing to check an individual event should check a local library to see if there is an inquest report in a newspaper in that area.

Alan Beales August 2012

Mansfield Reporter Friday 01 August 1913 Page 2 Column 6-7

What Rescue Work is Like

The preliminary stages of the instruction include lectures by the superintendent on various aspects of rescue work. The men get used to the apparatus and for the first seven weeks out of the twelve they work in the galleries without gas. At the eighth practice the team get their first experience of an irrespirable atmosphere, and the orders are to do nothing but stay there for an hour. This is the “breaking in“ process. The instructors last words as the door is closed upon them are “Keep together, watch each other’s gauges, and if any man goes wrong, don’t throw him out, but get on the emergency apparatus”.

As each team arrives at the station men change into their pit clothes, adjust their breathing apparatus, and listen to the order of the morning’s practice. Then they form up in the parade square, and No. 2 carries the cage in which a canary would be placed in real rescue work, as well as an ordinary pit lamp.

The odd numbers each carry a spare bottle of oxygen for emergency purposes, and five of them take electric lamps.  The bird carried by No.2 is supposed to find gas, and the man at once calls attention to the fact, whereupon the whole team put on their mouthpieces and nose clips and turn on their oxygen. No 2 looks along the line to see if everyone understands, and then having seen that each man has on his mouthpiece, the captain gives three signals with a spanner which he carries. No 2 man thereupon wheels round, and the little company march back 15 or 20 yards into a spot where the bird shows no sign of distress. This forms the base of the recovery operations.

The canary is placed on the ground and the team put down all the spare gear which they do not require to take into the gas with them for it is well to travel “light”.  The captain now looks at his watch, and notes the time in his book, reads the air gauges, listens to and test each man’s tube to ascertain if the apparatus is working properly, feels the joints of the outfit to see if all are tight, and lastly enquires of each man if he is all right. All being correct, the captain signals for the team to proceed to the rescue.

What the Team Does

All these operations are carried out in the parade yard of the Mansfield station prior to the men entering the foul atmosphere of the galleries. What would happen afterwards in the case of disaster in the pit was described generally to a “Guardian” representative by Sergeant-Major Huskisson.

The team, he explained, travel in the gas by ten minute stages, and then halt for two minutes. This interval is employed by the captain in reading the gauges and listening to the tubes of the apparatus. Each man starts out with 120 atmospheres of oxygen, and it is left to the captain to watch the gauges and calculate on the work which is to be done, how much air each man will require to reach the base again. The general idea of rescue work is this: After an accident the team will ascertain, as near as possible, what are the conditions below, and how many men are not accounted for.

Suppose, for instance, that 20 men have not come up. We should descend the shaft and in addition to the ordinary outfit we should carry some additional apparatus to use at a “salvator”. The team would go through the gas until they found their men either dead or alive. If alive they fix a “salvator” on each one, and bring him through the gas to the base. If the team came across two men, one injured and one uninjured, the later would be brought out first, and on the second trip the men would take a stretcher and upon it carry the injured miner to a place of safety. The idea of forming a base is that any people without apparatus following the team, such as doctors, inspectors, colliery officials, and ambulance men with stretchers, would know, on seeing the bird and the spare gear of the rescue team by the road side that they must not advance beyond that point, because from 15 to 20 meters onward would be the gas which the canary had found. If on returning to the base, the team find the bird alive, they can take out their mouthpieces to speak, but if the canary is dead, they will know that the gas has backed towards the mouth of the pit and in this case they will proceed right to the bottom before they detach any part of their apparatus and get another bird.

HMI annual reports 1852 – 1914 Local newspaper’s from 1800 in Derbyshire, Leicestershire,
Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire, Coal mining resource centre, various sites on the internet and individuals giving information.