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The Continued Rise Of The Industry
To 1913


1842 - Page 2

First Mines Inspector

Under the 1842 Mines Act the first Commissioner or Inspector of Mines, Hugh Seymour Tremenheere was appointed. However there were thousands of mines in the country which were virtually impossible to oversee and he was only able to collate certain bits of information and details of major accidents (where more than 10 men were killed at the same time, e.g. in an explosion).

Explosion At Watnall

There was an explosion at the Watnall pit (Barber Walker and Co), when one man died and another was burned.  Both were using tallow candles.  It was not appreciated until much later that the explosive range of  methane gas when mixed with air is between 5 and 15% with 9.4% being the most violent.


Various gap caps are shown on a modern flame lamp but note the very tiny difference between a testing flame on the lamp when the wick is turned right down and 1¼% of methane gas. It is only by experience that the difference is detected.

The gas caps shown are on a round wick oil safety lamp burning colza oil which is a light oil that burns with no or very little smoke.

Below 5% the gas burns with a pale blue flame and spirals into the bonnet of the lamp above 5% and above 15% the lack of oxygen in the air prevents burning and explosion.

Furnace At Clay Cross

An underground furnace was used to ventilate Clay Cross (George Stephenson) colliery at this time. 

Fatal Accidents 1842

  • Awsworth (Awsworth Iron and Coal Co), Thomas Sharpe (?) run over by wagons on the surface 15 Nov 1842
  • Clay Cross (Messrs Stephenson) on Saturday last, one of the boilers burst with a tremendous explosion causing two other boilers to burst and the engine house roof blew off and other damage done. Fortunately the engine keeper had left the premises only minutes before and some others in the vicinity escaped injury also.
  • Codnor Park (Butterley Co) on 30th Mar 1842 at Codnor Park, William Smith fell down a coal pit 18 Yards deep.
    William Machin and Abraham Bond fell down the 160 yards deep shaft when the rope broke.
  • Ilkeston George Fearn fell down the shaft to his death.
  • Nuttall (North, Wakefield and Morley), Edmund Toone (19) was employed by a farmer to deliver horses to the pit for the new sinking. At 7.10am he brought a fresh gin horse to change for the one that had been working all night. He then helped the boy who drives the gin to change the horses and put the fresh horse into the shafts. The horse set off for home and he followed but cut across the short way by the shaft but slipped into the water hole by the side of the shaft where water from the sinking is poured after being raised out of the shaft. He then fell into a spout hole about half a yard (0.5m) down the shaft and fell down the 36 yards (33m) sinking shaft but hit a water barrel being raised. He was found quite dead bleeding from the head through a large gash from his forehead to the back of his head and his neck was broken and his head turned the opposite way round. No blame was attributed to the workmen at the pit but it was stated that the deceased had no business taking a short cut by the shaft.
  • Nuttall (North, Wakefield and Morley), Thomas Sharpe was walking along the gang line with a barrow on Saturday afternoon at about 4pm when James Simpson came along with a horse pulling an empty waggon. He told the deceased Sharpe to give the horse a hit with his whip. This he did and then Sharpe jumped onto the waggon and rode all the way to his father’s house and then jumped off. He ran after the horse and gave it a hit with his whip and it set off at full trot. He hung on to the horse by the gears but tripped and fell between the waggon and the brake and the waggon wheels ran over his thighs and he was badly injured, so much so that he died at 4pm that day, 20 Nov 1842
  • Pinxton (Coke and Co), William Stocks (37), with 3 other men were taking bricks out of an old shaft last Friday night when they attempted to move the scaffold it collapsed and two men fell down the shaft some 10 yards (the deceased and a man named Holland) who although he hurt his head, recovered, 10 Nov 1842.

Serious Accidents 1842

  • On 30th May 1842 an Overlooker was severely burned following a flash in the Pinxton mine. 
  • On the same day at Clarkes pit, Calow, Staveley, 3 young men were burned also.
  • Richard Barrow’s Blackshale pit, also at Staveley, 3 more men were burned on 18th October.

Butterley Company

The Butterley Co began to expand and sink more pits and would have 13 pits working in Derbyshire by 1869:–

  • Brands Hard
  • Brands Soft
  • Butterley Park
  • Codnor Park
  • Forty Horse
  • Granby
  • Loscoe
  • Marehay
  • Newlands
  • Ripley
  • Upper Birchwood
  • Waingroves
  • Whiteley

John Wardle was Chief Surveyor from 1842 to 1887.  Fitz Herbert Wright was Managing Director to 1902.

Collieries Closed in 1842

  • Old Holmewood (J Thornley?)
  • Rose Hill (…?) worked Silkstone near to the ‘basset out’ near Mosborough, but due to the shaft pillar catching fire had to be ‘banked down’
  • Staveley Upper Ground (Barrows and Co). Smith and Co sank the pit in 1819.


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