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Newspaper Stories
- Alan Beales and Robert Bradley -


  Stories, Page

Newspaper Stories - Page 1

18 Mar 1800 – Thomas Rowley, a Collier, suffocated by the damp (Blackdamp or Carbon Dioxide) at Oakthorpe Pit in the Parish of Gresley belonging to the Earl of Moira.

31 Oct 1800 -  Charles Straw, aged 9, fell down a shaft at Ilkeston and was killed on the spot.

19 Jan 1801 – Henry Black, a farmer, on Sir James Dalzell Estate was returning home on horseback and fell into a coal pit, on the road, about 14 fathoms deep and both he and the horse were killed on the spot. His body was got up on Tuesday with much difficulty. He left a widow and 11 children.

12 Feb 1802 – Francis Gregory, aged 9, was killed at West Hallam Pit when the roof fell on him.

15 Aug 1802 – Another boy accidently fell into a coal pit at West Hallam and was killed on the spot.

15 Sep 1803 – William Meeke, aged 13, was killed at a pit in Codnor Park.

21 Oct 1804 – Joseph Bacon was killed after falling into a coal pit at Lings, near Chesterfield.

9 Feb 1805 – At Measham a quantity of coal unexpectedly gave way and a collier was crushed to death.

10 Feb 1805 – Charles Wingfield also fell down a coal pit in the neighbourhood of Chesterfield and was killed.

31 May 1805 – A boy fell down a coal pit at Sommercoats Common and was killed on Saturday.

2 Jun 1805 – A piece of bind fell down from the side of a coal pit at Walton, near Chesterfield and struck a collier, who was working at the bottom, and fractured his head so terribly that he died the next morning.

18 Dec 1805 – Patrick Parkye, a poor deranged man, took an opportunity of making his escape from the person who had the care of him at Denby, and after running with great violence a considerable way, threw himself into an old coal pit in which he was drowned before he could be rescued.

2 Jan 1806 – Five colliers were let down into a coal pit at Chesterfield in order to proceed to work but soon after their arrival, in the pit bottom, the sulphurous or inflammable air took fire from one of the candles and in-consequence they were dreadfully burnt, and from the explosion driven in all directions, a man named Orange, was forced upwards of 15 yards with such violence against one of the coal benches as to fracture his skull and he was much badly bruised. The rest of his companions were dangerously ill but there were hopes of their recovery.

7 Feb 1806 – A poor man was unfortunately killed at a coal pit at Heage when the roof fell on him.

24 Jul 1807 – On Saturday evening a melancholy catastrophe happened at Teversill when Peter Smith and his son Samuel were cleansing the water way in an old coal pit and when symptoms of the damp appeared they came up the pit when Peter recollected he had left a spade in the pit his son returned for it and got into the trunk to be drawn up. His father however had hardly raised him from the bottom when foul air overpowered him and he fell lifeless from the trunk. His father called assistance and in hope of saving his son insisted on being let down the shaft when he also fell from the trunk and perished.

6 Jan 1808 – A collier named Charles Hunt accidently fell out of the rope as he was ascending a coal pit at Denby and was killed.

11 May 1810 – A man was accidently killed when a small quantity of coal fell on him and fractured his skull.

10 Dec 1810 – A girl, aged 9, was gathering cobbles on the bank of a coal pit at West Hallam when she fell down the shaft and was killed.

24 Jul 1813 – A boy leaving the care of the Gin belonging to a coal pit at Ripley unfortunately fell down the shaft and although 3 of his limbs were broken, his brain was laid bare by a dreadful fracture of the skull but he survived the accident until the following Sunday.

11 Nov 1813 – A boy aged 10, who had the care of some asses in a coal pit at Codnor Park, was returning from his work in the evening to a ascend out of the pit and took a wrong direction which lead to a part of the pit containing foul air known as Damp and was instantly suffocated.

15 Nov 1813 – A boy aged 11 was killed at a pit in West Hallam by a sudden fall of a quantity of bind and coal.  

14 Apr 1814 – Two men and a boy were ascending out of a coal pit at Oakthorpe when the cage in which they were in accidently slipped out of the hook and fell to the bottom of the pit. Richard Castle was unfortunately killed on the spot and the other man and the boy were dreadfully slattered and were not expected to recover.

16 May 1814 – Thomas Walker, aged 12, was killed in a coal pit at Codnor Park when a large quantity of minerals fell on him.

14 Dec 1816 – Six men were descending a coal pit at Eastwood on Monday when the rope broke and they all fell to the bottom of the shaft. 3 men were literally dashed to pieces and killed, the other 3 were severely hurt.

9 Jun 1817 – Samuel Street was crushed by a large portion of earth and other minerals at a coal pit at Newhall and was severely hurt and died soon after.

20 Dec 1821 – A young man unfortunately missed his way owning to the extreme darkness of the night and the wind being very boisterous and he fell into a coal pit, at Codnor, of immense depth and was literally dashed to pieces. He had been married only a few weeks previously to his unlucky exit.

14 Apr 1822 – Whilst the coroner was presiding at an inquest he was called upon to attend on the body of John Slater, a young man, who was killed by the damp at Pinxton Coal Pit.

1 Feb 1823 – An inquisition was taken at Beggarlee, Greasley, before T Wright, the coroner, on view of the body of Joseph Crisp who was found the preceding morning, with a horse on which he had been seen riding the evening before, lying dead at the bottom of a coal pit, 70 yards deep, worked by Messrs Barber and Walker.  It appeared in evidence before the coroner that the deceased was seen in a state of intoxication, riding on horseback, not far distant from the colliery and the conclusion by the jury was that through the darkness of the night and the effects of the liquor, he had drunk, he missed his way and fell into the coal pit.  The verdict was accidental death. The horse, which was a valuable animal belonged to Mr Kirkby, agent to the Reverend H C Morewood of Alfreton Hall.

7 Sep 1827 – A workman was precipitated headlong into a coal pit near Pentridge and in a few moments was a lifeless corps.  He left a wife and 9 young children.

12 Sep 1827 – On Monday an unfortunate individual named Joseph Fletcher was killed at Tibshelf Coal Pit by a quantity of stone falling upon him.

22 Jul 1828 – A young man named Job Holland, about 24 years old, had been, for some time, in a state of mental derangement (so as to render it imperative on his friends to fasten him at night to his bed) took his brothers dinner to the coal pit belonging to the Butterley Co., in the Parish of Kirkby. One of the men asked him to wheel some coal slack for him about 6 yards from the mouth of the pit shaft. He wheeled one barrel and then got up on a table near the pit mouth from which he jumped and making a run sprang down the shaft and falling a depth of 184 feet was instantaneously killed.  He alighted upon the back of his head and shoulders and rebounded 3 or 4 yards sideways.  An inquest was held at the Duke of Wellington before C Swann Esq. on Thursday when these facts were given in evidence.  The jury returned a verdict of lunacy.

15 Nov 1828 – An inquest was held at Denby on view of the body of Samuel Weston who unfortunately fell from the chains as he was ascending the pit and was instantly killed.  The verdict was accidental death.

23 Dec 1828 – At a coal pit at Codnor William Brown and William Woodhouse, working colliers, having descended into the pit to pursue their usual occupation were speedily attacked and instantly suffocated by what colliers call the Damp or Foul Air, which unfortunately been recently generated in the pit. Inquests have been held on view of the bodies and verdicts of accidental death recorded.

17 Jan 1829 - Joseph Hatton, a middle aged man was working at Cossall pit owned by Barber Walker Co. Whilst leaning over the draw bridge at the top of the shaft to remove a piece of coal on a rail when he overbalanced and fell down the 60 yards deep shaft. Fearing he was killed his fellow workmen were astounded to hear him shout 'hold' to stop the engine. He had fallen about 12 yards and had fortunately been able to grab and hang on to the descending chain. After being wound back up the shaft he resumed his work as usual.

28 Apr 1829 – William Brookhouse was ascending a coal pit at West Hallam, in a box, and fell out of the same. In consequence of the Damp or Foul air in the pit, and was so severely injured by the fall as to occasion his death in a few hours.

Friday 11 Sep 1829 - There was a sudden influx of water at Radford pit. Fortunately all the workmen escaped unharmed.

Nottingham Journal Saturday 21 Nov 1829 - At New Birchwood pit a huge piece of coal measuring 14 feet long, 2 feet 8 inches broad and 2 feet 6 inches deep weighing 2 tons 1 cwt long weight was extracted and presented to Mr John Morley of Newark.

1 Mar 1830 – An accident happened at Kirkby Park belonging to Messrs Jessop and Co. which might have been of a much more serious nature. 13 of the colliers descended into the pit together and when having a distance of 60 yards to go down, the cogwheel belonging to the engine broke and consequently all of them were plunged to the bottom. We are happy in saying no lives were lost although some of the men have limbs and ribs broken and others materially bruised.

22 Mar 1830 – An inquest was held on the body of William Pare, a boy of 10. It appeared that the deceased and some other boys were playing with a Gin belonging to a coal pit at Alfreton, Riddings, when the Gin turning with a great rapidity struck the deceased over the head and killed him on the spot.  Verdict accidental death.

29 Aug 1830 – An inquest was held before C Swann Esq., coroner at the house of Steed Cope, butcher and shop keeper of Portland Row, in the Parish of Kirkby, on the view of the body of Thomas Dallison, aged about 40, a collier in the employ of the Butterley Co. who lost his life in consequence of the explosion of foul air while at work in a coal pit. It appeared that there were 9 men at work in the pit at the time, 3 of whom, besides the deceased, were knocked down. They were all working with naked, lighted candles and the deceased being the farthest advanced into the mine and naked down to the waste received the greatest injury from the explosion. He was burnt all over the upper part of his body, from the crown of his head downwards. When danger is apprehended the safety lamp is always used, but never when there is believed none, as they do not give so good a light. The workmen had no suspicion of a firing taking place in that part of the pit as no such circumstance had ever happened before. Verdict accidental death. The deceased, we regret to say left a wife and 7 children.

3 Sep 1830 – A man named Rayner was about to descend a pit at Babington Colliery having fixed himself in the chains, he was swung off the Bridge Tree and suspended over the shaft. The chains, it appears, instead of being hooked on, so as to form him a safe seat, were only entangled one within another. This the unfortunate man, did not discover, and shuffling about to get an easy position, they became disentangled and he fell to the bottom and was killed.

11 Apr 1831 – William Dane, aged 12, was buried by a fall when the roof suddenly gave way.  His father, who was working near him in the same pit, immediately hastened to his help when another fall of roof not only rendered all assistance to his son impossible but nearly deprived him of his life. His father, we are happy to say, was rescued from his perilous situation by the exertion of a comrade but the son unfortunately died before the great body of earth and materials could be removed from him. An inquest was held before Mr Bateman, Coroner, on view of the body and a verdict of accidental death recorded.

20 Oct 1831 – A boy named Joseph Slack, aged about 12, fell down a coal pit at Denby and was killed on the spot. Again a verdict was accidental death.

13 Dec 1831 – An inquest was held at Church Greasley before Mr Bateman the Coroner and a respectable jury, on view of the body of William Chamberlin. A youth, who was employed at the brick yard there, and on his way home in the dark unfortunately fell into a coal pit and was killed on the spot.

15 Mar 1832 – Eustace Stone fell down a shaft at Kilbourne and was killed. His back was broken but the body did not exhibit the appearance of even a bruise. The deceased was coming up in a basket with 2 other persons when 1 of the teeth in part of the machinery belonging to the whimsy broke and the 3 persons were precipitated to the bottom of the pit. One of them escaped unhurt and another had his arm broken in 2 places was otherwise injured and now lies in a dangerous state.

May 1836 - The fossil remains of a crocodile was found in a coal pit at Chesterfield.

1 May 1840 - William Oates aged 71, a labourer was found at the bottom of the coal pit which was 100 yards deep. He lived alone at Old Brinsley. It was found that his house had been entered as a window had been forced and the dwelling ransacked. No conclusion as to the manner of his death.

20 June 1847 - A heading at a pit owned by North and Walker at Newthorpe pricked old hollows of an old pit and water rushed into the workings. The men fled as the water rose and luckily escaped up the shaft but 7 asses were drowned. A great number of tools were left in the workings and probably never to be recovered.

Nottinghamshire Guardian 9 Dec 1852 - At the Silkstone Main colliery 2 horses and a pony drowned when a rod on the pump broke and the roadways flooded. Alfred Snape later descended the shaft after pumping had resumed and whilst ascending the 160 yards deep shaft accompanying a dead horse the winding rope broke due to the extra weight. Snape fell down the shaft some 50 yards but was caught by his clothes on a conductor rope and hung there for one and a half hours before being rescued but due to his leg being caught for such a long time it was necessary to have an amputation.

May 1855 - Trade was so brisk that the Midland Railway Co was compelled to decline carrying quantities of coal offered to them and along the route from Nottingham to Derby large quantities of coal was stacked. In January Babbington sent 5,351 tons to London as against 3,144 tons in 1854. Clay Cross Co sent 23,569 tons as against 20,222 tons. Codnor Park sent 7,613 tons as against 6,727. Langley sent 2,213 tons as against 3,654 tons. Langley Mill sent 4,054 tons as against 3,658. New Birchwood 5,446 tons as against 4,514, Pinxton 10,291 tons as against 6,611 tons. Riddings 7,097 tons as against 6,706 tons. Coal was much in demand in the Metropolis and many of the Vendors secured fancy prices.

4 May 1855 - The Duke of Newcastle visited the extensive underground works at Cinder Hill worked by Thomas North. The visit began just after 10am and the Duke was accompanied by John C Wright of Watnall Hall. John Thomas Woodhouse Chief Engineer and Chief Mining Engineer for the district. W Parsons and the Revd G Maughan, Curate of Christ Church, and also S Walters the Principal Underviewer. They went through the doors between Intake and return air (called Life and Death doors). The average output was 2,000 tons per week and there was  3,000 acres of lease yet to work.

14 Dec 1858 – At Underwood Colliery (Barber Walker) Robert Wilkinson’s job was placing the trams at the top of the shaft and inadvertently put a tram on the wrong side and was precipitated down the pit shaft which was 200 yards deep. He clutched hold of the rope and slid down to the bottom without harm. He returned to the surface in the cage and continued with his work as coolly as can be.

26 Jan 1866 – At Hucknall Colliery, last Wednesday there was an explosion of firedamp. Edmund Keen and Levi Flintham were brought out of the pit and put to bed. The surgeon ordered cloths to be steeped in oil and turpentine to be frequently applied. Both men said there beds had heated until it burned their bodies. They were put into other beds and the bed Flintham had been on was removed to an outhouse where it was shortly found in flames. It was promptly extinguished for in the building adjoining was the Chemist store containing a quantity of gunpowder. Keen’s bed also became on fire and had to be removed. He died later in the day. However Flintham was able to give evidence at the inquest held at the Half Moon Inn at Hucknall on the 16th of March 1866.

1 Jul 1868 – There was a public trial of the King’s Patent Safety Cage Hook at Brands Pit owned by Butterley Co. Two of these hooks had been in use for some time. The experiment was tried with an empty chair (cage) then one with a coal tub and another with a bucket of water to see how far it was affected by shock when the hook was activated.  1000 people, principally colliers and a number of gentlemen associated with collieries were in attendance.

17 Oct 1868 – At Digby Colliery William Vardey, aged 11, had left school without a certificate and had begun work at Digby on 6th July and he would have been 12 on the 24th March 1869.  Willian (Billy) Hall the manger for Digby Colliery Co., was charged with neglecting to ascertain the real ages of boys and was fined £5. Charles Smith was the Colliery Overseer and he employed William Vardey at the end of April to open and close doors on a main road. William was killed whilst ganging a pony and 3 trams to No 6 stall along a roadway that was in a very poor condition and only 4 foot 8 inches wide. He went into the stall after being told not to and he should only have ganged 2 trams anyway.  He was found under one of the wagons at No 6 gate.

21 Jan 1869 – There was a boiler explosion at 7 a.m. at Timber Field Colliery, owned by Thomas Holdsworth.  William Walker whilst raking the boiler grate was thrown 18 yards and fearfully scolded.  Two brothers, Pendalton, were very badly scalded also and 2 others named Hayes and Gardener were severely injured. Osborne the engine Tenter had a narrow escape, however William Walker, aged 22, the son of the proprietor, died soon after being admitted to the hospital.

20 Aug 1869 – There was a fire on the pit top at Babbington Pit, near Ilkeston. A pole was placed across the shaft and a half moon scaffold on it about 3 yards from the top of the shaft which was 277 yards deep. Thomas Sisson and his son Thomas Sisson had a bucket of water in his hand when the scaffold gave way. The junior Thomas Sisson and a joiner grasped the chain with which they had descended and the senior Sisson grasped at the brickwork and held onto it for 15 minutes until rescued by a rope lowered down the shaft.

10 Jan 1870 - 700 men and boys were out of work at Shireoaks Colliery owing to the pressure of water forcing through cracks in the cast iron tubbing in the shaft. 150 tons of metal had to be replaced. The men were to be employed at neighbouring pits were possible. The shaft was flooded since Sunday.

June 1870 - Unstone valley now being developed. One colliery being sunk by the West Staveley Co was estimated to raise up to 1,000 tons per day.

5 March 1873, Derbyshire Mercury – Fatal accident at Bretby Colliery. George Copsall, aged 51, was filling stone on an incline from the surface to the seam of coal in which George Copsall, John Astell and others were employed. About 4 o’clock in the afternoon there was a great fall of stone which buried them all. Mr Johnston, the Manager, with a staff of men descended the pit and removed the stone when George Copsall and John Astell were found quite dead. Mr Copsall had been Underground Manager at Bretby during the last 13 years. An Inquest was held the same day at Chesterfield Arms, Hartshorne on the body of John Astell who was killed at the same time and place. Killed by an accidental fall of roof.

3 April 1873, Derbyshire Mercury – An Inquest was held on 21 inst. at Mr Thomas Coupe’s Beer House before Mr Whiston, Coroner, on the body of William Booth, miner, aged 54 who died on 19th inst. The deceased had been ill for about 4 days and his death had been caused by being burnt in the coal pit. He had been attended in his illness by Mr Allen, surgeon.

15 Aug 1874 - Staveley Coal and Iron Co. Ltd. Had a net profit for the year of £263,921-4s-10d and the last account was £23,639-8s-11d to give a total of £287,611-13s-9d. There was a £5 dividend on A and C shares and 16s-8d on B and D shares. In conjunction with the Sheepbridge Coal and Iron Co. they completed the preliminary work for a new pit at Newstead.

There were 2 pits being sunk at Barlborough and also arrangements for a new pit at Stavely.

18 Sep 1874 - An explosion occurred at Newstead Colliery, shaft sinking on 9 July 1874 after a shot had misfired. They began to drill another hole with a steel duller and struck the shot which exploded. Sam Frear and James Towle and another William Ward was badly burned. A man called Lund was the chargeman.

27 Nov 1874 - Whilst sinking the shafts at Newstead John Baker (30) a sinker, John Isaac (27) a sinker and William Sweatman (21) were charged with attempting to wound Thomas Stack a sinker at No1 shaft. Thomas Thomas was in the shaft working with George Marshall and Joseph Shepherd when a stone fell onto the scaffold at 150 yards deep. Some more stones fell then some wooden wedges were thrown down the shaft. Both Isaac and Sweatman were found guilty and sentenced to 12 months in the Southwell House of Correction. Robert Stevenson was the Manager.

Feb 1875 - Annesley pit bottom was lit by Hutchinson Brothers gas lamps. The firm had a patent for a steam gas jet.

14 April 1875, Derbyshire Mercury – A colliery deputy was censored by the coroner at the inquest on the body of a young man named John Butler 19 years old. He died in Clay Cross Hospital from injuries received in No 6 Hard Coal Pit at Morton on 27 February. Arthur Stokes, Assistant Government Inspector was present and strictly examined the witnesses. It appeared that the unfortunate man got lost and went into a head that was not at work and which had fixed, at it’s entrance, a Fire or Danger board. The Head contained a quantity of gas which fired burning the young man very severely about the face, head, neck and chest. The deputy, named Mugglestone, admitted hanging the Fireboard and said that he was going to fence of the road as soon as he had given out the lamps to the men to work with in the other part of the pit. The jury returned a verdict of Accidental Death but voted in favour of the Deputy being censured by the coroner. He said he was very sorry for what had happened but he thought he was doing his best.

17 Jan 1877, Derbyshire Mercury – A coal pit near to the Ilkeston Gas Works, belonging to the Carr Close Colliery Co. was flooded with water, owing, it is believed, to the late excessive rainfall. About 30 men and boys were employed at the colliery and all have been thrown out of work.  All the tools have been drawn out and water is now rapidly rising up the shaft, the pumping apparatus being insufficient to check it. The pit had only been sunk a few years and the coal trade being in an extraordinary depressed state, it is believed that no effort will be made to pump out the water as the pit was losing money. It is said that a considerable number of young men, who were unable to obtain work, have left this place in order to enlist in the army.

29 May 1877 – Overwind at Digby. The engineman was Isaac Stirling and the engine house was situated between the two shafts. 3 men descending in the cage sustained serious injuries when the cage hit the pit bottom with force.  Joseph Bercumshaw had a fractured leg and thigh, John Freer had a broken leg in 2 places and George Flint had also a leg broken in 2 places and injuries to his spine.

17 Aug 1878 – A horse was found drowned in the reservoir at Kimberley Colliery, Ilkeston.  The reservoir, which was 9 feet deep, supplied water to several pits.

27 Sep 1878 - Cotmanhay Colliery owned by Barber Walker was flooded. Old workings at neighbouring Bennerley Colliery were flooded and during the past week a portion of roof in one of the stalls showed signs of giving way and an influx of water began. 50 men and lads were thrown out of work but the majority were employed in the upper part of the pit.

6 Dec 1878 – The manager of Ellistown Colliery and Donisthorpe colliery was prosecuted by Her Majesty Inspector, Arthur Stokes. Reason unknown.

06 Aug 1879, Derbyshire Mercury – Sudden death at Clay Cross No.3 Pit. Joseph Linacre, a coal miner, 67 years of age, was found by a fellow workman, very ill, he was at once conveyed to the shaft to be taken home but died before reaching the pit mouth. The verdict was death from Heart Disease.