8th September 1900
Coppice: Cheslyn Hay
Terrible Accident At The Old Coppice Colliery - Cheslyn Hay
Three Men Killed And Five Injured
An accident, attended with lamentable loss of life, occurred at the Cannock old Coppice Colliery, belonging to Messrs. Joseph Hawkins and Sons, at Cheslyn Hay, on Monday last between six and seven o’clock. The miners employed on the day shift were being lowered in batches, and all went well until about seventy five men had reached the bottom of the pit. Then as the cage was descending again with eight men in it, the engine driver, a man named William Hill, by some means failed to control the winding apparatus, with the result that the cage dashed, with great force, to the bottom of the shaft, with terrible consequences.
Joseph Hichens, cager at the bottom, who was an eye witness of what occurred, states that the impact threw off two of the men, and the cage then rebounded, throwing off the other six.
All fell underneath the cage, which fell again end crushed them. As quickly as possible, some of the officials descended the pit bottom, and it was then found that three of the men were dead,
Their names being:-
Enoch LLoyd (34.) of Old Penkridge Road, Cannock
Joseph Edwin Lawson (39) of Hatherton Street, Cheslyn Hay
Henry Stanton (39) of Station Street, Cheslyn Hay.
Joseph Edwin Lawson appears to have been killed instantaneously, while Stanton and Lloyd died within a few minutes. All three men were terribly knocked about.
The names of the seriously injured men with them were:-
- William Buck of Caxton buildings, Cannock
- Thomas Skidmore of 40 Hightown, Cannock
- Oliver Connolly (19) of Cannock
- Joseph Vernon (20) of Bridgetown, Cannock
- Thomas Garrett (23) of Great Wyrley.
All these were seriously injured and efforts were at once made to obtain Medical Aid.
Drs. Hosegood, Morgan, and Syree, and an assistant of the last named, were quickly in attendance and rendered every possible assistance and vehicles having been obtained, the injured men were convoyed to Wolverhampton Hospital, the condition of Buck and Skidmore being recorded as critical. News of the accident spread rapidly throughout the district and it was reported that all the men were killed. A large crowd rapidly gathered and pathetic scenes were witnessed as the injured men and dead bodies of their companion’s were brought to the surface. The exact cause of the accident is at present some what enveloped in mystery. The engine and winding apparatus were in the charge of William Hill, the winder, who has been employed at the Colliery for about 20 years, and his statement is understood to be that when be came to reverse the lever of the engine, he found that there was something wrong with it, it had stuck fast and he could not get it over until the cage had stuck at the bottom of the shaft. He then pushed the lever over, and succeeded in stopping the engine. The colliery officials admit that Hill is a man of considerable experience, but they stated that the engine and apparatus were all in a perfect working order and that they are at a loss to account for the disaster. The point is one which will, no doubt, be elucidated at the adjourned enquiry on Tuesday.
Joseph Bates, banksman, who saw the cage descend, states that everything then appeared in good order. When it was a distance down he perceived it was going at a rapid rate, and. then the cage on
the other side of the shaft - which is a double one - flew up into what is in known as the ‘Jacks’. As showing the velocity which had been attained, it may be mentioned that the rope from the ascending cage, when severed, flew with tremendous force against the roof of the engine house, the noise being heard a mile away. The roof of the building was battered in, and Hill, the engineman, had a narrow escape from being killed as the debris was scattered about in all directions. The machinery itself was badly knocked about, and the drum of the engine was smashed, this being in consequence of the severed chain wrapping around it. The deceased were all married men with families , Lawson leaving one child, Lloyd three children, and Stanton four children. The Colliery which finds employment for a large number of men in the Cheslyn Hay and Great Wyrley area, has been opened twenty years and this, by far, the most serious accident which has ever taken place there. Mr. W. B. Scott, inspector of Miners for the district was informed of the accident immediately after the occurrence and he visited and inspected the colliery in the course of the morning. At the time of the accident, Mr. Albert Stanley (Miners Agent), was away at Huddersfield, attending the Trades Union Congress. He was immediately wired to, and at once returned. Later in the day, Mr Stanley visited the families affected, and found that some of them will need immediate assistance.