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Maltby Main Disaster

Yorkshire
28th July 1923

The Explosion Killed 27 Men

On the morning of 28th July a fresh shift of 122 men in addition to the officials, descended the pit between 6 and 6.30 a.m. While work at the stoppings was proceeding a violent explosion occurred near A1 and A2 stoppings. The explosion killed 27 men who were working in the vicinity and blocked the approaches so that only one body could be recovered, that of Original Renshaw which was found in 95’s crossgate about 130 yards from the East Main Plane.

Gallant and repeated efforts were made to reach the bodies of the remaining victims but owing to heavy falls of roof and the presence of noxious gases, that was impossible and it was recognised, in view of the conditions and the violence and burning to which Renshaw’s body was subjected, that no person could possibly be alive beyond the point at which it had been found. It was also thought that another explosion could take place and it was considered foolish to stay in the area. In fact there were other explosions and a few days later it was mutually agreed by the owners, the Miners’ Representatives and H.M. Inspectors that the safest method for recovery was to seal off the East side by erecting very substantial stoppings in the main roadways.

These stoppings were safely built by the united efforts of the workers under the superintendence of the officials, Miners’ Representatives and H.M. Inspectors.

Those who died were:-

John Stoker aged 30 years, overman
George Perrins aged 37 years, deputy
Harry Norwood aged 30 years, deputy
Ernest Clixby aged 26 years, analyst
Richard Ernest Dunn aged 28 years, collier
John Henry Garratty aged 38 years, corpral
William Emberton aged 27 years, collier
George Hickling aged 47 years, ripper
John William Green aged 38 years, byeworker
Silvanus Turner aged 27 years, collier
George Brierley aged 34 years, collier
William Preece aged 24 years, collier
Aaron Daniels aged 46 years, collier
Bertie Bearshall aged 29 years, collier
Leonard Meredith aged 22 years, collier
Albert Smithson aged 28 years, collier
Joseph Best aged 19 years, filler
Richard John Brooks aged 24 years, collier
Joseph Spibey aged 29 years, collier
John Chandler Spilsbury aged 33 years, collier
Raymond Clinton Bourne aged 18 years, haulage hand
Harold Bourne aged 35 years, haulage hand
Benjamin Jones aged 26 years, collier
Alfred Leslie Fellows aged 15 years, haulage hand
Original Renshaw aged 48 years, roadlayer
Edward Mitchell aged 23 years, byeworker

The inquest on the body of Original Renshaw was held before Mr. Frank Allen, H.M. Coroner from the West Riding of Yorkshire. The jury returned the verdict that he had been killed by an explosion and that his death was accidental.

The inquiry into the disaster was held in the Town Hall, Sheffield by Sir Thomas Mottram, C.B.E., H.M. Chief Inspector of Mines and was opened on Tuesday, 18th September and lasted for seven days.

The evidence clearly showed that the disaster was caused by an explosion of firedamp ignited from the spontaneous combustion in the Low East district of the mine. It was known that there was gas in the mine while the work was going on to build the stoppings and it was not known whether the overman, Stoker, took any steps to withdraw the men as he was killed in the explosion.

As there were still 26 bodies in the pit and the workings had to be sealed off, the question of re-opening the workings to recover the bodies and the safest method to adopt when time arrived for such operations was left to the consideration of the owners. Sir Thomas concluded the report by acknowledging the bravery of the officials of the mine and the rescue brigades.

 


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