|Compensation in General
At the time mentioned 1880s there was no such thing. When a major disaster occurred there would usually be a local fund set up to collect donations for the bereaved and dependants. burial fees would be paid for the victims and weekly payments allowed for widows and children depending on the size of the fund. I haven’t found when it was set up yet, but most miners paid a few pence per week to the Midlands Miners fatal accident fund which provided similar benefits. The workmen’s compensation act was not passed until the 1890s when mining unions were able to employ lawyers to fight for compensation.
ROUNDS GREEN NEW PIT. Oldbury, Staffordshire. 17th. November, 1846.
The pit was in Newberry Lane and the property of Mr. North of Wednesbury.
Shortly after twenty five men had descended the pit on a Tuesday morning, a section of the men was found to be filled with firedamp. The mine was worked with
naked lights and the subsequent explosion killed nineteen and another was not
expected to survive. There were men in the shaft being wound down at the time of
the blast. As the flame came up the shaft they were blown 30 feet into the air and
two fell down the shaft to their deaths. Mr. North went down the pit and found the
two men T. Roden and W. Henshaw at the bottom of the shaft.
Boden, Jacob, aged 15
Driffield, Isaac, aged 10
Elwell, James, aged 32
Garbett, John, aged 25
Hampton, John, aged 16
Holland, Joseph, aged 56, Butty
Lyman, William, aged 14
Marefield, William, aged 23
Parkes, Josiah, aged 23
Price, William, aged 35
Scott, Joseph, aged 22
Shakespeare, James, aged 53
Smith, Joseph, aged 34 - the doggy or Penitent - His responsibilities included checking for the presence of gas before the colliers entered the pit, and ‘fire’ any gas that was present.
Tarratt, William, aged 28
Troth, Joseph, Doggie
Wilcox, James, aged 33
Windmill, John, aged 13
Youngest: 10 years old ; Oldest: 56 ; Average: 27
The inquest was held at the Talbot Arms, Oldbury when a verdict of ‘Accidental
Death’ was returned on accout of the imperfect ventilation of the pit. The accident
was made the subject of a special government inquiry.
At the Worcester assizes, on Saturday, Thomas Haines, the ground bailiff of Round Green Colliery, near Hales Owen, was indicted for manslaughter, in consequence of the circumstances of an explosion of fire-damp, which occurred in the mine on the 19th November, and which destroyed nineteen persons. The indictment alleged that it was his duty to keep the mine properly ventilated, by causing channels called "air headings" to be made in proper places, which had not been done, although required; for the men were in the habit of dispelling the noxious gases prior to the accident, by shaking their coats among the foul air. Two miners, apprehensive of danger, had left the mine a few weeks previous to the explosion, which took place in what is called a cross of the mine — that is, a chamber worked on an acclivity. The nearest "heading" was fifty yards from the back of the chamber. There was a person employed, called a "doggy," whose duty it was to go first into the mine with a safety lamp, and to report upon the state of any particular portion of it, but he was one of the persons killed on this occasion; there also another person employed, called a "butty," a part of whose duty it was to attend to the proper ventilation of the mine, and in case "air headings" were wanted to consult with the ground bailiff on the subject. There was no proof that this had been done in this instance, Mr. Justice Maule, in summing up, said that the question for the jury to decide was, whether it was the plain and obvious duty of the prisoner to cause the necessary "air headings" to be made; and whether, in omitting to do so, he was guilty of that neglect which would affix to him the crime of manslaughter — the deaths of many individuals having been the result of such neglect. The jury returned a verdict of "not guilty,"
Very full report:-
Black Country Museum has a lot about the explosion, and a school project
History of Oldbury - PDF file about the disaster