There were 43 miners killed by an explosion at Bunker's Hill Colliery on April 30th 1875.
|Mr. Wynne, HMI, says: For more than 20 years I have been pointing out what a farce it is, to prohibit the use of naked lights in mines, and yet allow powder to be used for blasting. The only reason assigned for the change from wedging to blasting was, that Mr Rigby, the owner, could not compete with his neighbours, if he wedged his coal and they blasted theirs, so that to meet competition he was obliged to increase production and lessen cost,
Mr. Wynne and others stated they were of the opinion, that the use of powder or other explosives, should be entirely discontinued in fiery mines. Suggestions have been made that all shots should be fired during the night, but to me, it seems a hard case for the firemen to be turned into a forlorn hope, for the fatal explosion at Inch Hall Colliery last year shows that even that system is not a sufficient precaution, for the safety of human life.
I think it only proper to use Bunker's Hill Colliery as a case forcibly illustrating the superiority of the fan, over other means of ventilating mines, as the engine with a slight increase of speed, restored the air current almost immediately after the explosion, enabling a party of explorers to enter the workings, to refix the stoppings, recover the bodies, and ascertain the extent of the disaster with the least possible delay.
I do not attribute any blame to anyone connected with the management of the colliery, powder being at present in general use in the district, as are also the small air pipes or tubes for the purpose of conducting the air into the extremities of the workings.
In conclusion to his report Mr. Wynne said;
It is but just to myself to state, that no blame attaches to me for this loss of life by explosions, for I have year after year pointed out the "farce" of using locked lamps, where the most dangerous of all lights is allowed (blasting), and therefore the awful responsibility of sanctioning a course that leads to such terrible losses of life rests on other heads and not on mine.