| The Men of Diglake Colliery
In t' pages uv eawr history, some day, shall t' tale be feawnd,
Heaw th' Audley miners fowt wi' death in t' surges undergreawnd.
(In the pages of our history, some day, shall the tale be found
How the Audley miners fought with death in the surges underground
click here for the whole poem)
Having come across your wonderful website while surfing the internet, I wanted to say how grateful I am for all the information you have provided, particularly on the Staffordshire mines and miners.
I am in the process of setting up a website specifically about the men who died in the Diglake flooding in 1895. This is partly because I am involved in a website built for local primary schools, which has a large section on the Victorians (including the place of the coal industry in the industrial revolution, see www.warrinerprimaries.com.
However, my 'other' interest in Diglake stems from the fact that I was born a Sproston and have been researching the Sproston/Sproson family for some 2 years now. (www.sproston.org.uk). Several Sprostons/Sprosons died at Diglake that day, also Edward Higgins, my husband's gggrandfather.
I also realised that my gggrandmother's brother (Samuel Johnson, brother of Elizabeth Johnson, married to Frank Wright - their daughter Elizabeth Wright married Harry Sproston, my ggrandfather) was also killed at Diglake. This is in addition to the four members of the Sproson family (not direct relatives of mine but certainly connected to the 'main' Sproston branch from Middlewich).
This should not of course surprise me, as the Butty system obviously involved employing your relatives and friends, plus most of the 77 men were locals and had lived in the Audley area for generations, so they are bound to be related somehow if you look far enough.
I am writing to ask whether I could use some of the information you have provided on your site about Diglake on my own site (with credits of course). My interest lies in showing how the local community was affected by the disaster, rather than just listing the names of the men I would like to identify their families, where they lived and the relationships between some of the dead (brothers, uncles, etc). To this end I am ordering a copy of the Diglake Disaster Fund account book, which lists all the beneficiaries, and I also have the 1891 census for the area.
Having been born away down south I have no real knowledge of the life of a miner, although my grandfather, Frank Sproston, was a miner all his life (he was born in Audley and worked at 'Trentham Deep' where he was once buried by a rock fall). He died in 1960, some ten years before I was born, so I had no opportunity to get to know him or ask him about his working life. Frank's father, Harry, was also a miner in Butt Lane, as were all Harry's brothers, and Frank's grandfather, Samuel Sproston, was killed in an accident at 'Slapenfield Colliery' (about which I have been unable to discover anything at all) in 1879, leaving 9 children and a pregnant wife behind.
Any information about Diglake which I can use to help educate local children about the lives of the miners, and the debt that we owe them, would be greatly appreciated. If you would like to know more about my intended use of this information, please do let me know.
Susan Bradley (nee Sproston)