On Sunday December 9th 1872 a fatal accident occurred at Messers Goddard's Golden Hill colliery in North Staffordshire, by which two men were at once killed, and two others so injured that their lives were despaired of. The names of those killed were William Crump and William Allen. The names of the injured were Robert Matthews and Mark Johnson.
These four men had gone down the pit on Sunday night to repair and clear the ways and workings and prepare them for the mine on Monday morning. While they were so engaged a quantity of gas exploded, killing Crump and Allen on the spot, and severely injuring the other two men. At this stage, the whole of the facts could not be accurately ascertained, as the survivors were not in a fit state to give any information.
Matthews and Johnson were at once taken to the Cottage Hospital where they lay in a very precarious state. The bodies of the two deceased were taken to the Dog and Partridge Inn, where an inquest was opened before Mr, Booth, the Coroner.
Allen, Matthews, Johnson and Crump were down the pit. They were in the top level.
William Potts and William Phillips had been down for about half an hour, they felt the wind from an explosion and afterwards were affected by the afterdamp. They put on their cloths and went to the top level, where they found Johnson lying on his belly. He was badly burnt and was crying out for help. Phillips assisted Johnson out, and Potts went some seven or eight yards further and found Matthews who was crawling along, he also was badly burnt. He did not know where he was and asked the witness 'What was up'. Potts could not get any further because of the afterdamp; He did not hear anything of the other men. Potts, found a lamp bottom and Phillips found the top. It was conjectured that the top had been opened for the purpose of either enabling the men to smoke or to promote a greater light for their work. At this time however the whole of the facts could not be accurately ascertained, as the survivors were not in a fit state to give any information. At the close of the evidence the inquest was adjourned.
The adjourned inquest was held on Tuesday, at the Dog and Partridge Inn, before Mr. Booth, Coroner, concerning the deaths of three colliers, William Crump age 35, William Allen age 18 and Mark Johnson age 20 (who was one of the injured and who later died) Mr. Cooper appeared for the Amalgamated Association of Miners, Mr. Brown Agent for North Staffordshire, Mr. Wynne, Government Inspector of Mines Mr. Welch, on behalf of the colliery proprietors, and Mr. T. Cooper on behalf of the friends of the deceased also attended.
The Coroner said, the inquiry had been adjourned, as it was thought necessary to have additional evidence, and evidence of the man who was burnt and who had charge of the place at the time of the occurrence. This man had been a patient at the Cottage Hospital and would be there to give evidence.
The evidence of the various witnesses who were called before was read over. William Phillips added to his former statement that when the men went down the pit on the night of the 8th of December they went with unlocked lamps. There was no lamp man there and he did not see a butty there till after the explosion.
Mr. Cooper asked if there was a fireman or headsman in the pit at the time of the explosion. Samuel Farmer replied, I couldn't say about the men there being practical men, one of them was very young. Matthews was the headman among them and was timberer in the roads. Mr. Wynne said he never new Matthews as anything but a roadman.
James Blundell, a doggy, stated that after the explosion he went down the pit and found two lamps where Johnson and Allen had been working and one where Matthews had been working. All three had the tops off. Matthews carried keys to unlock the lamp if necessary. About three weeks before the explosion he saw gas in the pit. He put on more ventilation to get rid of the gas.