The witness had commenced working in the pit on the 1 st April and continued to work in it from that time to the present.
There had been two explosions during that time. The first explosion was a month after he went there, in which William Shepard and James Gordon were burnt. The other occurred some time afterwards when a man named James Beton was burnt, they all recovered. These two explosions occurred 200 to 300 yards from the place where the last accident happened. Working with naked candles caused the first but he did not know what caused the second.
All the men had a sufficient supply of safety lamps, but they are not used, when they think there is no danger. The witness, with the other men had all safety lamps on Monday morning and they were used to examine if there was any sulphur in the pit and afterwards naked candles were used. He brought a candle with him along the part where the accident took place, when he was leaving work. He found the trap door in the wall open and left it so. The Body of William Shone was found near this door. The deceased did not appear to be in anywhere bruised but seemed to have died from suffocation. This unfortunate individual was at work when the explosion took place at the end of the mine and it was supposed, fell from the effects of the afterdamp, when endeavouring to make his escape and was suffocated.
Another witness, James Boughey, collier of Longton, stated that he worked at the Broadfield colliery, but not in the pit where the accident took place. He assisted getting some men out of the pit who were killed on Monday last. The body of William Shone was found nearly at the far end of the works lying on his face. A number of lamps were lying about the pit and one or two where Shone was found, but they were not lighted. On coming back 30 or 40 yards, he discovered James Dawson lying on his face. There was a lamp near to his hand. About 30 or 40 yards further the bodies of Samuel Thornton, and James Smith were discovered; they were all dead. The witness worked in the same pit two years ago but no accidents occurred in that time. He worked in an adjoining pit, and he with the other men are provided with safety lamps, but they did not use them, because they thought there was no sulphur. About 8 or 9 months ago there was an accident in the pit, when one man was burnt.
On the conclusion of this and the proceeding witness’s evidence, the jury expressed their opinion strongly in the reckless infatuation of the colliers by using candles when safety lamps are provided.
William Bradshaw, collier of Fenton and who worked in one of the pits at the Broadfield colliery said, on Monday evening, at about half past six he was going to assist in getting out the bodies of the unfortunate men.
He deposed of finding the body of Alfred Tomkinson, who lay on his face with his hands underneath him. The body was then warm.
Mr. Aaron Barton, agent to the Broadfield colliery company, was next called, and produced a plan of the works where the unfortunate calamity had occurred, which he very intelligently explained to the jury. Mr. Barton said that between12 and 1 o’clock on Monday morning he was in the No.1 Ash pit, where the deceased were working. He saw James Smith, Jacob Tipton, William Baker, Moses Heath and Peter Bolderstone at work. The witness went down to see what state the works were in, and found them in a safe state, and he saw no reason to apprehend any danger.
He was in the works for about an hour and a half and the trap door in “the wall,” alluded to, was then open. He should suppose that Smith, who was an overman or butty in the pit, closed this door. He was of the opinion that the explosion must have taken place by the escape of firedamp by the door being shut, which is used for ventilating the works, the firedamp had came in contact with a naked candle, and so exploded. He should suppose (as there was nothing but reasonable probability to guide him) that the candle was in the hands of James Dawson, who had been to fetch some tools from another part of the mine and was returning to his work when he met with the other deceased and the explosion took place in consequence of the escape of gas from “the wall” by the closing of the door. Some tools were lying by the side of Dawson. He believed that one moments reflection on the part of the men in putting the candle out (carried it is supposed by Dawson) if they had known the door was shut, would have averted the calamity.
Mr. Barton afterwards explained to the jury that the pit had upwards of 14,000 gallons of fresh air supplied to it every minute, and there was never more than 30 men in the works at one time, so he considered the quantity of air was an abundant supply.
Mr. W. Dawes, surgeon, from Longton, said he was at the pit when the bodies of Tomkinson and Thornton were brought out. They had no marks of violence on them and his opinion was that they had died from suffocation.
No other evidence being adduced and the coroner having directed the attention of the jury to the leading features of the distressing case, they immediately returned a verdict of “accidental death” finding that James Smith, James Dawson, Jacob Tipton, Peter Bolderstone, William baker and Moses Heath were killed by the explosion of firedamp; and that Samuel Thorston, Alfred Tomkinson and William Shone, died from the effects of the afterdamp being suffocated by it.
The inquiry lasted between three and four hours.