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Diglake Colliery Flooding 1895

Thanks To Susan Bradley



Susan Bradley
23 July 2004
I am setting up a website specifically about the men who died in the Diglake flooding in 1895
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

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. ( Several Sprostons/Sprosons died at Diglake that day, also Edward Higgins, my husband's gggrandfather.

Diglake Colliery

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.

Kind regards
Susan Bradley (nee Sproston)


Susan Bradley
04 February 2005
Diglake Flooding

Hello Fionn

I hope you are enjoying 2005 so far - I spent the Christmas break doing some work on my Diglake Colliery site and I believe I have been able to identify all of the 77 men and boys killed at Diglake. I have received several newspaper clippings from 1895 which shed further light on the disaster and on the lives of the men involved. I am now also certain that William Sproson (the fireman), Thomas Sproson (also killed) were both brothers of John Sproson (of the rescue party). John was one of the colliery officials who signed their names to the order to stop the rescue attempts on Saturday January 19th 1895 , when it became clear that to continue would result in further loss of life. John's bother James, also a miner, was killed in a pit some years earlier.

The site address is

Kind regards
Susan Bradley

13 Feb 2005
Identifying Diglake Flooding victims 1895.

I have just updated the Diglake site again with some 1871 census info, which shows that several of the men were brothers or cousins. The only miner I have any doubts about now is Thomas Taylor, died aged 14/15. There is a Thomas Taylor of the correct age in the household of John Guise, another of the victims. He looks likely, but it is such a common name I'm not certain. There are other Thomas Taylors in Audley of about the right age, none who would have been exactly 14 in 1895 however. The boys have been hardest to identify as the Diglake Disaster Fund Account Book gives no family information about them, just whether the family received a payment of £10 or £20 (for over 16s).

Susan Bradley