FURZEHILL. Horrabridge, Cornwall. 12th. May, 1866.

The mine was the property of Sir Massey Lopes and was about half a mile from Horrabridge Station on the Plymouth and Tavistock Railway. The manager was Captain Doidge and the mine was extracting copper near to an old mine of the same name which had not been worked for a long time.

On the day of the disaster the men had been down and working for some time driving in the Forty Fathom Level to the east. Captain Doidge was just about to go down when he saw water rising quickly in the shaft. Michael Yeo, one of the men who lost their lives, had shouted that the water was coming in and the boys at the bottom of the shaft just had time to climb the ladders to safety. The captain tried to get down the mine but the water was rising too quickly and drove him back.

Those who lost their lives were:

  • Michael Yeo aged 27 years
  • Silas Pike aged 22 years
  • John Fox aged 15, his son
  • H. Thomas aged 20 years
  • Benjamin Gorman aged 37 years
  • Henry Fox aged 45 years. married with one child
  • William Elford aged 39 years married with four children
  • Thomas Wotton aged 24 years, married with three children

It was realised that the old workings had been entered. The Captain stated that there was no sign of water. It was believed that Henry Fox was the miner who had broken through. Pumps which could raise 170 gallons an hour were installed but the water went down only at a rate of two inches per hour and it was several weeks before the bodies were recovered.


Colliery Guardian. 19th May 1866. p.368.

Information supplied by Ian Winstanley and the Coal Mining History Resource Centre.

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