CRESWELL. Creswell, Derbyshire. 26th. September, 1950.

The Creswell Colliery was previously owned by the Bolsover Colliery Company Limited and was taken over by the National Coal Board in 1947. it was in the No.4 Sub-Area of the No.1 area of the East Midlands Division and was situated in Derbyshire near the Nottinghamshire border about six miles south west of Worksop. The mine was under the supervision of Mr. G. Inverarity who, after a spell as a spare manager under the Bolsover Colliery Company, was appointed manager of the Creswell colliery in November 1946. Mr. G.S.W. Payton was appointed undermanager in January 1948 after a period a s Safety Officer at the colliery. To assist them they had six overmen, a safety officer, a training officer and a number of deputies and shotfirers. The Agent was Mr. J.A. Tankard, the Sub-Area manager was Mr. W.E.S. Peach, the Area Production Manager, Mr. J. Brass, the Area General Manager, Mr. W.V. Sheppard and Mr. W.H. Sanson was the Divisional Production Manager. All the officials from the undermanager upawards held First-Class Certificates of Competencey under the Coal Mines Act, 1911.

The mine had two circular shafts each 18 feet in diameter and these were completed in 1896. They were sunk to the Top Hard Seam at 440 yards. The High Hazel seam was intersected by both shafts at 329 yards. In 1939, the upcast or No. 2 shaft was sunk to the Low Main seam and a connection was made to the No. 2 shaft. In 1933 a cross measure drift was driven at 1 in 3 from the Top Hard up to the High Hazel seam to enable faces in this seam to be opened out. The output from the High Hazel was gradually increased and that of the Top Hard declined. Work ceased in the Top Hard in 1941 and after that all the output came from the Top Hazel and at the time of the disaster an extensive area of this seam had been worked out.

The High Hazel had an average inclination of 1 in 30 and was about 4 feet 6 inches thick. It was worked by an advancing longwall face in three main districts which were known as the North-West, South-East and South-West Districts. There were 1,144 men employed underground and 355 on the surface. During the three months prior to the fire, the weekly output of the colliery was just over 14,000 tons, about half of which came from the South-West District. The coal from all three districts was transported to the pit bottom by trunk-belt conveyors and wound at the downcast shaft. Coal filling and winding were done on the day and afternoon shifts. Repair and maintenance were done mainly on the night shift but also both the other shifts. The general sequence of the work on the coal faces was, cut, fill, pack, and turnover.

The South-West District was the one affected by the fire and there were two main roads serving the district, the Main Intake, which was used for the transport of coal to the trunk-belt conveyors and the Main Return, which was used to transport men by an endless rope haulage mon-riding set. These two main roads were about 60 yards apart for one and a quarter miles from the pit bottom and 34 yards apart for the remaining one and a quarter miles. A little more than half way inbye a downthrow fault, known as the Elmton Fault, was encountered. Originally, the South-West District was laid out to work the coal only up to the fault but in 1945, it was decided to work coal beyond the fault. In that year two dip drifts, the intake dipping 1 in 9 and the return dipping 1 in 6 were driven through the fault, which at this point was in the form of a trough, the first throw being a downward displacement of 195 feet, followed by an upthrow of 85 feet which made the total displacement 110 feet.

Apart from the 57’s heading, which was winning out a new face not far inbye from the shafts, there were five double-inlet faces in the district. Of these the No. 59’s, the only one on the outbye side of the fault, was a double unit face, 295 yards long. These were undercut by machine to a depth of 4 feet 6 inches in a dirt band one foot above the floor. The coal was shot down by explosives and hand filled on to conveyors. It was regarded as a standby face and was worked only as required.

Beyond the Elmton Fault there were four working faces and a abandoned face, No. 63’s, which had been stopped when it reached an unproved fault at 840 yards to the right off the main intake. Materials had been drawn off this panel except for the supports in the right hand side of the gate and the central loading gate. The four working faces were known as the 74’s, 64’s, 68’s and 65’s respectively.

The 74’s face was 167 yards long and formed the development panel for the area. Four gates were formed in this development to provide two intake and two return airways. The working face was two and a half miles from the pit bottom. No.64’s was a double unit face, 300 yards long which had advanced 1,000 yards to the left of the main intake. The 68’s face was 450 yards long but only two thirds of its length was in production. This part of the face had advanced 410 yards to the left of the main intake, while the remaining one third had advanced 450 yards and had been stopped. No 65’s was a double unit face 330 yards long which had advanced 330 yards to the left of the main intake.

With the exception of the No.68’s, the working faces were machine cut at the floor level to four feet six inches and the coal hand filled onto conveyors at the face. The production in this part of the 68’s was worked by a Meco-Moore cutter loader which took off coal to a depth of three feet three inches along the face and loaded it onto a face conveyor. Coal from the face conveyors in all faces was transported by gate conveyors to the main trunk conveyor system on the South-West District main intake road. Steel props and bars were used throughout on these faces and the “three props per bar system” was in general use. The normal thickness of the seam on these faces was 4 feet but from, 5 feet 6 inches of top coal was left up to form the immediate roof.

Prior to 1948, under-tub endless-rope haulage had been used for transporting coal to the pit bottom along the main haulage road but in July 1948, a complete change over was made to trunk-belt conveyors to a central loading point 90 yards from the pit bottom. The belts wee 7-ply with rubber facings. At the time of the accident, this system comprised three conveyors in tandem. No.1 belt from the no.1 transfer point near the pit bottom to No.2 transfer point, a distance of 1,703 yards. No.2 belt from No.2 transfer to No.3 transfer point, a distance of 1,080 yards and No.3 belt form No.3 transfer for a distance of 1,060 yards to a point where the gate conveyor from 74’s face delivered its coal. With the exception of the coal from the 59’s face which was delivered to the No.1 belt at a point 69 yards outbye the No.2 transfer point, the coal from all the faces was fed on to the No.3 belt. The three main belts were each 36 inches wide and were driven by 100 h.p. Sutcliffe Goliath Units. The belt speed was about 350 feet per minute. Each transfer point was covered by a sheet metal canopy and water sprays were fitted to keep down the dust. The roadway throughout was of ample cross section and an endless-rope haulage was installed along one side of the conveyors for the transport of supplies. On the outbye side of the Elmton Fault, the roadway was supported by steel arches, camber girders and straight girders, but to the inbye side of the fault, steel arches were used as standard practice.

The compliment of workmen on the South-West District on three shifts was 93 on the day shift, 163 on the afternoon shift, and 122 on the night shift. On the night shift of the 25th/26th September, because of the transference of the workmen from the South-East District, 133 persons were employed in the South West District.

The general direction of the ventilation entered the main South-West intake conveyor road at about 60,000 cubic feet of air per minute and approximately one mile inbye was split to ventilate 59’s panel, leaving 44,000 cubic feet of air per minute to pass on down the intake drift through the Elmton Fault. After this splits were taken off to ventilate the 64’s and 68’s on the left side of the face and the 65’s on the right side of the face. The remainder of the air went forward to the 74’s development face. Safety lamps were used throughout the mine.

The fire fighting measures both underground and on the surface were well organized. Fire-fighting water ranges were laid along the main intake airways fro the shafts to point near each working face. Hydrants were installed at 250 yard intervals and at points such as gear-heads, junctions and transfer points. Fire stations were arranged at points along the main road and rules laid down for the organisation and conduct of fire fighting and drills carried out regularly.

The arrangements to transport the men to and from work in the South-West District consisted of two man-riding trains operated in the main return airway by an under-tub endless-rope haulage known as the “Paddy”. The trains were attached to the rope, one at the outbye end and one at the inbye end, so that one train travelled inbye when the other was travelling outbye. A three rail track was used with a length of double track at the “meetings” which was between 400 and 500 yards outbye from the top of the Elmton Drift. There were telephones in the South-West District and the main underground system was controlled from switch board in an office in the main return airway near the bottom of the upcast shaft. One man was employed at the switchboard during a shift.

All parties are agreed that the fire started at the No.2 transfer point about 3.45 a.m. on the 26th September 1950 when 232 persons were underground. 133 were employed in the South West District beyond the scene of the fire. Shortly before the fire started, two work men left the district leaving 131 inbye at the time. Of these 51 people escaped by way of the return airway and the remaining 80 were caught by fumes and lost their lives. They were all later certified as having died from carbon monoxide poisoning.

During the day shift of the 25th September, it was observed that No.2 trunk belt was scored. At the beginning of the afternoon shift that day, J.R. Hindley, a belt maintenance man, was called to examine it. He found a groove about 6 inches from the belt edge on the supplies side of the belt and it extended along the belt for almost 300 yards. In no place was the belt cut through but for a short length the groove had penetrated about two thirds of the thickness of the belt. Hindley examined the belt with others for all it’s length and found nothing that could account for the grooving. The conveyor was started and Hindley inspected it at intervals during the shift. His last inspection was at 8.30 p.m. A full shift of coal had been transported without mishap and arrangements were made for Hindley to stay overtime to repair the belt. These arrangements were cancelled because H. Godfrey, the overman in charge of the district on the night shift, found that a length of coal on No.65’s face had not been filled off, and gave instructions for the belt to continue running until the coal was cleared.

When Joseph Morris, the No.3 transfer point attendant, arrived at his place at the start of the night shift at about 11 p.m. He examined the belt and estimated that the grooving extended for 200 yards and that for about 6 to 8 yards was cut through. He said he was able to push his hand through the slit. The condition of the belt had clearly become worse since Hindley noticed the damage but it was started and nothing was noticed until 3.10 a.m. when Morris signalled to W.H. Hird, the attendant who was stationed at the telephone 70 yards on the outbye side of No.2 transfer point, to stop the No.2 belt. Hird did so and Morris them telephoned Hird through the pit bottom exchange and told him that the belt was torn an had a “trailing end”. He arranged to travel outbye while Hird travelled inbye so that they could find where the damage to the belt had started. Morris set off and when he was 400 yards from the No. 2 transfer point he encountered smoke and when still 150 yards away he saw fire at the transfer chute and flames between the chute and the sidewall of the roadway.

Hird went 70 yards inbye to the No.2 transfer point where he saw the transfer hopper full of torn belting. He described it as, “if three or four men each side … had been laying it out.” He then returned to the telephone and informed the men in charge at the pit bottom telephone exchange what had occurred and asked to be put in contact with Godfrey, the night overman in charge of the South-West District. During this time the No.1 belt continued to run although Hird stated that he had signalled for it to stop. A few minutes later Hird saw fire in the chute at the transfer point and again telephoned the pit bottom for the power to be cut off and for help to be summoned. He had just completed this call when Joseph Morris arrived and asked him if he knew which transfer point was on fire. Hird did not look at his watch but it was then 3.45 a.m. From the time No. 2 belt stopped until the fire was discovered, Morris had travelled nearly 1,000 yards, including 350 yards up a drift rising at 1 in 9, examining the conveyor structure and belt on the way. Hird, although he was the first to see the fire made no efforts to deal with it. Morris, on the other hand, as soon as he arrived, asked about portable fire extinguishers. There were two at the 59’s junction and he applied the first with little effect, and the second failed to function.

The fire station was on the inbye side of the No.2 transfer point and soon became inaccessible because of the fire. When the station was first established it conformed to the normal and good practice of the colliery, it was sited on the intake side of the vulnerable point, because it then served the old 59’s junction which was 260 yards inbye from it. Even if the fire station had been on the outbye side of the transfer point, it was doubtful whether it would have altered the course of vents. Before the actual fire was discovered by Morris and Hird, strips of torn belting within the metal enclosure of the chute were probably alight and so inaccessible that portable fire extinguishers or buckets of sand would have been of little use. After experiments at the Buxton Research Station it was found that nothing less than copious amounts of water would have put out the fire.

Immediately Hird’s message had been received, F. Kirk, the pit bottom telephone exchange attendant, sent warnings of the fire to the South-West District and called for fire fighting teams from other parts of the mine. The manager and the undermanger were informed at 4 a.m. and messages were sent to the Central Rescue Brigades at Chesterfield, senior local officials of the National Coal Board, H.M. Inspector of Mines and the officials of the Mineworkers’ Union. When the undermanger got to the pit, he spoke to the manager at his home by telephone, and then went underground. He was assured that the inbye workmen had been warned of the fire and that they were on their way out. He then went straight to the scene of the fire.

When he got there he found some members of the pit fire fighting teams led by J. Rodda, overman in charge of the North-West District, had been in action since shortly after 4 a.m.. They had traveled in the “Paddy” in the return airway, taking with them a supply of hoses and nozzles. The fire fighters at once coupled up their hoses to the water man but got little more than a trickle. The flow of water was so small that their efforts with the hoses was described at the Inquiry as- “just like standing in a garden watering flowers” The water supply at normal pressure had failed unaccountably. Repeated messages were phoned for an increased water supply. As soon as the undermanager arrived he telephoned instructions for the source of the trouble to be investigated straight away without delay. It was then 5.15 a.m.

In the meantime, supplies of portable fire extinguishers, sand and stone dust were collected and sent to the scene of the fire. These were used with great effect and the impression was gained that the fore had been got under control. As a result a message was sent to the surface that the fire was nearly extinguished. This was not the case. The steam and smoke in the roadway had reduced visibility to practically nil and had masked the spread of the fire along the roadway, an extension which, no doubt, had been accelerated when the burning No.2 belt, which was still under tension, broke and the burning end sprang inbye.

At 5.20 a.m. a team of trained rescue brigade men from Chesterfield arrived at the fire but because of the lack of a water supply they were unable to do any real fire fighting work. While the fire fighters continued with portable extinguishers the rescue men put on liquid air apparatus and tried to get past the fire in an attempt to stop it spreading inbye. The heat was too great and the attempt failed.

The lack of water supply was lather found to be the result of a set of unfortunate coincidence. The underground fire mains were supplied constantly from a 1 inch pipe from the No.2 upcast shaft but the quantity was only sufficient to supply the dust sprays. For the larger quantity of water required for fire fighting, there were 5 inch pipes on a rising main in the No. 1 shaft. During the night shift, this main was fed with water from the the Top Hard pump but during the other two shifts the water was fed into the main from surface tanks through suitable valves. The routine control for the change of water supply to the shaft main was well established but unfortunately, for the first time for many years, the Top Hard pump failed to start at the commencement of the night shift of the 25th/26th September and the fitters who examined it considered that it could not be repaired during the shift. The pumpman informed H. Godfrey of the break down but neither the overman nor the fitters thought it necessary to inform any surface official so nothing was done to adjust the surface valves to ensure that the main was fed with water from the surface tanks.

When the hoses were coupled to the fire main near the seat of the fire, which was about 175 feet above the shaft bottom, the water supply was almost nil. The failure at a critical time proved disastrous and costly. The position was not put right until a considerable time after the arrival of the colliery engineer at 5.10 a.m. but by the time a reasonable amount of water was available, the fire in the chute at No.2 transfer point had burned itself out and the fire had spread a long way inbye. Water was still necessary to cool down the hot, smoldering material.

Another attempt was made to reach the advancing fire by working forward along the roadway, but because of the damage to the roof supports, the effects of heat and water on the strata and the deterioration of the roof and sides, conditions became so dangerous that the attempt was abandoned. Later temporary support were set to try to reach the advancing fire but only 60 yards was made and the erection of seals became essential and stopped all further fire fighting efforts.

While this was going on, several men from the inbye workings in the South-West District had come out safely through the main return airway. At about 5 a.m. J.W. Turner who was working inbye, came out by way of the 59’s loader gate. He had travelled by the main return to 59’s right-hand return, over the overcast on the main intake and then along the 59’s right side face. On his way he had opened the doors at the overcast and saw the fire raging under it. He was in a distressed condition and reported that there were more men behind him. The fire had travelled at least 125 yards inbye in about one and quarter hours.

It was realised that the men inbye were not getting out as expected and rescue teams were at once sent into explore the main return. They found one body about 500 yards inbye from 59’s left return gate and brought to to the fresh air base. Artificial respiration was tried but there was no response. Eventually the rescue teams brought out two other bodies and reported that they had seen tow more. By this time the smoke in the main return at 59’s left side return gate was very dense and had a very bad effect on the eyes of the rescue men. A canary carried by the rescue men showed that the atmosphere was deadly that is was impossible to think of anyone being left alive in the workings. It was decided that, with the exception of parties that would made exploration of the main return towards the shaft, rescue work should be stopped. The exploring parties reached the stable slit without finding anyone.

A conference of the officials of the National Coal Board, the workmens’ Unions and the Inspectorate was called to discuss the position and decide of any further action. The meeting came to the unanimous conclusion that, since there was little hope of finding anyone left alive and the dangerous conditions prevented any fire fighting, the only other possible way of extinguishing the fire and avoiding the risk of a firedamp explosion, was to seal off the district. The sites of the seals were agreed and arrangements were made for improving the haulage facilities to transport the necessary materials inbye. During this period, the rescue teams had a well earned rest.

After examinations of the area it was found that the smoke was less dense and a discussion took place as to the possibility of recovering the ten bodies that had been seen by the rescue man. It was agreed that this should be done. More bodies were found just beyond the point where the ten were found and altogether 47 bodies were recovered. Conditions were found to be deteriorating and it was advisable to with draw the rescue parties. The rescue men had located 27 other which left six men that were unaccounted for.

The stoppings were built with sand bags, the intake stopping was 8 yards long and the return stopping, which was built under very difficult conditions by men wearing breathing apparatus, was 7 yards long. The outbye ends of the stoppings were strengthened by 3 feet thick brick walls. The atmosphere was constantly sampled and eventually there was an indication that the fire was out. A meeting was called by all interested parties on the 18th. December 1950, when it was decided to set up a panel of experts to draw up a plan to re-open the district and have it ready for work during the Easter holidays which began on 22nd, March 1951. It was thought that this would give ample time for the strata to cool down.

With the start of the Easter holidays, the work of re-opening the district began and rescue teams broached the seals. Careful control of the air passing into the district was the methane content was monitored. Operations went according to plan and the district was cleared as far as the bottom of the Elmton Fault drifts but the quantity of air was restricted by a heavy fall on the conveyor road between 59’s timber slit and the compressor slit at the top of the Elmton Drift. At the time there was sudden drop in atmospheric pressure which liberated gas from the inbye panels with which the ventilation could not overcome. It was decided to seal off the district once again but before doing so, 27 bodies were recovered and two more located. This time the seals were built in both roadways at the top of the Elmton Drift.

During the exploration it was found that the fire had extended as far as the No.2 transfer point to the outbye side of the compressor slit, a distance of 610 yards. The new position of the new seals allowed a full inspection of the all the fire area and enabled the conveyor road to be repaired so that full ventilation could be restored. The final clearing of the working panels was completed on the 19th. August 1951 and the remaining six bodies recovered.

Bodies recovered on the 26th. September 1950:

In all cases death was due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

  • Leonard Bower aged 38 years, shotfirer.
  • Harry Godfrey aged 51 years, overman.
  • Horace Attenborough aged 45 years, packer.
  • William Henry Bird aged 39 years, ripper.
  • John Henry Bowden aged 29 years, Meco Moore operator.
  • Ernest Briggs aged 33 years, packer.
  • John William Brocklehurst aged 44 years, packer.
  • Robert Brough aged 36 years, cutterman.
  • Alfred Edgar Bryan aged 56 years, packer.
  • Herbert Stanley Buckle aged 48 years, gummer.
  • Sam Cocking aged 42 years, cutterman.
  • Ernest Deakin aged 60 years, gummer.
  • Ernest Dodd aged 37 years, ripper.
  • John Dodd aged 45 years, packer.
  • Fred Doncaster aged 27 years, conveyor erector.
  • John William Doxley aged 45 years, packer.
  • George Ellis aged 51 years, packer.
  • Charles Foulkes aged 49 years, cutterman.
  • George William Gillert aged 38 years, ripper.
  • Kenneth Amos Goucher aged 42 years, conveyor erector.
  • Peter W. Green aged 53 years, packer.
  • C. Hemmingray aged 25 years, conveyor erector.
  • Cecil Hendley aged 34 years, cutterman.
  • Reginald C. Holmes aged 44 years, cutterman.
  • Arnold Hutton aged 48 years, packer.
  • J.T. Jackson aged 58 years, gummer.
  • Robert James aged 52 years, packer.
  • Ernest Johnson aged 36 years, packer.
  • E. Johnson aged 46 years, packer.
  • Reginald Kirk aged 39 years, ripper.
  • William Mellish aged 55 years, steel supervisor.
  • Edward Millward aged 44 years, packer.
  • Ernest Leslie Needham aged 44 years, stone contractor.
  • William Henry Orvice aged 49 years, conveyor erector.
  • Kenneth F. Robinson aged 25 years, packer.
  • G. Sydney Rogers aged 44 years, ripper.
  • Victor Rose aged 52 years, cutterman.
  • Leslie Rutherford aged 25 years, cutterman.
  • Thomas J. Senior agd 42 years, packer.
  • J. Shaw aged 56 years, ripper.
  • Herbert Shipley aged 38 years, cutterman.
  • Thomas Smith aged 51 years, packer.
  • Thomas Traylor aged 43 years, cutterman.
  • Robert William Thomas Walker aged 38 years, packer.
  • C. Ward aged 30 years, packer.
  • Frederick Whitlam aged 52 years, packer.
  • George Yearham aged 57 years, face timberman.
  • Bodies recovered on the 25th March, 1951.
  • Leslie Marshall aged 42 years, deputy.
  • Reginald Teasdale aged 46 years, supports economy officer.
  • William Adams aged 51 years, packer.
  • Frederick Barker aged 41 years, ripper.
  • Lee John Buxton aged 59 years, steel supervisor.
  • Allen Davis aged 63 years, stone contractor.
  • Leslie Dodd aged 47 years, ripper.
  • Tomas Henry Evans aged 50 years, packer.
  • Gordon Fox aged 62 years, ripper.
  • Leslie Hancock aged 28 years, packer.
  • James Arthur Harrison aged 60 years, cutterman.
  • Thomas Hart aged 39 years, datal.
  • John William Hunphreys aged 50 years, ripper.
  • Albert Lewis aged 46 years, packer.
  • Edward Limb aged 55 years, datal.
  • John Henry London aged 48 years, ripper.
  • William James London aged 51 years, packer.
  • Albert Cecil Mallender aged 47 years, ripper.
  • William Mellish aged 36 years, datal.
  • Eric Parkin aged 36 years, cutterman.
  • Roberyt Idris Price aged 34 years, packer.
  • Arnold Loftin Robinson aged 29 years, packer.
  • James Lewis Sadler aged 41 years, ripper.
  • Thomas Arthur Severn aged 46 years, datal.
  • William Ernest Stonach aged 36 years, ripper.
  • Joseph Taylor aged 42 years, face timberman.
  • George Wass aged 37 years, packer.
  • Bodies recovered on the 11th. August 1951.
  • Thomas William Hunt aged 51 years, deputy,
  • Harry Clarke aged 46 years, ripper,
  • Geroge Charles Cope aged 59 years, datal,
  • McDara Connolly aged 28 years, ripper,
  • John Edward Oliver aged 53 years, ripper and
  • Carey Gresham Thorpe aged 46 years, gummer.

The inquiry into the causes and circumstances attending the accident which occurred at the Creswell Colliery on the 26th December 1950 was held by Sir Andrew Bryan, D.Sc., F.R.S.E. at the Miners’ Institute, Creswell on the 17th. October 1950 and the evidence of witnesses was heard up to the time the fire was sealed off. The inquiry was adjourned two days later and resumed on the 27th. November 1851. the final report was presented to The Right Honourable Geoffrey Lloyd, M.P., Minister of Fuel and Power, in June 1952.

Sir Andrew Bryan concluded that:

Following the failure to effect timely repairs to the badly damaged conveyor belt which resulted in torn strips of belting collecting in the No.2 transfer chute, the disaster was due to four successive causes

    1. a rapidly starting and growing fire spreading in the main-intake  airway
    2. the failure of the fire fighting arrangements
    3. some delay in warning the men inbye and,
    4. the main return was the only means of escape for the men on the inbye side of the fire. Unless fires could wholly be prevented, and it is not possible to be sure of this, then there is a potential hazard from them and it is necessary to consider how best this hazard can be mitigated by action under those four heads. There is little doubt that recent practice in many mines leaves much to be desired and that it can and should be improved.

The Inspector put forward the following recommendations:

1). PREVENTION OF CONVEYOR FIRES.

 a). The roadway should be straight, well graded and large enough to allow ample clearance above and below as well as on both side of the conveyor. ideally, the largest lump of mineral conveyed should be able to fall sufficiently clear to avoid rubbing the belt.

 b). All parts of the roadway where there are transfer points or driving units should be of fireproof construction, extending for five yards on either side of such places. Non-inflammable material should be used for pillars supporting the conveyor structure, and the roadway, in general, should be kept free from combustible material and especially from accumulations of coal dust.

 c). As soon as they are proven in practice and are commercially available, only belts which are non-inflammable or are highly resistant to fire should be used.

 d). Automatic safety devices to prevent overloading, belt-slip, overheating and piling up at transfer points and to detect damaged belts, should be developed and used.

 e). Attendants should be stationed at all transfer points not safeguarded under d).

 f). Competent persons, specially trained for the work, should be appointed to patrol trunk conveyor system when in operation and for the hours after stopping.

 g). Effective means of stopping a conveyor from any point along the roadway should be provided.

 h). Substantial damage to conveyor belts should be reported forthwith and should be examined by a competent official who should have authority to stop the conveyor and repair the damage.

 

 2. FIGHTING OF CONVEYOR FIRES.

 a). The fire-fighting organization of every colliery should be thoroughly checked and improvements effected where necessary, and the need for speed in action should be emphasized. in particular, special attention should be paid to the training (which should include fire-drills) and the calibre of the fire-fighting personnel

 b). Underground fire stations should be situated in the intake side of vulnerable points and when the material or equipment at these point is moved, the fire station should be moved to meet the new conditions.

 c). Persons stationed at transfer points or near fire stations should be trained in the use of portable fire-fighting appliances provided and should be physically capable of using them in an emergency.

 d). Fire-fighting water mains should be installed throughout and the water should be supplied from a source which feeds into them directly and continuously. The fire mains should be capable of providing sufficient water at adequate pressure at any transfer point, and tests should be made at suitable intervals to check the quantity and pressure of water available. The pressure of the water supply at any transfer point should be measured at the beginning of every working shift and the result should be recorded. A conveyor should not run if the supply of water is inadequate.

 

 3. WARNING MEN INBYE.

 a). Where the lives of men are endangered by a fire, a responsible official should be charged with the sole duty of seeing that the threatened men are warned without delay and that everything possible is done to facilitate their escape.

 b). There should be included in the code of signals used on telephone systems a distinctive signal to indicate that a state of emergency exists which requires the immediate withdrawal of the men. It would be an advantage if this alarm signal could be heard by as many as possible of the men threatened by the danger.

 c). Inbye telephones should be sited as near as practicable to the working faces and should be so placed that there is always someone in their vicinity during working hours.

 d). Underground telephone exchanges should be ventilated by intake air and arrangements should be made before-hand to have them specially manned in the event of an emergency.

 e). Repairs which would interfere with the running of man-riding trains in an emergency should, as far as possible, be avoided when a full shift of men is at work inbye.

  

4. MEANS OF ESCAPE.

 a). Wherever practicable, there should be two intake airways and these should be provided for all major ventilation districts in all new mines or new developments in existing mines.

 b). Underground details of improved forms of self-rescue apparatus should be expedited.

 c). As soon as an emergency arises, man-riding and other travelling facilities in escape roads should be cleared for action.

 d). Where rope-haulage man-riding arrangements are situated in return airways, arrangements should be made, where practicable, to ventilate the haulage engine-house by intake air.

 

REFERENCES
The report of the causes and the circumstances attending the explosion which occurred at the Creswell Colliery, Derbyshire on the 26th September, 1950 by Sir Andrew Bryan, D.Sc., F.R.S.E. C.D. 8574.
Colliery Guardian, 6th December 1950, p.661.

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

Return to previous page