WALLSEND. “A” Pit. Wallsend, Northumberland. 23rd. October, 1821.

The colliery was known as Russell’s Colliery. At the time of the disaster, there were 56 men working in the Bensham Seam to which the “A” Pit had been sunk the previous year and the workings extended no more than 100 yards in any direction from the shaft. It was reported that 52 were killed. The “A” shaft was divided into an upcast and a downcast section by timber brattice which was destroyed in the explosion so there was no ventilation. The blast was  stated to have “shook the ground like an earthquake and made furniture dance in neighbouring houses.”

Those who lost their lives were:

  • James Kelly, son of William aged 20 years.
  • Samuel Lowrey aged 5 years 6 months.
  • Christopher Waggets aged 31 years.
  • John Norman aged 30 years.
  • Robert Bowden aged 27 years.
  • George Thompson aged 12 years.
  • Nicholas English aged 32 years.
  • William Roddison aged 75 years.
  • Thomas Hault aged 41 years.
  • George Kyle aged 11 years.
  • Robert Ilap aged 25 years.
  • Robert Bainbridge aged 7 years.
  • Edward Campbell aged 35 years.
  • Roger Buddle aged 17 years.
  • John Smith aged 21 years.
  • Henry Bowlam aged 77 years.
  • Michael Moon aged 44 years.
  • Michael Moon aged 12 years.
  • Peter Hays aged 19 years.
  • John Ferry aged 26 years.
  • Thomas Wagget aged 34 years.
  • James Walker aged 22 years.
  • William Smart aged 34 years.
  • David Smart aged 31 years.
  • John Pindley aged 33 years.
  • Thomas Lowery aged 3 3years.
  • William Bell aged 43 years.
  • William Bell aged 16 years.
  • William Jackson aged 21 years.
  • Tochard Hepple aged 17 years.
  • George Pendley aged 50 years.
  • William Johnson aged 26 years.
  • John Johnson aged 23 years.
  • William Hutton aged 25 years.
  • John Hutton aged 22 years.
  • Thomas Davison aged 36 years.
  • John Shotton aged 18 years.
  • Edward Shotton aged 20 years.
  • John Bickley aged 12 years.
  • John Gordon aged 20 years.
  • George Longstaff aged 46 years.
  • George Mason aged 21 years.

Mr. Buddle visited the workings and learned that there was gas in the pit before the explosion by accidents had been prevented by the vigilance of the two young overmen at the pit. With the danger known, they had been put in charge because of their experience. Fifty-two men and boys were killed including all the deputies and there were but four survivors. The victims were scorched and strangely distorted. Forty-six were buried at Wallsend in one grave since they were all related and of the rest, they were buried at Ballast Hills and at old Wallsend Church.

The cause of the accident was thought to be that “lights were not put out at the time”. In an account oft e disaster published after his death, Buddle ascribed the accident to a furnaceman who went to what was described as a “secret feast” and left a door open. The brattice in the shaft was destroyed for 30 fathoms from the bottom and any of the victims died from suffocation. Mr. Buddle thought that 40 to 50 may have survived if there had been two shafts at the colliery.


Annals of Coal Mining. Galloway, Vol.1, p.495-6.
Sykes’ Local Records.
Report from the Select Committee on Accidents in Mines. 4th September 1835. p.141-5.
Transactions of the Natural History Society of Northumberland. Vol.i. p.185-6.
Mining Journal. Vol. xiii, p.372.
Sketches of the Coal Mines in Northumberland and Durham. T.H. Hair.

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

Return to previous page