BENT GRANGE. Oldham, Lancashire. 1st. July, 1853.

The colliery was owned by Thomas Butterworth and the Inspector had told him previously that the ventilation of the mine was defective. The explosion killed twenty men and boys, thirteen died from suffocation and seven were burnt to death.

Following the explosion of the 9th October 1850 in which 19 lost their lives; another shaft had been sunk at the colliery and completed by February 1851. This was used as the downcast and the old shaft as the upcast with steam jets 35 feet below the surface fed by boilers on the surface.

The explosion took place in the west level about 300 yards from the shaft where some labourers had been widening the roadway the previous night. When the day men came down they had been warned to be careful. It was said that one man had taken off the top of his lamp and placed it on a wagon. It was the practice and the men smoked if they pleased.

At the time of the explosion the underlooker Mr. Greenwood, was at the surface and at first he thought something had happened to the steam jet but then realised there had been an explosion as smoke and embers came up the shaft. He ordered the cage to be lowered and some men came up. The cage continued working until most of the men came out of the pit travelling 13 or 14 a time in the cage. All the bodies had been recovered by 11 p.m.

The inquest brought in the verdict that:

The deaths were accidental but we further consider that strict inspection should be given by the underlooker that, until the furnace is erected, no collier whatever should take the top off his lamp under pain of immediate discharge.


Mines Inspectors Report 1853. Joseph Dickenson.
The Mining Journal, 9th July 1953.

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

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