BLACKEYHURST Ashton-in-Makerfield, Lancashire. 1st. July, 1864.

The No.13 pit at the colliery was 220 yards deep and known as Marsh’s Delf Pit. It led to the Little Delf Mine and was connected to the Rushy Park Mine. The colliery was owned by Mr. Samuel Stock.

The pit was worked only during the day and at 5 a.m. the engineer began lowering fourteen or fifteen men, eight at a time. A jerk in the engine told him that something was wrong in the shaft and a basket was lowered. It was found that the cage had come into contact with something in the shaft and that the colliers had fallen out.

It was found that a collision of the cages had occurred because the cage had got out of the guide rods. The only two to escape were William Burrows and Henry Leighford, who managed to hold on when the cage tipped one by an arm and the other by his leg.

There were no bodies at the bottom of the shaft but the planking over the dib hole was broken and all were in the water. Pumps were set to work and it was not until one and a half hours later that the first body was found. The two Simpkins were the first to be recovered. All the bodies were badly mutilated and they were identified by Thomas Bold, the fireman at the colliery. All the bodies were recovered by 4 p.m.

The dead were listed as:

  • Edward Clark aged 30 years, a collier of Ashton who was married with three children,
  • Robert Houlton aged 25 years, a collier of Billinge who was married,
  • John Simpkin aged 15 years, a drawer,
  • Thomas Heyes aged 14 years, a drawer,
  • Isaac Simpkin aged 12 years, a drawer and
  • Henry Burrows aged 15 years, a drawer.

All the victims lived at Billinge, Chapel End and most of the village turned out to watch the funerals.

At the inquest into the accident the jury decided:

The cage had collided through some cause unknown but that the guide rods were unsafe.

In the report on the accident, the Inspector, Mr. Peter Higson commented:

They were ascending the pit in one cage which in consequence of the wooden guide rods having shrunk and got loose the cage got out of the perpendicular and came into collision with the one ascending the pit. The two cages were working in the same shaft with limited space between them. The unfortunate people were precipitated to the bottom of the shaft and subsequently brought up dead.



The Mines Inspectors Report 1864. Mr. Peter Higson.
The Colliery Guardian.
The Wigan Examiner.
The Wigan Observer.
The St.Helens Newspaper.

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

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