BURGH. Coppull, Lancashire. 24th. November, 1846.

The colliery was the property of John Hargreaves and employed female labour under the age of fourteen. A tunnel was being driven through a fault and a man went into some old working to retrieve a quantity of timber. Eight lost their lives in an explosion of which three of the victims were reported to be females and five others were injured. All the colliers used candles and one of their lights was supposed to have ignited the gas. There were two explosions one after the other and there were thirty to fifty people in the mine at the time. The fireman stated that the men went down without his approval and before he had made his inspection. On the other hand, it was said that the fireman was not competent to do the work and did not have the required knowledge.

Those who died were:

  • Jane Halliwell, Thomas’ daughter.
  • Seth Turner aged 23 years.
  • William Turner, his brother aged 25 years.
  • William Wilding aged 16 years.
  • Mary Booth aged 12 years.
  • Jane Moss aged 25 years who left a child.
  • Thomas Halliwell, aged 37 years who left a wife and four children.
  • Mary Booth and Joseph Hale in each other’s arms, overcome by the afterdamp.

Those who were injured were:

  • James Booth, dangerously.
  • Thomas Graham, dangerously.
  • Thomas Farrimond and his sons, Thomas and Joseph.
  • Richard Lomax.

Proceedings were instituted against John Hargreaves for letting girls work underground under Section 13 of the Act by which proof was required “of consent, concurrence or knowledge”. Hargreaves argued that the girls were there without his consent and that the manager had told the girls to wear men’s clothes. The manager, Joseph Ellis, denied this and blamed the miners arguing that they should know who was male and who was female. The case was dismissed and Ellis convicted and ordered to pay a fine of £20. Hargreaves was a local magistrate. The disaster was the subject of a special Government inquiry by Mr. W.W. Smith.


Annals of Coal Mining. Galloway. Vol.2, p.81.
The Report of the Select Committee on Accidents in Coal Mines, 1853.
The Illustrated London News, 28th November 1846.

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

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