About fifteen minutes to nine on the morning of the 14th. February, 1940 seven men were working a turbine into a new position in the main level of the Collins Green Pit at Bold. Suddenly a section of roof, 12 feet long and nine feet wide, collapsed on them injuring two men and completely burying the other five.

Carl Schofield was the overman and was working nearby when the accident occurred and he rushed to the scene at once. He was aware that his father Charles, was one of the men who had been relocating the turbine and he was alarmed to learn that he was trapped beneath the debris. The rescue operation began at once, these had to be carried out in a very confined space and in conditions of extreme danger and difficulty owing to the risk of further fall. Mr. Thomas Jameson, the colliery agent, had been spending his forty second birthday at home, he received an urgent message and immediately went to the pit to take charge. Working quickly but cautiously so as not to inure the men further, they found the first victim, Ernest Hayes, the pit fireman. His head was covered with shale and he was pitting dirt and in danger of suffocating. There was no room to use a shovel so Jameson and Schofield had to burrow with their hands to scrape the dust away from his face and allow him to breath. When they had done this he was able to tell the approximate position of the other men. After about an hour Hayes was liberated and was able to walk out without assistance.

Mr. Jameson skilfully directed the securing of the roof to prevent a further fall and as the men were working under it he carefully removed stone and dirt and saw through a conveyor chain and rail.

After prolonged efforts, another man, Arthur Cunningham, was rescued at about two o’clock and an hour later John Tulley was brought out. Carl could see his father and another man but it had been six hours since the accident and both appeared to be dead. all hope of bringing them out alive faded when a further fall occurred which completely blocked the hole the rescue team had been using as a means of access. After more than thirty hours the bodies of Charles Schofield aged 62 and Richard Saw aged 40 were recovered. All the men involved in the accident came for, the St. Helens area.

The rescues were due to the coolness courage and skilful leadership of Thomas Jameson and to the assistance he received from Carl Schofield who displayed the greatest energy and courage. Both men were awarded the Edward Medal, gazetted on 8th. October 1904.

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

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