GERARDS BRIDGE. St. Helens, Lancashire. 2nd. June, 1847.

The colliery was the property of Messrs, Speakman, Caldwell and Company. On a Wednesday at about 4 a.m., the pit was working with men and boys below ground and boys and thirteen ponies. At 7 a.m., the explosion took place. All those in the pit escaped with the exception of eight men and boys who were working 1,000 yards from the shaft and they were suffocated along with three ponies. The coal caught fire and on Thursday was reported to “be burning with great fury”. No firedamp had been know in the pit prior to the explosion and it was reported that even though the mine was well ventilated, the men were provided with safety lamps but they did not use them, preferring to use candles.

Those who died were:

  • John Matthew aged 45 years, collier.
  • Peter Matthew aged 22 years, collier.
  • John Mathew aged 17 years, drawer.
  • David Matthew aged 15 years, drawer.
  • Joseph Matthew aged 12 years, drawer.

All sons of John who left a wife and several young children.

  • Joseph Worral aged 50 years, collier who left a wife and five children.
  • John Lee aged 17 years, drawer.
  • John Forest aged 12 years, drawer.

The jury brought in a verdict of “Accidental Death” caused by gas which came from the combustion of the coal and caused the explosion.


Annals of Coal Mining. Galloway. Vol.2, p.82.
Mining Journal. Vol xvii p. 267.
The Illustrated London News, 12th June 1847.

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

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