INCE HALL. Wigan, Lancashire. 22nd. December, 1851.

The colliery was the property of A.F. Haliburton and was variously called the Deep Pit, the Arley Mine and Brown’s Pit and was situated near Hindley Station.

On Monday morning about half-past five, upwards of one hundred men and boys descended the shaft. About six o’clock there was a tremendous explosion of firedamp which caused great concern and anxiety in the neighbourhood. When the alarm had subsided a number of the surviving colliers and pitmen went to work and recovered thirteen bodies which were conveyed to their homes in Hindley by eleven o’clock.

Those who lost their lives were:

  • Robert Davies aged 25 years who left a widow and four small children, the eldest about eleven years of age. He was blown a considerable distance from his place of work.
  • Joseph Topping aged 39 years left a widow and four children.
  • John Topping aged 15 years and Henry Topping aged 11 years both drawers and sons of Joseph.
  • Henry Meadows aged 25 years, left a pregnant widow and one child.
  • John Hiram or Aran aged 45 years left a pregnant widow and six children.
  • Elisha Hiram or Aran, aged 15 years, drawer, his son.
  • John Whittle aged 47 years, left a widow and six children.
  • Wright Southern aged 15 years, drawer.
  • Matthew Edge aged 15 years, drawer.
  • James Jolley aged 15 years, drawer.
  • George Pigot aged 65 years, bottom man. He was dreadfully burned and had his head mutilated. He left a widow.
  • Thomas Bushell aged 21 years, bottom man and unmarried.

Another account omits the name Matthew Edge and substitutes Walter Highe.

As the sufferers were brought put Mr. Wright and Mr. Fisher, surgeons were in attendance and rendered every assistance that they could. At about a quarter past five a boy named Robert Banks went down the shaft with his collier Robert Davies and the boy, who survived said that the underlooker, George Pigot had been down from four o’clock to examine the south-west workings in which the explosion took place. Banks went with Davies and others about 550 yards from the pit eye. As soon as the tun was filled with coal, he was sent away with it and having gone about 150 yards towards the shaft, he, his little brother and some other boys sat down on the shunt and had been talking for about ten minutes when the explosion took place. The air rushed past them with such force that the iron rails were torn up and broke them into pieces. One of these fragments slightly wounded his ear and the blast forced him against the side of the level. His skin was peppered with small coal fragments.

Before Banks left Davies he heard him tell John Whittle that he should want “yon road dressing. That it would be safer to draw through and that he must get it done as soon as he could.” Whittle said it would take him all day. Davies then told Pigot and Bushell to take props out of some other disused workings from which the coal had been exhausted. Banks believes the men went to do this and thinks that when the props were removed the roof fell, liberating gas which went onto the men’s candles.

Banks also related his rescue of a younger brother. He said:

I started t get to the bottom of the shaft as soon as I coupled and when I had gone on a bit, I bethought me of my little brother and I thought the little chap should not be left behind. So I turned back and as well as the sulphur and chokedamp would let me. I called to him but he made no answer. As I was s going along, I felt something lay hold of me and soon found it was my brother. I carried him with me to the bottom of the shaft and we were both almost spent.

The inquest was held at the Red Lion Inn, Hindley before Mr C Driffield and after a long and exhaustive inquiry the jury returned a verdict of “Accidental Death”.


The Illustrated London News 27th December 1851.
Manchester Guardian.

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

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