INCE HALL. Wigan, Lancashire. 30th. November, 1847.

There had been very heavy rain during November and the River Douglas, which was usually between eighteen inches and two feet deep but the rain had swelled it into a torrent, eight or nine feet deep. The river burst its banks and some of the water found its way into old workings and then into the new workings and four men, two boys and twelve horses were trapped and drowned.

The old workings were between 10 to 12 feet down and the current workings were 200 yards down. The flooding of the workings was put down to “the intermediate owners who had robbed the barriers that had been left for the additional coal.” There were over 600 colliers thrown out of work in the area and the shafts were flooded to a depth of between 40 and 60 yards.

There was great concern for those who were trapped underground and the families of the men that were thrown out of work were thrown on the Poor Law. A meeting of colliers, which was attended by about 500, was addressed by two colliers, Ingham and Bury. The result of the meeting was s that a petition was drawn up and sent to Parliament asking for help for the area. The petition read:

To the Honorable House of Commons and Parliament assembled.

The Humble petition of the undersigned residing in and near Wigan, the wives, children, relatives, and friends of the four men and two boys now in Lower Patricroft, humbly submit that on Tuesday and Wednesday last the water of the River Douglas broke into holes and overflowed into the Lower Patricroft and were the men were then working John Rutter the older, John Rutter the younger, Mathew Bates, Thomas Ruck, John Sherry and Michael Underwood, colliers. These six were not able to get out of the pit but whether dead or alive the petitioners can not tell. The rush of water had been so great that the engines of the coal masters have not been able to keep down the water with the present engine power to raise out the water and block them over will take months. We implore the House to send down some more engine power to raise the water and block the river for the opinion is that the six may be out of the water but not able to get to a shaft and that by great exertions their lives can be saved.

There was little hope for the men and there is no record that the Honorable Members did anything to help the Wigan colliers.


Annals of Coal Mining. Galloway. p.148.
Mining Journal. Vol. xvii, p.478, 489, 580, 583.
Dunns’ Winning and Working, 1848, p.234.

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

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