INCE HALL. Middle Patricroft Pit. Hindley, Lancashire. 6th. March, 1849.

The colliery was the property of the Ince Hall Coal and Cannel Company and was known as the Middle Patricroft Pit and was a very short distance from, Messrs. Gidlow’s cotton mill on the road from Wigan to Hindley and about a mile and half from each place. The colliery worked two seams, the Five Foot and the Four Foot. The accident happened in the Five Foot seam, which was from 190 to 200 deep at the pit mouth. The Four Foot was about twenty yards deeper in the shafts. There were two shafts about twenty to thirty yards apart and each served one seam only but communicated for the purpose of ventilating the pit. The downcast was at the Four Foot mine and the upcast at the Five Foot through which the air, after circulating ascended with the smoke of the furnace at the foot of the Five Foot shaft.

About twenty-six hands, the usual number had descended to their work about six in the morning.  After the report of the explosion every effort was made to find out what had happened and the managers of the colliery along with Mr. James Lancaster, one of the firm, descended the pit. From the fact that most of them were found with their clothes on, it was concluded that the explosion occurred almost immediately. Twelve were killed and two seriously injured. Of the dead one died soon after being brought to the surface and one was missing, the rest were found to be dead.

Twelve or thirteen came out of the pit uninjured and some said that in their part of the pit they felt little of the explosion. In a short time, the other parts of the pit were examined and by eleven o’clock eight had been brought put dead. An old man, John Lewis lost three sons in the explosion and he was so dreadfully burned that he died about an hour afterwards. By midday, it was thought that all were out of the pit but a poor woman named Pedar came in search of her husband and said he was still in the pit. Renewed searches were made with no result except for the discovery of his hat and it was decided to make another search when the fumes had cleared from the pit.

From the exploration, it was concluded that the explosion had originated about 300 yards from the shaft but its cause remained a mystery. Ellison, the underlooker stated that he had examined the workings before the men went in and he had reported all was safe and several who got out of the pit said that the air was good and strong.

Those who lost their lives were:

  • Absolom Mather aged 19 years, drawer.
  • William Affleck aged 20 years, collier.
  • John Bennett aged 11 years, drawer.
  • John Swanton aged 18 years, drawer
  • Thomas Boardman aged 19 years, drawer.
  • George Taylor aged 23 years, collier.
  • George Lewis aged 15 years, drawer.
  • Thomas Lewis aged 15 years, drawer. Twin of George.
  • Matthew Lewis aged 13 years, drawer.
  • John Lewis, father of the above three.
  • John Peddar,

Those injured were:

  • Stephen Yates and John Sharples, both badly burnt.

On further investigation, it was found that one of the workmen had gone in with a naked candle against orders of the fireman who had a short time previously out up a firedamp board which no man should pass when they saw it any part of the mine.

At the inquest held before Mr. Heyes at the Walmesley Arms, Ince, John Pedder’s body had been found much more burned than any of the others and it was concluded that he had entered a foul part of the mine with a lighted candle. The jury expressed themselves satisfied with the ventilation of the mine and with the regulations enforced but that the regulations had been sadly neglected by the workmen themselves. They returned a verdict of “Accidental Death”.


Annals of Coal Mining. Galloway. Vol.2, p.85.
Mining Journal. Vol. xix, p.113.
Manchester Guardian.

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

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