LAFFACK. St. Helens, Lancashire. 23rd. June, 1849.

The colliery was the property of Mr. J.T. Johnson and the explosion killed eight and injured a further nineteen. The shaft was 160 feet deep to the Rushy Park seam. A new shaft had recently been constructed to improve the ventilation which occurred in a slant in which 60 to 70 men were at work. The blast was very violent and the planking was blown off the pit top fatally injuring the banksman. The accident occurred through the “long practiced obstinacy” of one of the colliers who would not work with a safety lamp but used a candle. The owner did not know of the situation but it was well known among the workmen.

Those who died were:

  • J. Derbyshire, banksman,
  • R. Norcross,
  • T. Atherton,
  • J. Molyneaux,
  • J. Bradbury.

Twenty-two others were injured and reports of the time stated that some of them were not expected to survive. A broadside ballad from the time says that seven lost their lives. The ventilation was good and the pit was cleared of afterdamp in about an hour when the bodies were recovered.


Annals of Coal Mining. Galloway. Vol.2, p. 86.
Mining Journal. Vol. xix, p.310, 315.
Mining Almanack for 1850.
The Third Report 1853. p. 178.

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

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