LINNYSHAW. Worsley, Lancashire. 27th, February, 1861.

The colliery was the property of the Bridgewater Trustees and nine colliers lost their lives in an explosion in the Rams mine. It was also called the Berry Field Pit after the farmer’s in whose field it was situated. It had been working for about two years and it was known that there was firedamp present and great care was observed in working the mine. There were two shafts about 30 yards apart, an upcast and a downcast. Both shafts were sunk to the same depth and the downcast went to the lower workings and the workings from the upcast shaft were 40 yards above the lower mine.

The explosion occurred at about 1.30 when there were 14 men in the lower pit and 20 in the higher workings. Smoke came up the shaft and an immediate rescue attempt was out of the question. It was also found that the cage was stuck and the signal wires destroyed. A party of volunteers eventually got down the pit and groped their way through a tangled mass of debris.

The first body that they found was very badly mutilated and then they came across William Knight was alive and sent to the surface as quickly as possible. After an hour underground, three of the rescuers became affected by the bad air and lost consciousness. They were Richard Evans, Armstrong, and Jones. They were taken to the surface where they recovered.

One man made his escape through the workings with his coat over his mouth. He found James Lyon lying on his face and he said that he had been blown over by the blast. The man got Lyon on his feet and both made their attempt to get to safety but Lyon fell down and lost his life.

The men who lost their lives were:

  • John Latchford aged 34 years, fireman who had a wife who was in a delicate state of health.
  • Peter Hope, assistant fireman who left a wife.
  • James and William Cooke aged 20 and 17 years, brothers.
  • Edmund Rushton aged 43 years, left a wife and three children.
  • William Crompton aged 16 years,
  • Joseph Wilcock aged 15 years.
  • William Knight aged 19 years, was taken from the pit but later died.

The inquest was held at the Stocks Inn, Worsley by Mr. W.S. Rutter, Coroner. Peter Molyneaux told the court:

I was at the pit eye fetching a wagon when I felt the explosion. I was thrown over but recovered my senses and found my self by the side of a door that led to the tunnel near the pit eye. I opened the door and went into the tunnel as there was safe from harm. Soon afterwards Hassal, Tudge and Seddon came and we sat behind the door for a quarter of an hour when John berry came to us, he had a lamp and after a short time, we got to the pit eye.

The Coroner summed up by observing that the cause of the explosion was doubtful and advised the jury that the only safe verdict that they could reach was to say that the men had died from an explosion the cause of which there was no evidence to show. This the jury did.


The Mines Inspectors Report 1861. Mr. Joseph Dickinson.
The Colliery Guardian, 2nd March 1861. p.136.

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

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