NEW BOSTON. Haydock, Lancashire. 16th. July, 1905.

The colliery was one of a group known as the Haydock Collieries and owned by Richard Evans and Company of Haydock. The accident occurred at the colliery which claimed five lives. The men were engaged in repairing a brow in the Ravenhead Delf on a Sunday. The road which was fifteen feet wide had been falling and under repair for about a week. They were putting a large baulk of timber across the road to complete the timbering when another fall occurred burying all five and two others.

There had been a certain difficulty at the colliery in a place where water had been finding its way from old workings and weaken of the roof the place is about 300 yards from the pit eye. The roof there was known to be dangerous and Mr. Sam Cook, the experienced undermanager, arranged to go down on Sunday when coal getting was suspended. Fourteen men accompanied him to secure the roof and his two brothers, James and Harry, they began work at 6 a.m. and in two parties some distance from each other the were replacing old props with new timber. All seemed to be going well when between 1 and 2 p.m. the centre of the roof came down and a group of eight men who were fixing heavy baulks into position most of them were buried under the enormous mass of many tons weight. The unfortunate ones were on the outside of the area and the alarm quickly went out with the terrible news went through the village and soon brought hundreds of anxious enquiries to the pit.

There were quickly twenty volunteers and Mr. Robinson, the manager and other officials soon arrived to direct the operations. Drs. Heywood, Thompson and Bromley were soon on the scene to give medical attention. Of the eight men working at the spot where the all took place the one least hurt was just on the edge of it. He was Henry Naylor of 6, Liverpool Road, Ashton who was knocked down but was able to get up and walk to the bottom of the shaft and on being drawn up he went home on a tram. Wright Pimblett, of 21, Nelson Street, Earlestown was badly hurt and unable to free himself and on the other side of the fall Naylor could hear one of the Cook’s shouting for help. This was Harry Cook of Blackbrook who badly injured and lay on his left side with his leg held fast. He had to lye for hours before the rescuers could reach him and five others must have been killed instantaneously.

The rescuers worked in great danger to themselves from other falls and with all possible spaced but it was about six in the evening when he was feed and taken up the shaft he was taken to the Cottage Hospital. Nearly two hours later they got through to the spot where Harry Cook lay. He was removed to the hospital. All through the night and all through Monday the relief men obtained the bodies of Baines and Woolam and early on Monday those of Sam Cook, Waterworth and James Cook were recovered about midnight.

The officials mentioned remained at the pit almost all the time Messrs. Lionel and Charles Pilkington and Mr. Hall the Inspector was there on Monday.

The men who lost their lives were:

  • Samuel Cook, aged 34 years, overmanager, a single man,
  • James Cook, aged 36 years, manager aged 36 years. A married man,
  • Thomas Woolam, aged 47 years, a dataller. Married with six children,
  • Thomas Waterworth also known as Layland, a dataller aged 42 years. A married man with twelve children
  • Daniel Burn aged 42 years, a dataller with seven children.

The inquest was held at the Waggon and Horses by Mr. Brighouse, the County Coroner and evidence of identification was taken. Daniel Baines and Thomas Woodland were both identified by Mrs. Baines and Mrs. Woolam, Mr Johnson, the general manager of Richard Evans and Company said he knew Samuel Cook, Layland and Waterworth. He also knew James Cook. Mrs. Cook lived close by the colliery.

The funerals of the victims took place yesterday afternoon The two Cooks were buried at Newton the service being taken by Reverend Allatt. Baines was a member of the Bible Class at Haydock and was interred at Haydock Churchyard, Woolam and Waterworth at Ashton.

Mr. Cook, a retired colliery manager, of 369, Church Road, identified the bodies of his two sons James and Samuel. The coroner asked Mr. Cook if he would like to attend the inquest and asked any questions and Mr. Cook said that he would. Jane Cook, of 34, Vista Road, Earlestown identified the body of he husband James. Elizabeth Waterworth of Penny Lane identified her husband aged 43 years the bodies of Woolam and Baines had previously been identified.

The Coroner said that a great mass of roof fell and buried the men alive. Thomas Stocks, of Penny Lane, said he was a fireman at the colliery for twenty-two years. On Sunday he went to work at 5 a.m. and was in charge of the work until Samuel Cook came at 11 a.m. The work was being carried out in the Wigan Five Foot Ravenhead Mine. At the end of the jig brow, there was a place where the coal had been taken but had never been filled up with dirt. The level had begun to sink on the Monday and there had been repairs during the whole of the week. There were fifteen men on the job on Sunday working in two places. Up to 10.30 when the witness had been in charge the place had been made safe and there was no extra weight on the props.

The accident happened at about 1.30. When Cook came on he said that they would put up a baulk to strengthen the place. They did not get the baulk into position and Cook said they would have to get some more dirt put to get it up. He came away and went to the landing he did not know what had happened he heard someone say that the timber was giving way and he heard Sam Cook shout “Tom”. The witness rushed to the place. Cook was very capable and knew what he was doing and there was no suspicion that the timbering was not strong enough but if Cook had thought it so he would have put up more timber. The coroner said that he did not think that Mr Cook who was in charge of his own safety and the lives of others would do anything that was not in their interests. He said that he did not view an accident by the magnitude of the calamity.

Mr. Robinson said that Henry Cook who was in the Cottage Hospital could attend the inquest as the Doctor had given his permission. Mr. James Cook said that he had seen his son and he was only too anxious to come and tell the coroner what he knew of the accident. Mr. Cook said that he had seen his son Henry and also Wright in the hospital on Monday morning and he gave a detailed and very straight forward story. He said he was at the back end of the fall and in order for the rescue party to get him they had to strip coal off the face. He had been held down by timber from 8.30 am to nearly 8 p.m.

At the time of the accident, the men that were buried were standing under the timber some moving dirt and some stripping off the sides to get the baulk round. Sam Cook went in and said that the bars moving and called for a jack at once. He had just got the words out when he was struck by one of the bars behind the ear and the shoulder and it knocked him partly away from the fall. Harry was struck by one of the bars Baines was struck down close to his feet and pinned by the neck and killed. Samuel had been undermanager for eight years he had worked nowhere else except that place. The pit was sunk in 1852 and 1853.

The Coroner said that the work was carried out by an experienced man who was intelligent enough to see that the work was carried pout properly and the employers had provided sufficient materials to do the work. The Coroner went on to express the sympathy of the village to Mr. Cook who had lost two sons. They all knew that the work was of a dangerous character and they all appreciated the way in which Lancashire colliers did their work. They knew that the men descended the shaft with their lives in their hands and extended the deepest sympathy and he wanted everyone to know that the inquiry was a deep searching one.

The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental Death” and expressed their sympathy with the relatives of the deceased.


Colliery Guardian, 21st July 1905, p.93, 25th August, p. 276.
Prescot Reporter.
Wigan Examiner.
Newton and Earlestown Guardian.

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

Return to previous page