NORLEY, Wigan, Lancashire, 24th. April, 1852.

The colliery was the property of Reece Bevean and the Duke of Bridgewater. There were two shafts 480 feet deep and workings that ran to the east and the west. The accident happened in the Engine Pit on a Friday night when most of the colliers had left the pit an explosion claimed twelve lives. There was conflicting evidence as to how the pit was lit. Moses Cureton, the underlooker said that there were only locked lamps used and naked lights were not allowed in the pit but Peter Greenall, collier, said he had worked in the pit for about six months. James Atherton worked in the place below his and John Atherton in the place above. On the day of the explosion he left his place about 3 a.m., his days work finished. As he was coming out of the pit he saw his drawers going back to the place to clear some coal and he also saw Hitchen and Atherton still at work with their lamps open. He spoke to them but said nothing about the lamps.

Those who died were:

  • James Greenall aged 14 years,
  • Edward Greenall aged 15 years,
  • James Atherton, collier, John Atherton, collier,
  • Hitchen, collier and seven others.
  • Peter LEADBEATER, aged 33, Drawer
  • Thomas HITCHEN, aged 15
  • Edward GREENHALL, aged 14
  • Thomas ASHURST, aged 13
  • Robert ROBY, aged 12
  • Joseph HITCHEN, aged 11
  • John LOWE, aged 11
  • James GREENHALL, aged 15
  • William ATHERON, aged 13
  • William HUYTON, aged 13

The inquest was held before Mr. Driffield, Coroner at the Red Lion, Lamberhead Green. Mr. Wynne, the Inspector was present. Geoffrey Bannister, drawer to John Atherton for nine weeks said that he was with Atherton in his place and Atherton had taken the top off his lamp. The lamps had been open all day as Atherton had removed the top when he started work. The lamp was not locked.

The jury stated that according to the evidence their verdict was “Accidental Death” but at the same time, they were strongly of the opinion there had been mismanagement in carrying out the workings. They commented on the conflicting evidence of the lights in the mine and recommended that Mr. Wynne’s suggestions that there should be only locked lamps in the mine.


Inspectors Report, 1852.
The Wigan Gazette, 7th May 1852, 14th May 1852.
The Mining Journal, 1st May 1952.

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

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