PENDLETON. Pendleton, Lancashire. 6th. February, 1870.

The colliery was owned by Andrew Knowles and Sons and the explosion took place in the Albert mine causing the deaths of nine men and boys. The colliery employed about 400 men and boys and had the reputation of being a well-ventilated mine that was free from firedamp. Mr. Samuel Horrocks was the manager.

At 10.30 a.m. Jonathan Chapman, fireman, who had worked at the colliery for 12 years and was a well known and skilled workman was working in the No.2 level in the Crombuke Seam. He had holed the coal to about two feet nine inches deep but his shot had blown out, failed to bring down the coal and caused the explosion. All the men and boys working in the district were burned and those who died later either at home or in the Salford Royal Dispensary.

Those who lost their lives were:

  • John Chapman aged 38 years, shotfirer.
  • James Thorp aged 18 years, day man.
  • Richard Hutchinson aged 33 years, day man.
  • William Walford aged 14 years, wagoner.
  • James Redford aged 16 years, wagoner.
  • Joseph Ashton aged 14 years, wagoner.
  • John Redford aged 40 years, miner.
  • John Williams aged 28 years, miner.
  • William Edward Green aged 15 years, wagoner.

The inquest took place before Mr. F. Preece. Charles Briggs, the night fireman stated that he left the pit after his inspection at 6.30 a.m. and had inspected Radford’s place at about 6 a.m. and found no sign of gas.

Edward Roberts was working with his step-son, William Walford near Radford’s place. The boy had just left him with a wagon of coal and was returning through the narrow place as the shot was fired. Edward felt a wind and heard the boy cry out, “Father”, he ran down the brow shouting, “Bill”, but he got no reply. The place was in darkness but he felt some prone bodies, heard groans and someone praying but the afterdamp was very strong and he had to leave the place and only just managed to get to the shaft.

Daniel Evans was in the Albert mine at the time of the blast and but he heard a lad calling, “Daniel help me. I am on fire”. Evans was guided in the dark by the red smouldering of the lad’s waistcoat and trousers and he pulled the lad out.

Mr. Dickinson, the Inspector asked the jury to consider if there had been firedamp present to assist the flame, to examine the method of putting powder on to the stemming of a shot and to consider how far workmen should go when a shot was fired, the jury was out for half an half and returned the following verdict:

The men met their deaths accidentally from a powder flame and consequences of the shot being blown out. With reference to the Inspector’s points, we do not consider there was any inflammable gas. We have no means of suggesting how powder could be stowed at the top of a hole and we recommend that men should be at least 50 yards away when a shot is fired.

Mr. Joseph Dickinson, the Inspector commented:

Looking at the place where the shot was fired and seeing that it was on the inner side of some sheeting, where the air current was diverted into some upbrow workings, I am of the opinion that the air on this part of the level was impregnated with firedamp and that the flame of the blown out shot became thereby intensified and extended. The deceased were all either in or near the level, and not more than twenty-eight yards from the shot. The men in the upbrow workings all escaped.


Mines Inspectors Report, 1870. Mr. Joseph Dickinson.

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


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