PENDLETON. Pendleton, Lancashire. 4th. November, 1925.

Pendleton Colliery was the property of Messrs. Andrew Knowles and Sons, Limited and had two shafts each 510 yards deep to the Rams Seam. Coal had been brought from these shafts for more than 75 years at the date of the accident and the distance to the working faces to the dip stood at more than 3,000 yards. There was one main engine brow which started in the seam near the bottom of the downcast shaft and continued to the full dip for a distance of a mile. Near this point, two levels were turned, one to the East and the other to the West. From points 40 to 50 yards along the East and West Levels, known as No.12 East and No. 12 West Levels, slants had been driven to the dip. That from No. 12 West Level was known as the West Slant and was 475 yards long and that from the East Level, the East Slant was 640 yards long. No.14 West level had been driven off the West Slant and it was working the dip side of this level. It was here that the accident occurred on the 4th. November 1925. There was a brown known as Morris’s Brow which extended from No.14 West Level to the dip for a distance of 60 yards and two levels were driven off this brow, known as Morris’s Level and Bramwell’s Level which turned away and had a face of 30 to 40 yards. It was bounded on the other side by a downthrow fault and was being worked in an easterly direction. The seam at this face was 6 feet thick and 3,550 feet from the surface.

On the day of the accident, the mine was generally idle but a shift of 17 men was working in or about No.14 West level. This shift consisted of a fireman, Thomas Barnes, three repairers, seven colliers, a filler and five haulage hands.

The district had been inspected by the night fireman prior to the men commencing work and the day fireman. Barnes made an inspection of the levels and faces in Morris’s Brow abut 8.30 a.m. when he found everything in good condition. He stated that:

The timber was set right there was no gas anywhere the ventilation was going all right and the roof and sides were safe.

When Barnes was in the No.14 West Level about 10 a.m. and returning towards Morris’s brow from Clement’s brow where he had left three men to do repairs, the accident occurred, Barnes said:

I heard a loud report then I felt the dust and a sudden gush of air.

 Two men, David Seabridge and George Hassell who were at work when the upheaval occurred gave evidence as follows:

I David Seabridge was on Bramwell’s Level about 5 yards from the coal face, when without warning, there was a loud report and I was thrown several yards in an outbye direction along the level, My body was hit by several small pieces of dirt. The floor lifted and I saw a big red flash. All the lamps went out.

Hassell said:

I was in the act of putting a tally on a tub which was standing on the plate at the face of Morris’s Level when the upheaval occurred. I was standing on the outbye side of the tub and would be about 2 yards from the coal face, with one arm over the end of the tub. Everything was quite quiet when suddenly I was picked off my feet just as though you were stood on a plank and someone snatched the plank from under you.

The accident consisted of the upheaval of the floor along the whole length of the face from the downthrow fault at the dip end to the level airway at the rise end and was confined to the area between the coal face and the goaf except at the inner end of Bramwell’s level. Firedamp was given off and found by fireman Barnes on No.14 Level about 70 yards in the inbye side of Morris’s Brow. His lamp was extinguished but he was able to continue on his way and dilute the gas by breaking a pipe supplying compressed air to a small haulage engine at the top of Morris’s Brow and allowed the air to flow freely. Later, a lamp that was still alight was found near the bottom of Morris’s Brow. This proved that the gas that had been given off had not been present in any quantity in the neighbourhood of the lower level.

Mr. David Coatesworth, H.M. Inspector of Mines, who had made 15 visits to the colliery between 25th January and 30th September 1925, had found no firedamp on any of these occasions. There had been similar accidents at the colliery though there had been no loss of life. Mr. J.T. Browne, General Manager of Messrs. Andrew Knowles and Sons Limited gave the inquiry details of these previous accidents.

The natural conditions and methods of working the Rams Seam at Pendleton Colliery were as follows. The Rams Seam was 6 feet thick and several crumps had been experienced at a depth of over 3,000 feet and at 3,550 feet where the crump of November 1925, occurred. The strata immediately overlying the Rams Seam consisted of a tough shale 35 to 50 feet thick which was interspersed with bands of ironstone. The floor beneath the seam was of warrant or shale about 3 feet thick with streaks of coal near the base which lay of the Little Rams Seam, 2 feet 6 inches thick. Under the Little Rams Seam was a floor of very hard grey sandstone rock.

Small faults, generally with southerly downthrow were frequently met in the workings. They ran roughly parallel with the strike and so roughly parallel to the Level in the mine and at right angles to the Brows. The cleat, or main cleavage, to joint planes in the measures, ran approximately North West to south east. The coal was worked by driving of brows to the dip of which levels were turned off to the left and the right, the coal so opened out being worked to the rise. Coal had been worked at right angles to the strike, end-on, particularly below the No. 14 West and the No.15 East Levels. There was little gas in the working and the big red flash that was seen was not thought to have been caused by the ignition of the gas.

When the Inspectors examined the face where the crump took place they found that the very hard rock below the Little Rams Seam was not broken and they came to the conclusion that the warrant underlying the Little Rams Seam was thrust violently upwards and this was responsible for the damage and the loss of life. The roof remained intact except for small fractures from which a small amount of gas escaped.

Those who lost their lives were:

  • Samuel Corbett,
  • Stephen Morris,
  • Edward Ditchfield,
  • Frank Bramwell,
  • Robert Hanrahan,
  • Radcliffe Holden.


Report of the committee appointed to investigate the causes of and circumstances attending the accident which occurred at Pendleton Colliery, Lancashire on the 4th November 1925, and to suggest means of preventing such accidents.

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

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