VICTORIA PIT. Dukinfield, Lancashire. 23rd. February, 1848.

The colliery was the property of Messrs. Swire and Lees. The pit was the deepest in the neighbourhood and great pains had been taken to stop the men working with candles but the attempts had failed. It was thought that someone went into an old part of the mine with a candle. Seven lost their lives in the explosion and several others were seriously injured.

At the inquest on four of the deceased, which was held before Mr. Hudson, Coroner, at the Slape Tavern, Dukinfield, the underground steward and surveyor. Charles Turner said:

The depth of the shaft was 345 yards and from the bottom, there was a down brow 300 yards long and they had gone north from the bottom of that brow, 542 yards. At the end of this there was a jig brow 65 yards up and 13 yards up the jig brow there was another level 13 yards long. There was another level about 80 yards and this is where the accident happened. Mr. Turner went on to say that there was no danger in that part of the pit until they cut through into the gob. It was known that caution was required from the workmen while they were doing this and they were provided with safety lamps. The colliery had rules that the workmen would be fined if they did not use lamps after they had been cautioned to do so. The two Aspdens were employed in driving a level above the horse road and they had to drive into a part where the coal had been got and where it was known that firedamp had accumulated. The person working next to them was Levi Broadbent who was cutting a “thrill” from his level to the level above. Richard Bradshaw was driving above Broadbent. James Mayers was a waggoner for Bradshaw and was hooking a tub on the jig brow when the accident occurred. George Stansfield, James Smith and William Green were also at work on the same brow but on the other side and William Stansfield was on the horse road. It was the two Aspdens who broke through to where the inflammable was and it was well known to all that would have to carry their lamps while the gas was carried off in the ventilating air.

John Daniel Burton of Newton Wood, the underlooker took up the story. He knew the place where the explosion took place and had been down the pit measuring up only an hour before and was in the pit when it took place a little after dinner. He saw the Aspdens at work with safety lamps and saw Levi Broadbent and his son and measured their work. He noted that Broadbent and Mayer were working with candles. The air was good and he told them to use lamps as soon as the Aspdens got through into the gob. He cautioned the Aspdens and told them when they got through to stop the hole and inform the others. Burton helped to get the bodies out and found the Broadbent’s lamps both with their tops off and there was other evidence of lamps found with their tops off after the explosion.

The Coroner then commented on the evidence and explained the law with reference to manslaughter and that it would be for the jury to consider where the neglect had been. The jury withdrew for about twenty minutes and the foreman announced that they had formed a verdict of “Accidental Death”.


Annals of Coal Mining. Galloway. Vol.2, p.83.
Mining Journal. Vol. xviii p.97.
Mining Almanack for 1849.
Manchester Guardian.

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

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