HAMSTEAD. Great Barr, Staffordshire. 4th March 1908.

The colliery was beside the Birmingham and Walsall Branch of the London and North-Western Railway about five miles from Birmingham and had two shafts from which The Thick of ten-yard coal, which was the main seam in the Staffordshire coalfield was worked. When this seam was won, the shafts were sunk a little below it and the downcast shaft was 15 feet in diameter and the upcast 12 feet in diameter. Later, both shafts were filled for a distance until they were just below the “Brooch Coal” level. This seam was only 2 feet 6 inches thick and occupied a horizon about 40 yards above the Thick Coal so that the depth of both the shafts was practically the same at 580 yards. The main road was driven for some distance from the shaft, in the Brooch Coal, so that a great part of the road was in rock as the seam was thin.

The Thick Coal was approached by two sets of roads driven a short distance to the north and south from the downcast shaft and then turned to the east. These served as intakes and haulage roads and the main return airways of the so-called north and south side workings respectively. After going for about 600 yards, the intake and return roads of the north side started to dip at 1 in 5 for a distance of about 200 yards when they entered the Thick Coal. In the communication road between the two shafts were four doors, three of wood and one constructed of iron, which separated the intake from the main return.

The coal was worked on the “wide” or “square work” which was the common manner in Staffordshire. The main stables in the mine were known as the “Rock” stables in which there were stalls for about 22 horses and ponies. These stables were about 400 yards from the bottom of the downcast shaft. The north side stables, were known as the “Jubilee” stables, had accommodation for six to eight animals, and were about 1200 yards inbye from the bottom of the downcast shaft. There were other stables for the south workings. The Rock stables were the nearest to the shaft and the Jubilee were furthest inbye.

The Inspector, Mr. R.A.S. Redmayne, found the ventilation of the mine was satisfactory with between 70,000 to 72,000 cubic feet per minute passing down the downcast shaft under normal conditions. The air current was produced by a Guibal fan which had been bought second-hand in 1886 and placed at the top of the upcast shaft. The fan was 36 feet in diameter, had eight blades, 11 feet 6 inches wide and under normal conditions produced a water gauge of 1.75 inches. At the bottom of the upcast there was a furnace which assisted the fan to produce the necessary ventilation and in each of the two main return airways there was a fire grate. The one on No.4 East was 620 yards inbye and the other one was 430 yards inbye. These grates had been in use for two or three years and Mr. Grazebrook, the Director of the colliery, stated that they were installed to dry the air. He said:

The air coming through these “brooch” roads saturated with moisture started the rocks to give way, and it is a very difficult job to maintain these roads as we would wish then to be maintained we put these grates in.

The inquiry pointed out that these grates would no assist the ventilation of the colliery and whatever was intended by the management, the fact remained that to get efficient ventilation it was necessary to have one ventilating furnace underground at the bottom of the upcast shaft, the two small furnaces inbye and a ventilating fan at the top of the upcast shaft. The fire grates were not used at the time of the accident. a week before, a timber fire had been broken out in the South side, No.4 East return about 150 yards to the outbye of the “grate”. In endeavouring to put out this fire the undermanager, Mr. Hughes had lost his life. The return had been damped off to stop the re-ignition of the fire and, as a result, the ventilation to the South side had been considerably curtailed.

The fire that caused the loss of life, originated on 4th March. The cages were treble-decked and, to allow all three docks to be filled with coal tubs, a kind of simultaneous loading was sin operation. to carry this out steel girders had been constructed, the stages connected by drop cages. The coal from the South level came in on the level of the middle deck so only that and the bottom deck of the cage could be loaded on that side, but on the north side it came on to the top deck level, so all three decks could be loaded. The staging on the North side was therefore of a greater length than on the South side.

Firedamp was rarely found in the Thick Coal collieries in Staffordshire and candles were used by the men throughout the mine. on the top level on the South side staging, was wooden candle box, 4 feet 6 inches long and 2 feet 6 inches deep and 3 feet wide which held a day’s supply of candles. With the exception of the stallmen, all the workmen received their da’s supply of candles from this box which were known as “Company’s candles” and were provided to all who were on contractors The stallmen, who were contractors for getting the coal, had different coloured candles and obtained them at the surface, paying for them themselves

A short distance from the box there was an electric light with a reflecting shade which was placed so the candle box and its interior could be plainly seen. On the South side of the staging on the evening of the fire, a few tubs containing dirt were standing but according to Dolan, the timekeeper, there were between 30 and 40 tubs containing coal on the north side.

Electrical signal and telephone wires were carried down the downcast No.1 shaft and the telephone was just outside the door of an underground cabin or office on the South side which communicated with the surface and the haulage road. The electric light wires for lighting were also carried down the shaft. No signal or electric wires were brought down the upcast shaft since it was a furnace shaft and the only way of signalling directly up this shaft, supposing the cage was working correctly, was to bang on the guide ropes. The ordinary and proper means of signalling were to signal electrically thorough the road with the separation doors and up the No.1 shaft. The signals up this shaft were transmitted at the surface of No.1 shaft to the engine House of No.2 shaft.

On Monday, March 2nd, the telephone system was out of order and there was no evidence to show that it had been repaired by the afternoon. Frank Dolan, the timekeeper at the pit bottom said that they had no occasion to use it in the afternoon but stated that he used it on Wednesday evening.

A water pipe was carried down the No.1 shaft and was attached to a short piece of hose, the end of which was not to be reached except with the help of a ladder. The pipe was fitted with a cock which was also out of reach. The pipe was there to fill water tubs which were then taken inbye for the horses. There was a ladder at the bottom of the shaft to get to the haulage rope sheaves and examine and oil them and to examine and repair the electric lights and signals.

At the time of the accident the mine was being worked by one shaft, the upcast and there was a repairing shift underground. The day or head cager, Joseph Dunkley, who had been stationed at the bottom oft the shaft, came to the surface about 5.15 p.m. when he was relieved by William Carter, the night cager. Dunkley had last been to the bottom of the No.1 shaft at 4 p.m. and he found everything all right, from 4 p.m. to 5.15 p.m. He had been working at the shaft bottom of No.2 shaft, sending men up and receiving the downcoming men.

William Carter came down in the last cage load and with him in the cage were three others, Walter and John Summerfield and a man named Titley. Carter had heard the signals at the surface and on arriving at the pit bottom said to Dunkley, “What is the matter with the signals that have been ringing?”

Dunkley stated, he replied, “There has no one interfered with them down here as I know too.”

Referring to these signals, Carter said:

They rung twice, the banksman told me, and the engineman stopped the cage and then they rung twice for him to lower the cage back, and the engineman did. If they (the men) had travelled as they ought to have done and went straight on forward, these men would have been down before I went down – Summerfield and the others would – they were on the afternoon shift.

All the men except these had gone down and the banksman went to see who was tampering with the signals. He said he got an answer telling him that no one was doing so and Dunkley did not send the signals.

These mysterious signals might have indicated that there was something wrong as the wires went down the downcast shaft, at the bottom of which, the fire took place so a fire could have caused some short-circuiting. It was also conceivable that the defective signalling wires could have caused the blaze. The apparatus had been in use before the signals when Carter was lowered down the shaft and Carter, when he got to the bottom signalled Dunkley and others up and seeing that Donlan had answered the banksman’s queries on the telephone which was in sight of and near the No.1 shaft bottom, no importance was attached to the signals. They could have been given by someone, unobserved by Dunkley interfering with the bell push near No.2 shaft.

When Carter last saw the two Summerfields and Titley, they were going through the separation doors in the road between the two shafts. One of the men with Walter Summerfield, at least, had a safety lamp and none of them had candles and they were going to work on them. This was about five minutes past five. John Summerfield and Titley were working on the north side.

Carter went back to the signal cabin near the bottom of the No.2 shaft and close to the first separation doors. He stayed there for about 25 minutes and there was three cage loads of men to send up before he went to the bottom of the No.1 shaft. he sent up two loads and had only six men left when he saw smoke coming through the connecting roads. The man with him asked where the smoke was coming from and he said that he did not know and asked for men o go with him to see if they could find the cause of the smoke.

Harry Leach went with him and they went through the doors where they found the smoke got worse as they went along. When they got to the last door, which was made of iron, it was thick and strong and they could see very little by the light of the electric light as the smoke rolled along the road. Three men reported that the smell was like wood, grease and oil and the rubber that was the insulation round electric wires. At that time, they could not see if the tubs of coal were burning.

As soon as they got through the door they heard Donlan, Oakley and Webb calling out for the ladder to get at the water tap and turn it on. When the ladder was found Donlan tried to teach the scene of the fire but were prevented from doing so for just at that moment, the electric lights went out and this left them in total darkness.

Carter could see flames at the bottom of the pit but he could get no further than the cages at the far end of the staging on the north side when he was driven back by heat and smoke. as soon as he got to the No.2 cage, the men made a rush for the cage and after remonstrating with them, he sent up eight or nine in the first cage (six was the authorised number) and the remainder, and himself went up in the second. Before he left he went to the cabin and shouted along the roadway but received no answer.

At the time of the accident, Henry Oakley, a day deputy, employed on the North side workings, was at work on the South side. On the evening of the accident he was coming out of these workings with George Webb, haulage man, as they made their way to the No.2 shaft to go to the surface at the end of their days work. This would be about 5.30 when they met William Summerfield who was on his way inbye. Oakley did not notice whether he had safety lamp with him. Summerfield was about ten minutes walk from the bottom of the No.1 shaft. Webb thought Summerfield was carrying a lamp but he was certain that he was carrying a candle. When Oakley and Webb came out towards the No.1 shaft bottom they did not observe any smell of burning or anything that was unusual.

Frank Donlan, the underground timekeeper, was in the underground office on the south side when the fire broke out. At ten minutes to five, he was at the telephone just outside the office door when Oakley and Webb came in. there was short conversation when the telephone rang. Donlan did not answer it at once. He opened the door and there was a rush of smoke. The ringing was also heard at the surface in the undermanagers house. This was between 5.15 p.m. and 5.30 p.m. which was the time of the ignition.

Donlan saw a lot of flames at and under the candle box and Carter Jones, the furnaceman, arrived at the fire about the same time Donlan said:

We were all thunder-struck. I came to the bottom up the steps by the side of No.1 and shouted to the others to keep close to the wall and come as quickly as they could. I went to the ladder where the water pipe is and it was not there. I saw a light and shouted, “Where is the ladder?” Carter’s light went out and the electric light was flickering. He gave me the ladder and I went back, but I could not get to where the tap was, and then the light went out.

They all went through the separation doors and up the No.2 shaft but no one sent a message inbye except Carter’s shout. Carter found that the men at the bottom of the No.2 shaft were panic-stricken.

The first indication at the surface that there was anything wrong was brought by these men. When Oakley got to the surface he went to John Wright’s house. He was the acting undermanager’s house and told him there was a fire at the pit bottom. This was about 6 p.m. Wright changed his clothes and ran across the yard were he saw that volumes of smoke were coming from the upcast shaft and found that he could not stay in the fan-drift because of it.

Donlan had gone to the engine-wright, Ourbridge, who was at the pit bank and asked him if the No.1 shaft engine could be run so that a descent might be made but the engine was dead centre and could not be run. Ourbridge thought it was too dangerous to go down the No.2 shaft and no effort was made to get into the pit until the manager Mr. Waterhouse, who had been telegraphed, arrived at the pit about 7.30 p.m.

On his arrival Waterhouse saw dense volumes of smoke coming from the No.2 shaft and though descent impossible. He called H.M. Inspectors of Mines and at 8.45 p.m. a partially successful was made to descend the No.1 shaft by the manger, undermanager, the engine-wright and some others, six in all. When they got down to within 25 yards of the bottom, they could get no further because of the smoke. They heard falls taking place and when these occurred, hot air was driven up the shaft. Mr. Waterhouse thought that all the woodwork and supports at the inset were burned out and this was the cause of the falls. There could be no doubt that the tubs of coal that were standing at the pit bottom would have been ignited and the heat intense. Unless the men in the working had found some means of short-circuiting the air as feared that they would now be dead. Mr. Waterhouse believed that the men were dead within an hour of the outbreak of the fire. After the fire, it was found that the men had made no attempt to do this.

When he heard of the accident, Ourbridge stopped the fan to slow the force of the air that was going to the fire but when Mr. Waterhouse came up the shaft, he decided that the fire was to some extent smothered by the falls and decided to start the fan at 10 r.p.m. and try another descent down the downcast shaft. They got a little nearer the bottom this time, probably to with 10 yards, but no further. The fan then was run at 22 r.p.m. and a third descent tried but they got no further. Yet another descent was made and this time they heard heavy falls which seemed to be very near the shaft and Mr. Waterhouse feared that the backing of the shaft had gone. Latter this was discovered to be correct.

The atmosphere was improving and a descent of the upcast shaft was attempted. Live rats and birds had been lowered down the shaft to test the atmospheric conditions. The manager, Jones and Westwood made a successful descent and got as far as the communication road in which the four separation doors were fixed. They decided that it would have been impossible for anyone to have come up the return airway in the smoke.

On coming to the surface they had a consultation with Mr. Grazebrook and the manager as to the possibility of sending for men trained in the use of rescue apparatus and at about 11 p.m. when Mr. Johnstone, H.M. Inspector of Mines for the Stafford District had arrived, they telegraphed for the Yorkshire rescue parties.

Mr. Waterhouse thought that conditions had improved and he, Mr. Johnstone, Ourbridge, Jones and Wright descended the upcast pit, taking with them a linnet in a cage. They found an improvement to the atmosphere and went 80 to 100 yards along the No.2 return where they found the air breathable. They returned because of danger behind them when a large volume of pungent smoke was leaking through the doors, a sign that is the doors were burnt through the smoke would make their return to the shaft impossible.

The first time they went into the communication road, the bird showed signs of distress so they retreated into the return airway where the smoke was more diluted. After a rest Mr. Johnstone and another man, Wright went in again to examine the first separation door. They found it standing almost open and closed it. They tried to stop the leakage with the idea that the atmosphere would be improved and a stopping could be constructed there.

On the surface, the second party, led by the Assistant Inspector of Mines, Mr. Makepeace was able to reach the shaft bottom only. Shortly after, Mr. Johnstone examined the fan drift, he made another descent but he got only two thirds oft he way down. Johnstone said:

Under these conditions, I considered it would be folly to attempt to go further. At the same time, I do not wish it to be understood from this that the air through the whole of the workings was in a poisonous condition. I think what we suffered from was the leakage from the door. The air in the return was more respirable than in the shaft.

The two rescue parties from Yorkshire arrived at the Hamstead colliery the following day about 2.30 p.m. and were made up of James Whittingham, John Welsby, James Cranswick and James Hopwood from the Altofts station who used Weg apparatus, and John Henry Throne, Walter Clifford, John Taylor, Joseph Otram and Arthur James Winborne from the Tankersley station who used Draeger apparatus. Both parties were under the charge of Mr. W.E. Garforth, the Chairman of Messrs. Pope Peason’s Collieries, Yorkshire. Mr. Redmayne in his report commented:

This gentleman, on receipt of the intimation of the accident, used the upmost expedition in reaching the scene of the operations and when there displayed the greatest zeal and energy in organising operations, as well as very materially assisting the management with his valuable advice.

Mr. Garforth explained what he knew of the position underground and showed the brigade the plans of the colliery. The first descent was made at 3.20 p.m. by Whittingham, Hopwood and Cranswick, using Weg apparatus. At 4.24 p.m., they returned to the surface and while underground they had got to the separation doors but when they got to the fourth one, they could go no further on account of the falls which were taking place. Although they could see no flames, they could hear the crackling of a fire. if they had had a water supply, Whitingham thought they might have been able to extinguish the fire. Mr. Redmayne said:

There would have been two difficulties in the way of affecting this:

    1. the steam produced by the operation might have killed them and
    2. the effect of squirting water on the fire might, and in all probability, would have brought about a great fall of roof, if not on top of them, in their near vicinity.

On their way back through the communication road they entered the No.2 east return airway, and went along as far as the rock stables without finding anyone, though they found a cat alive in the return.

They had been a short time in the mine when another party went down the upcast shaft when word was sent that the signal bells were ringing at the downcast shaft so Whittingham, Hopwood and Welsby went down to see what the ringing meant. 50 yards from the bottom they encountered a great deal of smoke and flame and they had to retreat.

The second party to descend the upcast shaft was made up of the manager and two Tankersley men, Thorne and Clifford all wearing Draeger apparatus. It was suggested that they made for the steep bank for Mr. Johnstone said:

I formed an opinion that as the men entombed – the miners – were practically all men experienced in dealing more or less with gob fires, at least some of them would be able to recognise the difference between the smell of smoke and the smell of the atmosphere when it was an ordinary gob fire, and they would see that it was not an ordinary gob fire, but that the smoke was coming from burning timber. That being so, instead of making for the intake airway, as I understand is the usual custom in South Staffordshire under these conditions they would try to escape by the return airway. I got the velocity of the air from Mr. Grazebrook, and I thought it possible that is those men had made a run for it towards the return airway, and had been overtaken by the smoke they might have “pulled down” when climbing the steep bank. The exertion of climbing that bank would intensify the effects of carbon monoxide.

The party was down for one and three-quarter hours, the time allowed for the being one hour twenty minutes. They went through the “bolt hole” and into the Rock stables where they found two horses alive. The manger, Mr. Waterhouse, who was not trained to use the Dreager apparatus, had also been recently suffering from influenza and was exhausted so they could not proceed down the incline. They arrived at the surface at nine minutes past six.

The third party went down at 7.30 p.m. consisting of Welsby and Whittingham who were wearing Weg apparatus and Thorne and Outram with Dreager outfits. When they were about 20 yards from the pit bottom, Outram complained that there was something wrong with his apparatus. After they had gone about 10 yards he complained again so Thorne took him to the surface. As they were leaving, Whittingham remarked to Thorne that he and Welsby would go on and the unexpected him to catch them up. This he said he would do.

Welsby and Whittingham went along the return, resting now and then and looking behind them for Thorne. They had a plan of the mine with them and a bag containing brandy, milk and chocolate in case they found anyone alive. They came to the hill, 600 yards from the return and they found it very hot and smoke-filled and the further they went, the smoke became thicker and it became hotter. The perspiration was streaming off them. Whittingham hammered on the water pipes that were about 800 yards from the shaft but got no response.

Welsby was quite well and wanted to go further but Whittingham would not agree to this. Welsby’s gauge showed that he had 35 atmospheres in each of his oxygen cylinders and Whittingham had 60 in his. Welsby had had a cold for a week and this could have accounted for the greater consumption of oxygen. Whittingham went a further 40 or 50 yards on the return journey when Welsby said, “Jim, I am tired.”

The following conversation then took place:

Whittingham said, “What’s up? You know it’s a hill, this.”

”Yes. Sit down a bit.”

Welsby sat down and started to use his bye-pass. Whittingham said, “What do you want to use the bye-pass for Jack? Don’t do that.”

”I feel funny.”

”What do you feel like?”

”I seem like tired.”

”Come on, we have really gone to the very utmost of the oxygen. You having 70 and me only 120. You know we was relying on going straight back.”

”Aye. Come on then.”

After going only a short distance Welsby wanted to sit down again and remarked that he had no use in his legs. Whittigham took hold of his left hand and helped him along while Welsby used his right hand to pull himself along the floor. They were crawling as there was not enough height to walk and the men were encumbered with the breathing apparatus which weighed about 35lbs. and it was very hot. They struggled up the hill together. By now, Welsby was exhausted and his comrade got hold of him and pulled him for about 50 yards. Welsby had kept using his bye-pass and his oxygen was now exhausted. Whittingham said, “Well Jack what have we to do, have I to stop with you or go for help?”

“Go on Jim”.

”Nay, I don’t like going.”

”Go on,” and his eyes rolled up and down.

”Well, you have no oxygen now. My best plan is to lose your mouthpiece.

Welsby did not reply and Whittingham left him in a kneeling position and left his light on so that he could be found when others came in. Going outbye, Whittingham began to feel ill, even though he had plenty of oxygen and at what he thought was about 20 yards from the pit bottom, but probably was about 80 yards, he met Thorne in an utterly exhausted condition and guided and helped him to the cage. Both men arrived at the surface in a semi-conscious state.

Something had gone wrong with the purifying part of Outram’s apparatus and Thorne had a fresh flask of oxygen fitted to his apparatus. The Weg apparatus was charged with oxygen to 120 atmospheres and the Altofts party brought their force pump with them. The Tankersley men, leaving in a hurry, forgot their pump and had to send to Birmingham to have their cylinders recharged at the British Oxygen Company and the fitting there was not exactly suitable for the purpose as the Dreager apparatus was of foreign manufacture, and they found it impossible to charge the cylinders beyond 90 atmospheres so the time spent in a noxious atmosphere by a man wearing the Draeger apparatus was limited.

Arrangements were made for two men with Weg apparatus to go down and try to reach Welsby. They descended at 9.40 p.m. and returned at 10.50 p.m. They went only 4 or 500 yards when they were compelled to return because of a deteriorating atmosphere. They informed Mr. Johnstone that the smoke was so dense that they could not go even a yard even with an electric light. Their progress was very slow and they feared that their oxygen supply would run out.

A consultation was held and it was decided that it was futile to make further explorations of the workings and it was decided to reverse the air. Welsby was after fund to have died from heatstroke and his death was in no way due to his breathing apparatus.

When Mr. Johnstone arrived at the colliery late on the might of the disaster and heard from Messrs. Grazebrook, Waterhouse, Hughes and Charlton of the condition of the mine at the seat of the fire he had asked what steps had been taken to reverse the air and was told that it had been considered but had been rejected for several reasons. There had been some difficulty with the fan and Johnstone suggested that water could be made to flow into the upcast shaft by damming the overflow from the pump and putting the whole of the water down the shaft. He was told that this idea had been considered and abandoned since just before the accident the engine-wright had reported that two portions of the shaft lining were in need of repair and a sudden cooling of the shaft wall could bring down the walling and close the bottom of the shaft.

There was a doubt in the minds of those controlling the operations about the efficiency of the fan. Mr. Holland, the late manager, had approached the Board of Directors of the colliery with a view of putting in another fan three years before the disaster. The Directors did not agree and told him that they thought it was better to put a new shaft into the old fan. A fan that required two shafts in three years seemed to point to the fact that there was something wrong with it, either the fan or the bearings of the shafts themselves.

The air was eventually reversed by commenting the fan drift with the top of the downcast shaft by means of a trench and a brick arch-way about 60 yards long, covering the top of the shaft so that the fan could exhaust, and uncovering the of the No.2 upcast shaft and converting it to a downcast. The work could have been done in 12 to 18 hours but the brick walling of the No.1 shaft had to be blasted.

The management feared that the fan would not be able to reverse the air and Mr. Garforth sent a sirocco fan fro Altofts Colliery which had been used i the experimental gallery there but the old Guibal fan was started on Monday 9th. March and run at 15 then 30 r.p.m. It was then speeded up to 45 r.p.m. and after running for some time smoke began to come up the shaft.

The men who died were:

  • Joseph Howell, Deputy, 35
  • John Guest, Deputy, 27
  • Charles Summerfield, Stallman, 34
  • William Underhill, Stallman, 48
  • Samuel Mitchell, Stallman, 44
  • Enoch Burton, Loader, 39
  • Joseph Titley, Loader, 25
  • Ernest Jones, Loader, 31
  • Samuel Turner, Loader, 40
  • Edwin Johnson, Loader, 30
  • Henry Watts, Loader, 47
  • Thomas Cole, Loader, 34
  • Alfred Thomas Curtis, Loader, 34
  • A. Williamson, Pikeman, 44
  • John Hodgkiss, Time Keeper, 17
  • John Hodson, Dam Minder, 29
  • William Lawley, Dam Minder, 27
  • John Summerfield, Driver, 26
  • Henry Underhill, Driver, 17
  • James Hancox, Driver, 23
  • Arthur Merrick, Driver, 23
  • James Bradley, Haulageman, 45
  • Thomas Hollyoak, Haulageman, 39
  • Richard Ashton, Haulageman, 33
  • Walter Summerfield, Haulageman, 21

There was a possibility that the 11 men from the north side workings could not get out because the road led through the Jubilee stables and there was evidence that the horses were very frightened and the men could not get passed. Mr. Hughes, the general manager of the Sandwell Park Colliery stated:

I do not think it is a good policy to make the stables on at ravelling road. But I go further than this it seems to be a mistaken policy to have the stables far away from the downcast and upcast shaft bottoms in any case, but especially in a colliery liable to underground fire due to spontaneous combustion. The custom of having stables far removed from the shaft is more prevalent in Staffordshire than elsewhere.

In the report Mr. Redmayne commented:

In view of a previous ignition of the candle box, it is greatly to be regretted that the water pipe was not easily accessible. On this account, if for no other reason, one would have thought that ready means of extinguishing a fire would have been provided at this spot. Had there been, I am of the opinion, that in all probability, the fire would have been extinguished before assuming very large proportions, and this lamentable disaster would have been prevented.

The desirability or otherwise of collieries being fitted with means for readily reversing the ventilating current an and the nature of those means, is a question which is well worthy of the most serious consideration of mining engineers and feeling strongly that much is to be said in favour of the establishment of such means, I cannot in the present state of our knowledge of the subject make a definite recommendation in respect of the same.

As a result of the disaster, the management of the colliery constructed the staging at the bottom of the No.1 shaft from materials that would not burn.


Mines Inspectors Report.
Report on the circumstances attending an underground fire which occurred at the Hampstead Colliery on 4th March 1908 by R.A.S. Redmayne.
Colliery Guardian, 6th March 1908, p.458, 13th March, p. 503, 20th March, p.546, 27th March, p.590, 1st May, p.847, 14th August, p.307.

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

A list of the rescue team

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