ARDSLEY MAIN. Barnsley, Yorkshire. 5th. March, 1847.
The colliery, which was also known as the Oaks, was owned by Messrs. Firth Barber and Company and worked the eight feet Barnsley Main coal and the workings were scattered in various directions which were ventilated by one unbroken current of air that went from one district to the next and then to the upcast shaft. The air was first conducted to the north workings, circulated around the goaf and then to the working places.
The explosion, in which seventy-three lives were lost, appeared to have originated on the north-west rise side of the large south goaf which was near the edge of the fault which passed through the middle of the main level. The force of the explosion extended to the north-west of this goaf up to and around the shafts so that the whole of the ventilation in the mine was stopped. It was in this district surrounding the shafts that the great loss of life occurred from the effects of the afterdamp.
Two men were working on the platform suspended in the shaft and a number of stones fell on the men and one was killed on the spot. Three days later 66 bodies had been recovered. The mutilated remains of William Walton was recovered on the 15th and those of Abraham Matthews were not recovered until the 18th.
Those who died were:
- Robert Hessle aged 31 years, left a wife and two children.
- William Wroe aged 41 years, left a wife and four children.
- John Hough aged 30 years, left a wife and three children.
- James Brown aged 50 years, left a wife and three children.
- Peter Day aged 45 years, left a wife and three children.
- William Addy aged 26 years, left a wife and two children.
- Richard Cooke aged 25 years, left a wife and child.
- Abraham Holland aged 32 years, left a wife and four children.
- George Hartley aged 43 years, left three orphan children.
- Isaac Lindley aged 30 years, left a wife and two children.
- James Galloway aged 26 years, left a wife and child.
- Ezra Winter aged 27 years left two orphan children.
- Joseph Steel aged 24 years, left a wife and two children.
- Samuel Lindley aged 28 years, left a wife and three children.
- John Littlewood aged 23 years, left a wife and two children.
- George Dyson aged 37 years, left a wife and child.
- George Billington aged 22 years, left a wife and two children.
- Joseph Turton aged 36 years, left a wife and two children.
- Richard Hodgson aged 32 years, left a wife and three children.
- George Gilberthorpe aged 24 years, left a wife.
- George Matthewman aged 28 years, left a wife and four children.
- James Whiteley aged 42 years, left a wife.
- William Walton aged 30 years, left a wife and child.
- Abraham Matthews aged 45 years, left a wife and six children.
The single men and boys:
- Thomas Brown aged 18 years.
- Matthew Lindley aged 23 years.
- William Kirk aged 21 years.
- Matthew Denton aged 15 years.
- Francis Birtles aged 12 years.
- William Carlton aged 10 years.
- George Bedford aged 17 years.
- Thomas Foundhere aged 15 years.
- William Wroe aged 21 years.
- Luke Wroe aged 11 years.
- John Day aged 15 years, son of Peter.
- Vincent Matthews aged 15 years.
- John Galloway aged 22 years.
- George Parker aged 13 years.
- Joseph Fearnley aged 20 years.
- John Cooke aged 20 years.
- John Hitchen aged 14 years.
- John Woodcock aged 15 years.
- John Buckley aged 24 years.
- Thomas Beardshall aged 13 years.
- Richard Beardshall aged 18 years.
- James Chadwick aged 15 years.
- Richard Chadwick aged 17 years.
- Joseph Woodhead aged 13 years.
- John Gelder aged 11 years.
- Charles Haigh aged 23 years.
- Aaron Hobson aged 26 years.
- James Turton aged 13 years.
- Joseph Gilberthorpe aged 18 years.
- John Wainwright aged 11 years.
- George Sedgewick aged 13 years.
- David Woodhead aged 11 years.
- Robert McLear aged 19 years.
- John Harper aged 16 years.
- George Steel aged 31 yeras.
- Charles Steel aged 27 years.
- Daniel Mellor aged 19 years.
- George Hinchcliffe aged 28 years.
- John Peach aged 17 years.
- Edward Stansfield aged 22 years.
- John Jessop aged 17 years.
- George Clayton aged 23 years.
- John Wroe aged 15 years.
- William Whiteley aged 16 years.
- George Whiteley aged 16 years.
- John Riley aged 23 years.
At the inquest into the disaster, Joseph Littlewood of Cliff Bridge, the fireman said that he had charge of the inspection of the pit before the men went down. About three o’clock on the morning of the accident, he saw that the fire in the cupola was in order and then went into the workings with a safety lamp to test for gas. a signal was used to warn men of a dangerous place but he found the pit in perfect order and allowed the men to come down. he had been in the pit until a few moments before the accident.
The Coroner summed up the evidence and the jury brought in the verdict that:
We are of the opinion that efficient Regulations are not enforced in this district to prevent the use of naked lights in parts of coal mines where inflammable gas is known to exist and are further of the opinion that the recurrence of accidents involving so large a loss of human life, demands the immediate attention of Her Majesty’s Government and would justify Parliament in framing such a code of regulations as would give greater security to persons employed in mining operations and request the Coroner to forward their sentiments to the Secretary of State for the Home Department.
At the inquest, the men stated that they thought the ventilation of the colliery was good but this was because it was directed in one current. The men also stated that explosive gas was frequently found in the workings. The men were allowed to work with naked lights at their own discretion.
Annals of Coal Mining. Galloway. Vol.2, p.63.
Mining Journal. Vol. x, p.110, 125, Vol. xviii, p.60.
Lodge’s Almanack, 1915.
Mayall’s. Annals of Yorkshire. p.39.
The Illustrated London News.
The Report of the Select Committee on Accidents in Coal Mines, 1853.
Information supplied by Ian Winstanley and the Coal Mining History Resource Centre.Return to previous page