BRIGHTSIDE. Sheffield, Yorkshire. 12th. April, 1867.

The colliery was the property of Unwin and Shaw. The day shift left at 4 p.m. and the men came to work on the night shift until the following 4 a.m. The deceased were the first party of the night shift to be lowered down. They got into the cage which was described as a large box or chest with a roof and massive iron bars on the sides to stop the men falling out. There were two cages and as one went down the other came up. Water had been wound for some time and there was no hint that anything was wrong. The engineman lowered the cage and it had gone only a few yards when the rope suddenly snapped and the men fell 200 yards to their deaths.

The men on the pitbrow heard an agonising shriek from the shaft and the next moment the engineman found that the weight had gone off the engine. On arriving at the pit bottom a party found the cage which contained the men in “almost a thousand pieces” and the ascending cage had also fallen. The massive iron bars were twisted and buckled and the bodies horribly mutilated.

Those who died were:

  • Thomas Bates aged 60 years, firetrier
  • George Fox aged 36 years, labourer
  • James Fox aged 42 years, labourer
  • John Goldstraw aged 26 years, collier
  • Joshua Burgin aged 18 years, filler

The inquest was held by Mr. Webster, Coroner at the Bridge Inn. From the evidence at the inquest, there was no blame attached to anyone connected with the colliery but it was supposed to have been caused by a defect in the manufacture of the rope which did not show until it broke and sent the men down the shaft to their deaths.


The Mines Inspectors Report, 1867. Mr. Morton.
The Colliery Guardian, 20th April 1867. p.365

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

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