CARR HOUSE. Rotherham, Yorkshire. 16th. June, 1913.
The accident happened at about 8 p.m. at the colliery owned by Messrs. John Brown and Company, Limited. There was an inrush of water from the neighbouring Aldwarke Main Colliery and eight men lost their lives.
The night shift started work and 16 men were working in the part of the mine that was affected. The water rose so rapidly that only eight escaped. Mr. C.L. Robinson, H.M. Senior Inspector of Mines along with Mr. C.D. Mottram and Herbert Danby, H.M. Junior Inspectors went at once to the colliery and took part in a thorough inspection of the mine with Mr. Whalley, Mr. Finken and others to see if there was any hope of rescuing those men known to be in the workings. When it was found that there was no chance, operations were started immediately to recover the bodies. As the workings were considerably to the dip of the Car House shaft and the pumping arrangements were inadequate to get rid of the water quickly, additional machinery was necessary. This was obtained and installed but owing to difficulties encountered in re-opening the roadways which had collapsed, the work, with great danger to all who took part, was prolonged and it was not until 30th July, about six weeks after the accident that the last of the eight bodies were recovered.
The Parkgate Coal, 4 feet 6 inches thick was worked at the colliery at 410 yards deep. The seam dipped about one in four and a half. It had a bond roof of varying thickness from, 1 to 4 feet with rock above it but this bind disappeared about 70 yards back from where the water came in. The flooded section of the workings at the bottom of the main dip haulage road was 1,000 yards from the Carr House shaft and was opened up on the low or bottom side of old workings about three years before by means of a dip called the No. 6 Plane and two levels known as the Minimum Level No.1 and the Minimum Level No. 2. No. 1 led and was being driven with boreholes in advance to tap accumulated water known to exist in two dip headings which had been driven in the seam from the Aldwarke Main Pit belonging to the same Company.
At Aldwarke the coal was 450 yards deep and 20 years before the dip heading referred to were driven 12 feet wide, 22 yards apart and connected by slits at intervals of 44 yards. These headings later filled with water for a length of 330 yards, the water level extending at the top end into an old waste which gave the water a head of 319 feet which produced a pressure at the bottom end of the headings of 138lbs. per square inch.
It was intended to tap the water near the bottom of these headings and the management adopted the following plan. From the No.1 Minimum Level driven 280 yards from the No.6 Plane and at a supposed distance of 56 yards from the water, a narrow heading 5 feet 6 inches wide was started from the level end and driven slightly to the rise at right angles to the cleat of the coal, approaching almost the lowest point of the nearest heading at an angle of 140 degrees.
Boreholes were put in soon after this narrow heading was started. It was intended to keep at least one borehole immediately in advance of the place for a distance of not less than 18 feet. Flank holes, 12 feet apart on the low side and 15 feet apart on the rise side, at an angle of 45 degrees were bored to a depth of about 15 feet. These holes complied with Section 68 of the Coal Mines Act, 1911 with regard to distance apart but they failed to protect the narrow heading from a sudden inrush of water. This was caused by the angle of the flank bores on the rise side being parallel to the line of the heading being approached. Mr. C.W.T. Finken supervised this work.
The day before the accident, the deputy, Albert Moxon, inspected the to of the narrow heading about 6.30 a.m. he found three boreholes in the coal. One of these, in advance of the face, was too big to plug or to hold a pipe satisfactorily, so he had another drilled straight forward for 21 feet, about 4 inches from the former one. In addition to this, he found a 15 feet flank hole on the rise side, 9 feet 6 inches from the top cutting. After seeing that the leading holes were in 21 feet, he allowed the colliers to fill coal and advance the face another 4 feet. He then put in additional flank holes a distance of 15 feet on the rise side, the other on the top side, both close against the face. These flank holes were the last one drilled before the disaster.
On Sunday night, the centre hole was extended 9 feet 6 inches by boring, and at about 5.30 p.m. on Monday, when another deputy, Sam Lee, who had been on duty since 10 a.m., left the place. he reported the front borehole to be 19 feet in front of the face and that the coal had been advanced 8 feet beyond the low side flank hole and 12 feet beyond the high side flank hole.
The roof was timbered right up to the face which was dry and Lee instructed John Banns, miner, who was then working in the place along with a filler, Charles Palmer, that he was not to extend the face further than 2 feet on the rise side and 3 or 4 feet on the low side. What occurred after Lee’s departure is told in Bann’s words:
The deputy, Sam Lee, who was on the 10 to 6, gave me instructions to work to. I set a bar within 3 or 4 inches of the face. I pinned it up and dinted from my top side along. I drove it tight, using a 14lb. hammer and when I dinted in the soft muck it was as dry as muck. This was on the left side. We then filled another tub from the low side and then I got my pick and got some more, say about 6 inches, on the top side in the bottoms. I noticed a trickling of water there, though the holes were as dry as snuff. I looked at it and said, “We’ve found some water”.
We then filled anther tub, and then I stopped and went to Ackroyd. he came down and then went and telephoned Mr. Fincken. He came back and said, “Mr. Finken says we have to stop here and watch the water, and if it increases any to clear out”. We got back. It had increased a shade but not much. We watched it and it started running a little faster. There was me and Ackroyd and Palmer and Walter Morley were at the back of the gate. I said. “It does not look right”, and Ackroyd says, “You have done?” and I said, “Yes, I would not touch it again for life or death. We had better go.” I then heard a clucking noise and I said, “That sounds funny”. We waited and then we heard it again, not very loud but a bit louder than before. I said, “Let’s get out”, and before we got started, I heard it again. We set off away and were within 4 or 5 yards of the flat sheet when we heard a knocking, not a proper bump and before we get on to the flat sheet it was on us. I shouted, “Run for your lives!” and ran as quickly as I could with the pump lad, Morley in front of me and I passed Lidster at 61’s turn and Albert Ramshaw with a full run on the move, I shouted to them as well. I got to the engine house and spoke to Stacey there. When I got to the train of tubs it was standing. The pump lad was in front of me and the deputy and my mate were running behind me when we started. I expect they lost their lives with the tubs being here. Sam Lee, the deputy, had been with us all afternoon. It would be between 5.30 and 6 o’clock when he left us. He said his time for away was due and we took measurements as to how we were going on before he left. He said, “You have two feet to work on the top side and four feet on the low side”. He measured the boreholes.
George Ackroyd, the deputy descended the pit about four hours before Lee’s shift ended. His duty was to inspect and supervise another part of the district until Lee went off and then take Bann’s place in the heading. according to Banns a trickling of water was seen about 6 o’clock and soon afterwards went into the main road and telephoned Ackroyd, When Ackroyd arrived, he took Banns back to the place to inspect it and when there, the water burst through the heading. Ackroyd and Palmer along with six others were drowned by the inrush but Banns managed to escape.
The men who lost their lives were:
- George Ackroyd aged 30 years, deputy,
- Robert Rogers aged 49 years, miner,
- G.W. Cooke aged 33 years, miner,
- J.E. Stacey aged 25 years, trammer,
- Charles Palmer aged 32 years, trammer,
- Peter Nightingale aged 21 years, trammer,
- Alfred Preston aged 39 years, trammer,
- Samson Nightingale aged 23 years, trammer.
The inquest opened when seven of the bodies had been recovered and was held at the West Riding Court, Rotherham by Coroner, Mr. J. Kenyon. The proceedings lasted two days. On the 26th July, about six weeks after the disaster, Mr. Mottram along with Mr. Robinson and Mr. Hudspeth, Inspectors gained access to the heading and found that there was a slight discrepancy in the colliery plans. The bottom of the Aldwarke dips were about three feet above the Car House heading instead of a few feet below it. This meant that the barrier was only three feet and this had given way die to the water pressure. The inside flank hole to the rise, though drilled within 14 feet of the face at an approximate angle of 37 percent and the centre hole, though 19 feet in advance, had missed the Aldwarke dips by inches. Mr. Mottram commented in his report:
It was no doubt a mistake on the part of the management to allow the heading to be driven so near to the old Aldwarke dips when they were known to contain a dangerous accumulation of water. The plans of the colliery showed the heading to be quite close to the dips and the prudent course at that stage would have to place boreholes in such a position as to make it impossible for a road 12 feet wide to come in between the flank borehole and the coal face without the bores tapping the water, or, better still, to have approached the old dips from a road at right angles, in which case a single borehole, driven from a considerable distance, could have tapped the water entirely without risk to anyone.
After hearing the evidence the jury brought in the verdict that the deaths were due to drowning by an inrush of water from the Aldwarke workings due to the fact that the boreholes missed such workings. They further found, that in their opinion, the system of boreholes was not sufficient and that this was due to an error of judgement and not negligence on the part of the management of the colliery.
The Mines Inspectors Report, 1913. Mr. Mottram.
Colliery Guardian, 1st. August 1913, p.221.
Information supplied by Ian Winstanley and the Coal Mining History Resource Centre.Return to previous page