RAVENSLODGE. Dewsbury, Yorkshire. 4th. August, 1892.

The colliery was owned by Messrs. G. and J. Haigh and the accident occurred at about 10 p.m. when here were seven people in the pit. The seam that was worked was the Black Bed at 268 yards. The upcast shaft was sunk to the Better Bed which was about 40 below. The shafts were at the lowest part of the workings.

At the time of the accident, there were six persons underground, Richard Swallow and his two sons, John Swallow, F. Beaumont and J. Hurst. All lost their lives when the tubbing in the shaft gave way at a point 220 yards above the Better Bed and 11 yards the “Blocking Bed”. Nine segments of tubbing gave way, four in one ring, three in the next above it and two in the next. Water rushed into the mine and rose to the top of the porches at the bottom of each shaft within a few minutes and continued to rise for 200 yards. Only the furnaceman, William Lund, was able to escape. The men were at work heightening the main road and had descended at about 9 p.m. Lund and Richard Swallow remained at the furnace and the rest went to work. At about 10.10 p.m., Lund noticed the air and smoke begin to come down the upcast shaft. He told Swallow about it and Swallow said that he must go and tell the men who were working and started along the main road. Lund reached the bottom of the downcast shaft and signalled to the top and was taken up. He reported that something was wrong and shortly afterwards a loud noise was heard in the shaft. The noise was caused by the falling sections of tubbing. The signal bell at the bottom was rung but there was no answer.

The manager, Mr. Doctor Ashton, descended the pit for about 30 yards but had to return because of foul air. The water was rising fast in both shafts and continued to do so until it had risen 200 yards.

The work of recovering the bodies and reopening the mine was very slow, laborious and had considerable risk. As the water lowered the roof fell and the whole of this debris had to be searched to recover the bodies. The air was choked and the ventilation defective and large quantities of gas that had accumulated had to be removed inch by inch. It was not until the 12th October that the first body was found and the remaining five were not found until the beginning of December. Mr. Wardell commented that it was fortunate that the accident happened at night and not during the day when there would have been 200 men and boys in the mine.

All the dead were working as contractors:

  • R. Swallow aged 49 years,
  • James Swallow aged 21 years,
  • John Swallow aged 17 years,
  • John Swallow aged 23 years,
  • J. Beaumont aged 17 years and
  • J.W. Hurst aged 18 years.

Owing to the great difficulty in recovering the bodies, the inquest into their deaths was not held until 10th January 1893

An inspection was made after the disaster and the rest of the tubbing in the shaft was found to be secure. When the segments that gave way were recovered it was found that there was a flaw in the boss right across the plate and this caused it to break. The segment was sound on the outside and would not have been visible when it was put in and it was not detected when it was tested by a hammer and chisel when it was installed.

The jury brought in a verdict to the effect that the lives were lost through the giving way of this defective section of tubbing and that the cause of death was purely accidental with no blame being attached to the owners or the workmen.


The Mines Inspectors Report.
Reports to the Right Hon. Secretary of State for the Home Department on an accident which occurred on the 4th August 1892, at the Ravenslodge Colliery, Dewsbury, by Anthony Hawkins, Esq., Barrister-at-Law and Frank N. Wardell, Esq., One of Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Mines.

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

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