ROTHWELL HAIGH. Victoria Pit. Leeds, Yorkshire. 24th. January, 1840.

The pit was originally called the Garden Pit but the name was changed to commemorate the Queen’s accession. In the explosion and seven workmen, two men and five lads were killed. They had been provided with safety lamps but were using candles.

Men were taking away props which supported the top end and it was thought that gas had accumulated in the space. Nearby men were getting coal; the props were set in rows and the furthest props were taken first causing the roof to fall and fill the space to the props that were left standing. On this occasion, the roof had not fallen for a considerable distance. When the roof did eventually fall, large volumes of dust were raised so the men could not see each other and all the candles were extinguished with the exception of one held by Samuel Worth. The gas ignited at this candle.

Those who died were:

  • Thomas Hopton aged 52 years.
  • Edward Bell aged 12 years.
  • George Lister aged 19 years.
  • Samuel Ward aged 9 years.
  • John Worth aged 15 years.
  • William Worth aged 13 years.
  • Samuel Worth aged about 40 years and father of William and John. He left a wife and six children.

When the gas exploded, it set fire to the pillars of coal which supported the top and caused a fall 120 yards long. Though it was hazardous, the men dug a burgate to try to find Samuel Worth’s body but he was not found. It was thought it had been “calcined to a cinder.”


Annals of Coal Mining. Galloway. Vol.2, p.57.
Mining Journal. Vol. x, p.47.

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

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