Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Colliery Accident in England

We have already announced the fact of a fearful accident at the mine know as the “Hartley New Pit,” near Newcastle, England. The arrival of the mails of the Nova Scotian places us in possession of the details of the affair – one of the most appalling catastrophes that the annals of accidents record, involving a loss of probably two hundred lives or more. The accident occurred on the 16th of January, at ten o’clock in the morning.

By this catastrophe no less than two hundred men were entombed in the bowels of the earth. Of course people flocked from miles and miles around, and instant efforts were made to relieve the unfortunates, but the labor of clearing away the debris was immense, and only half a dozen men could work in the choked up shaft at a time. A week passed before an entrance to the fearful tomb could be effected. It was too late. The following telegram, published in the London papers of Thursday the 23d, gives the sad result of the calamity:


The sad tragedy at Hartley Colliery has been revealed to us in its horrors this evening. The cloth battice [sic] was completed this afternoon and cleared the shaft to some extent of gas. Three pitmen (volunteers) went down, penetrated the obstruction, got into the yard seam by the engine drift, and found men lying dead at the furnace. They pushed their way through. The air was bad. Within this door they found a large body of men sleeping the sleep of death. They retreated, and came to the bank with appalling intelligence.

Mr. Humble, viewer of colliery, and Mr. Hall immediately went down, and returned in an hour and a half. Both had to be taken off the sling, seriously affected by gas. They have been all through the works, and found no living man, but a hecatomb of dead bodies. The bulk of the bodies are lying in the gallery near the shaft. An affecting report, has been made by them. Families are lying in groups; children in the arms of their fathers; brothers with brothers. Most of them looked placid as if asleep, but higher up near the furnace, some tall stout men seemed to have died hard. The cornbins were all cleared. Some few of the men had a little corn in their pockets. A pony was lying dead among the men, but untouched. Several volunteers have since penetrated the workings and confirm this statement. Nearly all of them, however, have been brought back seriously affected by the gas. There was great danger of more men loosing their lives. Medical men, of whom there were large numbers at the colliery, held a council at eight o’clock, and by their advice no more men will be allowed to go down until the ventilation is improved. It will be some time before the bodies can be brought to bank.

– Published in The Davenport Daily Gazette, Davenport, Iowa, Wednesday Morning, February 12, 1862, p. 2

See Also: The Last Sleep Of The Miners.

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