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Helen Jeffery - Fire Station In Ashington - My Granddad Was A Conscientious Objector In WW1
Malc Bowler -Two More Titles For Pit Terminology
Catherine Burton - Researching Coal Mine Canaries
Robin Keen - Fatal injury statistics - How many miners died in 1933 and 1953?
Maggie Hawkins - Song - I can only remember the first line "get up me bonnie driver lads and put your pit clathes on"
James Boyce - I'm doing some research on the use of canaries in coal mines
Barbara Nielsen -To be in a 'Puky-acky'
Tracey Lott - Western Colliery Checks

Helen Jeffery
15 Jul 2014
Fire Station In Ashington - My Granddad Was A Conscientious Objector In WW1
I wonder if you can help with some family history research? My granddad was a conscientious objector in WW1, and used to spend his time "on the road". One of the places he used to stay was "above the fire station in Ashington" (Houghton le Spring Mines Rescue Station in Tyne and Wear). I have no idea who he stayed you know if there is any way of finding out who lived in the dwelling(s) above the fire station? I have tried the 1911 census, then found out that the station didn't open until 1913!


Helen Jeffery

Malc Bowler
12 Jan 2014
Two More Titles For Pit Terminology
Two more titles for this section Coal sampler, person employed to collect coal samples for scientific analysis - Also Coal Examiner, sample collection and analysis supervisor.

Catherine Burton
5 December 2013
Researching Coal Mine Canaries


My name is Katie Burton, and I'm a doctoral student from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA, USA. I'm currently writing a dissertation on canaries in literature and culture in the nineteenth century. Part of my research focuses on canaries' usage in British coal mines, and I'm trying to track down any information and/or records (both written and visual) that show that practice pre-1915. Although I'm able to find lots of casual references to canaries being used throughout the nineteenth century, I have found very little concrete proof of this. I can find records of J.S. Haldane's experiments with canaries in the 1890s, which then lead to more official use of the birds, but not really anything before that. I'm assuming the birds were used in a more unofficial capacity, which obviously makes it harder to locate documentation. Your website has been so helpful, as there are several photos of rescue teams with bird cages in the early 20th century. I'm contacting you to see if you have any suggestions for where I might look for even earlier evidence: photos, written records from local mines, mining and governmental organizations, individual miners, etc. Any leads would be greatly appreciated!

Also, I'm not able to access the video about coal mine canaries on your website, even when I try using Chrome browser. Are you able to send me the file?

Thanks in advance for your time!

Catherine Burton
Doctoral Candidate
Lehigh University
Bethlehem, PA

Robin Keen
10 Nov 2013
Fatal injury statistics - How many miners died in 1933 and 1953?

How many coal miners died of work related accidents, and how many miners were employed in the UK  (or England if that’s easier) in 1933 and 1953? It’s probably somewhere on your website but my eyesight isn’t very good.
Thanks if you have the data, but thanks for the website even if you’ve not.

Robin Keen

When gathering purely statistical information, disasters give these numbers but there are normally a lot more individual deaths, and unfortunately there is not a central source for these fatalities although Alan Beales and Robert Bradley have gathered information about a large number of individuals who have died in the East Midlands and Yorkshire including their names, ages, collieries and often what happened. Ian Winstanley has a large online database but you cannot find deaths purely by date (so far as I know) you need to search for the individuals by name. The Durham Mining Museum also has a large database but again you search by name.

In 1933 there were 2 disasters resulting in 20 deaths but there were at least 122 individual deaths in the East Midlands:-
16th May 1933, West Cannock Colliery, Hednesford, Staffordshire, explosion, 6 killed
19th November 1933, Grassmoor Colliery, explosion, 14 killed
In 1953 there was an improvement, only 1 disasters resulting in 8 deaths and at least 56 individuals:-
24th Aug 1953, Lingdale Mine (Ironstone), Skelton-in-Cleveland, explosion, 8 killed

Using Alan's detailed database we can see that in the East Midlands and Yorkshire:-

For individual miners who died you would need to know their names although Alan Beales has some on the site:-
At least 54 died in Derbyshire
At least 2 died in Leicestershire
At least 19 died in Yorkshire
At least 47 died in Nottinghamshire but Alan's names here are by pit, not year

In 1953
At least 10 individuals died in Derbyshire
At least 1 died in Leicestershire
At least 19 individuals died in Yorkshire
At least 26 died in Nottinghamshire but again Alan's names here are by pit, not year

The only answer is to get the Inspectors reports for 1933 and there is one for each division or Colliery Guardian and find the Guide to the Coalfields 1953. Could be in a library. Try Amazon tell him. They are for sale on occasions.


Interesting Fionn, wonder why two particular dates.

Question 1. impossible to be exact, Figures were only officially kept from July 1852 I have seen estimates from ranging from 160,000 to 180,000 as final figures. Further complications, before compensation payments could be won in courts the Year and a Day rule applied. This meant that anyone dying from an accident after a year and a day from the accident was considered to be cured, this applied to all accidents so a coroners jury had to agree that the accident contributed to the death. Not all mines inspectors included these figures in their annual reports. Many men died several years from the date of accident i/e. spinal injuries some as much as 20 plus years. Though not officially accepted as accidents possibly thousands died as a result lung conditions from inhaling coal dust.True figures are unlikely to be ever known.

Question 2. In 1933 total employment for UK mines was 809,745 persons, there were 1014 fatalities underground and 75 on the surface a total of  1089 deaths. 

In 1953 total employment 716,900 persons, there were 344 fatalities underground and 48 on the surface a total of  392 deaths.

These figure are from HMI annual reports so will possibly  exclude deaths under the year and a day rule.


  • Highest employment in any year for UK Coal Mines - 1920 - 1,269,547 persons
  • Most deaths in any year for UK Coal Mines - 1910  - 1,818 - 1,659 under ground - 159 surface
    Total includes 501 deaths from methane or coal dust explosions
Hope this is of help

Maggie Hawkins
6 September 2013
Song - I can only remember the first line "get up me bonnie driver lads and put your pit clathes on"

I have been trying to find the words of an old pit song my dad used to sing. I can only remember the first line which was "get up me bonnie driver lads and put your pit clathes on". Clathes were in this context of course clothes (I know you didn't have this word in your list of mining words, so I may have spelt it wrongly, and it may have only been used in Northumberland and Durham.) This is not at all important - just a wee snippet in my family history, but I'd be happy to learn more if you have any information.

Maggie Hawkins

Sent from my iPad

James Boyce
2 July 2013
I'm doing some research on the use of canaries in coal mines

Dear Fionn,

I'm doing some research on the use of canaries in coal mines, and I came across this reference which led me to your site:

There is a good detailed story from 1961 on how the birds reacted to gas at:  
I couldn't find the story on the site - if it's there, please let me know where to look.

What I'm really looking for is a first-person account by someone whose life was saved by the use of canaries. If you have any leads, I'd be most grateful. 

Many thanks.

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Barbara Nielsen
4 May 2013
To be in a 'Puky-acky'


Two people I have met in the Nottingham/Derby area use this term but they don't know where they got it from. A word from their families they presume. It is not known by other locals so I am wondering whether it is a mining term, as this is the only thing that these two people have in common. Can anyone shed any light? No idea how to spell it by the way.

I have had a suggestion of it being a corruption of 'being in a pucker yucky' . Pukker being 'real' and 'yucky / yacky' being  mess. this seems likely  but is pure guesswork. 

Your website is very informative. What a brilliant, old-fashioned engineer he was!  I had a great uncle Jim who was much the same. Happy memories.


Tracey Lott
7 February 2013
Western Colliery Checks

I am just wondering if you could enlighten me on the check I have just come across for the Western Colliery No2 Area. I do not know much about them other than they were used to check who was working at the time.

Any information you may have or suggestions on where to look to find out more about this particular one would be much appreciated.