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Jim Tilt - 1820
Photos, taken by Jim Tilt

Jim Tilt Menu 1820 1890 1900 1910 1920 1930 1950 Also

In Memory

Name: William Dawson, Age: 29
Date: 03 Nov 1823
Occupation: Overman
Colliery: Plain Pit
Town: Rainton
County: Durham

Notes: Explosion of gas. 57 killed.
Of Overmans Row.

Plain Pit. Rainton, Durham.
3rd. November, 1823.

There was an explosion at Colliery and Sykes. The records record the number killed as fifty nine, fifty three men and six boys but the ‘York Courant’ stated that 55 were killed in the explosion and two later died which made a total of fifty seven men and boys.

The safety lamp was used at the pit but there was some uncertainty whether lamps or candles were used in that part of mine where the occurred.

A dreadful explosion of inflammable air took place in the Plain pit of Rainton colliery, in the parish of Houghton-le-Spring, Durham, belonging to the marquis of Londonderry, when fifty-three men and boys perished, and several others were dreadfully hurt, two of whom afterwards died ; twelve horses were also killed. A little before eight o'clock, one of the overmen, and soon after, one of the workmen, descended the pit, and succeeded in bringing several of the sufferers to bank ; and in the course of the morning the bodies of all who had perished were brought up, with the exception of four, who were in the most distant parts of the mine. The bodies presented a most shocking spectacle, being much burnt, and many of them very much mutilated.

Those who died were:-

  • Thomas Adamson.   (a)
  • John Anderson, of West Rainton.
  • George Armstrong, Putter, of Collier Row.
  • Richard Carr, Hewer.   (b)
  • Thomas Carr, Putter.    (b)
  • John Cowie, Putter, of Collier Row.
  • Thomas Crake.
  • Thomas Dawson, Deputy Overman, of Middle Rainton.
  • William Dawson, Overman, of Overman’s Row. (Grave)
  • Matthew Dial, Hewer, of The Knot.   (c)
  • Henry Dinning, Hewer, of Collier Row.
  • George Elliott, Deputy Overman, of Collier Row.   (d)
  • ?   Elliott, of Collier Row.    (d)
  • Wardle Elliott, Hewer, of Middle Rainton.
  • Robert Gibson, Hewer, of Collier Row.   (d)
  • ?   Gibson, Putter, of Collier Row.   (d)
  • ?   Golightly, Putter, of Low-bud-mire.   (e)
  • ?   Golightly, Putter, of Low-bud-mire.   (e)
  • ?   Golightly, Putter, of Low-bud-mire.   (e) 
  • Thomas Hall, Shifter, of Collier Row.
  • John Hann, Hewer, of Mitchinson’s Farm.   (d)
  •  ?   Hann, Putter, of Mitchinson’s Farm.   (d)
  • Charles Harburne, Putter, of Collier Row.
  • ?   Harrison.   (f)
  • ?   Harrison.   (f)
  • John Hull, Hewer, of Middle Rainton.   (g)
  • ?   Hull, Putter, of Middle Rainton.    (g)
  • ?   Hull, Waggon Driver, of Middle Rainton.   (g)
  • William Hutchinson.   (a)
  • ?   Johnson, Putter, of Houghton.  (b)
  • ?   Johnson, Putter, of Houghton.  (b)
  • Francis Lowrey, Putter, of Hetton. 
  • George Nealson, Putter, of Collier Row
  • ?    Mason, Putter, of Houghton
  • John Ord, Hewer, of Middle Rainton
  • Cuthbert Pratt, Putter, of West Rainton
  • John Pudley, Hewer, of Houghton.
  • Edward Ramshaw, Putter, of Houghton
  • Joseph Roddson, Hewer
  • Robert Shield, Hewer, of Collier Row.   (b)
  • James Shield, Hewer, of Collier Row.    (b)
  • ?   Short, Putter, of Collier Row.   (h)
  • ?   Short, Driver, of Collier Row.   (h)
  • Christopher Smith, Hewer, of Nicholson’s Pit
  • George Thompson, Putter
  • John Welsh, Hewer, of Collier Row
  • and others unnamed.

  c. - probably ‘The Knott Pit.’ (NZ 325 474)
  d. - father and son.
  e. - three brothers, probably of ‘Low Dubmire.’
  f. - the two sons of Joseph Harrison.
  g.- John Hull, the father and his two sons.
  h.- the two sons of William Short.

More About The Explosion

Matthew William Watson

Age: 21
Died: 25th Jul 1874
Colliery: Margaret Pit, Newbottle, Fence Houses, Co Durham.
Company: Earl of Durham
Occupation: Hewer
Notes: Crushed by tubs, engine set got off the way
Buried: St. Cuthberts Churchyard, West Herrington (Church Demolished)
County: Durham

William Wigham
Accidently Killed At Silksworth Colliery March 1875, aged 43 Years

Affectionate Remembrance
William Wigham,
Who Was Accidently Killed
At Silksworth Colliery,
March 19, 1875
Aged 43 Years
Be Ye Therefore Ready Also;
For The Son Of Man Cometh At
An Hour When Ye Think Not

John Gibson
Engineer Of Ryhope Colliery, Died Jan 10th 1884 Aged 50 Years

Click The Photo, The Grave Appears In Place Of Church, Click Again To Return To Church

The Headstone is in St Paul`s Churchyard, Ryhope, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear

Loving Remembrance
John Gibson
Engineer Of Ryhope Colliery
For  25 Years
Who Died Jan 10th 1884
Aged 50 Years
This Stone Is Erected By A Few Friends
As A Mark Of Their Respect
Widow Of The Above
Who Died March 8th 1889
In Her 84th Year
Peace Perfect Peace

Thomas Clegg
Accidentally killed at New Herrington Colliery 21 Feb 1884 aged 22 years

In affectionate remembrance of Samuel the beloved husband of Mary Clegg
who was accidentally killed at New Herrington Colliery Jan. 20th 1895, aged 56 years
also Thomas, son of the above who lost his life at the above pit Feb. 21st 1884 aged 22 years
Isabella, their daughter died Nov. 1st 1884, aged 12 years

St. Cuthberts Churchyard, West Herrington.

remembrance of Margaret the beloved wife of
John Laidler, of Success Row, who died
Decr 13th 1889, aged 62 years
also the above John Laidler who died
July 6th 1903, aged 76 years
Joseph, son of the above who lost his life in the
Margaret Pit, June 3rd 1885, aged 19 years
also Richard Laidler, son of the above
who died November 9th 1893, through an
accident received in the Margaret Pit, on the
15th November 1890, aged 21 years

Name: Joseph Laidler, Age: 19
Date: 03 June 1885
Occupation: Shifter
Colliery: Newbottle, Margaret, S.W. of Sunderland
Owner: Earl of Durham
Town: Fence Houses
County: Durham

Notes: Killed in Maudlin Seam by an irruption of water and gas. 13 killed.

Name: William Davison of Shiney Row
Age: 22
Date: 03 June 1885
Occupation: Hewer
Colliery: Newbottle, Margaret, SW of Sunderland
Owner: Earl of Durham
Town: Fence Houses
County: Durham

Notes: Killed in Maudlin Seam by an irruption of water and gas.
13 killed.
Left a wife, Jane Whittle and 1 child.

St. Cuthberts Churchyard, West Herrington, Sunderland, Tyne & Wear

Affectionate Remembrance Of
Beloved Wife Of
Thomas Cleghorn
Who Died January 4th 1875
Aged 32 Years.
Also Ann Daughter Of The Above
Who Died Dec 21st 1885 Aged 18 Years
Also George Edward Son Of The Above
Who Was Accidently Killed At New
Herrington Colliery July 29th 1887
Aged 10 Years

Name: George Edward Cleghorn
Age: 10
Date: 29th July 1887
Colliery: Herrington Colliery
Owner: Earl of Durham
Town: Fence Houses
County: Durham

The Times
The Colliery Accident in Durham - 1885, 9th Nov

An accident of an alarming character, but not so terrible a disaster as was reported in earlier telegrams, occurred at noon yesterday at the Margaret Pit, Philadelphia, one of the group of Lambton Collieries owned by Lord Durham. Hitherto the colliery has enjoyed immunity from accidents of a disastrous character.

It seems that the pit, which is 115ft. in depth, is worked by an ordinary shaft. There are four seams, named the Five-quarter, the Main coal, the Maudlin, and the Hutton. At the time of the accident there were some hundred men and boys in the pit. Of this number 25 or 26 were working in what is called the new Maudlin seam. In cutting through some stone, some old works were tapped, and there was an inrush of water and gas. An alarm was at once raised, and those in other workings made their way to the bottom of the shaft. There was no damage to the shaft, and as the ventilation continued good the extent of the disaster was soon ascertained. Mr. Lishman, manager, and Mr. Tate, son of the resident viewer, quickly descended the mine along with an exploring party, and it then became known that some 25 or 26 men and boys were entombed in the new Maudlin seam. The rest of the miners, who had made their way to the bottom of the shaft, were sent to the surface, and every effort possible was made to rescue the unfortunate men.

Meanwhile the exaggerated reports which had been circulated caused the pit mouth to be speedily thronged with masses of men, women, and children, but throughout the day there were no unusual or heartrending scenes. About 4 o'clock two of those entombed were rescued ; their names were Reynoldson Carter, a back-overman, and a putter boy named Ainsworth. They were both extremely exhausted on reaching the surface, and Carter died shortly afterwards. He leaves a widow and seven children. Ainsworth was attended by the doctor present and quickly recovered consciousness, and subsequently said that about dinner time he heard a rush like water, and went to see what it was and met Carter, who was very much exhausted and fell down. Ainsworth while trying to raise him lost consciousness and remembered nothing more till he was rescued.

At about 5 o'clock Mr. Tate came to the surface, and Mr. Patterson, of the Durham Miners' Association, in charge of a relief party, descended into the mine. Mr. Tate reported that the air currents were right, and that they had communicated with 13 of the imprisoned men, who had answered that they were all right. Some of the 13 had already been rescued and would be speedily sent to the surface. There were still seven or eight with whom they had been unable to communicate, but from the fact that 13 were all right it was hoped that the others might still be alive.

At about a quarter to 6 o'clock a putter lad named Middlemiss was rescued and sent to the bank, and was quickly followed by two brothers named Dalglish. All three were more or less exhausted but still able to walk home.

The names of those yet to be rescued are — 

  • Edward Wheeler, married
  • John Wheeler, single
  • William Davison, Hewer, left a wife, Jane Whittle and 1 child
  • George and Henry McLaren, brothers
  • Joseph Lewis, married
  • Joseph Adamson, married
  • John Alison, married
  • Joseph Brown, married
  • John Bailes, married
  • John Callaghan, married
  • Joseph Carr, married
  • William Denison, married
  • George Lowery, married
  • James Gray, married
  • Thomas Sanderson, married
  • Joseph Robson, married
  • Jacob Robson, single
  • William Henderson, putter, Kirkley, driver
  • John Laidler, a shifter
  • John House, back-overman
  • Joseph Pattison, married.
    Those communicated with, in addition to those already brought to bank, are — the two Wheelers, Alison, Brown, the two McLarens, Adamson, Lewis, and Henderson.

During the day large numbers of colliery viewers and Mr. Bell, Government Inspector, have visited the pit to render assistance, and frequent consultations have taken place as to the best means of rescuing the men. Nearly all the viewers present have had experience in colliery disasters at Seaham, Trimdon, Stanley, Tudhoe, and Usworth during the past few years. Lord Durham's chief agent, Mr. H. T. Morton, has been present since the accident, and Drs. Park,Lyons, Tennant, Dingwall, and Wood, and the Rev. W. Blagdon and other clergy of the neighbourhood have been on the spot to render any assistance in their power.

It has been decided to fit up pumping gear with a view to draw off the water which is now flooding the mine. The pumps have been got to work, and are drawing in good style.

A free opinion is expressed at the mouth of the pit that when the men are reached they will be all dead, as, if the bad gas has not suffocated them, the water will have drowned them.

The following statement with regard to the disaster has been made by Charles Oxley, a miner. He was in the Hutton seam when the accident occurred. Between 11 and 12 o'clock a boy came to him in the workings, and told him to go out. He and others went out into the main-way, where they found water coming down the staple, which was 35 fathoms deep. When they saw the water rushing in, they went back, thinking they might get out by the mainway. They found, however, that the water was coming down the return. He then returned to the mainway, and wading through the water, which was up to his waist, he managed to reach the pit shaft. The force of the water was such that he could hardly hold against it, and thought that most of the boys working in the Hutton seam would have been drowned but for himself and other men carrying them through the water into a place of safety.

John Daglish, one of the men who have been rescued from the New Maudlin seam, says :— "I was working in No. 3 gateway. There were two men in No. 2 gateway, four men in No. 4 gateway, and four in No. 5 gateway. There were also two putters attending upon the men working in the several gateways mentioned. I saw the water fresh from what is called the hitch, being either No. 6 or 7 gateway. When we all saw the water coming in such volume and force up No. 2 gateway we made our way to the top of the incline. We sat there seven hours watching the water making up to us. I kept going from one place to another, gauging the water, in order to see a possibility of escaping. I broached a stopping at last, and this brought us some good air, the air having been very bad previously, and then I made my way through this stopping to the staple bottom. I met a man named Paget coming through the staple to seek us. I then sent for the remainder of the men to come to me by a lad, named Middlemiss, and they came to me at the staple bottom. The water was rushing on both sides of us, and then down into another part of the pit by way of the staple, and had that not been so the place where we were would have been filled with water and we would all have been drowned. We were drawn singly up the staple by means of a jack roll. At the bottom of the staple were a number of men ready to receive us, and after getting to the top of the staple we were given hot tea and other refreshments. From here I walked to the shaft, and was then drawn to the surface. All my clothing was wet, as was also the clothing of my mates. The men saved with me were Thomas Daglish, Edward and John Wheeler, Denny and George McLaren, Joseph Lewis, John Walkinson,John Allison, Joseph Brown, Joseph Adamson, John Henderson (putter), and John Middlemiss. There were a number of doors and brattice stoppings forced out with the weight of the water. There were also a pony and two tubs thrown over. There was a pony alive where we were sitting. Some of our lamps were blown out."