HOMMER IRONSTONE PIT
An explosion took place on the morning of Wednesday April 8th 1885 a few minutes after 7 am at the Hommer Ironstone pit of Great Fenton Collieries. The headgear at the pit was unaffected by the explosion and the ventilation fortunately was not interfered with. At the end of the surface fan drift some doors had been put in such a way that any explosion would be sure to remove them without difficulty, and as a result the fan would be saved from any damage, allowing the blast of gas to expand itself in the open.
Mr. Laurence Foulds, the general manager, at once came to the scene of the disaster with other officials. The Duke of Sutherland was informed as the chief shareholder of the Stafford Coal and Iron Company to whom the works belong, as were the Government Inspector of mines Mr. T. Wynne and his assistant Mr. Sawyer, who reached the colliery shortly after 10 am. Mr. W. Robson, the colliery manager very soon after the explosion, joined the exploring party, which descended the pit.
Very shortly the body of one man who was evidently killed by the explosion was brought to the surface, followed by four other men one of them badly injured were also brought to the bank.
Another two were brought up and examined by Mr. A. Griffiths and he expressed his belief that deaths in those cases resulted from asphyxia. Their names being:-
both single men from Hanford.
|James Beach 19 yrs of age
Samual Daniels 19 yrs
Other injured men were carried out:-
The exploring party had met with difficulty in reaching the seat of the explosion owing to serious falls of roof, which had taken place, they did however come to the conclusion that the explosion occurred in the Knowels seam and was thought to have been caused though shot firing. Then another body was recovered.
|John Bithel of Hanford,
James Nash 19 yrs from Fenton,
John Hooks 25 yrs from Newcastle,
George Cooper, from Hanford,
Tom Forrester slightly burnt
and brothers Robert and Jos Riley from Longton.
At the time of the explosion 300 men were in the Sutherland pit.
Inspector McRory, with a body of police were in attendance to keep the crowds of people from getting too close to the shaft.
Next day it was reported from the North Staffs Infirmary that the Riley brothers had both died due to their injuries. William Hammond of Cross Keys Sq, Fenton was the last to be brought out dead after being missing for some time.