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Another of those appalling calamities which are unhappily of such frequent occurrence in this mining district took place at the Trubshaw colliery near Tunstall, in the Potteries on Tuesday last, the first of December. On this occasion the men lost their lives through an explosion of fire damp. There is too much reason to believe that this accident, like many others of the same description, was occasioned solely by the imprudence of one of the colliers, whose life, with that of others had been sacrificed to that want of precaution so characteristic of this class of men.

The names of the unfortunate men, so suddenly deprived of life from the melancholy occurrence are;

  • John Bailey age 42 has left a wife and five children.
  • William Copeland age 37, leaving a wife and eight children
  • George Mellor age 21 who was unmarried.

Bailey in addition to his occupation as a collier, kept a small beer-shop in the neighbourhood.

The accident occurred in the second part of the workings what is called the New pit No. 12; the shaft is 300 yards deep. It seems that about six o clock in the morning, nearly 100 persons were in the mine and were proceeding to the various workings. The 3 men, now deceased worked in the same Dip of the mine. Bailey it appears took his safety lamp, with which means of protection the workmen are supplied, went to his work. The other 2 unfortunate men followed directly afterwards and, as stated by John Badderley, it is supposed that on the 2 men getting up to Bailey, he most imprudently unscrewed the top off his lamp, in order to light a candle when the flame came in contact with the foul air and produced an immediate explosion.

The concussion was felt more or less in all parts of the mine and of course caused the greatest alarm. Serious as the calamity is, it is considered most miraculous that no more lives were lost, particularly when it is recollected that nearly 100 human beings were in the pit at the time. Besides those killed, only one man of the name of Ralph Copeland, was seriously injured, owing to the strong after or choke damp which prevailed. The bodies of 2 of the men were not got out till between 11 and 12 o clock. When they were discovered, one was lying above the other.

In reference to Bailey, it is stated, that about two months ago by a very incautious act on his part, a partial explosion took place in the same part of the mine, from which he received some injury.

Since that time he has often expressed himself as being under considerable apprehension of some disaster. Yet it is pretty clear that he has fallen a victim to his own want of caution as his lamp was subsequently found lying near his cloths, with the top unscrewed.

It is only just to remark, that Messrs Sutton and Company, the proprietors of the colliery, with their agents appeared to have adopted every precautionary to render the works as safe as possible, a circumstance satisfactory proved on the inquest and that point being particularly averted to by some of the jury men.

Pit Terminology - Glossary

John Lumsdon