A painful incident occurred owing to the appearance of Hall who was the first to be brought to the surface, he was so dreadfully burnt about the face hands and body, that he could not be recognised and his body was taken to the home of John Edwards, the belief being that it was the body of Amos Edwards. Soon afterwards, however the corps of Amos Edwards was conveyed home and was identified by friends. His friends then identified Hall by the bunions on his feet.
The names of the deceased are;
- John Bainbridge age 49 married 3 children
- John Edwards age 54 married 3 children
- Amos Edwards age 19 single son of John
- John Hall age 30 married no family
- James Brown age 48 married 5 children
- John Nicholas age 35 married 3 children
- Thomas Mullineux age 20 single
- Wm. Powis age 51 married 2 children
The following were injured;
- Wm. Bradbury
- Thos Gough
- Wm. Thomas
- Thos. Whalley
- Henry Maddock,
- James Donnelly
- Wm. Ashton.
An inquiry was opened before Mr. J. Booth, coroner, at the Sneyd Arms on Monday evening, as to the cause of the eight deaths; Mr. T. Wynne, Government Inspector of Mines, who had been down the pit, attended it. The Coroner said he intended to take evidence of the explosion and the identities of the bodies.
Joseph Keene, the lamp-man, after giving evidence as to the persons to whom the lamps had been given out said he delivered keys to butties. Mr. Welch said he had heard since the explosion, that before the explosion other men besides butties went down the pit with keys
One of the witnesses, John Moore said, after the explosion he went to the pit bank and then with other explorers descended to the Bullhurst seam. He found the body of John Edwards, a Butty and near him lay the bottom of a gauze lamp No.53 and about a yard from it was the top of it. Two or three yards from the body were two other glass lamps Nos 264 and 286 one of which had the glass broken, the other being unlocked at the top. The three lamps were all in the heading. He went on to describe the state of the place and finding other bodies.
Another explorer, Thomas Wilson, said how he found the body of John Hall, who had been lodging at his house for a long time, he was much knocked about his head and face. He was badly burned, "in a manner roasted".
James Jennings said he worked near to where the explosion took place and in answer to Mr. C.J. Welch, solicitor, who attended on behalf of the friends and deceased, said, sometimes the air was slack and he complained to the butties. On the day before the explosion he complained of there being gas. He also said he did not intend to work in the pit again, because he did not think it was a safe pit to work in.
Mr. Wynne, HMI of Mines, having being sworn, read the following report:
Having been informed of this accident, I went down the pit on Monday morning 23rd of December and on going to the west side of the Bullhurst seam I found at every step, traces of a very severe explosion. Every stopping having been blown out, many props being displaced, indeed everything on that side of the mine bore witness to the severity of the blast, and it could have hardly been expected that anyone working there could escape death. The force of the blast was still further shown by the damage done to the air crossing on the opposite side to the large opening at the bottom of the shaft. It has been proved that an open lamp was found in the upper level at the far end and at that point the gas may have been fired. But if so the whole side of the work must have been in an explosive state, as that was the first intake air and I believe that was the case, the air-pipes and timber bearing such unmistakeable traces of fire and violent concussion.
Mr Wynne then gave his opinion as to the cause of this sad calamity. In July last he attended inquiries as to the cause of death in two instances when the accidents were contributed to blasting powder, but which he thought was more likely to be firedamp, and in his inspection of the mine he was satisfied that it was so.
When he came out of the pit Mr Wynne saw Mr. Lucas and Mr. Undall together in the office and pointed out to them, that in his opinion it was impossible to work the three seams with the air at their command without an explosion and proposed that the upper seam should be closed. But Mr. Lucas replied that as the Bullhurst was nearly driven out to the far end he would rather shut that up which was eventually agreed to, and to make sure that no one should interfere with this arrangement the level was to be bricked up, and if opened again then the east side should be bricked up, but that Mr Wynne should be consulted before this was done.
So far from abiding by this arrangement, three brows were driven 80 yards each on the west side, and he was not surprised that this catastrophe took place, as the course pursued led directly to it and was the natural consequence of such temerity. Mr. Wynne added that if the same course were again followed there would inevitably be another explosion. He was sorry Mr, Greenwell, the colliery viewer and he, differed so much.
The jury deliberated from two o'clock till seven at night without agreeing. The Coroner not having the power to discharge them bound them over to appear before the judge at the next assizes at Stafford.