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Thursday 18th February, saw the scene of a frightful accident, between one and two o'clock. The pit had been at work as usual, and it was understood had been free from gasses by the fireman. A number of men and boys were at work when the explosion took place. A number of officials from neighbouring pits assisted in the exploration of the pit. The news of the accident, as a matter of course spread quickly through the village and throughout North Staffordshire and the pit bank steadily crowded with anxious relatives and friends. It was supposed that the cause of
the accident had been the firing of a shot in the Eight Feet seam. All the workmen in there were killed.

Many volunteers went down to explore the workings, but the state of the mine was such that they were brought back, after a while, almost exhausted by the foul air they had breathed. Dr. Greatrex, Dr.Bruce and Mr. Stephenson were in attendance to administer restoratives. The effect of the explosion was felt in other parts of the pit, but none of the men were seriously injured. The loss of life was at first, estimated to be about forty, but glad that it turned out to be not half that number. It was difficult for the brave rescuers of the victims to explore the mine, on account of brattice having being blown down and the roadways being obstructed with debris. Also on account of the workings being so full of afterdamp. A large quantity of coal dust in the pit had been set on fire and it was not extinguished until the following morning.

The efforts to remove the bodies were continued all night and on the Wednesday morning thirteen were brought up. Their bodies were conveyed to the Swann Inn and placed in the room upstairs, which, was carefully guarded by the police, from curiosity mongers. Those whose relatives were working in the pit in question on that fatal day and who had not heard from them were permitted to enter the room for the sake of identifying the bodies.

The bodies presented a ghastly spectacle, and so disfigured, that in one or two instances persons who had not heard of their relatives that were in the pit at the time of the explosion, were dubious as to whether the bodies were those of their missing friends. The clothes, of the men being no criterion, as they were burnt, and rendered unrecognisable. One of the bodies was so severely bruised they thought it had been blown against the side of the road way and another, when found in the pit, was in a slightly stooping posture, with his hands placed in front of his face, as though he had put them up for the sake of warding off the fire, which had severely burnt him, he was quite stiff when found, his hair being singed off his head.

On Wednesday the scene presented in the village of Talk-o'-th'-Hill was very melancholy, and the excitement was intense.
The inquest was opened on Thursday morning at the Swann Inn, before Mr, Booth, Coroner on the following bodies: -

John Birchnough
age 36 married 3 children
James Hackney
age 16 single  
John Stamper
age 27 single  
Benjimin Booth
age 21 single  
Thomas Breeze
  married 3 children.
David Winkle
age 16 single  
Thomas Booth
age 41 married 4 children
John Shannon
age 19 single
Henry Grocott
age 27 married 2 children. Cousin of Thomas Grocott
Thomas Harrison
age 14 single  
John Baynham
age 30 married 4 children
Francis Birch
age 17 single  
Samual Kenny
age 16 single  
Thomas Grocott
age 20 married 1 child. Cousin of Henry Grocott, wife Emily Breeze
Robert Walker
age 16 single  
William Lowndes
age 20    
William Jones age 28 single  
Richard Sherwin age 13 single  

Pit Terminology - Glossary

John Lumsdon

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