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The Pit Top Of The Shafts Was Usually Open

Shaft Deaths

203 men and boys are known to have died through an accident in Nott s pit from December 1800 to December 1855, of whom 82 or almost forty percent were shaft related.

Objects Falling Down A Shaft

The first double fatality and one of the strangest occurred in late November 1800, two colliers John Smith, and Joseph Banks, were riding the chains to enter “Pike’s pit” owned by Lord Middleton in the Wollaton area. A horse used on the surface fell down the shaft and onto the two men; both men and the horse were killed, it is not known how the horse became free to approach the shaft.

Coal falling from corves being wound up the shaft was also a danger, Joseph Leavers, 29 was struck by such a lump at the Beggarlee pit on 3 October 1833 succumbing to his injuries the next day. John Leavers, 30 a possible relation to Joseph, was employed at sinking a new shaft at Beggarlee in June 1840 when the box carrying loaded dirt to the surface broke and its contents fell approximately 30 yards down the shaft killing him.

Mark Day, 27 was hit and killed by coal falling down the shaft at Turkey Field pit in November 1844; likewise Joseph Smalley suffered a similar fate at Brinsley pit in July 1847. A boy of 13 Isaac Naylor, was working at the bottom of a pit in Newthorpe in 1840 and instantly killed when a large piece of wood was thrown down the shaft.

In addition to the normal dangers of mining; men were often exposed to danger through the neglect or indifference of those in charge of operations. Such a tragedy occurred on 6 November 1842. John Davis, 42 a married man with 8 children was riding the chains to enter Brinsley pit when a brick fell from the shaft side and struck him on the head, he was carried home on a shutter but died within hours of the injury. At the inquest the jury heard that the shaft was in a dangerous condition needing repairs every three weeks. The Butty’s responsible for the work, had not informed the owners Barber and Walker of the state of the shaft. The jury were told that it was not possible to make this shaft totally safe and they recommended a bonnet be attached to the rope to deflect falling objects.

A similar fate befell 37 year old William Stocks in November 1842; with three other men he was removing the bricks of an old shaft at Skegby for reuse elsewhere. The platform they were working on collapsed. All three men plummeted about thirty feet into the shaft bottom, Mr Stocks was killed and a man called Holland seriously injured.

Although not an accident to a workman this incident illustrates the dangers of unfenced shafts. On 31 January 1823, Joseph Crisp went out drinking in a public house near Beggarlee pit and became intoxicated; he was last seen riding a horse late that night. The following morning horse and rider were found dead at the shaft bottom, the inquest jury concluded Crisp was drunk, and in the darkness of the night had ridden to near the shaft.

Breaking Of Ropes Or Chains.

The first five victims of this type of accident were all employed at Lord Middleton s pits at Wollaton and all are anonymous, reporting in local papers was kept to the bare minimum so verbatim press reports are quoted.

Nottingham Review w/e Friday 1 June 1810.

“Yesterday morning three men were descending into a pit belonging to Lord Middleton at Wollaton, when the chain unfortunately broke, and they were precipitated to the bottom. One of them died a few minutes after the accident, and there is no hope entertained for the recovery of the other two. We understand they have wives and families”.

The second occurrence was five years later.

The Nottingham Review w/e Friday 12 May 1815

“A most serious accident occurred on Wednesday sen, (fortnight) night at one of the pits at Aspley Colliery, belonging to Lord Middleton, as four boys were ascending the shaft, at the close of their days labour, they inadvertently suffered the large ring of the tackle to shoot up over the bridge and under the ring of the clivis, unperceived and with their weight pressing against the spring, it gave way, and they fell, it is supposed, about forty yards, each of them having one or more limbs broken, and dreadfully shattered. One of the lads died immediately after the accident, and another on Monday last; and the other two are in a very distressed state”. No report of an inquest has been found so the fate of the other two boys is unknown.

A Conflicting Report Occurs in Two Newspapers in December 1816.

The Nottingham Journal w/e Wednesday 14 December 1816

“A dreadful accident happened at Eastwood on Monday last. As six men were ascending a coal pit there, the rope broke, and they all fell to the bottom, three of them were taken out lifeless being literally dashed to pieces, and the other three were severely hurt.

Reporting of the Same Accident Gives a Fuller Different Description of the Accident.

The Nottingham Review w/e Friday 16 December 1816

Reporting of the same accident gives a different detailed description of the accident.

“On Tuesday morning a most lamentable accident happened at a coal pit belonging to Messrs, Barber and Walker, in the neighbourhood of Eastwood, in this County. As three men and four boys were descending into the pit, about seven o clock in the morning, some of the tackle gave way, and they were precipitated to the bottom. Three of them immediately expired, another as soon as he could be got out, and the other three survived only a very short period. We have heard that the defect in the tackle was observed before these unfortunate individuals went down, but as we have no certain information; we refrain from saying anything further on so unpleasant a part of the subject.

There is no reporting of an inquest so it is not possible to definitely state whether 3 or 7 persons perished in this accident, but the parish burial records of St Mary Eastwood give the names of John Tindall 35, Thomas Price 12, and John Price 10, all were buried 12 December 1816, so the likelihood is they were the victims.

Another triple tragedy occurred at the Skegby pit on 26 June 1837, father and son, John and Samuel Gelsthorpe aged 31, and 8, with companion Edward Buxton 24, were riding the chain to enter the pit. After being lowered about thirty yards the shackle connecting the chain to the rope parted and all were killed in the fall. Examination showed the tackle was defective.

Oh! if this rope should break !” this exclamation by one or the individuals involved in the next accident sums up the disregard of defective equipment by some of the persons in charge of the management of the pits.

Miners at the Radford pit had been complaining of the condition of the rope for some time, when the inevitable consequence happened. On 27 July 1852, four men William Banner 40, John Husbands 36, William Robinson 25, and William Bonser 60, had been raised about thirty yards from the pit bottom when the rope snapped, all fell to the bottom and were badly injured. Mr Bonser received leg injuries which necessitated amputation of the injured limb and he died on 16 November. The inquest jury censured the individual in charge for not changing the rope earlier.

Almost ninety years after its closure this colliery was the cause of another lost life, the shaft had been filled in and a copse and bushes had grown around the old shaft. Subsidence occurred in the 1930s and it was again filled but further subsidence occurred during World War Two, which left a hole 51 feet deep that had filled with water. On 8 July 1945 a 10 year old boy named Roy William Jackson went Raspberry picking in the bushes, he fell into the water filled shaft and was drowned.