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Book 7 The Death Throes

1997 - 2000


1997 Pages

1997 - Page 6

Bilsthorpe Closed After 70 Years

- Continued -

Fatal Accidents Bilsthorpe:

  • The first one was Patrick Kelly Snr, aged 44, Sinker, killed 21/12/1925

Tragic Accident:
In the early hours of Tuesday 1/3/1927 14 Sinkers were killed in a terrible shaft accident when the rising main pipe broke and fell down onto the 9 sinkers on a suspended platform in the No1 shaft and also onto 8 others being lowered in a hoppit. The shaft had reached 276 yards (252m) deep. The following men were killed, some being drowned:

  • Frederick Bisgrove (33)
  • Michael Corrigan (28)
  • John William Eaton (32) (married)
  • Thomas Fristley (44)
  • Thomas Gruffarty (44) (married left 5 children)
  • Daniel Haddock (33)
  • David Robert Jones (33)
  • Patrick Kelly Jnr (22)
  • Leslie Mason (28)
  • James Phipps (41)
  • John Robinson (21)
  • William James Robinson (32)
  • Thomas Satchwell (30) (married)
  • John William Thacker (24).

There were 3 survivors:

  • Edward Chappell (23) pump man
  • John Smith (26)
  • Frederick Williams (26).

A telegram was sent by the King and Queen expressing their deep sympathy for the relatives of the dead.

Another major disaster occurred 7 years later and from the report by JR Felton OBE HM Divisional Inspector of Mines, 18 men were accidentally burned or otherwise injured but 6 men were killed following an explosion on the afternoon of 26/7/1934 at about 6.00pm on North West No6 district in the Top Hard seam, caused by gas igniting in the first waste below the loader gate following a shot in the gate ripping fired by Deputy William Henry Bradshaw.

The following all died due to toxaemia and shock following burns:

  • Thomas W Crowder (25) Ripper, severe burns to top part of body, died 27/7/1934
  • Edward Warsop (41) drawing wastes and Packer, extensive burns to head, trunk, arms and legs, died 27/7/1934
  • Walter Hardy (33), drawing wastes Packer, extensive burns to head, trunk and arms, died 28/7/1934
  • Enoch Reeves (44), drawing wastes and Packer, extensive burns to head, trunk, arms and legs, died 29/7/1934
  • William J Burrows (25), drawing wastes and Packer, extensive burns to head, trunk, arms and legs, died 31/7/1934
  • William J Wright (30) Ripper, severe burns to face, arms and back of chest, died 7/8/1934.

A second explosion killed the following men:

  • Arthur Woodcock (35) chargeman Ripper, extensive burns to head, trunk, arms and legs, died 27/7/1934
  • Jack W Jones (32), Permanent Rescue man from the Chesterfield Rescue Station, who had severe burns to face, trunk, arms and legs, died 27/7/1934
  • William Preater (38), Permanent Rescue man, also from the Chesterfield Rescue Station suffered severe burns to face, trunk, arms and legs, died 3/8/1934

Arthur Caudwell the contractor in charge of the face work escaped injury as the flame passed over him and was able to assist George Stewart, Packer who was burned but survived as did Bertram Meakin the Deputy who was bowled over by the blast and burned on the face and arms.

The Mansfield Rescue Brigade were the first to arrive at the colliery and went down the pit at 7pm with Francis Bates the officer in charge, however they were not informed that there was a fire in the waste and therefore did not take any fire extinguishers inbye with them. It was noted by them that a fire was burning in the first waste from the gate in the left hand bank.

Canaries and extinguishers were sent for from the pit top. They then retreated from the scene. The Chesterfield Brigade arrived later and descended the pit at 8.10pm. Knowing of the dangerous situation they should not all have ventured inbye but in their zeal to try to remedy the situation they stayed too long. William Beardsley a Brigades man fromChesterfield Rescue Station fortunately wearing breathing apparatus was in the waste trying to extinguish the fire when the second explosion occurred and fortunately was screened by a fall but was badly burned and collapsed, however he was able to recover from his injuries. William Reader (38) although badly injured also survived. Supt Taylor of Chesterfield was burned about the face. TE Pickering (Junior Inspector) arrived at the colliery followed later by AH Steele (Senior Inspector).

The Manager of Rescue stations was Mr Brown. The Manager was LT Linley and the Undermanager Arthur Holmes. It was decided to seal off the district and ultimately a total of 10 stoppings were built enclosing the North West workings. During the building of these stoppings a total of 14 explosions occurred, the first of these blowing out some sand from the top of No1 intake stopping on 27/7/1934. The last explosion was felt at 12.10am on 30/7/1934.

Others involved in the explosion at 6pm and suffered varying degrees of burns etc but survived were:

  • A Sanderson (31)
  • G Wright (34)
  • F Pemberton (36)
  • G Hall (31)
  • G Birks (26)
  • A Bates (48)
  • G Ford (23)
  • F Wildsmith (34)
  • TG Stewart (47)
  • W Travis (47)
  • S Cawthorne (40) fell over, bruised right leg
  • F Bell (45) back abrasions
  • H Burrows (25) felt ill, suffering from shock

After a second ignition of gas at 9pm those who suffered burns etc but survived were:

  • W Wilkinson (20)
  • W Bradshaw (46) shotfirer
  • J Hallam (43)
  • TE Ramsdale (36)
  • T Pickering (24)
  • A Cauldwell (39)
  • W Beardsley (37) Rescue team
  • A Cooper (31) cuts
  • S Pearson (37) bruised back
  • JG Allen (25) cuts
  • H Randall (32) shock
  • F Simms (37)
The following were members of Rescue team from Mansfield Rescue Station:
  • F Bates (35) burns and shock
  • F Brown (..)
  • FD Grundy (26)
  • AW Mallender (33)
  • A Wilcox (34)
  • A Gent (..) was a member of the Rescue team from Chesterfield

Other Fatal Accidents:

  • Cyril Thomas Glover (aged 19) roof fall 3/3/1929
  • Everard Moody (28) Haulage, squashed by tubs 4/1929, died 24/3/1930
  • Sam Parr (24) 9.45pm North Loader gate, 22/7/29
  • Frank Meakin (40) Haulage, tub accident 12/12/1930
  • Joe Robert Tyas (38) Face man, roof fall 28/6/1931
  • George Hargreaves (30) Face man, roof fall 28/6/1931
  • William Moody (51) Haulage, crushed by tubs 11/7/1931
  • Robert Norris Ballard (24) Face man, heeling over of coals that crushed his head against a prop 20/10/1931
  • Charles Arthur Turton (19) Haulage, crushed by tubs 12/11/1931
  • William Brown (32) crushed by a girder, internal organs damaged 18/11/1932
  • John Common (51) Face man, roof fall 26/7/1933
  • Sam Gascoigne (32) Face man, roof fall 20/11/1933
  • John Soloman Shaw (34) and George Ernest Marsh (32) Face men, both killed by large fall of roof 27/3/1934
  • Herbert Bramley (27) Washery attendant, accident 28 /11/1934 clothing entangled upon shafting of a surface screen, died 6/12/1934
  • Gershom Marshall (31) Face man, fall 18/6/1936 DR Inquest
  • Howard Porter (36) Face man, 6/1/1937
  • Walt Hopkinson (56) Face man, injured hand, septicaemia set in, died 11/5/1937
  • Joseph Brown (44) South West N5s Coal cutter man, caught in jib of coal cutter at 11.15pm on 8/71938, HMI Mr Gray investigated the accident
  • William Edward Simnett (34) Face man, 30/10/1939
  • George Copeland (49) Face man, fall 30/10/1939
  • Vernon Beaumont Baxter (30) shotfiring incident 17/4/1940
  • Frank Miller (42) 4/1941
  • Maurice Marshall (aged 14) Haulage, on creeper 6/7/1941
  • Charles Albert Lock (33) Face man, crushed 3/3/1942
  • John Alfred Knowles (45) Conveyor attendant, asphyxiated due to suffocation on account of a fall of roof 18 - 22/10/1943
  • Sam Pearson (40) fall of roof 3/10/1944
  • Ronald Pell (26 or 56) fall 29/4/1945
  • John William Dudley (57) crushed 1/7/1945
  • Joseph William Grice (42) fall 24/1/1946
  • Noah Edwin Hopewell (44) Face man, injured Feb 1947, died 21/4/1947
  • John Richard Payton (40) multiple injuries when hit by a runaway tub that pinned him against the ripping heap whilst he was taking refuge from a shot, 23/3/1948
  • Zbrigniew Wolk (21) Haulage, squashed by tubs 1/4/1948 died 6/5/1948
  • Thomas Alfred Davies (27) buried under a fall of ground at the face, died of multiple injuries 13/1/1949
  • Albert Hastings (48) Face man, multiple injuries and fractured skull when buried under a fall of roof on coal face
  • John Knight (30) Face man, roof fall 17/11/1949
  • Ranjitsinhji Foster (52) Haulage, tub accident 4/9/1950
  • Stan Harrison (26) buried in red shale on tip, badly burned, died from injuries 25/10/1952
  • William Spencer (23) Face man, fall 4/2/1953
  • T Fred Staton (22) knocked over by bicycle in pit yard 14/11/1954
  • Derek Slingsby (17) Trainee, roof fall 3/1/1955
  • Rex Kerry (30) 10/4/1956
  • Alan ‘Buddy’ Carby, No1 shaft incident, Catch knocker, he was trying to reset a tub fast on chair, Onsetter rang off thinking he was clear, the tub lurched back and he fell down the sump 1/3/1958
  • Double fatality
    • John William Wharmby (57) 18/8/1959 died 20/8/1959
    • Josephine Fenwick (36) died 28/08/1959 crushed by wooden props whilst unloading a lorry in the stockyard. It would appear that her husband was in charge of operations. Note: one of the very few females to have been killed at a Nottinghamshire pit
  • Jim McElhiney (40) Haulage, tub accident at 65s Junction 15/1/1960
  • Robert (Bob) William Hoggart (48) shotfiring incident 73sA Stable 10/4/1962 died 2/5/1962
  • Joe Crisp (55) accident on cable belt 27/4/1964
  • Eric Scott (41) crushed by overturned crane on surface 10/12/1964, died 15/01/1965
  • Henry Bojko (37) Plate welder, crushed between 2 wagons on surface 4/4/1965
  • JW Wakefield (63) Haulage, tub incident 19/11/1965
  • Ron Bradley (35) Face man, struck by a broken panzer chain 14/11/1969
  • BRob Fox (48) Face man, fall of roof 21/1/1971
    • Peter Alcock (50) and
    • SE William McCulloch (26) Headers, killed by roof fall in development heading only 1m away from old panel supported by roof bolting
    • David Shelton (31) Undermanager, returned into heading to try to save them when he too was killed by a second roof fall on 18/8/1993. He was awarded the George Medal, posthumously for bravery.
    • Ray Thompson escaped injury and he too was awarded the George Medal.
  • A Revill (?) haulage corporal, died from a fractured skull following an accident at 3s Loader gate junction, but the date and age is not known

There were a total of 79 fatal accidents, including one woman in 1959 (see).. averaging over one for every year of production. This is not good news and shows what a dangerous job mining can be, both underground and surface.

Several others died underground of natural causes and included:-

  • Tommy Morgan and
  • Doug Massey

In a unique example whilst sinking the shafts during 1926 the following accidents to Sinkers were recorded in an old accident book dated 1926-1936 (donated by Mick Stevens, General Secretary of UDM and ex workman and UDM Secretary at Bilsthorpe): -

  • George Davis (50), strain whilst lifting a ring 27/5/1926
  • Lange Della Rovere (38) splinter whist screwing rods 1/7/1926
  • H Mathews (32) fell off the hod 3/7/1926
  • H Gilliott (37) fell off a ladder 8/7/1926
  • W Walter (36) injured whilst driving the crane 9/7/1926
  • E Edwards (37) similarly injured 6/7/1926
  • T Liddell (31) hurt whilst cementing the sides 13/7/1926
  • V Savage (33) strain carrying a baulk 15/7/1926
  • H Cauldwell (41) cementing 20/7/1926
  • A Whitworth (39) caught by a shovel handle 21/7/1926
  • A Provines (37) cement burns 23/7/1926
  • E Samson (39) caught by hopper 28/7/1926
  • W Moore (27) using a jigger pick 20/7/1926
  • E Kane (38) using a jigger pick 21/7/1926
  • CF Wilson (40) scraped 31/7/1926
  • U Rogers (23) struck by pipe whilst putting it in the hoppit 31/7/1926
  • AE West (26) caught by a pick 1/8/1926
  • E Stanton (39) fell whilst getting out of the hoppit 9/8/1926
  • F Thacker (30) fell onto the wall and strained his back 10/8/1926
  • John McCormack (31) injured whilst using a pick 11/8/1926
  • E Parr (38) cement burns 10/8/1926
  • JT Hibbert (35) strained whilst pushing hoppit 30/8/1926
  • A Hubbard (37) cement in his boots, burns 22/8/1926
  • Colin Brown (33) cement burns 23/8/1926
  • J Boyle (25) cement burns 23/8/1926
  • L Pattergill (25) struck by Clivy, cut mouth 25/8/1926
  • H Townroe (30) caught by boring rods 4/9/1926
  • CA Butler (28) fell off steps 12/9/1926......

It was also apparent that because it was a private firm the shaft sinking was being done during the 1926 Miners strike although I found a reference to Bilsthorpe being stood during the strike. Possibly this referred to workmen doing surface jobs.

In another period 1935 to 1936 the following Deputies were involved in accidents resulting in time off work:

  • EA Knight (40) coal flew and damaged an eye 19/7/1935
  • Frank Wheatcroft (36) (Overman) stone fell and trapped his fingers 23/8/1935
  • W Oakden (40) strained his back whilst lifting a tub back on the rails 24/8/1935
  • HSG Glossop (32) slipped whilst knocking a prop out 17/9/1935
  • J Doughty (53) fell on the face line 30/11/1935
  • S Paling (33) a tub caught a guard that struck him in the face 5/12/1935
  • JT Wardle (39) caught on a piece of coal 21/12/1935
  • C Hollingworth (42) strained his back whilst lifting a tub back on the rails 18/4/1936
  • H Oakden (36) trapped whilst putting a wheel on a tub 29/4/1936
  • JF Wall (42) fell whilst doing an inspection 30/4/1036
  • JW Sutton (48) strain whilst helping to lift a tram of girders 5/6/1936
  • TL Morris (39) trapped whilst pushing a flat containing an engine 20/8/1936
  • SB Nash (42) slipped whilst inspecting an overcast -/9/1936
  • EA Knight (41) slipped and fell 24/9/1936
  • JF Wall (49) slipped whilst on an inspection 5/11/1936.....

Normal Deaths

  • 1929 - Gilbert Eite Steven, boy, fell in pond and drowned.
  • 1956 – David Holland (40s), Medical Attendant, overdosed on drugs, slashed his wrists and died.
  • 1970 - Ernie Capes, approximately 55 died one Saturday evening in 1970. He walked up the Power House steps, collapsed and died.
  • 1976 - Henry Fred Cotterell (41) who worked in the Coal Preparation Plant, died after having a shower in the Pit Head Baths
  • Johnny Cooper (3369) Blacksmith died on the steps of the Pit Head Baths.
  • 1982 - Peter Harry Lane (3172), approximately 51. No.1 Winding Engine man, died whilst sitting in his chair.
  • 1982/83 - Thomas Cooling (55) One Saturday night died while sitting in the Winding House chair

Incidents included a fire on 69s Low Main face in 1959. According to records, a Deputy on the district, Arthur Jones with 20 years on the staff was suspended for 2 years over the incident but was reinstated as a Deputy again in 1961.

Tony Gluchowski' Institute
Tony Gluchowski

Quote by Russell Openshaw, an ex workman at Bilsthorpe told me that often, unused pellets of explosive powder were just thrown into the gobbing or packhole etc and not transported back out of the mine and returned to the surface powder distribution store as should have been the case.

The practice only came to light when a check up on the amount of powder used did not equate anywhere near to the number of shots fired and the amount of powder recorded. An investigation ensued by HMI and this practice stopped.

Tony Gluchowski was the last man out of the pit as it was closed.

The final act is shown as the headgears crash to the ground by controlled explosion.