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Newspaper Stories
- Alan Beales and Robert Bradley -
And Tales of the Unexpected



  Stories, Page

Newspaper Stories - Page 1

17 Jan 1829 - Joseph Hatton, a middle aged man was working at Cossall pit owned by Barber Walker Co. Whilst leaning over the draw bridge at the top of the shaft to remove a piece of coal on a rail when he overbalanced and fell down the 60 yards deep shaft. Fearing he was killed his fellow workmen were astounded to hear him shout 'hold' to stop the engine. He had fallen about 12 yards and had fortunately been able to grab and hang on to the descending chain. After being wound back up the shaft he resumed his work as usual.

Friday 11 Sep 1829 - There was a sudden influx of water at Radford pit. Fortunately all the workmen escaped unharmed.

May 1836 - The fossil remains of a crocodile was found in a coal pit at Chesterfield.

1 May 1840 - William Oates aged 71, a labourer was found at the bottom of the coal pit which was 100 yards deep. He lived alone at Old Brinsley. It was found that his house had been entered as a window had been forced and the dwelling ransacked. No conclusion as to the manner of his death.

20 June 1847 - A heading at a pit owned by North and Walker at Newthorpe pricked old hollows of an old pit and water rushed into the workings. The men fled as the water rose and luckily escaped up the shaft but 7 asses were drowned. A great number of tools were left in the workings and probably never to be recovered.

May 1855 - Trade was so brisk that the Midland Railway Co was compelled to decline carrying quantities of coal offered to them and along the route from Nottingham to Derby large quantities of coal was stacked. In January Babbington sent 5,351 tons to London as against 3,144 tons in 1854. Clay Cross Co sent 23,569 tons as against 20,222 tons. Codnor Park sent 7,613 tons as against 6,727. Langley sent 2,213 tons as against 3,654 tons. Langley Mill sent 4,054 tons as against 3,658. New Birchwood 5,446 tons as against 4,514, Pinxton 10,291 tons as against 6,611 tons. Riddings 7,097 tons as against 6,706 tons. Coal was much in demand in the Metropolis and many of the Vendors secured fancy prices.

4 May 1855 - The Duke of Newcastle visited the extensive underground works at Cinder Hill worked by Thomas North. The visit began just after 10am and the Duke was accompanied by John C Wright of Watnall Hall. John Thomas Woodhouse Chief Engineer and Chief Mining Engineer for the district. W Parsons and the Revd G Maughan, Curate of Christ Church, and also S Walters the Principal Underviewer. They went through the doors between Intake and return air (called Life and Death doors). The average output was 2,000 tons per week and there was  3,000 acres of lease yet to work.

14 Dec 1858 – At Underwood Colliery (Barber Walker) Robert Wilkinson’s job was placing the trams at the top of the shaft and inadvertently put a tram on the wrong side and was precipitated down the pit shaft which was 200 yards deep. He clutched hold of the rope and slid down to the bottom without harm. He returned to the surface in the cage and continued with his work as coolly as can be.

26 Jan 1866 – At Hucknall Colliery, last Wednesday there was an explosion of firedamp. Edmund Keen and Levi Flintham were brought out of the pit and put to bed. The surgeon ordered cloths to be steeped in oil and turpentine to be frequently applied. Both men said there beds had heated until it burned their bodies. They were put into other beds and the bed Flintham had been on was removed to an outhouse where it was shortly found in flames. It was promptly extinguished for in the building adjoining was the Chemist store containing a quantity of gunpowder. Keen’s bed also became on fire and had to be removed. He died later in the day. However Flintham was able to give evidence at the inquest held at the Half Moon Inn at Hucknall on the 16th of March 1866.

1 Jul 1868 – There was a public trial of the King’s Patent Safety Cage Hook at Brands Pit owned by Butterley Co. Two of these hooks had been in use for some time. The experiment was tried with an empty chair (cage) then one with a coal tub and another with a bucket of water to see how far it was affected by shock when the hook was activated.  1000 people, principally colliers and a number of gentlemen associated with collieries were in attendance.

17 Oct 1868 – At Digby Colliery William Vardey, aged 11, had left school without a certificate and had begun work at Digby on 6th July and he would have been 12 on the 24th March 1869.  Willian (Billy) Hall the manger for Digby Colliery Co., was charged with neglecting to ascertain the real ages of boys and was fined £5. Charles Smith was the Colliery Overseer and he employed William Vardey at the end of April to open and close doors on a main road. William was killed whilst ganging a pony and 3 trams to No 6 stall along a roadway that was in a very poor condition and only 4 foot 8 inches wide. He went into the stall after being told not to and he should only have ganged 2 trams anyway.  He was found under one of the wagons at No 6 gate.

21 Jan 1869 – There was a boiler explosion at 7 a.m. at Timber Field Colliery, owned by Thomas Holdsworth.  William Walker whilst raking the boiler grate was thrown 18 yards and fearfully scolded.  Two brothers, Pendalton, were very badly scalded also and 2 others named Hayes and Gardener were severely injured. Osborne the engine Tenter had a narrow escape, however William Walker, aged 22, the son of the proprietor, died soon after being admitted to the hospital.

20 Aug 1869 – There was a fire on the pit top at Babbington Pit, near Ilkeston. A pole was placed across the shaft and a half moon scaffold on it about 3 yards from the top of the shaft which was 277 yards deep. Thomas Sisson and his son Thomas Sisson had a bucket of water in his hand when the scaffold gave way. The junior Thomas Sisson and a joiner grasped the chain with which they had descended and the senior Sisson grasped at the brickwork and held onto it for 15 minutes until rescued by a rope lowered down the shaft.

10 Jan 1870 - 700 men and boys were out of work at Shireoaks Colliery owing to the pressure of water forcing through cracks in the cast iron tubbing in the shaft. 150 tons of metal had to be replaced. The men were to be employed at neighbouring pits were possible. The shaft was flooded since Sunday.

June 1870 - Unstone valley now being developed. One colliery being sunk by the West Staveley Co was estimated to raise up to 1,000 tons per day.

15 Aug 1874 - Staveley Coal and Iron Co. Ltd. Had a net profit for the year of £263,921-4s-10d and the last account was £23,639-8s-11d to give a total of £287,611-13s-9d. There was a £5 dividend on A and C shares and 16s-8d on B and D shares. In conjunction with the Sheepbridge Coal and Iron Co. they completed the preliminary work for a new pit at Newstead.

There were 2 pits being sunk at Barlborough and also arrangements for a new pit at Stavely.

18 Sep 1874 - An explosion occurred at Newstead Colliery, shaft sinking on 9 July 1874 after a shot had misfired. They began to drill another hole with a steel duller and struck the shot which exploded. Sam Frear and James Towle and another William Ward was badly burned. A man called Lund was the chargeman.

27 Nov 1874 - Whilst sinking the shafts at Newstead John Baker (30) a sinker, John Isaac (27) a sinker and William Sweatman (21) were charged with attempting to wound Thomas Stack a sinker at No1 shaft. Thomas Thomas was in the shaft working with George Marshall and Joseph Shepherd when a stone fell onto the scaffold at 150 yards deep. Some more stones fell then some wooden wedges were thrown down the shaft. Both Isaac and Sweatman were found guilty and sentenced to 12 months in the Southwell House of Correction. Robert Stevenson was the Manager.

Feb 1875 - Annesley pit bottom was lit by Hutchinson Brothers gas lamps. The firm had a patent for a steam gas jet.

29 May 1877 – Overwind at Digby. The engineman was Isaac Stirling and the engine house was situated between the two shafts. 3 men descending in the cage sustained serious injuries when the cage hit the pit bottom with force.  Joseph Bercumshaw had a fractured leg and thigh, John Freer had a broken leg in 2 places and George Flint had also a leg broken in 2 places and injuries to his spine.

17 Aug 1878 – A horse was found drowned in the reservoir at Kimberley Colliery, Ilkeston.  The reservoir, which was 9 feet deep, supplied water to several pits.

27 Sep 1878 - Cotmanhay Colliery owned by Barber Walker was flooded. Old workings at neighbouring Bennerley Colliery were flooded and during the past week a portion of roof in one of the stalls showed signs of giving way and an influx of water began. 50 men and lads were thrown out of work but the majority were employed in the upper part of the pit.

6 Dec 1878 – The manager of Ellistown Colliery and Donisthorpe colliery was prosecuted by Her Majesty Inspector, Arthur Stokes. Reason unknown.

27 Feb 1880 – Much damage was done to property and shops at Langley Mill from workings at Langley Colliery, owned by Butterley Co. due to the damage several shops and properties were empty.

11 June 1880 - One of the 4 boilers at the Colliery of the Awsworth Colliery Co., near Ilkeston exploded.  The boiler which weighed 10 tons was scattered in all directions in immense fragments. Thomas Beardsley was severely scalded, David Long dangerously wounded by falling debris and several other men were injured. Damage to the extent of £1000 was sustained by the demolition of the buildings and machinery at the pit mouth, and 150 miners were imprisoned by the destruction of the lifting gear at the shaft head.

19 Jul 1880 -  The Awsworth Colliery belonging to the Awsworth Coal and Iron Co., that had been at a standstill for about 5 weeks owing to the explosion of one of the boilers and work was resumed by a number of men and boys on the 19th. The boilers have been overhauled and placed in thorough repair during the stoppage of the mine and have been placed in a more elevated and better position. It is expected that the full number, formally employed at the Colliery, about 150, will be at work in a few days.

16 May 1881 – There was an explosion at Pleasley New Pit owned by Stanton Iron Works Co., when a fall of bind took place and liberated a quantity of methane gas that exploded and burnt 6 men severely.

11 Oct 1881 – The lease for Skegby Colliery was auctioned by Mr Whitehead at the Mart, Milton Street, Nottingham.  It was for 834 acres for 20 years at £75 per acre for coal gotten from Top Hard and £46 17s 6d for Dunsil gotten and £51 11s 3d for coal gotten from Waterloo, Tupton and Blackshale seams.  All the working plant including implements, stock of timber etc.

Jul 1883 – There was an explosion at Brinsley Colliery.

6 Jul 1883 – The winding rope broke at New Hucknall Colliery, but there were no casualties.

3 Oct 1883 – Heanor Pit was for sale.

20 Oct 1883 – At Blackwell Colliery the pipe that crossed the yard from the boiler to the Steam Winder burst and put a stop to winding. No men could be drawn up the pit for 2 hours until a flange had been put onto the pipe and steam raised again.

26 Oct 1883 – At Brinsley the manager was prosecuted for a breach of the regulations.

16 May 1884 – to the 13 June 1884 there was a strike at Teversal, Silverhill and Pleasley Collieries owned by the Stanton Iron Works Co.

21 Nov 1884 – 16 year old Arthur Ison was assisting his father Thomas Ison, the Onsetter, in the pit bottom at Glapwell Colliery.  He was trapped and killed by a tub on the cage when the engineman, John Gelsthorpe did not stop the engine when signalled to do so until the 3rd ring.  He was found guilty of manslaughter.

23 July 1886 – There was a claim under the Employers’ Liability Act at Mansfield, against the New Hucknall Colliery Co., by the widow of a man named Rudd, who was a Dataler his death being alleged to have been occasioned through the neglegence of the defendants. The claim was for £200 - £120 on behalf of the widow and £80 on behalf of one child aged 12. On 19th Feb there was a large fall at a back ripping side of a gate and Rudd and another were buried and unfortunately Rudd was fatally injured. He earned 22 shillings a week and his widow received £5 from the Workmens’ Colliery Club. It happened on the night shift when a man called Blood was the night chargeman of the colliery.

14 Oct 1886 - There was an explosion at Shipley Nutbrook Colliery owned by E. M. Mundy. 4 men were burnt, 2 seriously when a fall of roof liberated methane gas and fired at their lighted candles. Mark Smith and Allen Henshaw were the two seriously injured and the other two, John Fretwell and John Hockley escaped with minor burns.

31 Oct 1886 - A fire was discovered at Teversal Colliery in an engine house underground at 8pm. Fortunately there was a good supply of water at the top of the Plane road and the fire was extinguished by 3am next morning, however considerable damage was done in that portion of the pit and work was to recommence in 4 or 5 days. Mr Clark was the Managing Director for the Stanton Ironworks Co and Mr Morton was the Manager of the mine.

5 Nov 1886 – There was a fire underground at Teversal, no casualties reported.

8 Dec 1886 - There was an explosion of gas at Lord Donington's Moira pit, near Ashby de la Zouche and the following 10 men were injured and burned, fortunately none were killed. J Bradford, J Cooper, T Kirby, G Hart, W Hart, T Patrick, A Ramsell, W Sharp, J Statham and F Taylor.

10 Dec 1886 – There was an explosion at Reservoir Colliery.

6 May 1887 – There was an underground fire at Shireoaks Colliery.

3 Jun 1887 – The jury and the coroner were taken underground at Babbington Colliery to see the site of an accident.

18 July 1887 – On Tuesday night the whole of the 500 men and boys employed at Plumbley Pit received notice to leave the employment of the Plumbley Colliery Co. The pit had only worked one day a week since Whitsuntide owing to the Depression in the coal trade.

7 Sep 1887 – Langley Colliery was closed on Friday. The horses belonging to Jeremiah Eggleshaw were all drawn out of the pit and all the tools removed. The men were dismissed by the Butterley Co., due to the Depression in the coal trade. The colliery opened again in 1891 (see below **).

26 Dec 1887 - Charles Richard Evans was killed whilst ascending the shaft at Stanley (SR Cox) after starting the Tangye pumping engine. The empty cage had caught on the props at the pit top and the rope was twisted around the cog wheels. The ascending cage with the deceased in it was 40 yards up the shaft from the pit bottom and 20 yards from the pit bank. The deceased called out that he was alright but 15 minutes later must have swarmed down the conductor rope which was greasy to get out of the smoke from the furnace and the steam from the engine in the pit bottom and he fell to the bottom.

12 Aug 1889 – at 3 a.m. on Tuesday there was an accident at Tibshelf Colliery, owned by the Babbington Coal Co. During the night shift water was being collected in a bucket underneath the cage and wound out of the pit, however the engineman overdrew the cage and the bucket, which went up into the wheels, broke off and fell down the 400 yard deep shaft. The Kings’ Patent Safety Hook failed to work.

Friday 1 Nov 1889 - The coal wharf at Sutton Lammas for the Brierley Hill pit was formally inaugurated. The 1,600 yards double lined railway was set out by WH Sankey an Engineer from Sandiacre.

29 Apr 1890 – On Saturday afternoon at West Hallam New Shaft, whilst doing some bricking the iron work connecting the trunk with the rope fell down the shaft someway and smashed the platform where the men were working causing them to fall into the water at the bottom of the shaft.  The rope left the pulley wheel at the same time.  After a considerable time the men were rescued from the water which was several feet deep. Only one man was seriously injured and was taken to the Ilkeston Cottage Hospital.

28 Jan 1891** New Langley Colliery owned by Butterley Co., which was closed in 1887 due to trade being very bad was reopened 2 stalls were working and 15 men were set on.  William Sutton was the Manager and the Undermanaged was William Beresford.

13 Feb 1891 – A new air shaft 10 feet diameter was being sunk at Mapperley Colliery owned by the Glendon Coal Co. Joseph Sanders and Fred Smith were the contractors.  At 349 yards deep a shot had been placed but failed to go off. After waiting the usual time to drill out the hole again the shot exploded and Sanders had one of his eyes blown out and Smith was severely injured also. M Walker of Simon Field farm provided a cart to take them to the Ilkeston Cottage Hospital.

Monday 19 Sep 1892 - Two cages of men had been turned up at Annesley Colliery and then it was found that an accident had taken place in the bottom of the chair, consequently about 900 men were forced to remain in the pit for 2 hours.

20 Mar 1893 - 200 men had descended the shaft at Ireland pit on the Monday morning. The empty cage was overwound into the headgear. The other cage struck the pit bottom with force and the following 12 men were hurt. J Rigley and J Godber both seriously, H Bradshaw, E Wright, A Furness, E Siddall, E Widdowson, S Fletcher, J Tyler and T Ashmore. W Harvey was critical.

4 Sep 1893 – Between 9 and 10 p.m. on Monday evening, not content with the damage done at Kirkby Colliery a crowd of miners went to New Skegby Colliery (Brierley Hill, later Sutton Colliery) to descend the shaft.  The management declined and a mob broke the windows of the Engine House and other buildings. Ultimately a deputation was allowed to go down the pit but failed to find any workmen but instead found several loaded tubs near the pit bottom and considered this to be evidence of coal getting during the lockout. They then went on to Silver Hill and Teversal Collieries where 2 stokers and an engine driver were induced to cease work.

Oct 1893 – When the New Skegby Colliery Co. resumed work at Brierley Hill many people were glad to fetch small quantities of coal, in barrows, from the coal wharf, want of money making it impossible to buy the usual load of coal.  The Coal Higgler’s complained and stopped the temporary check weighman.

15 Nov 1893 – Brierley Hill pit was flooded again.  A few months ago the water was successfully pumped away but yesterday the occupants of 3 stalls had to return home because water had broken into the workings and was flowing at a rapid rate. The pit was the first in the country to get to work after the stoppage.

7 Mar 1894 - Petroleum was found at Ashwick in Somerset and a similar discovery had happened at Riddings, Derbys in 1847.

26 July 1894 - The Shireoaks pit was flooded and 600 men and boys thrown out of work. The air which should have come up the upcast shaft was turned due to the cold water mixing with the warm air and it was found that two segments of the cast iron tubbing was cracked and water was pouring into the shaft. The two segments were replaced and work resumed again after 2 days.

19 Dec 1894 – Alfreton Colliery pit hill (tip) on fire caused by small pieces of inferior coal and iron pyrites causing some consternation.

25 Jan 1895 – There was an overwind at Snibston Colliery. George Swain, about 60 years old, had been a Winding Engine man for 40 years and was acting erratically.  There was no one on the cage, as the men who had signalled to come up the shaft had got off in the pit bottom.  The cage reached the top of the shaft and went back down again and smashed into the pit bottom. The ascending cage smashed into the winding wheel where it jammed, causing considerable damage to the pit head.  The cages were severely damaged, Swain had never had an accident before, stated the manager, J. W. Richardson.

11 Feb 1895 – A new company was formed to work and develop Brierley Hill pit.  It had been owned for a good number of years by the New Skegby Collier Co. Water was causing a problem and men were laid off in consequence.  It was envisaged to sink deeper to avoid the water.

8 Feb 1896 – It was announced that the new Notts Coalfield had been discovered.

13 Jun 1896 – Pinxton No. 3 Pit was closed.

13 Nov 1898 – At New Hucknall Colliery the engine bed broke. It took 6 hours to get the machine started again before 4 – 500 workmen were safely wound out of the pit.

7 June 1899 – Guy Hamilton Ashton, the manager of Shipley Collieries was summoned by Her Majesties Inspector for keeping explosives in the Woodside Colliery Offices on 30th May 1899.  There were 3 other charges of a similar nature. A nominal fine of 20 shillings and 9 shillings 6 pence costs was imposed in the first case and 6 shillings and 6 pence costs in other cases giving a total of £1-13 shillings.

7 Dec 1908 – Ralph Shaw, surveyor (777) of Bank House, Blackwell, made a statement regarding surveys being to an accuracy of 1/5000, he thought that this was rarely obtained.

20 Aug 1916 – Gedling Colliery, 99 boys stopped work on the 1st of March without notice. The pit was stood and 206 men could not work, 900 tons was lost and on the 2nd day 600 tons was lost, 34 of these boys were fined £1 each for the 2 days.  This was the 6th occasion, with a total loss of 5000 tons of coal. They were fined 10/- for one day of with 3/6d costs.

2 Oct 1916 – 125 miners from Mansfield failed to get to work at Pleasley Colliery via the Paddy Train, as the Midland Railway Co. failed to send one. William Horton sued the Midland Railway Co. for losing 11/6d for a lost days’ work.

1 Jan 1917 – At Pilsley there was a fire in the lamp room and all 700 lamps and 2 cleaning machines were damaged.

12 Jan 1917 – At Wollaton a boy of 15 was fined 7/6d for leaving a ventilation door open.

12 Jan 1917 – At Newcastle Colliery, owned by Babbington Colliery Co., a boy was fined 10/- when a pony was run over on a drift.

Feb 1917 – Joseph Turton, a filler at Shirebrook, was buried under a fall of roof and 807 men stayed away in respect, and 1600 tons of coal was lost.

Mar 1917 – There was a deputy’s strike at Sutton, Alfreton, Shirland, Blackwell A and B Collieries, owned by Blackwell Colliery Co. over a wages dispute.

3 Jul 1917 – There was a fire, on Welbeck surface, when a heap of pit props ignited.

Feb 1918 – John Whyte, agent manager, for Digby Colliery Co. for the last 7½ left for a similar position at Cossall Colliery Co.

Feb 1918 – At Pleasley, William Warsop (18 years old) who was the ring leader of a gang of pony drivers, was charged with intimidating Sam Rawson. It caused the pit to be idle for 6 or 7 days with a loss of 2700 tons. He was jailed for 3 months.

May 1918 – At Ollerton surface borehole a labourer, Fred Foreman (36) was killed when the wire rope used on the derrick broke, and a panel weighing 15 cwt. fell on him.

2 Jun 1918 – At Sherwood there was a fire in an underground motor house. All the men were withdrawn but valuable was destroyed.

25 Feb 1921 – At Bolsover No. 2 shaft 12 men on the chair were being lowered into the pit when the winding engine man lost control and the cage hit the pit bottom at increased speed:-

  • W. Toolwood
  • C. Inger (father)
  • J. Inger (son)
  • Alfred Chapman (father)
  • Alfred Chapman (son)
  • Ernest Ansell
  • Albert Saxton
  • J. Bennett
  • William Crossland
  • H. Barlow
  • Noah Ward
  • C. H. Webb

None were killed but many of the man had compound fractures, with bones piercing the skin.

25 Jan 1944 – 130 Bevin Boys were drafted to Creswell Training Centre and  their Billets were at Chesterfield.

11 Feb 1944 – By autumn 270 Bevin Boys were planned for the Ripley area collieries, there were urgent calls to Nottinghamshire householders to offer lodgings to Bevin Boys.  

21 Sept 1944 – 12 of the first trained Bevin Boys were to start work at Clifton and Radford pits. Other Bevin Boys would later go to Babbington, Bestwood, Wollaton and Gedling.

Billeting Centres were at Creswell, Clowne, Whitwell, Mansfield and Worksop plus some private families.

24 Nov 1945 – The Minister of Labour spoke about the release of ballotees and optants into the coal industry.

10 Sep 1947 – Alan Wallace, aged 21, a Bevin Boy at Teversal Colliery, celebrated his birthday in Mansfield General Hospital after 2 ½ years following a serious accident in the pit in 1945.

26 Jul 1961 – Jack, a chestnut pit pony at Pleasley, refused to be captured after a week above ground during the pit holiday.  The horse was pursued by the police and local residents but Jack also evaded capture when a few miners went to the village cricket ground to capture him.  He jumped over a fence and careered down the streets and trampled through gardens in a bid for freedom.  Finally the pony was trapped in a field where a policeman shot the animal. It was the only thing that could be done, said an official at the pit.