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Chanters Colliery Disaster

Atherton, Lancashire. 6th March 1957

The men who died were:-
Leslie Inman aged 40 years, electrician
Thomas Morris aged 23 years, mechanic’s mate
Kenneth Tryner aged 31 years, electrician’s mate
Fred Woodward aged 45 years, engine driver

Those who died from their injuries:-
Wilfred Beckett aged 29 years, repairer

Eric Nutter aged 21 years, repairer
Walter Pearson aged 36 years, mechanic
Pawel Socha aged 46 years, contractor

Those who were injured:-
Taras Dzundza aged 27 years, contractor
Jack Howcroft aged 19 years, repairer
Ernest Williams aged 48 years, bricklayer

The inquiry on the circumstances and causes attending the explosion which occurred at Chanters Colliery, Lancashire on 6th March 1957, was conducted by G. Hoyle, C.M.G., H.M. Divisional Inspector of Mines and presented to the Right Honourable Lord Mills, K.B.E., Minister of Power on the 8th October 1857.

The inquest into the men’s deaths was held at Tyldesley on the 25th July 1957 by
Mr. R. Barlow, H.M. County Coroner for Lancaster, Bury District and a verdict of ‘Misadventure’ was recorded in each case.

After the disaster the mine was thoroughly inspected and the evidence was presented at the inquiry. Coal dust played no part in the explosion since there was almost complete absence of dust on the road. The inspector concluded that the gas had accumulated at the top of the No.2 drift through a progressive reduction in the amount of air flowing up the drift, following a fall on the east side of the dip development face five days before. It was exploded when an arc was stuck as an electrician twisted the cover plate of the busbar chamber of the switch from the Pikrose haulage and the earthed flange of the cover plate came into contact with a live busbar.

The source of the gas was the Plodder seam where it was exposed by driving of the No.2 drift.

The Inspector concluded that:-
“My investigations showed that the explosion was caused by an electric arc which was formed during the examination of the workings switch to which power was still connected when the top cover of the switch was twisted around and came into contact with the live busbar in the prescience of a body of inflammable gas.”

He went on to comment:-
“The majority of electrical accidents occur when men work on exposed live apparatus either deliberately or accident and the high number of accidents indicates the presence of these dangerous practices. There was no need to provide more regulations. What was required on the part of some electricians was a greater sense of responsibility.

Comparatively recent legislation requiring electricians to have higher qualifications should be a stimulus towards this end.”

Pit Terminology - Glossary


The Colliery
The Disaster