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Frickley, Yorkshire - Page 2

Disaster Inquiry

Thanks to John Evans for This Information


 


From:
Sent:
Subject:
John Evans
31 Jan 2015
Re: George and William Evans, Frickley Colliery
In Memory

Fionn

Not sure if you are interested but I attach the Inquest into the 1931 Frickley Colliery accident in which my Great Uncle William Evans died and 4 other Pit Deputies perished, and there are some photos.

William finally made the front page. Sadly he died by so doing. He left 7 children, and a wife who was pregnant, behind. When you hear the background story of the victims you realise the true cost of the coal being mined.

John

Title

The Inquest on the five deputies who lost their lives at Frickley Colliery on December 28th 1931 was held at Moorthorpe Police Station on Tuesday. After a searching seven hour Inquiry the Jury returned a verdict of "Accidental Death." Witnesses who were closely cross-examined gave thrilling accounts of how the men met their doom and the attempts at recue. The victims were:—

Joe Kitching (51), 22, Central Avenue, South Elmsall.
James Parsons (42), 78, Broad Lane, South Kirkby.
Thomas Howarth (43), 40, Broad Lane, South Kirkby.
William Evans (49), 56, Broad Lane, South Kirkby.
James Pickup (44), 19, Common Road, South Kirkby.

The Inquiry was conducted by Mr. Will Bentley, assisted by a Jury of which Mr. Chas. Phillpotts was foreman. Others present included Mr. E. H. Frazer, Divisional Mine Inspector; Mr. G. Cook, Mine Inspector; Mr. A. S. Furniss and Mr. J. Halmshaw, solicitors for the Carlton Main Colliery Co. Ltd. and officials; Mr. F. K. Robinson, manager of Frickley Colliery; Mr. J. Winder and Mr. J. Gilannon, president and secretary of the Yorkshire Deputies' Association, Mr. Herbert Smith and Mr. Joseph Jones, president and general secretary of the Yorkshire Minors' Association; Ald. G. Price, M.P., and Mr. H. Bamforth, for the Frickley branch of the Y.M.A.; Police Supt. H. Stone and Inspector Edington.

WHAT THE DOCTOR FOUND

Dr. Claude Pycroft, resident surgeon at the Warde-Aldam Cottage Hospital, said he went down the pit on December 28th, when the accident was reported. When he arrived at the place the corpse of James Pickup was at the junction. Later he saw the dead bodies of the other four men. He made a post-mortem examination of the body of Parsons on the following day, in the presence of Dr. Banham. He had died from acute carbon monoxide poisoning. He was of the opinion that the cause of death of the remainder was the same.

The Coroner: ls it possible to express an opinion as to how long any of these men would be alive? - I think that by the exceptionally distinct nature of the post-mortem findings the likelihood is that death overcame them very quickly Indeed.

Mr. Cook: You also saw some of the other men affected. What were their symptoms? - Their condition was caused more by working hard in the vitiated atmosphere rather than by carbon monoxide poisoning.

When the bodies were got out there was no mistaking the smell of gob stink? - No. What time did you arrive at the junction? - About 6-10 a.m.

You still found the smell very strong then - Yes.

What time was it when they got the last body out? Twenty minutes or half an hour later.

He added that it was no use trying artificial respiration then.

Dr. Pycroft told Mr. Herbert Smith that he did not know how long the men overcome by exhaustion had been in the pit. He saw no signs of carbon monoxide poisoning in any of them. When the dead men were brought out three had handkerchiefs over their mouths.

SURVIVOR’S STORY

A TWO - HOUR ORDEAL

Fred Boulton, of 78, Broad-Lane, South Kirkby, overman on the night shift and a survivor of the tragedy, gave evidence and was cross-examined for nearly two hours. He said he went to work at 11-20 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 27th, with 13 deputies and three fitters. Before they went down the pit they all called at the lamp cabin and took an electric spot light, the deputies also taking an oil lamp each. He thought that only three oil lamps were actually taken down, as the deputies were not expected to make an examination. They were going to assist the fitters and he told them they had no need to take an oil lamp each because they would not require them.
Mr. Cooks Would it be correct to say that some were going to assist the fitters, and others to make an inspection? - No, they were all going to assist the fitters.

Wasn’t it arranged that someone was to make an inspection? - No.

Hadn’t you received instructions beforehand that an inspection had to be made? - No.

Boulton said that on getting down the pit he decided that they should have a look round the No. 2 Hooton district because they had had a slight smell of gob stink. He decided to take the night deputy. Charlesworth and William Sykes with him, and the other men arranged to go into the west return to assist the fitters. The three of them had two oil lamps with them. When the deputies and fitters got to the low side of the pit they shouted him to them, and ongoing to them he found that the smell was coming off the Hooton side. He said, "It is all right, we are going down there to have a look at it."

Mr. Cook: Didn't you think that very unusual?—Well, it was unusual, but we had had it before.

PLENTY OF AIR

Did you anticipate something? - We knew the danger. He added that they arranged to leave a man every 15 or 20 yards apart along the road as a precaution, as they thought they might find something that would require

You have a big quantity of air travelling on the south side of the pit? - Yes.

So the smell must have been very strong for you to have noticed it at that side of the shaft in the main return - Yes.

The deputies on the south side told you they had got this smell. What did you do then? - I told Joe Kitching, one of the men who had arranged to go to the west side, to accompany us. He believed that Kitching had an oil lamp and a spot light. They were into the Hooton district by way of the intake, and examined some stoppings which had been built just before Christmas, as they had had a heating there. They found the stoppings were practically dead, and there was nothing at all except that at the bottom of the drift they got a very slight trace. They found nothing was likely to account for the gob stink in the main return. They concluded that the source of the smell was not there, and they travelled back by the return. On their way they had to pass old Hooton No. 1 district, but they found nothing there. They continued in the return and passed old No. 3 Hooton district, but found nothing there. They then went further out until they connected up with No 1 district and they found --- stink to be coming from there. It was not a strong smell, and they had not felt any effects from it. They returned to the shaft to get another two deputies from No. 3 East district to go with them.

THE SMELL FROM 3 EAST

Mr. Cook: You were alarmed? - No, but it was out of the ordinary. He sent for Pickup and Evans, and Kitching brought two more, Parsons and Howarth, with him. He did not ask Kitching why he had brought them, but he agreed to let them accompany them. At the shaft bottom he rang up Mr. Arthur Smith, the undermanager. He told him a smell was coming off No. 3 East district and that he would try to find where it was coming from and let Mr. Smith know the result of the inspection. Mr. Smith told him to take plenty of deputies with him. They then went on. He asked Evans and Pickup the result of their inspection before the holidays, and Evans said the district was all right.

Mr. Cook: Had you any idea where the smell was coming from? - I thought it would be coming by Taylor's drift from the old Hooton district. They went in by the intake to 64's junction and along the crossgate to Taylor's drift. When they reached the drift they found a slight smell like paraffin corning from it. At the junction of the drift they had a discussion about the smell, end came to the conclusion that it was gob stink. They thought they might run into either carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, or sulphated hydrogen. They thought it was fit for them to have a look to see what was happening. At the entrance to the drift was a regular door, and they decided to leave Sykes there.

Mr. Cook: Were you influenced in deciding not to take Sykes because he was the oldest man of the party and not so strong as the rest? - No.

Was anything decided should be done before you went into the drift? - They were talking about putting a handkerchief over their mouths. Three or four of us did this before we went through the door.

What was your reason for this? - They all laughed at the idea and said is was no use putting them on.

Did you anticipate something? - We knew the danger. He added that they arranged to leave a man every 15 or 20 yards apart along the road as a precaution, as they thought they might find something that would require assistance.

Mr. Cook: You have never done this before - No.

So you must have concluded that it was something worse than you have ever had before? - No.

THE HUMAN TEST

Why should you take these extra precautions then? - I cannot say, except that we decided to take them to assure us being all right. He had been on a similar job - finding the cause of a gob stink - before, but had not taken these precautions. When they got to the door they had two oil lamps. When they were having their discussions the door was dosed but there we a regulator in it, 24 by 9 inches. The door was about 5 foot 5 ins square and a large quantity of air could come through it. Howarth spragged the door open, when they went through. They had two oil lamps, and Howarth who was leading because he knew the district very well, was carrying one of them. Witness was immediately behind, Howarth and was watching the lamp, as he thought it would indicate all they were likely to find. The lamp would not indicate carbon monoxide.

Mr. Cook; You knew carbon monoxide was there? - No.

Did you know that gob stink contains carbon monoxide? - Yes.

How did you expect to find it? - On ourselves by feeling.

That was a very risky thing, wasn’t it? It first affects your legs and you drop down helpless, then you lose consciousness. It is rather a peculiar way of detecting it if you are going to lose consciousness? - Yes. but we had not the slightest idea it would be there in the quantity it was.

Boulton agreed that the oil lamp would detect fire damp and carbon dioxide, it did not occur to him, when they were at the shaft and knew they were following the gob stink, to take a bird or mouse with them, although they were the usual way of detecting carbon monoxide. He agreed that this would have been the safest way.

HOW IT HAPPENED

The seven of them went through the door, and the first indication that, anything was wrong was when Kitching said “I am going back”. Howarth, the furthest man had gone 20 or 30 yards, said, "Come on. Let's get out as sharp as we can. I turned round and Kitching was staggering. Evans was immediately against him. I told Evans to help him, but Evans started to 'go’.  Howarth ran past me, which left me the further man in. I can remember going over to Howarth and Pickup. We were all trying to get out Pickup and Howarth had both fallen. It had begun to affect me just after Kitching called out. We had walked about 20 yards at the time. I don’t remember how I got out, but I found myself lying in the return. After I had lain there some time four deputies came from the west return. I said “Pickup is just inside there but be careful,” and they fetched him out. They applied artificial respiration without success.

Boulton told Mr Cook that he had not a first or second-class certificate, but he had a deputy’s certificate.  He had not known a gob stink in that drift before. The No 1 Hooton district was stopped about twelve months ago owing, he thought, to the fact that it was a faulty district.

Mr. Cook: Was it causing some trouble so far as heating was concerned. Was it very hot? – It was warm.
Were not two stalls abandoned on account of the heat? – I don’t remember that.

Questioned by Mr. Herbert Smith, Boulton said he worked at Frickley for 18 years first as deputy and later as overman.

The last shift he worked before the Christmas holiday was on the Wednesday night. There was an examination of the pit on the Thursday morning, but he did not know of another between then and Sunday night. Before they went down they did not look at the barometer, or go into the fan house. That was not usual.

"C0MM0NSENSE” PRECAUTIONS

Mr. Smith: But it is common sense. You don't know if the fan had been running continuously from Thursday until Sunday night? - No.

Hasn't a smell been giving off continuously in the No. 2 Hooton district? - Not continuously.

Did you know that not only in Hooton district but in 103’s crossgate there was a stink? - They had had a strong smell when there was a heating up on No. 2 East a year or two ago.

Do you think there has been a fire smouldering down there for some time? - I now think there has, off the Hooton district.

I suggest it bad been smouldering not far from where you had been? - You think under the fault? I would agree to that.

Replying to Ald. G. Price M.P., Boulton said no adverse reports about the smells had been presented by the deputies before the holidays, he had heard of a smell in No. 2 Hooton district before the holidays, but it was dealt with. It was common that when the pit was stood for holiday inspections were two or three days apart.

In answer to Mr. J. Gilgannon, witness said they were not expecting carbon monoxide. They could not have approached the smell by any other way than the drift.

Asked if he had formed any conclusion since the accident as to the cause of the accumulation. Boulton said he thought that if the door had not been there no accumulation would have taken place. The current of air would have been strong enough to carry it away.

Mr. Gilgannon. The opening of the door would cause a vacuum and draw into the return? - Yes.

CARBON-MONOXIDE UNEXPECTED

Questioned by Mr. A. B. Furniss. Boulton said he was still suffering from the effects of what he went through. He could not remember seeing in any reports of the No. 3 East-district any mention of a smell.

Mr. Furniss: If you had known it was carbon monoxide you would not have taken the risk you did? - No.

Coroner: If you had been expecting carbon monoxide you had easy access to the birds? - Yes.

What use did you think the handkerchief was when you placed it over your mouth? - I cannot see the use of it at all. I don’t know why wo put them on.

It was really an impediment to both your smell and taste? - Yes.

George Charlesworth, of 71, Broad Lane. South Kirkby, deputy in charge of the No. 2 Hooton district, said he accompanied the party on their inspection for the smell, and Boulton asked him to take an oil lamp. Boulton detailed the others to do the pipe tracking in the West return. On the No. 3 East return the smell was very strong. When they got to the junction there was a slight heating and smell, but they did not think it was too strong to be examined. They decided to go through in single file.

Mr. Cook: Wouldn’t it have been far better if you had left a Bigger number behind? - We can see that now.

Charlesworth said it was a customary thing to put a handkerchief over the mouth if they were facing any fumes or dust, he had known the handkerchief to be used for gob stinks, he agreed with Mr. Cook that it would interfere with both their breathing and smelling. “As soon as Hitch called out”, he added, “we all tried to get out. I can remember Kitching following me. Howarth ran by me. I remember getting past three of them when I fell down. One or two breaths was sufficient. I stumbled over one more. I got through the door, and after I had recovered a bit I helped Sykes to drag Boulton out on to the return air-way. After I had recovered I went to the West return, a mile and half away, to seek further help."

TRUSTED TO VENTILATOR

Witness added that before they went through the door they thought the ventilation was strong enough to take with it any fumes there might have been. The distance from Taylor’s drift to where they first smelt the stink was about a mile.

In answer to Mr. Joseph Jones, he said that on the Sunday they had not been sent for specially. They were on the normal shift. They had been treating a heating in No. 2 Hooton district five weeks previously.

John Simpson, of 3, Diamond Avenue, Minsthorpe Lane, Moorthorpe, deputy in the No. 1 South district, said he went down the shaft with the other men. He took an electric lamp but not an oil lamp because they were going as a working part on the West return. They had gone 5O or 60 yards when they noticed a smell in the return airway. Later Charlesworth went up to them in an excited condition and told them he was afraid something was wrong and that five men were in the drift. Three of them went to the top of the crossgate and coupled up their rescue apparatus. Boulton was coming out on a stretcher, and Pickup was outside the regulator door. Wearing their apparatus, three of them went into the drift the first man they saw was Howarth, who was lying face downwards on the left-hand side of the road, going in he. had a handkerchief over his face. After they had removed him they went in again and found Parson, who was on his back between two sets of tubes. Returning, they found Evans on his hack, with his feet almost touching Parson's head. Both men had handkerchiefs on their faces. They found two flame lamps and quite a number of electric lamps in the drift.

“SUSPICIONS”

Frank Cookson, of 13, Broad Lane, South Kirkby, said he had been deputy in the No. 3 East district for 16 years. He remembered Taylor's drift being driven and completed in June of last year. The air was perfectly sweet, and there were no signs of gob stink or heating. The drift holed into the No. 1 Hooton district. Later the air became warmer, and he was instructed to sand off the face at the end of the drift. He did this, but owing to its stopping the ventilation coming on to the face there was a rise in temperature, and one man engaged in the work had to be assisted out. He soon recovered when they got him into the fresh air. Witness thought he had been overcome by the heat. There was also probably a small deficiency of oxygen in the atmosphere. He was perfectly satisfied the man’s condition was not due to gob stink: He sent a note about the affair to Mr. J, Senior Hartley, the overman. Mr. Hartley and Mr. Robinson (manager) went down and orders were given that a deputy must remain in charge until the work was completed, the face sanded off, and a door put in at the end of the drift. The work was done. In November his attention was drawn to the drift by the morning deputy report. He paid special attention to the drift, as he had a suspicion that carbon dioxide was present. The suspicion, however, was not such as to justify a report about it. Another deputy, David Smith, thought the drift was slightly worse, and they telephoned to Mr. Arthur Smith, the under- manager, with whom they went to the end of the drift. They found traces of black damp there, He was next suspicious on December 8th as he thought there was a slight increase in the percentage of carbon dioxide. At the end of the shift he reported what he considered to be a slight change in the drift. It never put his lamp out however, and there was no ---. He examined the drift on December 24th and it seemed to be about the same as on December 8th.

TEACHING OLD “PIT DOGS”

Mr H Smith: Isn’t this a district which has needed some considerable attention? – Only the attention the Act requires.

From December 1st to the 24th there are 87 reports about the place. Wouldn’t you look at it as a source of trouble? I want to suggest that in close proximity there was a large amount of gas.  A smell, large or small ought to be in your report book. Didn't yon report it because you thought there was not enough heat? - When we put anything in that book it wants to be worth it.

Don’t you think it wise to report it? - After what has happened, yes. We learn these things as we go on.
Mr Smith. We ought to have learnt them before now.

Cookson told Mr. Gilgannon that they always reported gas when it was present in any amount.

David Smith, of 207, Grimethorpe Street, South Elmsall, deputy in the No. 3 East district gave evidence similar to that of Cookson and said that no one working in the drift had ever complained of headache.

THE EXAMINATION

UNDER-MANAGER'S EVIDENCE

The undermanager, Arthur Smith, of Dunsil! Cottages, South Elmsall, said he gave instructions for the men to go to work on the Sunday night. He gave an instruction for an examination to be made of the Hooton district in addition to the work on the pipes in the West return. There should have been sixteen deputies, but only fourteen went down, the other two being on holiday. An inspection of the Hooton stoppings was to be made, as they had been having some trouble with them since November last, he had been there several days and they had put in a number of stoppings.

By December 23rd, when he made his last inspection, he was satisfied that everything was all right for the holiday. After receiving Bolton’s report on the Sunday evening he told him to get plenty of men and make a careful examination, not missing the entrance to Taylor's drift, and let him know immediately what he found and where he found it. He did not give Boulton instructions to go up Taylor's drift. The next he heard about the affair was at 3.30 a.m., when he was telephoned by the banksman at No. 2 pit, who said there was something wrong on Cookson's district, some men were down, and recue parties were wanted. Witness went into the pit yard immediately and received a clearer statement from a deputy, whom he sent to get the rescue men. He then tried to get Mr. F.K. Robinson on the phone, but failed. On going down the pit he saw Charlesworth and Sykes, and obtained from them a clear idea of what the position was, upon which he arranged for a doctor and rescue workers to be present. He then went to the return junction, at which he arrived at 5 a.m. There was a very strong gob stink at the entrance to the drift, but no smoke.   

Mr. Cook: Why did you suspect Taylor's drift? - We have always suspected it because we had a heating there in the old Hooton district, and it was possible the stoppings had broken down.

Was the heating in the old Hooton district ever reported? - Yes.

SMELL IN 100,000 c.ft. OF AIR

Smith added that the fan ran continuously over the week-end, and about 100,000 cubic feet of air was coming off where the men smelt the stink. He agreed with Mr. Cook that the stink must have been very strong for them to smell it in such a volume of air. There were plenty of birds on the surface, but they had had no occasion to use them for some years. It was very unusual to place handkerchiefs over the face.

Mr. H. Smith: Don't you think it too long to leave a pit of this character? Isn't there a necessity for inspections to go on systematically during a stoppage? - Yes, and we usually have them, but it happened that three peculiar days dropped together - Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and Sunday - and we thought the men would like to have a complete holiday.

Isn't it right that the atmospheric conditions in the pit can alter in, an hour? - Yes.

When was the last time this colliery, before this accident, notified any gob stink or heating under the regulations of the Coal Mines Act? - I don't know.

Mr. Furniss pointed out that it was in 1927.

Mr. Smith, Am I right in saying yon have had heatings and smells regularly from the Nos. 1 and 2 Hooton districts? - We have had nothing from No. 2 Hooton until a month before Christmas. A heating was then reported, and we got five or six stoppings up.

MANAGERS EVIDENCE

CLOSE TOUCH WITH DEPUTIES

Captain F. K. Robinson, manager of the colliery, was the final witness. He said he made arrangements for an inspection by the overmen to take place on the Saturday morning, to be followed by one by the deputies on the Sunday. There had been reports about heatings in the No. 2 Hooton district, and five stoppings were put in before December 23rd. The first time he received a report of a gob stink from the No. 1 Hooton district was on June 23rd of last year, and on the following day he examined, the district. He went up the heading, but there was nothing beyond an ordinary return smell. Nothing was said to him about a man having been taken out because of heat. He visited the district on August 13th and everything was normal. There was no stink nor sign of heating. The last time ho visited it before Christmas was on December 9th. On account of Cookson saying he had smelt something, witness went through the regulator door into Taylor's drift. There was nothing but an ordinary return smell. On receiving news of the disaster on the Monday morning he gave instructions for stoppings to be put in at Taylor's drift, and he organised rescue parties. The fan was never stopped at holiday times.

Captain Robinson added that it was his practice to meet the deputies informally every three months to have a general discussion. All deputies had been encouraged to report anything that they found of an unusual nature. They had been told to report gas or anything else, however small the quantities might be. Even if they found and removed gas, they had been told to report it. If they had reported anything but were wrong, he had always said they were quite right in making a report. It was much better to report and be wrong than not to report at all.

Mr. Furniss: Have you had any cause to suspect that the deputies have not reported what they ought to have done? - No.

THEORIES OF CAUSE

Asked for his theories as to the cause of the accumulation of gas behind the door Captain Robinson said he could only think of two solutions that were at all feasible One was that, bearing in mind that the glass had dropped so suddenly and so much during the period between Christmas Eve and December 28th, and also the fact that the intake main road had been drawn off below this fault drive, he thought it was quite possible that a fall of roof might have occurred, probably in the fault drive or further in-bye on the intake air-way that led to the top of Taylor’s drift. If that happened the ventilation would be very much impeded and gas probably giving off from No. 1 Hooton district would accumulate behind the door. There was another solution. There was staple pit in the old Hooton district. A stopping was put in the staple pit. The stopping was formed by a ventilation door being put on a lodge, so far down it. The top of the door was filled up with muck and sand. It might be that something had caused that to give way, and if that happened it was quite possible there would be a "pull" from the intake side, through the staple pit, along the old face, and down Taylor's drift.

Mr. Furniss: Can you connect any of the heatings in No. 2 Hooton district with this affair? - No. They have nothing to do with it. He added that if he had smelt gob stink at such a distance ho would have come to the conclusion that there was something badly wrong.

Do you think it was wise to go into Taylor's drift without rescue apparatus? - No.

In reply to Mr. Cook. Captain Robinson said there had been a spontaneous combustion in No. 1 Hooton district.

DEALING WITH "DANGEROUS THING."

"Why don't we get at this? Don’t let's be timid, remarked Mr. H. Smith, who then asked “Are you satisfied there has been a fire?’ To which Captain Robinson replied, "Yes."

Mr. Smith: You got no smell? - Not on December 9th.

Don't you think the fire has been going on a considerable time? - Yes.

I am suggesting that any other set of deputies might have done exactly as these did in their anxiety to get to know what was wrong? - Certainly.

It was not done with any deliberate attempt to ignore the manager or under-manager? - Good gracious, no.

You have attended this district fairly regularly? - Yes.

And there was cause for it - Yes.

Don't you think it would have been wise to inspect the pit daily during the Chrisman holidays? – From subsequent events certainly but up to the holidays I had no reason to think something was wrong.

Mr Stewart, representing the Colliery Company, said the Company heard with pride the stories of the bravery of men and boys. There had been nothing in the Inquiry to reflect on the conduct of the colliery officials.

This mine is subject to spontaneous combustion? - Yes.

So that you know you had a dangerous thing to contend with? - Yes.

I expect that there will be a daily Inspection, because you can get quicker changes in this mine than in ordinary mines? - I encourage the inspection of the mine by the workmen. I believe in having the opinions of the men as well as the officials.

Captain Robison said that he gave instructions five or six weeks before the accident that oil lamps had not to be used but he had since given permission for their return.

MR SMITH'S THANKS

Mr Smith, I am much obliged to you for that, because it saves us a lot of trouble. If you had not done so there would probably have been a row all over Yorkshire. I want the miner to realise that his life is as much under his own care as under the supervision of others.

Captain Robinson said he withdrew the oil lamp with a view to the general safety of the men, and he still held to that opinion. At the same time, he quite agreed that he men could not carry out the letter of the law without an oil lamp in each working place.

Summing up, the Coroner said it went without saying that the jury would find that the men met their deaths through carbon monoxide poisoning. They then had to consider the circumstances, whether there was any negligence on the part of any person, or whether the disaster was entirely adventitious.  It was because the men found something, they did not suspect existed that they met their deaths. The circumstances were unusual. The rest of the story consisted of the heroic but unavailing efforts that were made to get the five men who were overcome, to safety. It was impossible to say that seven or eight experienced men did what they did consciously or sub-consciously considering what they were going to do. The fact that they did not rush through was shown by the fact that some placed handkerchiefs over their faces and the conversation as to whether they would be effective. The possibility of carbon monoxide appearing in such quantities did not appear to have impressed them. It could not be said that the men went blindly into it. It was not a case of something happening suddenly but they did not realise the presence of so much carbon monoxide, and their in lay the secret of their deaths.

After a four minute retirement the jury returned a verdict of “Accidental death” and added that no blame was attached to anyone.


DISASTER CAUSE

CONCLUSION OF BENTLEY INQUIRY

The eight day Inquiry into the Bentley Colliery disaster was concluded by Sir Henry Walker, Chief Inspector of Mines, on Saturday, with a warm tribute to the innate bravery and self-sacrifice of miners.

The last witness was Mr Albert Longden, manager of the colliery, who attributed the explosion to a defective lamp, and in reply to Sir Henry said damaged lamps were not frequent, but in this instance all indications pointed to such a mishap. He did not accept heating as the cause of the explosions: there would have been some smell.

Mr Herbert Smith, in a final address to Sir Henry, asked him to consider three points:-

(1) That it be made possible for the men to make periodic inspections of the pits.
(2) He was not satisfied that all possible had been done to prevent heating;
(3) That in future the men have access to the officials' reports of heatings.

Mr. Stewart, representing the Colliery Company, said the Company heard with pride the stories of the bravery of men and boys. There had been nothing in the Inquiry to reflect on the conduct of the colliery officials.

 

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