The funerals took place in Earsdon churchyard on 26th February and it was estimated at the time that there were about 60,000 people at the funerals of the victims, between noon and 1 p.m., carts lined with straw were driven slowly to the doors of the colliers cottages and lifted onto them. Each cart carried five victims and made the journey to the churchyard surrounded by the relatives of the dead and the followers extended down the road as far as the eye could see.
Some of the victims, about ten, were buried at Cowpen and a few at Seghill but the majority were buried at Earsdon. The Duke of Northumberland gave a plot of land to the north of the church for the burials and this was later incorporated into the churchyard.
The work of digging the graves had not proceeded as quickly as it should have and when the procession reached the churchyard only two thirds of the graves were completed but the work was quickly completed.
The Reverend E.R. Mason, the Vicar of the Parish and his Curate, Reverend D.T. Jones met the coffins as they arrived and read the service for the dead and it took until 3 p.m. to complete all the proceedings. After the service was finished the graves were filled and this took until late into the evening.
Mr. T. Wemyss Reid, wrote on the burial of the victims-
When the place will recover form the paralysing shock it had received, if indeed it ever recovers, Heaven only knows. For many years to come babes yet unborn may rue the terrible occurrence of last Tuesday week.”
Mr. W.F. Barymorean was appointed actuary for the Fund and 7/- per week was assigned to each widow and 10/6d. to a widow and child, 13/6d. for a widow and 2 children, 15/6d. for a widow and three children, 17/6d. for a widow and 4 children, 19/6d. for a widow and five children. The allowances would continue with no misconduct on the widow’s part as long as they remained unmarried and the children to age 15 years for girls and 12 years for boys. Infirm adults received 7/- per week. The widows would get £20 on remarrying and £3 for funeral expenses on dying with £1 for the death of a child.
Mr. S. Reed was the Coroner at the inquest which was held at Seaton Deval. The
The single pit shaft was 12 feet in diameter and 100 fathoms deep with a substantial wooden brattice down the centre made of 3 inches plank on plank. The pumps were 24 inches in diameter and the shaft was blocked for 7 fathoms after the disaster.
Carbonic acid gas was thought to have been the cause of death of those entombed which could have been produced by the dying embers of the furnace. The Inspector said-
This was the opinion of the jury on how the men met their deaths and they added-
Those that were trapped were hungry, thirsty and weary but a new enemy appeared, gas.”
There is little evidence in Hartley today of the momentous events that occurred at the colliery in 1862.
Joseph Humble the under-viewer was so devastated by the disaster that he left mining and opened a Drapers store.
I see in your account of the Hartley pit disaster you have a date of the 17th January 1862, then in the body of the text you have the 25th.
I have in my possession a very small card (produced at the time??) which gives the date January 16th 1862.
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