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Rufford Colliery Disaster - Mansfield, Nottingham. 7th February 1913

Those Who Died

Rufford Colliery Disaster
Mansfield, Nottingham. 7th February 1913

These temporary wooden headstocks were erected during the sinking of Rufford Colliery
between 1911 and 1913.

Photographs of Rufford Colliery

The men who died were:-

  • Frederick Paddon, aged 36, died 08 Feb 1913, Hope Street, Mansfield
  • James Wigman, aged 43, died 07 Feb 1913, 27, Hall Street, Mansfield
  • Frank Dagnall, aged 27, died 07 Feb 1913, Gilcroft Cottage, Mansfield
  • Andrew Dagnall, aged 37, died 07 Feb 1913 , Gilcroft Cottage, Mansfield
  • Herbert Woodward, aged 23, died 07 Feb 1913, Pelham Street, Mansfield
  • John Knowles, aged 33, died 07 Feb 1913, Blidworth
  • William Hollings, aged 22, died 07 Feb 1913, 15 Scarcliffe Road, Mansfield
  • Walter Storey, aged 38, died 07 Feb 1913, Big Barn Lane, Mansfield
  • Henry Scott, aged 47, died 07 Feb 1913, 4, Belper Street, Mansfield
  • Jesse Hart, aged 26, died 07 Feb 1913, 10, Carter Lane, Mansfield
  • Joseph (John) Tomlinson, aged 40, died 07 Feb 1913, 15, Scarcliffe Road, Mansfield
  • Joseph Bettney, aged 41, died 07 Feb 1913, Rainworth 
  • Thomas Jordon, aged 32, died 07 Feb 1913, Rainworth
  • Patrick Mulligan, aged 33, died 07 Feb 1913, 51, Victoria Street, Mansfield      

Several others managed to hang on to the damaged scaffolding and survived. 

The Injured Were:-

  • George Kemp
  • Samuel Overton
  • Tom Tennant
  • Tom Bradle

With thanks to Alan Beales for the list of those who died

The Inquiry

Sir Arthur B. Markham, in his evidence to the inquiry, advocated the use of ladders in all shafts when they were in the process of being sunk through water bearing strata but Mr. J.P. Houfton of the Bolsover Co., Ltd., expressed the view that if there had been ladders in this accident, no lives would have been saved.

Mr. F. Coulson said that he had used ladders while sinking through quicksand in County Durham.
He said:-
“I think it would be of advantage to have ladders in some cases. It is probably true in this case, that no more than one or two men would have got on to ladders from the scaffold when they heard the barrel coming, but it would have given the men in the water a good chance to get hold of something to support them. I applied ladders in the East of the County of Durham when sinking through quicksand. On one occasion there was some alarm and one of the men came all the away to bank, a distance of 155 yards by one of the ladders.”

Mr. Coulson suggested the erection of ‘kep’ beams in the headgear to prevent a hoppit or water barrel falling down the shaft if it became free, should be seriously considered. This was not considered to be an easy matter but the matter should be given serious consideration.


In Memory FPAlison Walters
9 Sep 2016
‘In loving memory of the victims of the Rufford Pit Disaster February 7th 1913’

Hi, my name is Alison Walters. I have found among a late relatives belongings a small memorabilia card relating to the Rufford Pit Disaster of 1913.  It is a small card with the words ‘In loving memory of the victims of the Rufford Pit Disaster February 7th 1913’ along with the names of all the unfortunate victims. I also have an A4 sheet of paper depicting the same disaster - however on this is printed a poem "In the Midst of Life" - which was to be sold for two pence each and the money to be distributed to the widows and orphans. The foreword is written by John C Brittain, Church Street, Mansfield. It also shows the victims’ names and ages and picture of the colliery. This item is torn in places but all the wording is still discernible.

I was wondering if you would like a copy of these items for the website, I would be happy to email you scanned copies.

Many thanks - by the way, the website is very interesting and informative.


Rufford Colliery Disaster, February 7th, 1913.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Once again I am taking the liberty to appeal on behalf of the Widows and Orphans of the men who lost their lives in the terrible disaster at the New Rufford Pit Sinking. My humble effort in poem form will be sold for Twopence each, and the proceeds will be handed over to the Mayor.
Yours very truly,
JOHN C. BRITTAIN, Church Street, Mansfield.

[Illustration by kind permission of Captain C Clayton, Managing Director Grand Theatre]

Andrew Bagnall, 37
Frank Bagnall, 27
Thomas Jordan, 32
Joseph Bettney, 41
John Tomlinson, 40
Jesse Hart, 26
Henry Scott, 47

Walter Storey, 38
John Knowles, 33.
Herbert Woodward, 26.
James Wigman, 43.
Patrick Mulligan, 33.
William Hollins, 22.
Fredrick Paddon, 36.

In The Midst Of Life

Secluded Forest, dear to me,
Far from the haunts of men,
An awful death to thirteen came,
May I relate it, then: -

“Get up for dinner - do, please, Dad?
And wake the boys for me;
I would not have you miss a shift,
It means so much for we.”

Father and son they rise and dress,
Enjoy their mid-day meal:
Mother now packs them up some snap -
How proud she then must feel

As each in turn bids her Good-day,
And then adieu to all;
0! had they known ere close of day
Life’s curtain, death, would fall.

Conductor! Will you stop the car?
My mates now all will ride,
With hearts no light, and spirits bright,
They’re seated side by side.

Too soon they reach the terminus,
Each to the other talk, -
No thought of danger filled their breasts,
As on and on they walk.

Those Sinkings they at Rufford reach,
The brave eighteen go down;
Each work and toil for those they love –
O! what will be their crown?

A crash! A crash! Seven tons in weight, This cylinder was hurled;
It thundered in that well of death -
O! what a death unfurled !

Deep down in that black hole to-night These toilers thirteen sleep;
No more will Daddy, dear, come home, -Mother and children weep.

Their heads are crowned with glory now, They’re natures noble men;
They gave their lives for others, too,
And died within their den.

God grant them now a resting-place
In mansions of the blest,
Whose Souls for love have paid the price,- May each from Heaven find rest.

One more now joins the stricken band;
Alas! we’ve left but four;
With them that night will live each day,
Until life's journey’s o'er.

Too late for some, two men go down,
To answer calls for aid;
Yet not too late to save four lives -
The hand of death thus stayed.

Those to the rescue who went down,
The bravest of the brave,
A rich reward awaits you both
Who risked your lives to save.