What Was Left Of The Cage At The Pit Bottom
Markham Pit disaster 30th July 1973. 18 miners were killed and 11 seriously injured. The cage plunged to the bottom of the pit after 14 built in safety devices failed to halt the cage.
Philip Healey and Pete Searson turned out.
Philip had actually left the Mines Rescue Service (retired) but on hearing about the disaster he phoned Ratcliff Power Station and said he wasn't coming in and volunteered his services to the Mines Rescue service, in fact he just turned up and joined in being a fully trained and experienced emergency winder operator. The Mansfield emergency winder was on site so they used it.
To get to the bodies they had to cut and haul away the steel rope, which had collapsed down onto the cage.
Ray Havill and Harry Meakin pulled the cage out.
I remember the day the cage went down - it was during the school holidays and there was a hell of a commotion at the station as opposed to the normal ringing of various bells etc. so it was obvious something serious had happened. Years later I was on a training course in Wales.
Another delegate was an ex-mining engineer who had been involved in the investigation following Markham. According to him the winder's manual braking handle had sheared, and the drum's emergency stop was incorrectly wired preventing this working either.
These devices would not have stopped the cage plummeting to the pit bottom (the result of the failure of the other safety devices) but would have reduced the consequential damage that led to so much other stuff falling
a) down the shaft and
b) being rocketed up the shaft wrecking the winder and winding house.
The winder operator just had to wait, unable to do a thing. Understandably, I don't believe he was able to work again. Another account (amongst other horror stories) tells of the bottom deck of the fallen cage being only 18" high when recovered.
David Anson - Sun 12/10/2003
I was in the Derby County and Borough Constabulary as a lad and was on traffic patrol (radar speed check unit) on the day of the Markham accident and we were sent to the area to cover for those local officers who were needed at the scene and to deal with relatives etc. The atmosphere of communal grief around Markham was palpable. As I say, we were only peripheral to events, but it is something that has stayed with me ever since - seeing how everyone pulled together. I doubt you would ever get such a feeling in any other type of community.
Ross Sharp - Sat 23/11/2002
Just a snippet of information for you about the 1973 Markham disaster. My father lost a cousin in the cage, Charlie Palmer. I can confirm that the windingman never spoke again. We were a Codnor/Ripley / Golden Valley mining family, (on both sides); my father, Edwin 'Ted' Sharp, working at Brittain and other pits. He started as a boy, working ponies, and then clipping tubs on, eventually becoming a steelchecker. He left the pits after developing chronic conjunctivitis. My elder brother, Michael, was employed at the No. 5 Area Laboratories, Eastwood, on air analysis. Two other uncles, Herbert 'Bill' Frost and Peter Nicklin, were union stalwarts.
My uncle Walter Sharp, was the very last person to work on the Ormonde Colliery site. After recovery of machinery, and capping of the shafts, he was employed as a nightwatchman, complete with Alsatian, a very friendly bitch called Bess, who might have licked intruders to death!
Sadly, all my uncles and Dad are long gone, and I now live in the U.S.A.
Just to let you know the mentioned Charlie Palmer in the article by Ross Sharp wasn't killed in the cage in the 1973 Markham disaster but was killed in the Feb of 1974 in a collapse at Makham.he was my father.if it is possible to contact Ross Sharp please do so as I have a photo of his father as a child with my grandad.