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Markham Colliery - Emails 10

Names of those who died 1938 Names of those who died 1973

Nick Brown 4308 Markham - Inaccurate Information As Regards Arthur And John Brown 1938
Garth Gregory - My grandfather, Harold Kirk (1896-1965) worked as a Derbyshire miner - Also we have a beautiful cutlery canteen set inscribed Markham Collieries
Ms Watson-Millar -1938 - Markham memorial
Kevin Wagstaff -1973 Markham Pit Disaster - my father Gerald Wagstaff was OK
Ann Atkinson - Markham Miners Memorial
Shane Cooper - My dad, Gordon Richard Cooper, sadly died in the Markham Cage Disaster in 1973

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Nick Brown 4308 Markham
10 Aug 2014
Inaccurate Information As Regards Arthur And John Brown 1938

Ref the above info John Brown was injured in the '38 disaster, his son Arthur was the youngest killed in the '38 disaster. His other son John Thomas was killed in the disaster also, his other sons were Alan, Joe, Lorenzo who have all passed away the only living son is Raymond who is my dad.

Please can Ms Watson Millar contact ourselves as my father was not aware of any other relatives.

Thank you
Nick Brown 4308 Markham
Colliery electrician.

Ms Watson-Millar
29 August 2013
1938 Markham memorial

Hello I believe my grandfather's brother’s were killed and injured in the 1938 Markham disaster. Arthur Brown who died and John Brown who was injured. My grandfather was also said to be a rescuer of the injured. I was told as a young child by my mother, a direct descendent.

I would like to know more please. We still have ties to the  village,  I myself  grow  up there but feel it  was a very closed chapter, lots of families who I know still live in the village and have lost  the  community spirit and courage that was shown in the hard times. Maybe this has a lot to do with the Thatcher years and miner strikes, but when you have knowledge that even the Royal family contributed to the courage of the whole district and village’s courage at the time of the disaster I wonder if any remaining family know this?

Also as a family member of the people who died and helped with the disaster may be you could shed more light on the matter of why a memorial has been placed without their family’s knowledge and reasons for why it has not been advertised more as I am sure my family would have attended.

Hope you can shed more light for me and my young family on this matter.

yours sincerely

Ms Watson-Millar

There is some information about the memorial on my site
And the Derbyshire Council, 19 November 2012

Other than that I would assume people in the village would have know about it and something should have been in the local press but for those involved in the memorial trying to track down grand children and great grand children would have been very difficult, time consuming and probably expensive.

The disaster you mention was a coal dust explosion as against a methane gas explosion.

79 men were killed and another 38 or 39 injured when some runaway tubs struck an electrical cable joint box near the Blackshale pit bottom. It happened at 5.45am on 10th May 1938 and the men were waiting to go up the pit at the end of their night shift. There was a flash from the cable and ignited the clouds of fine dust lying on the floor and sides of the roadway that had been thrown into the air. A coal dust explosion is more violent than a gas explosion and the men would have been severely hurt.

Following this incident more stonedust was spread in roadways at all pits to mix with the coal dust and prevent such a thing happening again.

Many volunteers from men going to work, and others down the pit, treated the injured and unfortunately later, after the scene had been visited by the Mines Inspector, the Manager and others from The Staveley Coal & Iron Co including the Surveyors who had to mark the positions of everyone so that a plan could be made of the scene and so that an inquiry into it could go ahead the bodies of the dead were removed.

There had been a methane gas explosion earlier at Markham No1 colliery on 2s Blackshale face at 2.45pm on 21st January 1937. On that occasion 8 men were killed and 2 others injured. All those who perished were burned but all died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

The cage disaster that happened on 30th July 1973. I think this was the catalyst for the memorial as that was within living memory. On that occasion there was a cage overwind due to a mechanical breakage of part of the winding engine and the unfortunate engine driver tried his utmost to arrest the speed of the cages but to no avail. 18 men were killed and a further 11 seriously injured when the cage crashed into the pit bottom at speed.

If you enter Markham Colliery disaster in Google then also Markham Colliery memorial you will find several items relating to all the accidents and also it will highlight the timing and advertising when the ceremony was to take place. It is impossible to contact all relatives who may have some past relatives such as yourself. In your case 3 generations have passed and you like many others have moved away. However you do mention that you still had ties with the community maybe one of them could have contacted you.

All the men's names are listed on those sites, and the ones you are particularly interested in are there.

I have had dealings with the memorial at Bilsthorpe village and it took around 3 years of hard work by the committee of the Heritage Society and in particular one man, the Chairman to get to the final day for the big one in October 2011 and the other the year before was a stone in the churchyard which was started by a relative of one of the sinkers in 1927 and she lives in America. About 20 people attended that dedication.  These things are not done overnight so many people must have known of the proposal at Markham as they did at Bilsthorpe. At Bilsthorpe the press were alerted several weeks before and so was Radio Nottingham. Around 250 people as well as 240 schoolchildren attended that dedication and unveiling of the monument.

Trusting this information is useful.

Bob Bradley

Garth Gregory
18 December 2013
My grandfather, Harold Kirk (1896-1965) worked?as a Derbyshire miner - Also?we have a beautiful cutlery canteen set inscribed Markham Collieries

Do you have information on my grandfather, Harold Kirk (1896-1965) who worked as a Derbyshire miner.
I recall my grandparents living at Peverill House, then The Boundaries, Chesterfield until his retirement.
I have a photo of him delivering a Health and Safety Talk to some miners - holding a Davey lamp.

Also we have a beautiful cutlery canteen set inscribed on top with:
Presented to:-

Mrs H Kirk
by the officials and workmen
Markham Collieries
as a token of esteem

Mrs H Kirk was my maternal grandmother Eva Kirk, nee Clegg, though I am not sure of the reason for such a wonderful gift

Kind regards
Garth Gregory

Kevin Wagstaff
30 July 2013
1973 Markham Pit Disaster - my father Gerald Wagstaff was OK

Having just read the Derbyshire Times and the 40 years article, bring back the memories, my father Gerald Wagstaff worked on the coal face at Markham and was underground at the time of the accident, I was 15 years old and watching county cricket at Bramall Lane (Yorkshire v Derbyshire) when the Sheffield Star man came onto the ground selling the newspaper and shouting out the headline of the Pit disaster at Markham Colliery.

I was unable to ring home so it wasn’t until my return that evening I got the news that my dad was OK.

A day I will never forget  Kevin

Ann Atkinson
19 February 2012
Markham Miners Memorial

There are plans to install a Miners’ Memorial on the Markham Vale site.  We, Charles Monkhouse - artist, and me, Ann Atkinson - poet, have put forward our proposal for this, and are looking for information about community groups to contact and work with.
Your website looks very interesting, and I feel your contacts would be essential in the designing of this memorial. 

Would you be able to provide links for us to contact?

Best wishes

Ann Atkinson


Derbyshire Poet Laureate

23 Feb 2012

We've now made it onto the short-list for this commission....and we're both deep into our research.... I'm going to Sheffield University archive library next week - to look at the Arthur Markham essay competition archive....hoping to find something written by miners from Markham in the two boxes.....

very best wishes

Ann Atkinson

Shane Cooper
4 March 2011
My dad, Gordon Richard Cooper, sadly died in the Markham Cage Disaster in 1973

It did seem very strange to me when I first visited your web site and found my dads name, Gordon Richard Cooper, I just sat there staring at it for what seemed like days. My dad sadly died in the Markham Cage Disaster in 1973, was Gordon Richard Cooper known to everyone as Bob.

As far as I know he was the youngest one to die as he was only 30, leaving my mum Pauline 28 with three young children, Deb 7, Kerry 5, and myself Shane only 2.

It wasn’t my dad’s usual shift but had been asked if he would swap with someone, wrong place at the wrong time is an understatement.

My mum still has the cuttings out of the national newspapers with all four of us on the cover page, very sad to look at after all these years even though I can’t remember that time being only 2.

I would love to get any information about what happened on that day in 1973 as it’s been a massive void for many years.

I still live in the area with my wife Dawn and two young sons, Dalton 9 and Taylor 7, and losing my dad at a young age makes me so much closer to them, I cherish every second I have with them as I know only too well no one knows what’s waiting round the next corner.

Same as all the children of the victims I have had to grow up without a father because of what happened on that tragic day, and with the added fact I was too young to even remember him has a massive affect on a person, more than words could ever say.

As a child growing up, I always wanted to follow in his footsteps and become a miner. I can recall meeting a girlfriends parents and them asking me "what do you want to do when you leave school then Shane?" Which I quickly replied "work down the pit like my dad did", I don’t think this was the answer they required, maybe "become a merchant banker" may have sealed the deal, but I had other plans. I eventually married a miners daughter, and glad I am too, so all’s well that ends well, on that score at least.

I never did fulfil my childhood plans though, and I’m not really sure why I wanted to go down that route after what happened to dad. Maybe in my mind, all I really wanted to do was face my demons, take on the beast that took my dad from me. If only I could ride the cage down the same shaft and live to tell the tale, I would somehow have taken revenge, a way of getting one up for my dad, I suppose ?? Strange how a childs mind works overtime, dont you think?

Needless to say, I’m proud to be the son of a miner. And although I never got to know him, I’ve learnt from my mum and others about him, and I know this, he was the best of husbands to mum, the best of dads to his three young kids for the short time he had with us, liked by everyone, loved by his family and friends, and truly missed everyday, how’s the saying go? “The good die young", Never a truer word spoken. But at least if myself and the families of all the men who sadly died along side my dad, can keep on remembering them, and pass those memories on to generations to come, we can keep them alive in our hearts and minds forever.

I’d like to get in contact with Tony Sissons who wrote a message on your site, his dad died along side mine, I don’t know him but think it would be nice to speak with him, we’ve gone through the same situation, and were both very young the day of the accident, if you have any way of contacting him would you pass my email on to him please?

And I’d love to speak to any survivors or anyone involved in the rescue, I know as the years pass by it s more unlikely to happen, but would be nice.

Keep up the great work on the site Fionn and thanks again, Take care,/p>

Shane Cooper