Telegram From The King
A telegram from the King and Queen, read by the Rev.Branson stated: "The Queen and I have heard of the disaster at Creswell Colliery with deep distress, and we send our heartfelt sympathy to the wives and families of those who have lost their lives. GEORGE R."
A message from the Prime Minister, sent to the Pit-head by Lord Hyndley (Chairman of the National Coal Board) was also read. It stated: "I have heard with deep regret of the tragic loss of 80 men as the result of the fire at Creswell Colliery. Will you, please convey my heartfelt sympathy to their families ?"
General Secretary's Message Blood is on coal to-day as it has always been. Let those who criticise the miners and the costs of coal now realize the price of its getting' Mr. Arthur Horner (General Secretary, National Union of mineworkers) told 2,000 people at Creswell Colliery yard on Tuesday.
Dangers Reminder Sir Hubert Houldsworth (Divisional Chairman) said that he wished to extend to the bereaved, the sincere sympathies of the East Midland Division of the National Coal Board. "Notwithstanding all that human ingenuity can do, we get repeated reminders of the dangers of this industry," Sir Hubert said.
Minister of Fuel's Statement "Tearing and Jamming of Conveyor Belt" At a Press conference on Wednesday afternoon, the Minister of Fuel, Mr. Philip Noel-Baker, said that while the cause of the fire was not specifically known, it was believed that it was probably due to "tearing and jamming of the conveyor belt!"
It was one of the newest and finest conveyor belts in the country and was installed not very long ago, but it was believed that somehow it got jammed and that the friction set up with the driving roller caused ignition and started the fire. In normal conditions it might have been hoped that the fire could have been brought immediately under control.
The Minister announced that he had decided that there should be an immediate public inquiry into' the circumstances and causes of the disaster, and he asked Sir Andrew Bryan, Chief Inspector of Mines (who was present at the conference) to take charge of the inquiry himself.
His decision to hold an inquiry had received the full support of the N.C.B. and the N.U.M. This statement was endorsed by Lord Hyndley (Chairman of the N.C.B.) and Ald. W. Bayliss (President of the Notts Area N.U.M.), who were present.
Men's Wonderful Spirit The Minister said that there were some ways in which that disaster was like any other, but it was like other disasters in that it had shown the wonderful spirit of everyone concerned. He had been told that some men might have saved their lives if they had not stopped to finish their jobs before they came away. They knew there was danger, but they wanted to clean up before they left the face. They were still below.
The men down below had helped each other in every possible way and taken great risks so that the, greatest number could get out. He had talked to one of the rescue squads and he thought everybody who had seen their work under dangerous conditions would endorse that they had lived up to the great reputation of the Rescue Service.
They had agreed to go on doing anything as long as they were allowed to, but it became plain, after they had found some bodies, that nobody beyond that point could be alive. The unanimous decision was then made that the affected part of the pit should be sealed off and that no attempt should be made to bring out further bodies. -
He was informed that that was the 71st fire to happen on a conveyor belt but that in previous accidents there had virtually been no loss of life. The point where the belt ignited was at the point of transfer from one belt to another. Special precautions with brickwork, etc., were taken to guard against the danger of fire at such a point.
Fire Danger Recognized The danger of fire from a conveyor belt was, of course, recognized said the Minister. Sir Andrew Bryan, had read a paper on the subject a little time ago. Work was actually going forward at the Ministry's research station at Buxton how to deal with such fires.
The East Midlands Divisional safety inspectorate were in consultation with a Manchester firm not long ago with regard to the putting out of fires underground. They visited Manchester to see this firm extinguish a large oil fire and the demonstration was very impressive. Representatives of the firm came to Creswell pit not very long ago to see what conditions were like in a roadway with very good ventilation, and they then said that that was a much more complicated problem and they were working on it. In view of this visit and its purpose, it was particularly tragic that such a disaster should have happened at Creswell.