Parlington Hall :: The Gascoigne Mines in Garforth

Coal Mining in the Nineteenth Century

The header picture is of a pit pony, along with the coal trucks it had to pull, day in, day out. You will also notice an oil lamp hanging on the right, a larger version for clarity is below. The pony handler is just in shot, his jacket sleeve, on the left.

The picture sets the scene for the true story below, the full horror of working down a mine and experiencing a flood is hard to image.

Garforth Pits Overlay

A few people contacted me after I added this section and asked if I could pinpoint the location of the Sisters and Isabella Pits in relation to the landscape as it is now [2009] So here is an image from Google Earth overlaid with a plan of the site compiled from the 1905 Ordnance Plan and also the layout as reproduced in the book by Graham Hudson; my thanks to both sources.

Sisters Pit Overlay

Sisters Pit, Garforth

Click this link for a larger version of the plan, the image is a 371KB file.

Isabella Pit Overlay

Isabella Pit, Garforth

Click this link for a larger version of the plan, the image is a 381KB file.

Serious Flooding Of A Colliery Near Leeds

Excerpt from: The Leeds Mercury (Leeds, England),Friday, March 23, 1883 During the past fortnight an extensive colliery at Garforth, near Leeds, has been temporarily destroyed by flooding. On Thursday morning, March 8th, while seventy men and boys were at work in the Sisters Pit, the hangers on at the bottom of the shaft were suddenly deluged by water. The shower developed into a roaring stream, which found its way through the workings at an alarming rate, and frightening the workmen into a stampede. Corves, tools and other machinery were abandoned, and the ponies were hurried through the deepening water to the bottom of a distant shaft, whence they along with the miners, were removed to the surface. Not a few of the men stood in imminent danger of drowning, for the volume of water was so great as to flood the coal level to the depth of three or four feet before the entire working party had left it. The escape of John Varley is described as most remarkable. The mine having ordinarily a considerable feeder of water, it had been found necessary to use a pumping engine, which was fixed in a chamber abutting on the shaft, at a distance of eighteen yards from the bottom. Communicating with the engine-chamber were bucket lifts, the shaft of which extended down to the coal level. For the regulation of the bucket lifts, ladders were placed in the pumping shaft. Varley being appraised of his danger by the roar of the falling water, knew that his only chance of escape was by descending to the coal level through the pumping shaft. He did so and on arrival at the bottom he found himself up to the neck in water. Eventually, however, he succeeded in reaching the distant shaft, by which he was safely brought to the surface.

Sisters Pit, Garforth

Sisters Pit, Garforth

The Garforth Colliery is the property of Colonel Gascoigne and Lady Ashtown; but the firm is generally spoken of as "the Owners of Garforth Colliery," under which title affairs are conducted. Forming part of the great coal bed known as the Beeston Park seam, the Garforth Colliery extends three miles from east to west and one and a half miles from north to south. It is divided into three sections, which are severally named the Isabella, the Elizabeth, and the Sisters. The shaft communicating with the Sisters Pit was sunk nearly forty years ago. In the course of that operation much water was released from the sandstone. Until tubbing could be put in it was necessary to pump off the water at the rate of 1,500 gallons per minute. Commencing at a depth of 38 yards, the shaft was secured for a distance of 85 yards by cast iron tubbing. Ten years ago a segment of the tubbing gave way, and the water sprang out and rapidly flooded the mine. For six months men and engines were engaged in pumping. Thirteen hundred gallons per minute were taken out, and yet the water gained. While workmen laboured at the hole in the tubbing, the water day after day crept up the shaft, and when the leak was eventually repaired, a distance of ten inches only separated them from the flood below. An hour or so more and it would have been impossible to repair the leak.

Isabella Pit, Garforth

Isabella Pit, Garforth

When the second flood occurred a fortnight ago it was difficult to ascertain how the water had been released, but, as the result of careful examination, it was found that a segment of tubbing, measuring 2ft by 9in., had given way. It was decided to stop the leak by means of a wrought iron plate, 4ft. By 2ft 8in., faced with India rubber. The work had been almost completed, and the circle of the shaft was being completed with similar lining, when the water started out with terrific force at another spot five feet lower down. The safety of the workmen was seriously jeopardised. The iron tubbing which had yielded to the pressure of the water was violently thrown against the platform upon which they stood, and the water dashed against them with such force that the strongest of them could scarcely retain his hold. The second outburst has entirely destroyed all hope of saving the colliery, except by means of pumping. It is calculated that the dip and rise workings are all now full, for the water at the sisters pit has risen to a height of 22 yards. On the 12th March the depth registered was 18ft.; yesterday it was 65ft. The pumps every minute raise 1,000 gallons, but the water is gaining at the rate of 7ft per diem [per day]. The exhausted workings, which the water must flood before it can fill the "bottle necks" or the shafts of the mine, are so extensive as to measure altogether three miles in length; yet at the present rate of increase it is estimated that two or three days only can elapse before the water will appear at the surface. An effort will be made to subdue the flood by means of additional pumping apparatus. Operations are now in charge of Mr Wormald, engineer to the colliery, and several of the consulting mining engineers have also been in attendance during the last few days. There can be little doubt that the tubbing has been weak through age, and it is difficult to estimate the damage which will ensue, but it cannot fall short of £10,000 [Based on average earnings, this represents £5,200,000 in todays money (2009)]. The flood has thrown out of employment 300 miners.

New Information on the Mine [Feb 2011]

The article above makes reference to an earlier problem at the Sisters pit, some ten years before the flooding of 1883. A similar problem occurred in 1873 and the flooding caused by a failure of the tubbing was prevented from being a great disaster when James Wormald was instrumental in stopping a flood in the mine and was so regarded that the workers and villagers of Garforth took it upon themselves to present him with a silver tray to commemorate his achievement. [See photos below]

Sisters Pit, Garforth

Close Up of the Tray

Sisters Pit, Garforth

The tray has the following inscription:
Presented to Mr James Wormald
By the inhabitants and working men of Garforth and others,
in recognition of the courage and skill he displyaed in devising and carrying into affect a scheme by which was stopped a serious inflow of water in the sister's pit of a great calamity to the village avoided.

James Wormald, Engineer

Mr Wormald was the engineer accountable for the pits in the 1880's, but his earlier bravery clearly marked him as an important figure in the mining operations of the Gascoigne family.

Update March 3rd 2011

Shortly after the discovery of the tray the lady responsible for making contact in the first place advised me that the object along with a matching tea and coffee service [4 Piece] was to be auctioned by Gildings Auctioneers on Tuesday 1st March 2011. Well that date has passed and I can report that despite my efforts; contacting Lotherton Hall and also the local Garforth historical Society, no-one was in a position to make a bid. I contacted the auctioneers but they were not interested in doing any kind of transaction before the auction. So it fell under the hammer on Tuesday having reached the sum of £180.00. The auction did provide one good result, a better picture of the whole set, as shown below, courtesy of Gildings Auctioneers. The lot can be seen in the auction archive here.

James Wormald EPNS Tray and Service

Update April 26th 2011

Following the good news of the silver service being secured for the benefit of visitors to Lotherton Hall, here is a better view of the inscription, taken in-situ at Lotherton Hall recently.

James Wormald Inscription 1873

Additionally, the full set on display at Lotherton, the red [warm] cast is due to the service being placed on a deep red cloth base.

James Wormald Silver Service 1873

Census Data for James Wormald, Mining Engineer

The following abbreviations are used: [h] = head of household, [w] = wife, [s] = son, [d] = daughter. Following name and status is the age and then date of birth, followed by birth location. From 1881 entries include occupation.

Census 1871 his details were as follows:

WORMALD, James [h] 49 1822 Yorks
WORMALD, Mary A [w] 45 1826 Yorks
WORMALD, Isaac [s] 17 1854 Yorks
WORMALD, Harry [s] 16 1855 Yorks
WORMALD, Eliza [d] 13 1858 Yorks
WORMALD, Bryan [s] 11 1860 Yorks
WORMALD, Frank [s] 10 1861 Yorks
WORMALD, Phoebe [d] 9 1862 Yorks
WORMALD, Alice [d] 5 1866 Yorks

His address was recorded as Isabella Colliery, Parlington.

By 1881 his details were as follows:

WORMALD, James [h] Married 59 1822 Colliery Engineer Barwick, Yorks
WORMALD, Mary A [w] Married 55 1826 Collingham, Yorks
WORMALD, Isaac [s] Single 27 1854 Engine Tenter (Stoker) Manston, Yorks
WORMALD, Harry [s] Single 26 1855 Draughtsman (Arts) Manston, Yorks
WORMALD, Bryan [s] Single 21 1860 Colliery Carpenter Sturton, Yorks
WORMALD, Frank [s] Single 20 1861 Architect Sturton, Yorks
WORMALD, Phebe [d] Single 19 1862 Dressmaker Sturton, Yorks
WORMALD, Alice [d] Single 15 1866 Scholar Sturton, Yorks

His address was recorded as Sturton Grange, Garforth

By 1891 his details were:

WORMALD, James [h] Married 69 1822 Retired Colliery Engineer Barwick in Elmet, Yorks
WORMALD, Mary Ann [w] Married 65 1826 Collingham, Yorks
WORMALD, Isaac [s] Single 37 1854 Stationary Engineman & Stoker Crossgates, Yorks
WORMALD, Frank [s] Single 30 1861 Architect Garforth, Yorks

His address was recorded as: Cyprus Villas, Wakefield Road, Garforth

By 1901 his details were:

WORMALD, James [h] Married 78 1823 Colliery Engineer (Retd) Barwick, Yorks
WORMALD, Mary Ann [w] Married 75 1826 Collingham, Yorks
WORMALD, Isaac [s] Single 47 1854 Pumping Eng Tenter At Colliery Manston, Yorks

His address appears the same although not fully recorded.

By 1911 his details were:

WORMALD, James [h] Widower 89 1822 Retired Colliery Engineer Barwick in Elmet YK
WORMALD, Isaac [s] Single 57 1854 Colliery Engine Man Crossgate YK
HARRIS, Martha Selina Married 57 1854 Housekeeper Kirkburton YK

His address was still Cyprus Villas, Garforth

He died later in 1911 between April and June!

Present Day Garforth

Sisters Pit, Garforth

The Tesco Supermarket in Garforth, which was originally a Safeway Store, prior to them being taken over by Morrisons and sold off to the present owners, was the location of the Sisters Pit, the bridge in the foreground of the photograph above is over the siding which connected to the Leeds-Selby line, west of the present station. Isabella pit was located where the Flyline continues into the woodland beyond the present day industrial estate, much of the spoil from the mines still makes up the landscape today, although in recent years a new warehouse development has seen the removal of the remains of the main spoil heap. The picture is from the early twentieth century. The railway passed behind the buildings and split into 8 tracks each beneath a screen for dropping the coal into the rail trucks beneath.

A Fatal Colliery Accident At Garforth Colliery 1884

After the flood of 1883, some eleven months later, only a short time after the mine had re-opened following the removal by pumping of the water in the flooded tunnels, a fatal accident occurred, as follows.

Excerpt from: The Leeds Mercury, Saturday, February 9, 1884 Yesterday an inquest was held at the Gascoigne Arms, Garforth, before Dr Graham, Coroner for the Honour of Pontefract, into the death of John Maskell (54) and Samual Backhouse (37), at Garforth, early on Tuesday morning, when, for some cause, they were precipitated to the bottom, a distance of a 100 yards and killed. Since March last the mine has been flooded to such an extent that mining has been impossible until recently. Meanwhile vigorous efforts have been made to clear it of water by means of pumping, and at the time the accident occurred Maskell and Backhouse were engaged in fixing a water pipe for use in the operation. Mr Gerrard, Assistant Government Inspector of Mines for the district, watched the enquiry as did also Supt. Stansfield, of the West Riding Constabulary.

The body of Maskell was identified by Rachel Muscroft, his sister-in-law; and that of Backhouse by John Browning, bookkeeper, his brother-in-law. Bevans Wilson, banksman at the colliery, described the operations which were being conducted by the men when the accident took place. They were fixing the water pipe in the shaft, about 46 yards from the bank, and were supported by a cradle or platform, suspended by means of chains, which were attached to the four corners of the wooden structure. It had been necessary to lower and raise the platform a little several times by means of the capstan on the bank, in order to enable the men to do their work. This had been going on some time when witness asked Backhouse, who conducted the operations on the platform, what they were going to do next. He replied, "We are going to lift this pipe again." Witness said, "All right." Backhouse then called out, "Bend up steady," and witness told the engineman to do so The engineman had just tightened the rope when Backhouse shouted "Hold", and added "Lower the capstan." Whilst the capstan was being lowered witness was standing where he could see both the rope and the engineman. There was plenty of light on the pit bank, and the men on the platform had a torch and a flaming lamp. Whilst they were lowering, witness thought the men on the platform were a long time in getting to where they wished to be, and he took particular notice of the rope by which they were being lowered. It was "running plumb," but he did not like the way it was leaving the drum, and he called out to the engineman to stop. The engineman stopped at once, and the witness asked him whether he thought "he had lost any weight." He replied that he could not detect that he had lost any. Witness was turning round to shout down to Backhouse when he heard the crash in the shaft. On looking down he saw that all was in darkness, and he told the engineman that he felt certain the men had gone down the pit. He had heard no cry from the men; not a sound came from them. No time was lost in calling the manager. The engineman was very attentive in carrying out the instructions given him. None of the men who had worked on the platform had complained either of it or of the working of the rope to which it was attached. Witness descended the shaft on Thursday night for the purpose of examining it. Close to where the platform was when it broke he found a mark at the top of a stay, as if the stay had there been caught by one of the iron nuts on the platform. If that were so the men might have slid off the other end of the platform. Some 7ft. Or 8ft. farther down was another stay with a piece off it, as if the platform had also caught it. The platform was, no doubt, broken through the middle, as the result of the sudden jerk when it got free. The Foreman.- Assuming your theory is correct, that the men slid of[f] the platform, there would have been time for them to raise an alarm? The men may have been standing loose on the platform and without having hold of the chains. Mr Routledge, the manager of the pit, informed the Coroner and jury that since the accident occurred he had tried what would be the effect of the nut at the corner of the platform catching the stay which had the mark upon it. He had a new platform made for the purpose, and he and others descended, and the nut was allowed to catch the stay. The result was that the other end of the platform dropped eighteen inches in two seconds, and if he had not had the capstan stopped at once they would have been thrown off it.

John Cooper, the engineman, was next called. He stated that he had commenced work at six o'clock on the Monday morning.

The Coroner.- What are your hours? Twelve hours are considered my day's work. Had you been working continuously from six o'clock on Monday morning until two o'clock on Tuesday morning, when the accident happened? Yes.
How was that - was that a usual thing? No.
How was it, then? They were short of an engineman; that was one reason.
Witness further stated that after Wilson had told him that he believed the men had gone down the pit, he noticed that there was a sudden jerk, as if the platform had caught something and been liberated. Two engines were required in the work, and witness had to attend both. The one engine was 18 yards from the other.

Mr Gerrard.- Were you on duty all this time? Yes.
Didn't you lie down at all? No.
You hadn't a sleep? No.

The Coroner said it seemed to him that it was a very long time for the man to be on duty, and that it was extremely hazardous, considering how important was his duty.

The Foreman (to witness).- I suppose it only happens occasionally? It happens occasionally when they are working three shifts, and when they are in want of an engineman.

Mr Gerrard said the accident was evidently not due to the man being on duty so long; but he strongly objected to a man working so long even occasionally - even once. Machinery upon the working of which men's lives depended should be in charge of a man who was fully awake.

The Foreman.- One knows there are occasions when such a thing must occur.

Mr Gerrard.- I dissent from that. I think you should have a man ready to take the place of another when occasion requires.

A Juror remarked that the work of an engineman was exceedingly tedious, and istead of the hours being extended they should, in his opinion, be reduced.

John Allison, shaftman, said that he was called to the pit immediately after the accident occurred. He descended the shaft by means of a crab rope and "kibble," [def: An iron bucket used in wells or mines for hoisting water, ore, or refuse to the surface.] and found the broken platform hanging about 46 yards from the top. The engine rope was fast to the water-pipe and he took it off the pipe, attached it to the "kibble," and signalled to be drawn to bank. On reaching the bank he informed the manager what had occurred, and the manager and the engineer descended. Witness remained on the bank meanwhile. On his return the manager told him and other men that he had been as far down the shaft as he could get for the water, that he could not see anything of the bodies of the men, and that they would have to search for them. Witness and the other men accordingly provided themselves with grapnels and descended. They stood on a scaffold over the water, and after grappling for about two hours recovered the body of Maskell in about 12ft. Of water. His head was very much crushed. They did not find Backhouse until one o'clock in the day. He was lying in about 30ft. Of water. The back part of Backhouse's head was cut, there was a cut over one of his eyes, and one of his arms was broken.

The Coroner.- As a practical man, to what do you attribute the breaking of the platform? I think it has been caused by a drop, the platform may have rested on something going down the shaft, and when the rope was slackened it would suddenly drop. It might have rested on a stay .I have examined the platform since the accident, and consider that it was strong enough for its purpose. I found the broken platform about 14ft. Below the pipe the men had been engaged in fixing.

By Mr Gerrard.- I was down the shaft on the previous day whilst other men were doing similar work. I then stood on the same platform and noticed nothing unusual either in the state of the shaft or in the working of the rope by which the platform was lowered or raised. I have been hundreds of times lowered and raised on the same platform. Frequently it has caught something in the shaft, and I have had to get it stopped so that it might be liberated. The platform was ten feet long and three feet six inches broad. In the centre on each side, a piece was hollowed out to allow the platform to pass the pump flanges. The breadth of the bearers was thereby somewhat reduced at those points. If you had strengthened the bearers by means of a piece of iron, it would have compensated for the pieces taken out at the sides? You would not do that when you have sufficient wood left.

By Supt. Stanfield.- The platform had been in use about six months, and I had been in the habit of examining it once a fortnight.

Mr Gerrard said he had ascertained that the fastest speed at which the platform could be lowered was one yard in 25 seconds.

Witness said that on Saturday last he was on the platform along with three other men, and they had with them a trunk, weighing two cwt., [Hundredweight] and a set of tools

Mr Routledge described the condition of the shaft after the accident, and the steps taken to recover the men's bodies.

This was the whole of the evidence, and the Coroner, in addressing the jury, said there was no doubt that the platform had caught in the shaft and had suddenly fallen, but whether the men slipped off before it fell or after it had fallen was a matter of doubt.

The jury returned a verdict to the effect that the men were accidentally killed by being thrown from the paltform, but that there was no evidence to show how they were thrown off. They recommended that any other platform which was used in the work should have plates of iron underneath the wooden bearers.

A Sad Epitaph to the Garforth Mines

There are no reliable records of deaths which occurred in the mining industry prior to 1850. Thereafter the records have been extensively catalogued and my research has uncovered some 61 men and boys who died in the three Garforth Pits: Sisters, Isabella and Trench, between 1849 and the closure of the pits in the 1920's. Fortunately no disasters occurred on the scale of the pit disaster at Micklefield (Peckfield) in April 1896 when 63 miners died as a result of an explosion caused by firedamp.

For the Record: The Peckfield Mine Disaster

MICKLEFIELD. Leeds, Yorkshire. 30th. April, 1896.

The colliery was the property of Messrs. Joseph Cliff and Sons and was opened out by this firm about 22 years before the disaster. There were two seams of coal being worked at the time of the disaster, the Upper, the Beeston Bed where the explosion occurred and to which it was confined, and the Lower, Black Bed seam. The coal in the Beeston Bed was mainly steam coal, hard strong, not friable and easily broken. The Section of the Beeston Bed to the south of the East and West Levels, in the Dip, was damp and that to the north of these levels on the rise although drier, was not fiery.

There were two shafts at the colliery, the upcast was sunk through both the Beeston and Black Beds and was used to wind men only. The downcast was sunk to the bottom of the Beeston Bed at 175 yards and was used for drawing coal and the winding of men. The access from the Beeston Bed to the Black Bed was by way of a drift out of the East Level about 320 yards from the downcast shaft. The manager of both the seams was Mr. Charles Houfton who held a First Class Certificate and had been manger of the colliery since it opened. Mr. William Radford was the undermanager who also held a first class certificate and had worked as an undermanager or 17 years. Each seam had separate deputies, and each deputy had a portion of the seam assigned to him. In the ordinary course of events there was one shift for getting coal per day which went down at 6 a.m. and employed between 250 and 260 men and one shift for repairs which went down at 10 p.m. which employed 35 to 40 men. The colliery was worked on the longwall system.

The ventilation was the colliery was by a Waddle Fan which was at the top of the upcast shaft. The fan was 30 feet in diameter and worked at 40 revolutions per minute. It had been installed about 22 years before the accident and since then had been kept in good order and had been running continually. The Beeston Bed was divided into four ventilation districts with each taking its intake from the downcast shaft. These four intakes were on the West Level No.1 Rise Bord, The East Level and No.1 Dip. In the West Level and the No.1 Dip there were two air splits each and in the East Level and the No.1 Rise Bord there was one air split. The currents were carried round all the working faces and the air in the Black Bed was supplied down the Drift from the East Level. Readings taken on the 30th. March by William Hargreaves showed the 79,000 cubic feet per minute were passing into the pit and 16,020 cubic feet to the West Level and its splits, 14,000 to the No.1 Rise Bord and its splits, 32,000 to the East Level and its splits including 8,100 cubic feet to the Black Bed and the No.1 Dip and its slits, 16,500 cubic feet.

There had been very little gas found in the mine before the explosion and there was no history of blowers. Hissing had never been heard in the mine. There were eleven case reported in the previous five years and these were quickly dealt with by the ventilation. The last two of these were on the 17th. and the 23rd. December 1895 in James Plumb's gate in the Fast Level Division in the south east of the Beeston Bed and was coming from the same place on both occasions. There was a crack in the roof and it was cleared away within 12 hours after each discovery. No gas had ever been found in the New North Road of the West Level Division or in the place where the explosion originated. The place was closely packed and there were no cavities that would harbour gas.

Before the explosion the manager was never believed by the three deputies of the night shift that coal dust was likely to exploded but it was a coal dust explosion that claimed the 63 lives. Dust was found to on the props about one-sixteenth of an inch thick and it was admitted that there could have been accumulations behind the timbering on the sides and roofs of the roads. The hardness of the coal was not likely to produce much dust. The coal was loaded into open tubs at one end and taken to the bottom of the downcast shaft in trains of 22 tubs which ran five times each way during the coal getting shift. Lumps of coal fell out during the journey to the bottom of the shaft and there was dust from the shaking tubs during transit which would have been blown down the travelling road by the ventilation currents.

The coal was screened on the surface but the coal was holed in the dirt a the bottom of the seam and was filled into the tubs with forks with prongs about two inches apart which meant that no dirt was filled. The dust from the passing of the tubs and that which fell from them was usually cleared away every evening. The dust that was removed was mainly of shale dust but no coal dust had been removed from the Beeston Seam for six months previous to the explosion. The roadways but not the sides or roofs were watered but this was not done on a regular basis and the last time that this was done was two weeks before the explosion.

Safety lamps were used by the deputies during the examination of the seams before the commencement of a shift and before blasting operations. For coal getting operations naked lights were used and the colliery engineer, Mr. Childe, that these lights were unsafe.

At 7 a.m on the morning of the explosion, three deputies, Lillyman, Hopkinson and Backhouse inspected every part of the Beeston Bed and the report was that it was clear of gas and the ventilation was good and the roof and sides were safe and good. Lillyman placed his mark in white chalk at the side of John Goodall's Gate and no fall or break from which gas might come was observed at that time. No coal was got on the 30th. April and the ordinary shift did not go down at 6 a.m by a shift of 98 men went down the pit at 7 a,m. to repair roads, fill tubs and do other jobs. They took their naked lights with them.

The explosion took place about 7.15 a.m., within twenty minutes of the 98 men going down. Of these, 35 including one who came out just before the explosion survived. The remaining 63 were killed including a man named Whitaker who was recovered alive from the mine but later died in Leeds Infirmary. All the officials on the day shift were killed and this included the undermanager and every deputy. The bodies of these men were found in the cabin near the bottom of the shaft where it looked as though they were filling in the report books. Two bodies were found on the East Level between the shaft bottom and the entrance to the Black Bed Drift. The falls of roof were very heavy and all the evidence pointed to the blast going from East to West. Mr. Childe who was with the first rescue party to go in to the mine said about the discovery of the body of a pony driver - It is more than a probability that he had gone in with his pony and left it in the New North Road at the gate whilst he went past No.1 Gate and beyond into the fresh air current to perform a natural operation by the means of his naked light, fired a small quantity of gas. Mr. Childe then went on to say that this small explosion disturbed the coal dust that had gathered on props, bars and roofs and sides which fired at the flame of the explosion.

Mr. Wardell went down the pit and found falls and afterdamp but several bodies were found at the bottom of the New North Road. The working faces were in good working order and no trace of the explosion existed in any of them and it was believed that many of the men had never reached their working places. In the Old North Road the body of Westerman was found clutching a Clanny lamp that was in good order. The colliery was carefully inspected by Mr. Wardell and Mr. Childe, Mr. Parrott and Mr. Spencer. The last two were representatives of the Miners' Union and represented the workmen at the colliery.

There were 23 horses in the pit at the time of the disaster. Fourteen of these were in the stables and of these two were found to be alive with those on each side of them dead as was the horsekeeper. Two other ponies were later got out alive one near the place where Whitaker was found down the No.2 South Board and the other nearly two weeks later down the No.1 Dip.

Those who died were:-
  1. Noah Ball aged 37 years
  2. William Barker aged 40 years
  3. James Benson aged 56 years
  4. George Benson aged 24 years
  5. Fred Benson aged 14 years
  6. Elias Clarke aged 20 years
  7. William Dean aged 37 years
  8. Thomas Everett aged 27 years
  9. Sam Godber aged 16 years
  10. George Hayes aged 17 years
  11. William Herring aged 31 years
  12. Sam James age unknown
  13. Jos. Johnson aged 50 years
  14. Tom Longden aged 43 years
  15. Edward Maggs aged 26 years
  16. Henry Martin aged 56 years
  17. Harold Martin aged 56 years
  18. John Meakin aged 34 years
  19. Job Millership aged 52 years
  20. George Moakes aged 55 years
  21. Charles Noble aged 33 years
  22. Thomas Oakeley aged 50 years
  23. William Shelfdon aged 34 years
  24. Richard Shepherd aged 28 years
  25. Charles Shepherd aged 68 years
  26. James Shillito aged 50 years
  27. David Shillito aged 55 years
  28. John Shillito age unknown
  29. John Sutton age unknown
  30. Charles Swift aged 35 years
  31. Dan. Taylor aged 25 years
  32. William Varey age unknown
  33. John Wallis aged 48 years
  34. Robert Westerman aged 36 years
  35. Joseph Whitaker aged 55 years
  36. Amos Whitaker aged 32 years
  37. William Naylor Whitaker age unknown
  38. George Whitaker aged 22 years
  39. William Wilks aged 47 years
  40. Joseph Winfield age unknown
  41. Walter Winfield age unknown
  42. Herbert Winfield age unknown
  43. Edward Goodall age unknown
  44. Joseph Jackson aged 30 years
  45. Walter Jackson aged 28 years
  46. Rayner Scrimshaw aged 22 years
  47. Arthur Simpson aged 24 years
  48. John Simpson aged 26 years
  49. George Simpson aged 21 years
  50. Henry Talbot aged 41 years
  51. Sam Goodall age unknown
  52. Arthur Howson aged 10 years
  53. William Stead age unknown
  54. Jos. Wilson aged 60 years
  55. Alfred Wilson aged 19 years
  56. Harry Bellerby aged 19 years
  57. Fred Bellerby age unknown
  58. Frank Edwards aged 35 years
  59. Alfred Norton aged 28 years
  60. M. Rockyard age unknown
  61. James Wilson aged 30 years
  62. George Dunnington aged 20 years
  63. William Radford aged 56
Those rescued were:-
  1. William Holding
  2. Tom Crossthwaite
  3. William Dobson
  4. Joseph Day
  5. Richard Watson
  6. Daniel Warwick Snr
  7. Lot Warwick
  8. William Atack
  9. James Edgington
  10. R. Simpson
  11. William Appleyard
  12. Isiah Evans
  13. John Render
  14. Sidney Revis
  15. Henry Hague
  16. George Turner
  17. Fred Shillito
  18. Sam Marriot
  19. Thomas Freeman
  20. Reuben Winfield
  21. Henry Rawnsley
  22. Feilding Rawnsley
  23. Fielding Pickard
  24. J. Hardwick
  25. George Hick
  26. R.H. Newton
  27. Caleb Stack
  28. John Simmons
  29. Joseph Wilson
  30. Fred Nutton
  31. Fred Atkinson

An investigation was carried out by Mr. Wardell and Mr. Thomas and presented to The Right Honourable Sir Matthew Ridley, Bart., The Secretary of State for the Home Department. They were of the opinion that the explosion did not origin at at the bottom of the shaft when a flame was produced since paraffin that was stored near the official's cabin was not affected by the flames. All interested parties were represented and the inquiry came to the conclusions that the probable cause of the explosion was firedamp coming into contact with a naked light and exploding and thus igniting the coal dust, that coal dust carried the explosion forward from its initial point, that naked lights ought not to be used in the Micklefield colliery, that further precautions than those adopted prior to the explosion to avoid dangers arising from coal dust, should be taken in the Micklefield Colliery and that no prosecution should be instituted against anyone in respect of the explosion.

The owners of the Colliery bought Routledge and Johnson safety lamps which was similar to the Muesler lamp for use in the colliery. The foregoing is a transcript from the web site The Coalmining History Resource Centre

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The full extent of the mines and the railway that served them, and Aberford, is detailed in an excellent book by Graham Hudson, sadly no longer in print. Title: The Aberford Railway and the history of the Garforth Collieries published by David & Charles.


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A useful reference to the Arch of Constantine in Rome.

Another at Constantine Arch, Wikipedia

Another at Titus Arch, Wikipedia

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