Mining Disaster - Gawthorpe
New Lodge Colliery, Gawthorpe - owned between 1855-1889 by George and John Haigh and was most probably Lodge Hill (above). In 1874, the manager of the colliery, William Haigh and two under-managers, John and Isaac Oates were prosecuted at Dewsbury Petty Sessions for offences brought by the government inspector of mines, Mr. Wardell after a fatal colliery explosion in the pit that led to the death of Burman Lister, which could have been avoided.
"FATAL COLLIERY EXPLOSION" - On Saturday evening, a hurrier, named Burman Lister, of Ossett Street Side, near Dewsbury, died from the effects of an explosion of firedamp at the Gawthorpe Colliery on the previous afternoon. Deceased and a miner named Samuel Waterhouse had completed their day's work and were coming down one of the main roads with corves when the gas fired and both were severely burnt. Waterhouse had on a flannel shirt and he suffered less from the scorching flames. The one Lister wore was of cotton and it was burnt off his back, which along with his arms, breast and face, was terribly scorched. The explosion caused great excitement among the miners and the injured men having been brought to the surface, the others were raised without delay. Lister died, as above stated, on Saturday evening. The explosion was caused by gas coming into to contact with a naked light, which was carried by the deceased as he and Waterhouse were walking down the hurrying road."
"GROSS CARELESSNESS AT A WEST RIDING COLLIERY" - Yesterday an adjourned inquest was held at Ossett Street Side, near Dewsbury, on the body of Burman Lister, coal miner, of that village who was killed by an explosion of gas at Messrs. Haigh's colliery, Gawthorpe on the 4th inst. Mr. Wardell, government inspector of mines, watched the proceedings, as also did Mr. Pickard, secretary of the West Riding Miners' Association. Evidence was given that on the 4th inst., about half-past one, the deceased and another youth named Waterhouse came along the main air-road with lighted candles, they having ceased work for the day. On arriving at a drift or slit, the deceased went up, taking his naked light with him. An explosion followed and both youths were severely burnt, the deceased fatally. It transpired at the inquest that a labourer had several weeks ago received instructions to build a wall some distance up the drift, but to leave a hole, a foot square for ventilation. This he did, but about ten days before the accident he filled up the hole with dry bricks, not knowing, he told the jury, that he was doing anything wrong. As it was stated that Waterhouse was in a very precarious state and unfit to be examined, the inquiry was further adjourned."
"THE LATE FATAL COLLIERY EXPLOSION AT GAWTHORPE" - Yesterday, the adjourned inquest was held on the body of Burman Lister, hurrier, who died on September 5th from injuries he received the previous day at Gawthorpe Colliery, through an explosion of fire-damp. From the evidence, it appeared that the deceased and a young man named Waterhouse were coming down the hurrying road and when opposite a disused working they both stopped and Waterhouse began to dress himself, having previously stuck a lighted candle in some clay on the corve. Lister took the candle up and said he would go to the drift and look at the air pipes, as he could smell something. His companion told him to keep the candle down. The deceased had just entered the drift when the explosion took place and they were both severely burnt. The jury recorded a verdict of "Accidental Death."
"COLLIERY PROSECUTIONS AT DEWSBURY" - At the Dewsbury Petty Sessions, yesterday, William Haigh, of West Ardsley, the certified manager of the Gawthorpe Colliery was charged with neglecting to inspect the mine. John and Isaac Oates, underviewers, were summoned for - the one for neglecting to enter in a book kept for the purpose, the state of the mine and the other with neglecting to fence off a drift in which there was an accumulation of inflammable gas and with neglecting to exhibit a danger signal there. Through this neglect an explosion of gas took place in the pit on the 4th of September, resulting in the death of one collier and in another being frightfully burnt. Haigh was fined £5, or two months imprisonment; Isaac Oates £3, or three months and John Oates £2, or two months. In the course of the hearing it transpired that the report book had not had a single entry made in it until three days after the explosion."
Burman Lister was just 16 years of age when he died. Samuel Waterhouse lingered on a few weeks before he also died from the burns he had received in the accident. The five pound fine that William Haigh, the colliery manager received is the equivalent of about £360 today on the basis of RPI inflation. Less than four months later, another miner would lose his life at Gawthorpe Colliery as a result of a terrifying fire in January 1875:
"A COLLIERY ON FIRE" - Fire was discovered to have broken out on Friday (8th January 1875) in the colliery at Gawthorpe, near Dewsbury, belonging to Messrs. J. and G. Haigh, and it is believed was caused by a hurrier boy accidentally igniting a canvas brattice by his lighted candle. Seventy men and boys were in the mine at the time and great alarm was occasioned, as the flames spread to a quantity of wood and then set fire to the face of the coal. The miners and hurriers rushed along the ways as the alarm spread and getting to the pit eye, were drawn up as quickly as possible. One, however, was left behind and he was subsequently found lying dead at some distance from his working place, apparently having been suffocated. His name was Richard Oldroyd, aged 39, and he leaves a widow and children. One of the miners that had got to know that a fire was raging, called to Oldroyd as he ran past his working place, but the deceased was rather deaf, and it is supposed he did not hear the warning cry of his fellow worker, and was not made aware of the danger until he felt the suffocating gas. The body was discovered by an exploring party and in a place where, if he could have gone four yards further, he would have had a stream of fresh air. The progress of the flames was arrested in the course of the day by stoppings being built and there is reason to believe that the fire has been extinguished."
"EAST ARDSLEY, a parish-town, in Agbrigg-division of Agbrigg and Morley, liberty of Pontefract; 3½ miles NW. of Wakefield 6 from Leeds, 11½ from Bradford, 28 from York. Pop. 832. The Church is a perpetual curacy, in the deanry of Pontefract. Patron, the Right Hon. Earl of Cardigan."
Churches in Ossett
"DEWSBURY, a parish-town, in Agbrigg-division of Agbrigg and Morley, liberty of the manor of Wakefield, 5 miles from Wakefield, 8 from Huddersfield and Leeds, 9 from Bradford, 10 from Halifax, 33 from York, 187 from London. Market, Wednesday. Fairs, Wednesday before New Michaelmas day, October 5, and Wednesday before Old May day, for horses, horned cattle, sheep, &c, Principal Inns, the George Hotel, Man and Saddle, and the Commercial Coffee House. Pop. 6,380. The Church is a vicarage, dedicated to All-Saints in the deanry of Pontefract, value, ~£22. 13s. 9d. Patron, the King.