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Whitwick Colliery Disaster

Article by D. Spencer

Name List from Historical Happenings

See Also:

Coal Mining in Leicestershire

Whitwick Colliery Memorial Poem

On the 19th of April 1898, a fire broke out in pit number 5 of the Whitwick Quarry, near Coalville in North West Leicestershire. At that time, areas left empty when coal had been extracted were packed with waste material. However, there were many air pockets in this material, and it was in one of these areas (known as gobs) that the fire started, apparently through spontaneous combustion of the flammable gasses in the air pockets.

There were 42 men in the pit, 39 of whom were beyond the fire, which was discovered by Deputy Joseph Limb. 5 managed to escape on another access tunnel, but one returned to try to rescue his comrades trapped behind the fire. He died trying to reach them.

The youngest to die in the disaster was John Albert Gee, aged only 13. His body was only recovered some months later, and the official burial was on the 11th January 1899. He was employed as a driver of one of the pit ponies.

Another person who died in the disaster was John Richards. This is a transcript of his grave:

IN LOVING MEMORY
OF
JOHN RICHARDS
OF THRINGSTONE
WHO LOST HIS LIFE IN THE
WHITWICK COLLIERY DISASTER
APRIL 19TH 1898
AGED 30 YEARS
BEHOLD HE TAKETH AWAY,WHO CAN HINDER HIM
WHO WILL SAY UNTO HIM, WHAT DOEST THOU
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
 

He left behind a wife and two children.

There follows a full list of those who died in the disaster:

William T. Belcher

31

Thomas Beniston

43

William Bostock

47

William Bradshaw

63

Josiah Brookes

40

Charles B. Clamp

27

J. James Davies

28

William Davies

30

Edward Edwards

27

John Elliott

43

James Evans

57

J. Albert Gee

13

Thomas Greasley

29

William Greasley

60

Joseph King

29

William Limb

30

William C. Moon

30

John Moore

46

Patrick O'Mara

45

William Percival

28

John W. Platts

23

John Richards

30

Joseph Shaw

24

John Skellington

41

Lewis E. Smith

24

Henry Springthorpe

45

Samuel Stacey

26

William Stacey

24

Thomas Timson

36

John W. Tugby

16

Benjamin Wileman

51

Joseph Wilson

43

James Wright

30

Henry Wyatt

41

James Wyatt

35

The only survivers were:

John Bird

77

Joseph Limb

59

George Greasley

21

James Percival

23

Charles Rowell

31

Joseph Tugby

23

James Wallam

23

A poem was composed in memory of those who died in the disaster. This can be read here http://www.cmhrc.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/poem15.htm

Article by D. Spencer

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