Transcription from ‘The Times’ newspaper dated Thursday 9th November 1882.
THE CLAY CROSS COLLIERY EXPLOSION.
It was ascertained yesterday that 44 lives have been lost by the disastrous colliery explosion in the Parkhouse pit, near Claycross. About midnight on Tuesday an exploring party went down the shaft to make a thorough examination of the workings and to bring the bodies to the surface. Owing to the mass of wreckage strewn about the way, it was impossible to get near the banks where the majority of the bodies were believed to be lying, and a gang of men was specially organized to clear the road. In the result they reach No. 7 shaft, where several bodies were found. Others were discovered in the roadway a little further on, making altogether 15 bodies discovered by this exploring party. None of the deceased were seriously burnt, death having been caused by the after-damp. Later in the morning it was ascertained that 23 other bodies were in the pit. The greatest damage has taken place on the north side of the Parkhouse shaft. During the afternoon Mr. Evans, the Government Inspector of Mines for the district, and Mr. Stokes, assistant inspector, arrived from Derby, and made an examination of the pit. Mr. Evans received a telegram from the Home Secretary asking for full particulars of the explosion, and in the course of a few hours he sent a reply. Up to yesterday evening 15 bodies had been brought to the bottom of the shaft ready for removal; and it was expected that the remaining 28 or 29 would be removed during the night. William Dunn, the youth who was brought from the pit on Tuesday evening, died yesterday. Stephenson, who was standing at the pit-bank when the explosion took place and was blown down a gullet, lies in a very precarious state. One of the explorers who went down the shaft of No. 8 at midnight on Tuesday, with a party of ten, says:―
“After descending we proceeded down the incline, and near the old junction came upon the dead bodies of Richard Dunn, Tom Chappell and the boy Beeson. All were very disfigured about the face. From this point we went on until we reached a portion of the pit known as the ‘Three wells Holes,’ a spot which is, perhaps 150 or 200 yards distant from the bottom of No. 7. Here we came upon five more bodies―those of Michael Parkin, the two bricklayers (Slinn and Squires), Joseph Dunn, and Joseph Stone. Some of the men were lying on their backs, others on the side. After staying to arrange the bodies decently, to await the arrival of the men whose duty it was to remove them to the bottom of No. 8 shaft, we went further to the bottom of the shaft at No. 7, where we came upon two more corpses lying close together. We found here an indescribable scene of wreck, and saw that all the gearing was destroyed. Further in the workings we expected to find more bodies, but as our search in this district was unsuccessful, we proceeded to the south side of ‘dips,’ a long distance from No. 8 shaft, and here we discovered four more dead bodies―those of Philip Scothern, John Holmes, Emmanuel Clarke, and the son of the last-named.”
The narrator goes on to say that he was well acquainted with the pit, and never knew any great amount of gas to be found in it. Some of the bodies were fully two miles from No. 8 shaft, and it is improbable that they can be got to the surface until early this morning.
The cause of the catastrophe has not yet been ascertained. The Parkhouse pit has been deemed one of the safest in the district, and several men chose to work in it for this reason. The underground manager, Mr. Dunn, who was one of the first exporers after the expolsion, is still suffering from choke damp, and is compelled to keep his bed. He is very seriously unwell. The following is a complete list of the killed: ― Samuel Barker, Danesmoor, and Edward Barker, his son; John Buckberry, married, Claycross; Charles Bowler, married, Danesmoor; Edward Thomas Birkin, married, Danesmoor; Samuel Birkin, son of the above; Thomas Birkin, married, Claycross; William Briggs, married, Pilsley; Henry Beeson, widower, Danesmoor, and Aaron Beeson and John Beeson, his sons; Thomas Chappell, single, Danesmoor; Emmanuel Clarke. Married Danesmoor, and William Clarke, his son; Joseph Dunn, married, Danesmoor; Richard Dunn, married, Danesmoor, and Willian Dunn, boy, Claycross; James Edwards, married, Danesmoor; Thomas Goaler, married Claycross; John Holmes, married, Claycross; George Hewitt, married, Danesmoor, Joseph Hewitt and Thomas Hewitt, his sons; Joseph Marlow, married, Danesmoor; William Martin, a boy engaged at the pumping engine; George Mitchell, married, Claycross; James Parker, married, Claycross; Michael Parkin, married, Danesmoor; Joseph Phipps, married, Danesmoor; Owen Richard, married, Danesmoor; William Renshaw, married, Danesmoor; William Slinn, married Alton; James Smith, married, Claycross, Philip Scothern, married, Woolleymoor; Joseph Stone (No.2), Danesmoor; Jacob Stone, married, Danesmoor; Joseph Stone, married, Danesmoor; James Simms, married, Danesmoor; John Stanley, married Claycross, William Sheldon, single, Danesmoor; William Squires, single, Claycross; Richard Taylor, married, Claycross, Richard Taylor, married, Danesoor; William Vickers, single, Danesmoor; Thomas Wheeldon, married, Tupton. The inquest will be opened to-day before Mr. Coroner Busby, of Chesterfield.