On this date at 10am. An explosion of gas took place resulting in the death of forty five men and boys. The colliery was working the Blackshale seam which was four feet six inches thick with two three inch thick dirt bands with a white sandstone floor with clay and stove. The system of coal getting was the longwall with stalls. Working lights were candles, naked lights were used throughout the mines except where gas was met and then safety lamps were issued. The mine was in an area where most of the collieries worked with candles on account of the comparative rare occurrence of gas and Parkhouse had the reputation of being one of the safest collieries in the district.

The pit was ventilated by a furnace eight and a half feet and monthly checks were carried out on the amount of air flow in areas of the mine and recorded, the furnace was at the foot of the shaft. The working shift was, in summer 6am.-2.45pm, and in winter 7am-3.45pm. Prior to the explosion there had been reports of small explosions at the pit without loss of life or injury. Prior to these explosions there had been an explosion at the companies Number Four Main Tupton colliery culminating in the loss of eight lives.

The barometer had fallen in the morning giving rise to a build up of (firedamp) methane which has gone undetected by either the night shift or day shift deputy. The methane gas was ignited causing an explosion which was so severe it blew the headstocks off. Those who were not killed by the explosion were suffocated by the after damp (A mixture of noxious eases containing carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide) after the explosion. The furnace was blown out and the ventilation ceased.

It is not known where the exact point of the explosion was but it is suspected that either a rift n the roof at number one flat with a build up of gas in it (methane being lighter than air) ignited by a naked light as it mixed with air. Or layering of gas in number thirty two stall on number three flat followed by a subsequent and smaller explosion in eighty five gate, the latter being the most likely There were twenty six horses in the area of the explosion and the colliery was later entered from Flaxpiece mine nearby to recover the bodies.

The subsequent report on the disaster concluded that there had been no negligence by the Clay Cross company or its officials and in its findings it suggested, more and widespread use of safety lamps, more than one inspection for gas on each shift and better ventilation other than by a furnace.

Neil Wilson 2012 - www.claycross.org.uk
If you arrived at this page via a search engine, please click here for the home page