Continuation of the articles that appeared in the Derbyshire Times
dated 8 November 1882 and is reproduced here with the permission of the Editor, Derbyshire Times.
THE SCENE ON THE PIT BANK.
Hundreds of women and children were anxiously waiting for intelligence as to the fate of their relatives and friends, but for some time great uncertainty prevailed, and the sickening suspense was for a time almost worse to bear than the certainty.
Many of the crowd volunteered to descend in place of those of the exploring parties who had become exhausted.
A contemporary says:—Mr Dickinson, the over-ground manager, remained patiently at his post at the pit-head, had issued some very judicious orders, the carrying out of which materially furthered the operations at the bottom of the shaft. Soon after three o'clock Mr Croudace, the certified manager, who had been one of the most heroic in penetrating the workings in the hope of saving life, was rendered almost helpless by the after-damp, and had to be assisted out of the pit. David Handford, one of the explorers, was brought up the shaft about the same time, very much exhausted, and after being taken to the cabin was removed home. Wm. Holland, another explorer, who is engaged at the pit as a night deputy, then came up in the cage, and was not able to walk without assistance, so weak had he been rendered by the noxious gas. Not long afterwards William Shakespeare and Jedediah Orme, two others of the exploring party, were also obliged to cease their efforts: indeed, nearly every time the cage ascended, it contained some miner who a short time before had bravely and hopefully volunteered to render help, only to come back helpless after his fight with the after-damp.
Shortly before four o'clock considerable excitement was caused amongst the crowd on the pit bank by the report that voices had been heard at the bottom of the Parkhouse shaft. One of the employees of the Company stated that when near the mouth of the pit he had heard some one shouting, and bending over the shattered masonry and displaced woodwork, he distinctly heard a man shout "Hulloa." He listened intently, hoping to hear the shout repeated, and again he heard the man crying out "Hulloa." He then shouted back, and asked, "Are you all right?" "Yes" replied the person at the bottom of the shaft, "we are all right. we have come from the workings. We have no lights. We want lights" Owing to a fear of a second explosion, it was not considered wise to attempt to lower lights down this shaft, and a messenger was sent to No 8 shaft at once to inform Mr Dickinson that a voice had been heard at the bottom of Parkhouse. It was even stated that it sounded like the voice of Wheeldon, one of the bricklayers. Mr Dickinson communicated the fact to Mr George Howe, the engineer, who at once descended No 8 Shaft and told one of the exploring parties that it was believed some of the men were still alive, and that redoubled efforts to rescue the imprisoned miners must be made.
Scarcely had he gone on this mission when one of the searchers came up the shaft with a hurried message that brandy and stretchers were at once needed. And he added, "Tell Mrs Dunn that her sons Joseph and Robert, are alive. They are being nursed at the pit bottom by their father." "That's a good job," and "thank God," were the ejaculations that came from several persons on the crowd at the welcome news, for it was known that Mrs Dunn had had four sons on the pit, one of whom had been previously brought out of the workings injured.