Explosion at Quarry House Colliery, Northowram [1853]

On Tuesday, 31st May 1853, there was an explosion at Quarry House Coal Pit, Northowram.

Three men and four boys had descended the shaft which was about 140 yards in depth and 13-year-old Thomas Pickles was sent to another part of the mine to collect a corve. He was carrying a lighted candle when there was an explosion and he was thrown 50 yards. Two other boys were blown some 20 yards. One boy got into a basket attached to a windlass and gave the signal to be hauled up. The men at the top were unaware of the accident, and a banksman at the top thought he heard the boy singing when he was actually moaning in pain. The other victims – Samuel Barker (aged 50), John Pickles (aged 18), Isaac Haley (aged 16) & John Taylor (aged 15) - all had burns to their face, hands, arms, &c.

The Leeds Mercury of 4th June 1853 reported

On Tuesday morning last, an accident occurred at the small coal pit call Quarry House Coal Pit at Northowram.

The depth of the pit is about 142 yards, but the workings are on so small a scale as only to employ at the bottom 7 persons.

On Tuesday morning, it appears that a boy, now deceased, was sent for a corve to a portion of the works which had not been visited for 2 or 3 weeks, and that an explosion of fire-damp took place.

The injured were Samuel Barker [49], John Pickles [19], Isaac Haley [16], John Naylor [83], and the dead boy, Thomas Pickles [13].

Other persons were also slightly injured.

The injured were taken to the Infirmary of this town, and there the dead body awaited the Coroner's inquest.

It is stated that the colliers at this mine are actually not allowed to use the Davy safety lamp! The stewards use them, but the labourers do not.

If the boy, who inadvertently, it is supposed, caused the serious accident, had been provided with a lamp, the consequences we have narrated would not have occurred.

It is said that this is the 3rd accident since Christmas last


© Malcolm Bull 2021
Revised 11:03 / 15th May 2021 / 4179

Page Ref: KK_69

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