On 15th June 1882 there was an explosion at Sunny Bank Mine, Southowram
The following reports appeared in the newspapers:
The Recent Explosion in a Southowram Coal Mine
An adjourned inquest was held on Saturday afternoon at Halifax Infirmary before Mr Barstow, Coroner, touching the death of Thomas Conway (aged 17) a hurrier at the Sunny Bank Colliery, Southowram, owned by Mr John Lister of Shibden Hall. The deceased, it will be remembered, was the victim of an explosion of gas which occurred in the mine at about three o'clock in the afternoon of the 15th inst. He was conveyed to the Halifax Infirmary but was burnt so severely that he died in the evening of the following day.
The inquest was adjourned from the previous Saturday in order to give the Government inspector an opportunity of being present. The owner of the colliery, Mr John Lister, was represented by Mr Walter Storey, solicitor.
The first witness called was Samuel Jenkinson who said he lived in Southowram Bank and was employed as a coal miner at Sunny Bank Colliery. The deceased, Thomas Conway was his hurrier. About a quarter past three on the 15th inst, he was at work in the mine when he heard a loud crack as of an explosion of fire damp which put out all the lights. Deceased was at the time five or six yards from him. He went to him at once and had him taken to the bottom of the shaft. He saw no more of him until after the death at the Infirmary.
About a week previous, namely the 9th inst, he had to drive an ending out of the back bore. To get to the bore he had to go through a thirl. The main bore and the back bore, it may be explained, run parallel with each other and a thirl is a kind of intersecting bore or cross road from one bore to the other
On the 8th inst, a wall was taken out of the thirl and a sheet of brattice cloth was hung in place of it.
Witness went into the bottom about 7:20 on the morning of the 15th inst, and, on getting to the thirl during the morning, he found that the sheet was down. It had come down at 10 o'clock the day before, in consequence of a corve going through it and not being properly set. Witness told James Frankland, the underviewer, on the Tuesday afternoon about half past two that the sheet was down and he replied it did not matter. Witness and the deceased were working with candles at the time of the explosion.
Just before the occurrence, he had told Conway to put aside some scale that was in the back bore. The lad would not be more than a yard and a half from the side of the ending when the gas was ignited. Witness did not know there was any gas.
When he went into his working place that morning, his shovel was reared against the face showing that Fawcett (the fire-trier) had examined the place. The piece of brattice had been replaced since the explosion. By Mr Storey; I had no suspicion of any gas – Jabez Fawcett of Southowram Bank Top said he was a miner and fire trier at Sunny Bank Colliery. It was his duty to go round these workings where the men were employed at 6:00 am daily. He went down at that hour on the 15th and found Jenkinson's working place all right and safe. There were no signs of gas. He had been a fire-trier at the pit for fourteen or fifteen months. When witness went through the thirl on the 15th inst, he found the sheet down. He had told Frankland, the under-viewer, on the previous day (the 14th inst) that the sheet was down to which he repliedThere is plenty of air on
James Frankland said he resided at Southowram and was underviewer at Sunny Bank and Shibden Hall Collieries belonging to Mr John Lister. Mr Proctor was the certified manager. Witness went down Sunny Bank Colliery as a rule, daily, and along the roads and into the places where the men were working. He did so on the day before the explosion and noticed that the sheet was down in the thirl. He considered that there was plenty of air going through and the men would take no harm so long as they stopped in their working places. He did not put up fences or anything to prevent the men going along the back bore or the main bore. The bores were not in actual course of working or extension. He did not think any gas would accumulate in them. There was no gas in Jenkinson's workings when the bores were being driven. About three years ago, a little gas was given off, but very little, and he had no knowledge of gas since. He could not say whose duty it was to examine the bores. Witness had not examined them. He did not think it was Fawcett's duty to do so. Witness ordered the stopping to be taken down and the skirt put up. He did not consult the manager about it. Mr John Davy, house surgeon at the Infirmary said the deceased was admitted at about 4:00 pm on the 15th inst, suffering from a lacerated wound on the right side of his head. His face and neck were extensively burnt and his arms, back and other parts of his body were also more or less burnt. He died from shock to the system at about 5:30 the following evening.
After the Coroner's summing up the jury returned a verdict of Accidental death and addedWe consider there has been a great deal of neglect on the part of the underviewer James Frankland
Colliery Explosion at Southowram
Mr W. H. Rawson said the clerk had received a communication from Whitehall with reference to the penalties inflicted on Charles P. Proctor, manager of Sunny Bank Colliery, James Frankland, underviewer and Jabez Fawcett, deputy underviewer.
The fines amounted to £16 and the board recommended that half of that be given to the mother of the deceased as she was dependent upon his income for support. The Home Office recommended that the whole of the penalties, £16, be given to the mother. Supt. Ormesby said Mr Boocock, who had taken up the case for Mrs Conway, had received £50 from Mr J. Lister of Shibden Hall owner of Sunny Bank Colliery, for the woman. Mr Boocock thought it would be better to invest the money on her behalf, or to give it to her in small sums. The Bench agreed to this
Page Ref: X446
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