Home Industry and Commerce Mining Buried Alive – Miners Awful Fate – Heroic Rescuers

Buried Alive – Miners Awful Fate – Heroic Rescuers

August 1910

Sheffield Evening Telegraph August 26, 1910

Buried Alive
Comrade Describes Miners Awful Fate
Heroic Rescuers
Laboured in Peril For Over Nine Hours

That the heroism shown in the Thrybergh Colliery on Wednesday was all in vain did not detract from the gallant efforts of the men who toiled under dangerous conditions for 9 ½ hours to rescue a comrade pinned down by tons of fallen roof.

The victim was Harry Hill (44), a collier, of Victoria Street, Kilnhurst, and his trammer Arthur Cawdron, was fortunate to escape with his life.

The inquest was held today by Mr D Witeman, coroner, at the Commercial Hotel, Kilnhurst. Attending the inquest was Mr G.J.Tickle, HM Inspector of mines, and Mr Hartley, manager of the colliery.

The deceased’s aged mother was greatly distressed when giving evidence of identification.

Trammer’s Story

Arthur William Cawdron, the deceased’s trammer, who himself had a close call, said he and Hill went down the pit about 5:15 in the morning shift. They were working at “Jackson’s Ending,” getting coal.

They got there about 5.40 and saw the morning deputy, Tom Beckett, who tried their lamps. He gave no warning or any unusual orders. They had been at work three hours when the accident occurred, and before they started to work the deceased tried the roof with his pick and shaft. He said they could go on with the work, and both of them thought the place was safe.

At about 8:40 the deceased was setting a prop, a witness was shovelling dirt away for another prop to be set. The deputy had not been round then.

The Coroner: Suddenly, what happened? Was there any warning at all?

Witness: No, sir, the roof came straight in.

How much do you think came in?

I could not exactly stay. It came from halfway up the place. It was from 12 to 14 yards in length, and 12 feet in width.

That constitutes a very big fall doesn’t it? – Yes.

Did it fall on him? – Yes sir, it buried him.

Did it fall on you? – No, sir, it just followed my heels as I was running. I ran down the face and he went up.

Rescued Only to Die

If he had done the same way as you he would have escaped? – Yes

How do you account for him going the other way? – I went the nearest way and he went the nearest.

What time was he got out? – 6:05. He was alive but died shortly after.

He made no statement? – No, only that he was going to die.

Witness continue, said that while they were working to release Hill they gave him brandy and water at intervals. When the fall came Hill’s head was buried at first, but the bulk was on his body – his hips.

Many falls took place while you are getting him out? – Yes sir. I know of two, and I went away to call for help.

What was the roof? – It was a good one. They had not drawn any wood, added the witness.

What did the fall come from? Have you formed any opinion? – It was the top weight that caused it.

You got no warning? – No, we heard no “bump.”

I think it was weighting: it was a slip right up the face side of the gate. There were no more faults or slips. They kept the timbering up, and as a witness, as close as they could. The fall, however, knocked all the timber out – six bars and eight props. It was a middle dog that saved the top end. This

A Cautious Workman

how do you account for the fact of the timbering not holding it? – I cannot: it was well timbered, because the deceased was always a man who would have his timber “well to.”

Does that mean that he was a cautious man? – Yes, it was a very cautious man. When the deputy previously examined the place he said it was satisfactory. This

in reply to the inspector, witness said they had been replacing two broken props, when the accident happened. Weighting, the previous night, had broken them.

Did you not think that looked very ugly? – Well it is very often that you find a prop broken when you come onto work again.

Joseph Stanton, the deputy over the place in question, said he was last there before the fall at about 3:15 AM on the day of the accident. He examined the place and found it thoroughly well wooded from end to end, except in the two broken props in the “gate” (broken by weighting). When the deceased man came to his work witness reported the matter to him, and he would set two new ones.

Do you consider it a good roof at this place? – Yes sir, I do, only occasionally we have a weight come over.

Could Not Have Been Foreseen

The witness said he had examined the place since, an accounted for the fall by a sudden weighting.

Do you think it could have been foreseen by a very careful inspection? – I swear it could not have been foreseen.

Do you think the deceased was a careful man? – Yes sir, one of the best men down the road. He was very careful the safety of himself and his trammer.

George Outram, under manager, said he went to help to get the deceased out. He thought the fall was caused by a sudden burst of roof. He considered the place as well and thoroughly timbered.

The coroner said this was one of those unfortunate accidents that would happen in colleries, and that he was afraid, in spite of jurys, inspectors and Coroners, would happen as long as there were coal pits. There was no default of duty in this case. In all probability the deceased was as good a workman as the manager of the collar. He had been working in the pit for many years.

Addressing the under manager, the coroner said, “He was as good a man as yourself?”

“Yes,” came the answer, “he was a good man.”

Gallant Rescuers

“At any rate,” continued the Coroner, “he had the reputation of being a good and careful man, and it is fair to come to the conclusion that he had sufficient experience to know that this place looks safe for them to work under. The best proof of that is that he worked under it himself.”

“I suppose,” added the coroner, “it was a very dangerous time while the men were trying to rescue him?”

“Yes,” said Mr Hartley, manager of the colliery, “it was a very dangerous operation, there’s no doubt about it.”

The jury returned a verdict of “Accidentally killed.”