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As it appeared in the magazine March 13th 1847


A very dreadful explosion took place Last saturday afternoon at the Great Ardsley Main, or Oaks Colliery near Barnsley, Yorkshire,when nearly eighty lives were lost.

About three o'clock, several persons near the mouth of the pit were alarmed by a terrific explosion front the shaft which was followed by an eruption of smoke timber coal, .stone, &c, resembling the eruption of a volcano. Two or three the men,were removing the corves fronm the Pit Mouth at the time. There had been no previous indications of danger up to the very moment of the explosion. The pit was considered to be in an ordinary state of safety, with the exception of one bank on the west side of a broad gate which was between an upper and lower seam, and about seventeen foot in length. The men were instructed to use great caution in passing that part of the pit with lights. The Parties who were in the immediate neighbourhood of this place have perished; none remain to give an account of the origin of the accident, which is believed to have been at this spot.

The explosion was of so violent a character that it blew up the landing at the mouth of the pit, and shot up stones, &c to the height of thirty or forty yards.

The news soon spread far and wide that the Oaks Pit was on fire, and all the workpeople remaining in it. The friends and relations of those who were employed in the colliery were seen running frantically towards the melancholy spot, anxious to learn the extent of the loss of life. From the village of Ardsley, Gawber, Worsbro' hill, Barnsley, Monk Bretton and other places, numbers were presently collected together on the spot. The intensest excitement prevailed, the pit hill was everywhere crowded with the wives, the children, and the friends of the sufferers below, whose cries and wailings were alone to be heard.

Wives showed only lamentations for their husbands, while mothers were in the most
distressing agonies for the loss of their sons.

Indeed, the whole scene presented such a feeling picture of human misery and woe which for some time paralyzed the exertions of many The indomitable courage of some of the colliers who were out of the pit at the time was beyond all praise, and as soon as part of the confusion had ceased, and the smoke and vapour effusing from the pit in some measure subsided, volunteered their services to render all the, assistance they could.

Their first attention was directed to some scaffolding in the air shaft, and in which it was known that two persons were working, engaged in repairing it –George Hartley and William Eyre. It was soon discovered that the former was killed, but that the latter had most miraculously escaped

It appears that, while busy in their repairs they were suddenly startled by the noise of a severe shock in the pit, which was immediately followed by a rush of air and dust, the force of which, together with a similar force in the up-cast or drawing shaft, broke through certain drift holes which formerly existed between the two shafts, and which had bean afterwards bricked up, hurling part of them, together with many pieces of loose timber at the mouth, down upon the scaffolding upon which Hartley and Eyre were placed. Poor Hartley,was killed upon the spot by these stones and bricks falling upon him while Eyre, who was standing nigh him, remained unhurt. The body of Hartley was immediately drawn out, and Eyre also removed from his perilous situation. At the up cast pit, several men, including George Northrop, the banksman, were employed In , removing the coals at the time of the explosion but escaped without injury.
George Armitage, the bottom steward and Joseph Littlewood, the fireman, the only two parties who have authority in the pit besides the manager, It appeared had only a few. minutes before the explosion come out of the pit, and the latter, whose chief employment is the examination of the safety of the works, reported that at the time the pit was in good working order, and no manifestations of approaching danger. (more.......)

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