Friday, 26 August 2011

Haswell Colliery Disaster (NZ373423)

28th Sept 1844One of the most destructive explosions which ever occurred in the Durham coal field took place at Haswell colliery, the property of Messrs Plummer, Taylor, and Co., when ninety-five human beings were deprived of life. The explosion occurred in the Hutton seam, almost immediately after a fall of stone from the roof, which had liberated a vast quantity of gas; and only four persons in the mine succeeded in escaping.  On the 30th, fifty-four bodies were interred side by side in South Hetton churchyard, thirty-one at Easington, and the remainder at more distant places. The pit had been seven years at work, and was considered a very safe one. A subscription was immediately set on foot for the relief of the sufferers, and the sum received amounted to £4,264.

[From Local Historian's Table Book of Remarkable Occurrences Connected with the Counties of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, Northumberland and Durham by M.A. Richardson]

Ironically, the disaster struck a few weeks after the debilitating Miners’ Strike of 1844.  The colliery had opened in 1835 and closed in 1896.  Nothing of the colliery village remains – though a ruined fragment of the pithead itself still stands, accompanied by a modern-day memorial to the 95 dead.

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