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An explosion of gas occurred on Jan. 21 at the Lady Fair pit of the Leycett Colliery, belonging to the Crewe Coal and Iron Company, near Newcastle-under-Lyme. An explosion occurred at the same colliery on Sept. 12 last, eight men being killed. On the present occasion the loss of life and the destruction - of property have been much greater. The Lady Fair Pit has been opened only since the spring of last year, and the levels are being driven in'the seven foot Bambury seam, one of the most fiery seams in the North Staffordshire coalfield. The furthest extent of the workings from the shaft is 300 yards in one direction and yards in another, the depth being On the day of the accidenßK* lamps were given out, and at the usual time of commencing the day'shift there were more than seventy men and boys in the pit. About half-past eight o’clock a terrible explosion occurred, scattering destruction in every direction, and alarming the people in the neighborhood for a distance of three niiles. A new ventilating fun had been brought into operation since the previous explosion, and the roof of the fan-shed was lifted off; but, fortunately, the fan was uninjured, and the ventilation of a portion of the workings not being stopped the shaft was soon sufficiently free from ‘ noxious ‘ gases to admit of persons descending. It happened, however, that the lower part of the guide rods was broken and the bottom of the pit much damaged, and some hours elapsed before the pit could be entered. Even then the progress of getting to the bottom was slow, as the cage could not be lowered the whole depth, and ladders had to be employed. Mr. Lawson, the manager of a neighboring colliery, and seven other men were the first to go down. A cage containing sufferers was lifted at noon, when four men were brought up. They walked up from the pit-mouth to the lamp-room, though they were more or . less injured. Having received the attention of several medical gentlemen, they were despatched to their homes. At intervals of about a quarter of an hour the cages brought up two or three at a time, most of them being seriously injured. During the morning Mr. Richard Wynee Cadman, Mr. Hunter, Mr. Downing, and others experienced in mining- operations, assisted by numerous willing . colliers, descended the pit and rendered assistance. In the afternoon several more dead bodies were found about fifty yards along the south slant from the pit bottom. They were brought to the surface with nine other bodies at present unrecognised. There were a dozen dead bodies taken to the pit bottom, but soon afterwards, the efforts of the courageous men who were underground were temporarily interrupted. The shock of the explosion had liberated the gas from a number of small blowers, and until the fires thus kindled were extinguished, the work of exploration was impossible at any considerable distance froin the pit button). Many of those previously engaged in ex* ploriug had already run great risk of suf - focation, and before they had dope all they wished they had to retire to save their own lives. The cause of the explosion is at present a mystery ; but the fiery nature of the seam, with the fact that a new fan had been recently put in operation, leads to the conjecture that a large blower was suddenly struck, and the velocity of the air, owing to the action of the new fan, was such that the gas was was forced through the gauze of a lamp. The number of deaths will be at least 60, and many are sadly injured.

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Bibliographic details

Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 75, 18 March 1880

Word Count

DREADFUL COLLIERY EXPLOSION. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 75, 18 March 1880