Mining accidents

as recorded in the book "Memories of Coleorton"

Mining was extremely dangerous work and several contributors to the book knew of accidents and of people who were killed or injured. The Contributors to our "Memories" book recall:

  • In 1863 three men were killed when water from the old workings of the Limby Hall Colliery burst into the Califat Mine. They were Thomas Bird, Henry Clements and Jerermiah Rose. Thomas Bird was a pit deputy.
  • In 1898 there was the Whitwick Colliery disaster when 35 miners were killed by an underground fire.
  • In 1910 at the Bug & Wink Colliery, Charles Marshall was killed after several roof falls trapped him and William Birch. Birch managed to get free and sent for help, whilst he stayed with Marshall trying to free him. Marshall died and William Birch was awarded the Edward Medal for his bravery. (Read about the reception he received at Coleorton after his presentation at Buckingham Palace >>)
  • Margaret Bannister's uncles, Thomas and Nathan Lord, were both killed in mining accidents at the Bug & Wink. Thomas was killed when part of the roof fell on him in 1911 and Nathan died a year later in a similar way. Margaret's aunt was left to look after four children.
  • In Henry Williamson's diary he recorded that Robert Fretsome was killed in 1919 during shunting work in Coleorton Colliery
  • Samuel Walker was also remembered as being crushed by mining tubs in the 1930s at the Bug & Wink.

However, for children the mines in the area held attractions, not dangers. Phil Holdsworth's house was 400 yards from Lount Pit, so they could hear its workings every day. It was a drift mine, Phil remembered the tank engines that travelled across the level crossings in Newbold. The twin slag peaks of the pit could be seen from as far away as Castle Donington and they would glow at night. As a child in the 1930s he was allowed to roam freely with just a sneck on the door. His best memories of those times as a ten-year old were climbing the warm slag heaps in the daytime, running outside of the house to see an aeroplane and once, at night, listening to a nightingale.

Elaine Oldham
September 2019

Books are available to purchase for £15 - call Mike Cox on 01530 813743 or email heritagegroup@coleorton.org.uk

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