The Geography of the Potteries (Stoke-on-Trent)




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Newspaper reports of coal mine subsidence and collapse



"Inundation of a coal mine: 
A singular and fatal casualty occurred on Monday afternoon, at a colliery at Cobridge, on the estate of the Misses Adams, by a portion of the bottom of a fish pond giving way, consequent on the mining operations being carried on too near the surface.
Immediately under the fish pond are some old workings which events have disclosed had been worked up to within about five feet of the bottom of the pond, and where a man was employed that morning in getting ironstone.... Mr Tinsley (who, with Mr Samuel Fox, rented the mine) was drowned, his body being discovered about an hour after the accident...."

16th June 1857 - Staffordshire Advertiser newspaper.

Note: there were 11 men and boys in the pit at the time, working on two levels. Mr Tinsley was one of 3 on the lower level, only 11 yeards from the bottom of the shaft.

"TUNSTALL. Singular and fatal accident - a boy buried alive: 
A singular accident, the consequence of mining operations, has occurred on the Woodshuts Colliery estate, belonging to R. E. Heathcote, Esq., and within 200 yards of the Harecastle station of the North Staffordshire Railway.
The mine at the Woodshutts colliery being what is termed a "rearing" one, that is, the seams of coal, instead of lying horizontally, stand nearly perpendicular to the surface, which in some sports had naturally sunk the ground several yards, in consequence of the coal having being got underneath.

On the afternoon of of Thursday, the 3rd inst., a lad of the name James Condliff, about 12 years of age, was actually entombed alive through one of these places sinking in. The lad lived with his parents in the neighbourhood, and having carried dinner to his father, who is a boatman, he passed the colliery on his way home, and he went into one of the hollows referred to for the purpose of picking coal. Here he was joined by two other lads, who perceiving some tremulous motion of the earth came out and desired Condliff to do the same, but he replied that he would first get a piece of coal he was digging at.

The two lads then left the place for a few minutes, and on their return they were alarmed by seeing an opening in the ground, and from which their unfortunate companion called out that he could see them, and he had stopped himself from sinking. In a moment, however, he shouted "I'm going again, Isaac: run and tell your father to get a rope and get me out." The lads ran to the adjoining engine-house, about 120 yards distant, and James Stubbs, one of the men employed on the works hastened to the spot, but was totally unable to extricate the lad from his frightful situation: indeed he was sunk too low to be even seen, and as his voice was not heard, it was supposed he was drawn down and completely covered by the sinking earth. The ground surrounding the spot was still on the move towards the centre, until the gulph was so completely closed at a few yards depth as to destroy all hope of extricating the poor lad alive from the vortex; but the most praiseworthy exertions were immediately used by Mr. Rigby, the agent on the estate, and no expense was spared to recover the body.

A number of men were set to work, and continued their labours night and day until Tuesday evening, when having sunk a shaft about 16 yards without meeting the body, and further search being attended with considerable personal risk to the men engaged it was deemed advisable to desist.

Some idea of the character of the casualty may be inferred from the fact that a portion of an adjacent hedge was met down with the recently sunk shaft at a depth of 14 or 15 yards, having been drawn down when the ground gave way.

The coal was being got to the extent of a few feet in thickness at a depth of about 45 yards below the ground, and soon after the accident the miners were stopped by the irruption of the falling earth, which ran in upon them as through a funnel, and completely blocked up the level. The same seam was formerly worked at a much higher level, and it is supposed that  there is a chasm near the surface into which the earth has not fully settled. The weight of the falling materials broke through the floor of the old workings into the mine now in use, as already stated, but a considerable quantity must also have spread out laterally into the chasm; and there it is probable, the body of the sufferer is entombed."

12th May 1849 -  Staffordshire Advertiser newspaper.

Picture: Councillors Bill Hughes and Derrick Huckfield approach another hole at Crackley Gates.Second hole is found in fields
A second crater has opened up in a field near to a recently closed drift-mine.
The 40-foot deep hole, discovered near Haying Wood, Crackley Gates, Newcastle, is less than half a mile from a similar crater which was found at the beginning of last week.
Now Staffordshire county councillor Bill Hughes is demanding the whole area is cordoned off and has warned residents living on Parksite estate, Silverdale, to avoid the fields altogether. 

He said: "There is going to be a tragic accident resulting in serious injury or death if no action is taken.
 "My message to local people would be to stay away from the area until it is made safe - this crater is even deeper than the last one.
 "It is not fenced off and people cannot spot it. Tou could be walking across the field and suddenly disappear and it would be very unlikely you would be found."

Mr. Hughes said there was some dispute as to whose land the craters were on, but he said the Coal Authority should so something about the crater.

8th Nov. 1999 -  Sentinel newspaper.
Picture: Councillors Bill Hughes and Derrick Huckfield approach another hole at Crackley Gates.

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