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Stoke-on-Trent Districts: Longton Cemetery


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Longton Cemetery, Spring Garden Road, Longton

Memorial to the Mossfield Colliery disaster

The Cockshead coal seam (which was mined at Mossfield) was subject to gob fires (an area that has been left void after the coal has been extracted and fires are caused by spontaneous combustion).
A series of explosions began on the 12th September , probably due to the access of air to the gob fire and the crushing of the extremely thin pillars of coal separating the two workings. On October 16th 1889 there was a massive explosion, resulting in the death of 64 miners at Mossfield Colliery.


Close-up of the base of the Longton Cemetery memorial
Close-up of the base of the Longton Cemetery memorial


"On Sunday the bodies of 29 of the colliers whose lives were sacrificed in the fearful explosion at the Moss-field Colliery, Adderley Green, were interred in Longton Cemetery amid many manifestations of respect.

It was a long and weary day of sorrow. On every hand signs of mourning were visible; flags were hoisted at half-mast on the churches, Town Hall, and other buildings, and blinds were generally drawn throughout the borough, while -all along the enormous crowds that thronged the approaches to the cemetery and adjacent thoroughfares there was perfect order and decorum. Everyone seemed to feel they were sharing a personal sorrow.

The sad ceremony of burial commenced at noon, and for five hours till dusk groups of sorrowful mourners gathered around the graves of those they had loved, while-procession succeeded procession at brief intervals. The spot selected -for the repose of the victims of the disaster lies on the south-western side of the cemetery, and there side by side in separate graves the bodies of the departed were reverently laid. Thirty graves were opened on Sunday, but if necessary there is space sufficient for 20 more. The day for the most part was in keeping with the mourning all around.

The arrangements at the cemetery were complete in every respect. The public were not admitted, which added considerably to the perfect order preserved. As the funerals arrived, the bodies were taken into the church or chapel as the case might be, and as an instance of Christian union it may be mentioned that clergymen conducted several funerals in the chapel, while the Dissenting ministers were invited to use the church. The bodies were borne to the grave, followed by weeping mourners, where the service, which was slightly shortened, was concluded.

...... The funeral of Jacob Bath, of 26, Barker-street, was attended by the members of the Fenton Lodge of United Shepherds, of which the deceased was a member. No hearse was used, but six of the Shepherds carried the coffin from the deceased's late residence to the grave-side. The lodge lost three members by the disaster.

Another special funeral was that of John Bough, who was interred according to the sacred ritual of the Roman Catholic Church. The body-was first taken into the porch of the St. Gregory schools, which are opposite the cemetery, and where the first portion of the service was conducted in Latin. The solemn procession, headed by the two priests, ... then proceeded to the grave, where the service was concluded in English. The aged Derricott and his son-in-law, Thomas Brough, were interred in the same grave, as were the brothers Smith and James.

.... At nearly all the churches and chapels in the Pottery district special reference was made to the sad calamity. Thousands of persons from all parts of the country visited the scene of the explosion all through Sunday, while crowds thronged the neighbourhood of Adderley Green, Sandford Hill, and Ashwood."

The Staffordshire Advertiser, October 1889

the Longton Cemetery memorial
the Longton Cemetery memorial


the names of those buried in other burial grounds
and those not recovered

the inquiry stated: "Five bodies still remain in the seam as it was considered imprudent to reopen that portion of the mine in which they probably lie."

Arthur Fletcher was one of those whose bodies were never recovered.

"Signs of gob fire number 5 were first noted by the men working in number 5 drift on 14th October 1889, two days before the explosion. There was the characteristic smell and the men complained and Arthur Fletcher, the nightshift fireman, reported this to his father William, the Under Manager, the next morning.

William Fletcher informed Mr. Potts, the Manager, that a gob fire was breaking out in number 5 drift. The plans of the workings were laid out on the colliery desk and Mr. Potts said that the next day he would put stoppings in place at points nearest to the gob fire where it would be possible to erect air tight stoppings. But the Manager did not go down the pit despite the fact that the Coal Mines Act 1886 states quite clearly in Rule 24 that a Manager must go down into the pit and see for himself and not rely on hearsay. Arthur Fletcher the nightshift deputy, aged 26, was more vehement than his father and he maintained that all the men should be withdrawn from the pit immediately.

He said, "We are sitting on a time bomb with a dangerously short fuse", and over his father's head he demanded an interview with Mr. Potts. The manager replied that because of a previous engagement he would not be home until midnight. "Then I'll be waiting for you when you come home at midnight" replied Arthur Potts, realising that he was up against a determined young man and despite the fact that he had this engagement, he went to the pit top at 9.00 p.m. but as Arthur was in charge of both the Bambury and Cockshead workings he had to be in the pit before the nightshift came on at 9.30 p.m. to examine the districts to see that they were fit for the men to go to work in, so they agreed to meet at midnight.
After making his rounds underground Fletcher advised the men to keep clear of the danger spot until he returned from his meeting with the manager whose residence was only a few minutes walk from the pit top.
Now whatever passed between these two officials we shall never know. We have only Mr. Potts' version, which incidentally the inquiry found contradictory and unsatisfactory.

Arthur Fletcher's account died with him a few hours later. Though it was common knowledge that he wanted all the men withdrawn from the pit."


Memorial at the Mossfield Colliery site

Location:  Berryhill fields - top of pathway at entrance to park nearest to Hall Hill Drive
Installed: 2000                        

Four pithead winding wheels, half set into the ground. Pointing in four different direction. The wheels are painted black and have nameplates which depict the local seams mined and some of the collieries in the area.

The wheels are set on the levelled off spoil heap of Mossfield Colliery.


Inscription: (concrete circle - surrounded by cobblestones)



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