1938 – Hargreaves Family

Hargreaves Family

Hargreaves Family

Herbert Hargreaves Snr; Herbert Hargreaves Jnr; Leslie Hargreaves


Researched by Local Historian Sandra Struggles:

On the evening of May 9th 1938, well respected man Herbert Hargreaves and his two sons Herbert Jnr and Leslie walked from their home in North Crescent, Duckmanton, down the hill to Markham Colliery as usual to start work on the night shift, where Herbert was a contractor. The next morning, Herbert’s wife was busy getting breakfast ready when she heard that there had been an explosion at the pit and many miners were involved. By the end of the day she knew that her husband, 49, and both her sons, 27 and 23 were dead. It was a tremendous loss for the four women they left behind. Herbert’s wife lost her husband and two sons. Irene Hargreaves lost her father and two brothers. Sylvia Woodlidge lost Herbert Jnr, who she was due to marry within a few days time, and Leslie left a fiancee.  Herbert and his two sons were buried in the same grave at Duckmanton. A service for them and thirteen others from the village had to be held outside because the little church could not hold them all at the same time. After the disaster it is understood that Herbert’s wife and her daughter moved away.


In the matter of the Workman’s Compensation Act 1925 and in the matter of an Injury by Accident Compensation Paper – Herbert Hargreaves 48yrs – £300 – 6th July 1938 to wife Rosetta of 5, North Crescent, Duckmanton. Herbert Hargreaves (the younger) 27yrs – £150 to mother Rosetta Hargreaves. Leslie Hargreaves 23yrs – £150 – b. 3rd Sept 1915 (Settle) to mother Rosetta Hargreaves. 

Rosetta Hargreaves later went to 105, Saltergate, Chesterfield, and had a B & B. She died in 1958. Irene, sister of Hargreaves sons was born in Barnsley and died 2006, nearly 87 years of age. Ernie Davy was a miner and a big help to Irene. Bruce Boyd was 14 yrs and was asked to identify all three men. He could only identify them by their laces – he was terribly upset. He left the pit and worked on the railways afterwards.


Family History (Researched by Paul Burkitt):

The Hargreaves family, along with the Grainger family, were the families that suffered the most in the 1938 disaster. Herbert Hargreaves Snr, and sons, Herbert Hargreaves Jnr and Leslie Hargreaves were all killed. Herbert Hargreaves Snr and his two sons had all worked at Markham Colliery as contractors.

The plight of the Hargreaves family was widely reported in various newspapers.

On the day of the disaster, 10 May 1938, the ‘Yorkshire Evening Post’ reported the following:

Arranged a Whit Wedding

One family, named Hargreaves were waiting for news this afternoon concerning their father, Herbert Hargreaves, his son Herbert, aged 26, and other son, Leslie, aged 23. The elder son was to have married at Whitsuntide, and had completed arrangements for building a bungalow overlooking the colliery’

On the 11th May 1938 the ‘Daily Herald’ reported the following:

‘Saddest of all homes in the grief-stricken area last night was that of Mrs Hargreaves of North-crescent, Duckmanton. Her husband, Herbert Hargreaves aged 48, and two sons, Herbert, aged 26, and Leslie, aged 23, all died in the disaster. The elder son was to have married at Whitsun to Miss Sylvia Wooledge, aged 23, of Hollywell-terrace, Chesterfield, whom he had courted for three years’

On the same day the ‘Derby Daily Telegraph’ reported the following:

Father, Sons Dead.

 “There was no rest in the home of the Hargreaves, of North Crescent, Duckmanton. Herbert Hargreaves, the father, Herbert Hargreaves (26) and Leslie Hargreaves (23), the only sons, were reported among the dead. Mrs Hargreaves, with tears in her eyes told a “Telegraph” representative: “This is worse than war. We were all at the pictures in Chesterfield last night and the man who came back in the car with us is dead too”. With Mrs Hargreaves was Miss Sylvia Wooledge (19), of Chesterfield, who was planning with Herbert the son, to get married at Whitsun. They had decided to live in Duckmanton, where Herbert could be near his work.”

 On the 12 May 1938 the ‘Sheffield Independent’ reported the following:

When he knocked on the door of Mrs. Hargreaves, 5, North Crescent, Duckmanton, it was opened by a slim 19-year-old girl. She had lost her father, Herbert Hargreaves (48), her brothers, Herbert Hargreaves (26) and Leslie Hargreaves (23). There is only mother and me left now” she said. “I have been training to become a dancing instructress, and I shall carry on with my work”

The funeral took place on Saturday 14 May 1938, after the coffins of all three Hargreaves had rested in Duckmanton Church overnight. All three were interned in one grave.

A year after the disaster relatives placed an ‘In Memoriam’ notice in The ‘Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald’


Hargreaves – In loving memory of HERBERT (father) and HERBERT and LESLIE sons, killed in the Markham Explosion May 10th 1938

 “Death divides, but memories cling”.

From Wife and Daughter Irene.


To view a filmed interview with Alison Bull about The Hargreaves family click here.


Herbert snr, Herbert jnr and Leslie Hargreaves were all commemorated in January 2018. The location of the artworks dedicated to them can been seen here. Zone 4.


Further information can be downloaded here.

Hargreaves Family

Hargreaves Family Tree

Herbert Hargreaves Jnr

Herbert Hargreaves Jnr Family Tree

Herbert Hargreaves Snr

Herbert Hargreaves Snr Family Tree

Leslie Hargreaves

Leslie Hargreaves Family Tree


Further Information:

Markham Colliery 1938 disaster

List of miners killed and injured in the 1938 disaster