Markham Colliery – Deaths

Awaiting News Source: Derbyshire Times Enhanced: Peter Hipkiss

1885  May.        .          Turton, Isaac.      Roof Fall.


An accident, attended with a fatal result, occurred at Markham Colliery, one of the Staveley Company’s pits, last Tuesday, by which a man named Isaac Turton, of Brimington, lost his life. The man, who is a filler, or loader, was at work in one of the stalls, when a “slab” of coals, without any warning, fell forward upon him, crushing him on the waggon. Death resulted almost immediately. Another, and rather singular occurrence took place at the same colliery yesterday. A fall of bind occurred in the workings, and very nearly buried a young man named Edward Sales. The young fellow, however, managed to escape, but the shock or fright was such as to produce temporary paralysis. He was rendered incapable of walking, and was conveyed to his home in Bolsover in one of the company’s ambulances.

1885  May.        .          Clarke.                    



The adjourned inquiry into the death of the young man Clarke, who was killed in the Markham Colliery, Staveley was resumed on Tuesday at the Swan Inn, Bolsover, before Mr. Busby, coroner. Mr, Evans and Mr. Stokes, her Majesty’s inspectors of mines, were in attendance. Mr Humble, colliery manager, represented the Staveley Company. Unusual interest attached to the proceedings, as the inquiry has been twice adjourned. Several witnesses were called on Tusday, including the underviwer, Mr Humble volunteered a statement as to the number of rules in circulation. The Coroner, in a most careful summing up, said he was bound to say that he had never conducted an inquiry in which he found a more lax management from the underviewers downwards. The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental death,” and added a rider that the pit was managed in a very lax manner.


1887  October.          John Pacy.                    Timber and Bricking Platform falling down shaft.
1887  October.          Benjamin Glossop.    Timber and Bricking Platform falling down shaft.
1887  October.         Alfred Smith.                Timber and Bricking Platform falling down shaft.
1887  October.         William Pacy.              Timber and Bricking Platform falling down shaft.




One of the most fearful of the many calamities, inseparable from a colliery district that have occurred in the pits surrounding Chesterfield for a considerable time, took place on the afternoon of Monday, resulting in the instantaneous death of three men and the subsequent death of another besides several receiving injuries of a more or less serious character.The scene of the accident is situated in the Parish of Sutton cum-Duckmanton and is on the Sutton Estate. Some time ago the Staveley Coal and Iron Company commenced to sink not far from their old Markham Pit, a pit on the Sutton Estate now known as Markham (No.2) Colliery, and it was during the sinking operations at this pit that the accident which has had such direful results occurred. The process of sinking, at all times a most hazardous one, had up to Monday been carried on without any accident, and Mr John Radford, who has had full charge of the work, had been congratulated on this singular immunity not long before this unfortunate calamity occurred. At the time there were eleven sinkers at work, their names being George Pacy, who was in charge of the men, John Pacy, William Pacy, Alfred Smith, Benjamin Glossop, Robert Limb, George Gregory, Henry Bradford, Samuel Leach, Robert Renshaw and Harry Clark.

The work was proceeding as usual, until about eleven o’clock, when the “skip,” “hopper” or bucket as it is termed had just been sent up to the surface. Suddenly a loud noise was heard above, and George Pacy called out to his companions that there was something coming down the shaft. The men had not time even, if they had room to move out of the way, before two heavy pieces of timber fell with terrific force on to the scaffolding just above them, causing it to collapse on one side, and crushing the men nearest to that side in a fearful manner. All the lights were extinquished  and it was impossible to ascertain the extent of the injuries. The cries pf the wounded men were heart rendering to hear, but it was some time before assistance could be rendered to them. As to the cause of the accident we gather from the statement of the officials and others that the first intimation of anything being wrong was hearing a fearful crash and it was then seen that the large iron bucket or skip as it is termed which is used for the purpose of bringing up the earthworm the bottom the shaft had been over-wound, and was to use a witness’s expression, “on the wheel.” that is, It hd been over-wound to such an extent as to be on the large revolving wheel, which was broken. It was not at first known what was the cause of the noise and accident in the shaft., but afterwards it was noticed that in its upward ascent the bucket being too large to pass between two cross pieces of timber on the headstocks had torn these off the uprights and that they had fallen down the shaft. It was fortunate that the rope did not break or the accident might have presented  a much more serious aspect. As soon as possible Mr Jos. Humble, who with his father has the supervision of this colliery, set to work, and having examined the rope and other apparatus the bucket was lowered down the shaft. The first person to come up was George Pacy, and from  the statement he made Mr. Joseph Humble descended the pit at the bottom of which a fearful sight was presented. He noticed that three men were evidently crushed to death, being fearfully  mangled, and between the shaft side and the scaffolding he found William Pacy wedged in. The men were with all possible speed conveyed to the surface. It was then found that John Pacy, father to William and brother to George, Benjamin Glossop, and Alfred Smith had been killed instantaneously. The injured, Henry Bradford, an William Pacy were conveyed with all practicable celerity to the Chesterfield Hospital, where Dr. Rose and Dr. Booth and others gave them every possible attention. It was found that Pacy’s injuries were of a more serious character, and from the first his recovery was hopeless, and he died at 3.40, ten minutes after admission into the Institution. He had a compound comminuted fracture of both legs, with extensive lacerations, as well another injuries. Henry Radford had a fracture of his ribs and extremely severe contusion of the right hip. Although his injuries are of a serious character hopes are entertained of his recovery, and he is now progressing favourably. George Pacy was treated fora contusion of the right leg. Samuel Leach was removed home, his injuries being only slight.

John Pacy leaves a wife and seven children. Benjamin Glossop, also leaves a wife and family, and Alfred Smith a wife and family. William Pacy was unmarried, being only 17 years of age.

As to the cause of the accident, George Jackson, who was in charge of the engine at the time, holds the highest character, both amounts his employers and the other workmen, and much sympathy is felt for him. It is stated that just as the bucket was reaching the top of the shaft, a fireman named John Atkinson, contrary to rule, went into the engine shed, and spoke to Jackson about some tallow for the engine, thereby distracting his attention momentarily from the indicator, causing the bucket to be overwound, which struck the headstocks, detaching the timber as stated. To give an idea of the terrific force with which the timber must have struck the scaffolding it should be mentioned that the present depth of the shaft is 440 yards. It is expected that coal will be reached in another 100 yards and had not the present deplorable circumstance occurred  it was hoped that this would have been accomplished in a period of six weeks from the present time.


The inquest on the bodies was opened on Tuesday by Dr. W.A. Walker (deputy coroner). The jury having seen the body of Pact at Chesterfield proceeded to the Markham pit where the other bodies were viewed. Evidence of identification only was taken and the inquiry adjourned until Monday next.

Mr Stokes, her Majestry’s Inspector of Mines viewed the scene of the accident to-day and will be present at the inquest.


On Monday morning last Dr W.A. Walker, deputy coroner for the Hundred of Scarsdale, held the adjourned inquest at the Arkwright Arms Inn, Duckmanton, near Chesterfield, on the bodies of John Pacy, William Pacy, Benjamin Glossop, and Alfred Smith, who were killed as reported by us last week, during the sinking operations in the new pit (Markham No.2) which the Staveley Coal and Iron Company are sinking at Duckmanton. At the opening of the inquest at the Markham Pit last Tuesday only evidence of identification was taken and the inquiry adjourned until Monday. There were only fourteen jurymen present at the adjourned inquiry, one being too unwell to attend. The foreman was Mr. Joseph Biggin, farmer, Bolsover Woodhouse. There were also present Mr Joseph Humble, certificated manager to the Staveley Company, Mr. J.H. Humble, sub-manager at the Markham Collieries and Mr. Superintendent Carline. Mr. A.H. Stokes, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Mines for the Midland District was also present and considerably aided Dr. Walker in questioning the witnesses as to their knowledge of the facts connected with the accident. The nearer relatives of the deceased men also listened to the proceedings.The jury having been re-sworn the evidence was preceded with.

George Pacy: I am the charge-man and work at Markham (No.2) pit of the Staveley Coal and Iron Co. I was at work on the 3rd October, my duty was to look after the sinkers. I waste work at the bottom the pit. I had 10 men with me. Alfred Smith was striking a drill. John Pact, Benjamin Glossop and Wm. Pacy were similarly occupied. We all began work at 6 o’clock in the morning and the accident was about 1.20 p.m. Just before the accident the sinking tub was standing on the bottom empty. The depth of the shaft was 440 yards. I heard the banksman shout down for us to send the tub or “hopper” up. I told Benjamin Glossop to ring the tub up and I steadied it itself. I was in charge of the bottom. I am quite clear that the tub left me steady, it was not swinging. I watched it go very near to the top. As fas as I could see the whole of the way it went up it was quite steady. We have scaffold which we use for bricking , which is about the same size as the pit. The pit is 15 feet in diameter inside the brickwork and the scaffold would be about 14 feet 2in in diameter; When we are not using the scaffold we hang it inside the shaft and on this occasion it was about 100 yards from the pit bottom. It was hanging by a chain about twenty feet long and attached to a piece of timber bricked in the brick-work. The weight of the scaffold as near as I could tell would be about 30cwt. It was all made of wood except the bolts. I could not see the tub clear out of the top of the pit. It was about a minute after I had given over looking at the tub that I heard something coming down the shaft. I shouted to the men to get into the side as there was something  coming from the top. A piece of timber fell and I just turned my head and saw John Pacy was killed by this piece of timber. After that I heard a crash in the shaft and something fell in the bottom. Before the accident we had eleven candles burning in the bottom but afterwards we had only one left lighted, the falling stuff putting all out but this one. I lit some candles as soon as I could out and walked round to see what had occurred. I saw that the bricking scaffold, which had been hanging in the shaft, had fallen in, and other timbers besides. I found that the scaffold had struck Alfred Smith and Benjamin Glossop. They spoke before I got to them, but died in about two minutes. The scaffold had also struck William Pacy, who was alive. Two other men were injured. I shouted for the “skip” to come down and when it came down I went up in it with Samuel Leach to examine the pit side. I found nothing loose, but when I got to the bunting that held the scaffold I found it broken away, as if something had struck it and taken it clean away. I went to the top and told them what had occurred and got assistance and descended the shaft again. We got all the injured men out first and then the three dead men. I went to the Chesterfield Hospital with my nephew, William Pacy. I did not know then what had caused the accident. The scaffold is hung in the shaft during the whole of the sinking. The bricking scaffold could be taken out of the shaft each time after use, but it was more convenient to hang in the shaft and was safe enough. I have “sunk” at other places. At Kiveton it was taked out every time, but at Shireoaks it was left in. I sunk at Barlbro’ pit under the Staveley Company, where we pulled the scaffold out. At New Hartington, under the same Company, the scaffolding was left in the pit. I am quite clear abut it-The Jury: Did you ever hear any of your fellow workmen express anxiety or  alarm at it?-No- By Mr. Humble: Did you sink the shaft at Hartington that was sunk from the surface? – Yes,sir. – Did you sink the shaft from the deep soft? – No,sir, – did you work another shaft there? _Yes, but I cannot speak as to the scaffold.

Mr. Joseph Henry Humble, I am the sub-manager under the Staveley Company at Markham No.2 pit. I have made a plan of the scene of the accident, and to the best of my knowledge and ability it is the correct one.

Henry Clarke: I am a sinker at Markham (No.2) pit / I was at work there on October 3rd I began work in the morning at 6 o”clock. I was working in the pit bottom Just before the accident I saw the empty tub standing on the bottom. I heard it shouted for. I did not see it sent away. When the tub hah had time to get to the top I heard something falling. A piece of timber from the top fell first I then heard the the scaffold falling. I afterwards looked around and found some men dead and some injured. I helped to get them out. Alfred Smith was killed close to me on the right hand, being killed by the scaffold. John Pacy, on the last had side, was killed by the timber. Benjamin Glossop on the opposite side of the pit to me was also killed. The scaffold was hanging by a chain some distance up the shaft. I have sunk at Langwith. They did not keep the scaffold in the shaft there, it being taken out every time it was done with. I have sunk under Clay Cross Co. and they took it out there. I had no fear of the scaffolding hanging above me. It looked safe enough.-Henry Smith, father of Alfred Smith asked the coroner several questions: – Do you know if it is against the rules of the pit for the scaffolding to be hung in the pit above the sinkers? – Witness: I don’t know. I am no scholar. I could not read the rules.-In you opinion, it the scaffolding had not hung in the shaft would there have been less or more killed? – If the scaffolding had not been there I consider there would have only been one person killed. – Which would that have been? – John Pacy. _ Do you know by whose authority the scaffolding was hung in the way it was?- Idon’t. _ Do you think it would be any safer for the scaffolding to be in or out the shaft? – It would be safer to take it out.

Mr. Humble: What is the diameter of the Langwith shaft? – Fourteen feet six inches finished – And Clay Cross? – I believe about the same. It6 was at the Avenue pit where I worked – Have you sunk in any other shafts? – I sank at No. 1 Markham and at Shireoaks Pit at Clowne. The scaffold was taken out there. In Markham No.1 pit the scaffold was kept in._Have you sunk in any other shafts of the Staveley Company? – Yes, at Ireland pit which was 15 feet. I believe we used to take the scaffold out there. – Any other shaft at Staveley? -Yes, two or three more. I sunk the Hartington pit inside. I do not know the diameter. The scaffold was left in there.- Are you quite satisfied? – I am not quite sure but I believe it was._ Have you sunk in the Hartington winding shaft to the Blackshale? – Yes, sir. _ Was the scaffolding left in there? – I believe it was taken out. – What was the diameter? – I don’t know, I think between 12 or 13 feet.

Thomas Revill said: I am an engine wright and work at Markham (no2) pit of the Staveley Coal and Iron Co. I was at work on Oct. the 3rd I commenced work at 6 a.m. I was on the No. 2 bank about 1.15. I went for the purpose of examining the winding rope. I heard the bandsmen shout for the “hoppet” to come up. I was within three or four yards of the pit top when the tub came up. I heard a crash and the banksmen call out “he’s up to the pulley wheel.” I looked and saw the tub right on the pulley wheel. It stopped there. I saw that the hand-rail was broken. I also saw that the pulley wheel was broken, and found that two pieces of timber were missing from the headgear. I discovered that they had gone down the pit. I believed they were about twenty feet long by thirteen inches by seven inches. These would be fixed from seven to nine feet below the pulley wheel. The tub by being drawn up to the pulley wheel had struck these timbers and had pulled them away. I never went into the engine house. – After some unsatisfactory answers, the coroner cautioned the witness for levity. – The engine driver was under me.  I did not go to see the cause. – Asked the reason bu the coroner he said. _ It put one in such a flutter. I did not engage the engine driver.I cautioned the driver to be steady in lowering. – By Mr. Humble: What did you do immediately after the accident? – I ran down the ladder and told Mr. Radford that the driver had “pulleyed” – gone up to the wheel. – Did not you at once go to the pulley to get the tub to the proper place? – No, the tub was down again. – Mr. Stokes: Did not that tell you anything? _ It showed me that the engiineman had reversed his engine and lowered the tub.

Wm. Piccavey said: I am a bandsman and work at Markham (No.2) pit, of the Staveley Co. I was at work on October 3rd.  I began work at 6 o’clock. I have been two years on the bank of a sinking shaft. A little after 1 o’clock I shouted for the tub to come up. I saw it come up and pass me as I stood on the bridge. I shouted to the engine man “hold” loud enough for him to hear. The bandsmen on the opposite side heard me, he would  be about 20 yards away. The engine man would be about 12 yards away. The tub went forward up into the two beams in the headgear and then forward to the pulley wheel. The tub had broken the two beams away from the headgear and they went down the shaft and I heard a crash. I went up to the headgear and took hold of a piece of broken timber, until Revill came and we took it down. I saw the pulley wheel was broken. The tub was lowered and the injured and dead got out of the shaft. My assistant Abraham Jones, attempted to push the bridge across, but his foot slipped off the catch and before he could recover himself the timbers had fallen down the shaft.

John Radford deposed: I am a master sinker in charge of the work at Markham (No 2) pit. I was there on the morning of October 3rd. I heard a crash when I was about 15 or 20 yards from the pit. I looked towards the sinking pit and saw the “skip” on the wheel. I went up to the engine house door and met the engiineman at the door. I said “Oh, George whatever have you been doing on.” He said ” I turned to speak to the fireman.” I said “Oh dear you have killed somebody” and I went to the pit top and heard the charwoman shout “send us the empty skip down.” I sent it down and the dead and injured were got out. I did not miss the two timbers until after the men were got out. I saw the empty tub had broken about a yard of the flange of the pulley wheel, I also found that a quantity of timber the men stood upon, and the handrail, had gone done the shaft. The whole of the damage done was solely due to the tub going up into the pulley wheel. The fall of the scaffolding was due to the timber going down the shaft and not to any fault in the scaffold. I cannot say that it is probable that if the scaffolding had been kept out of the pit that the loss of like would have been less. – Henry Smith, through the coroner, asked: Is it within  the keeping of the rules of the pit for the scaffolding to be hung in the shaft? – There is no rule for it. If the engiineman had not “pulleyed” and the timber fallen upon it, it would have been perfectly safe. – Do you not think it would be safer for the workers for the scaffolding to be out? _ I do not – what with taking it in and out. – By Mr. Stokes on behalf of the coroner: I do not think that the three men who were killed would have been alive now if the scaffolding had not been there. I do not see how they could have escaped. – Were you aware of a visit of the Inspector of Mines to the shaft a short time ago? – Yes, I saw him three or four months ago. – Did he see the scaffolding in the pit at the time? – Yes. _ Did he strongly condemn it as being unsafe? – Yes he did. – Did he also point out that already one man had been killed through a scaffolding hanging in a shaft? – Yes, sir. Was this to you? – Yes to me and Mr Humble. – It was more particularly addressed to you? – Well. I don’t know. – Did Mr. Stokes leave the pit top with the understanding that in future it should be taken out? – Yes. – Did Mr. Stokes see the pit again from time  of the accident? – No- The scaffolding was not taken out? – Witness: No. – On being told that that was all that was wanted from him, witness said: You have not asked me how it was it did not come out.  -Further he stated: There is somebody above me. Mr Humble ordered me to keep it in. He said he would write to Mr. Stokes about it. – Mr. Humble said the reasons he had not asked witness any questions was because he was going to mention the matter in his evidence. He now asked the witness to state why they arranged to keep the scaffolding in the pit?

Witness: Because the men said they would as leave have it in as out. – Mr Humble: Did not the mensal that on account of the scaffolding being such an exceptionally heavy one that it would be unsafe to ride up and down on it in a pit of that depth? Witness: Yes, they did. _ Mr, Humble: I understand that you, the enginewright, and chargemen, objected to it on account of the danger of taking it out and in riding up and down the shaft? – Witness: We did not say exactly we would not have it. _ Mr Humble: No, I did not say you did, but you gave a reason to show that the danger of going up and down would be much greater than leaving it  in the pit? – Witness: Yes, and it is. – Mr Stokes: Is there any reason why the scaffold should not have been made in two parts? It appears that you took the opinion of the working men sooner than the inspector? – Witness: Mr Humble told me that he would let it stop there and he said he would write to you. – Mr. Stokes: Which he never did.  I must not let that go without contradicting it _ After further questions he said he did not take the scaffolding out of the pit Barlbro’. – Mr. Stoles: Was it a big one like this? – Witness: I think we had. I would not be sure, but we had at Ireland Pit.

John Atkinson deposed: I am a fireman working at No. 2 Markham Pit. I was at work on the morning of the accident. I went into the engine-house about 1,15 in the day. I went for some tallow. It is our duty to go in and out of the engine house. I clean the engine where the accident occurred. The engiineman was winding up when I went in. I said to the engine man: George, is there any tallow and he turned his head and said “no.” A man was stood in the enginehouse when I went in. He had no business there. They call him Joe and he is a labourer. The engiineman said “I have promised Joe a stick of celery: his wife’s longing.” I said “you had better give me one” but he did not answer me. I never heard “Joe” speak. I came out and was going down the steps from the engine house, when I heard a crash and turned round and saw a piece of timber going down the pit. I left “Joe” inside.

The Jury: Is there any notice on the door of the engine house?  Yes. – What does it say? – No admittance. Have you seen persons, that have no right there, in the engine-house before? – Yes, many a time.


Thomas Shore deposed: I am an enginewright working under the Staveley Coal and Iron Company. I am in charge of the engines and machinery. I live at Ireland Colliery. I examined the engine and machinery where the accident occurred soon after the accident.  There is an indicator in the engine house to indicate to the engiineman the position of the load in the shaft. When I examined the indicator it was in perfect working order. It was fixed in such a position that the engiineman could clearly see it. As he stood working his engine the distance between the engiineman’s head and the indicator would be about five feet. The mark on the indicator for the surface is a permanent one and never altered, so that the engineman could make no mistake as to the position of the tub when coming’s to the surface,, if he is watching his indicator. The indicator box is black and the finger white, and the marks white. The brake was in perfect order. It was so good that it would stop the engine when the steam was on. The engine is geared two to one. Everything about the engine was in good working order. The engine is easily worked. I was not aware that persons who had no right in the engine house were frequently going in and out. The engiineman has complete control over the engine house, and it is his duty to stop the engine, if anybody goes in and that have no right to, until they go out.

Mr. Joseph Humble deposed: The timbers that fell down the shaft were for the purpose of putting detaching hooks up. It is more than probable that if a detaching hook had been fixed to the rope in this case it would have prevented the accident. There was no detaching hook in use at the time of the accident. Its use is not compulsory by law. I shall now give orders that hooks be put up at once. – mr. Humble here explained that before the sinking they had a discussion as to the safety detaching hooks, and it was thought that it would be better to be without them during the sinking operations on account of the damage done to the ropes by them, owing to the swinging of the bucket. The engiineman’s position is such that he can see from the surface of the shaft to the top of the headgear.

By the Jury: The tub was about one minute in ascending the shaft, that was the maximum speed. – Mr. Humble then confirmed Shore’s, the enginewright’s statements as to nobody being allowed in the engine-hose, and as to the indicator, & Mr. Humble then stated that he had had 30 years experience in mines, and he had sunk pits about 3,000 yards and had never had an accident whilst sinking. While he had been at Staveley over 2,000 yards had been sunk. In small shafts such as the Hartington, 12 feet diameter, they took the scaffolding out, but in sinking the deep soft they left the scaffold in, and in the Markham they did so; simply because they considered it was safer to hang it in the pit then bring it out. After Mr, Stokes’ visit he decided it should come out, but the sinkers thought it would be very dangerous to ride up and down on it, and it was absolutely necessary that a man should go up and down with it. He saw there was a very large amount of risk in a man doing so, a greater risk than in it hanging in the shaft and he told the men that for the time it could be left in the shaft and he would write to Mr. Stokes. He was sorry to say that he from inadvertence neglected to do so. If it had been suggested to him to have the scaffolding divided into two parts he would certainly have adopted it. They had not used any smaller scaffolding in the Staveley pits since he came there and they had not used anything else except in the smaller shafts.- Mr. Stokes said it was the first time he had ever heard of the scaffolding hanging in the shaft and when he saw it at Staveley he condemned it.

George Pacy recalled said he had never known anything of any sorts to fall down the shafts previous to the accident.

Joseph Stokes said: I am a labourer, and work at Markham No.2 pit. I live at Bolsover, and was at work on the day of the accident. My duties were looking after the “shoots.”  They are about ten yards from the enginehouse. I knew that it was against the rule for anybody to go inside the engine house. I was there about one o’clock on the day of the accident. I had been in the engine house about three minutes before the accident happened. The engiineman shouted me in two fetch him a bucket of water. I did not remain talking to him. I had been in the habit of taking a bucket in every day. No conversation passed between me and the engine driver on that occasion. The stoker came in. The conversation about celery took place an hour before the accident and I was then outside the engine house and the pit was standing. I was just coming out of the engine house when the accident happened. – By the Jury: The engiineman has never ordered me out.

George Jackson was then called into the room and the coroner told him that a serious charge might result from the enquiry and cautioned him as to what he might say.  He asked him whether he wished simply to make a statement or to be sworn or to say nothing, for what he did say would be taken down and might be used in evidence against him. Jackson said he would be sworn and give his evidence.

He deposed: I am an engine-driver and have charge of the engine at Markham No.@ pit of the Staveley Co. and live at Seymour. I am 24 years of age and have worked for the Company ten years. I have been in charge of an engine two years. I have never had any accident before this occasion. My sight is good. On October 3rd about 1.15 I was in the act of winding an empty “hopper” up the pit, and the fireman, John Atkinson, came in and distracted my attention by asking me for some tallow for the engine. Before I could avert the accident it happened.

The Coroner: How do you know the tub was getting near to the top of the shaft? – I have an indicator. – Were you working by it? -Yesw, until my attention was drawn off. – Was your indicator in good order? – Yes.

This was all the evidence, and Dr. Walker proceeded with his summing up the evidence. In doing so he pointed out that there were only two things they had to consider, as to whether the bucket was accidentally overwound, and whether it was overwound so as to lead them to bring in a verdict of manslaughter. These were the two alternatives. There was no other. He then read an extract on the law of manslaughter.

The Jury were then left to themselves, and after half an hour decided upon their verdict, which was to the effect that the men’s deaths were the result of accidental overwinding, and they recommended that the scaffolding in the pit should be taken out for the future, and also that safety detaching hooks be used, and that the door be in the side instead of at the back of the engine house.

Mr, Humble informed the jury that he would have the door of the engine house placed at the side as suggested by them.

The Coroner read a communication he had received from the Midland District Miner’s Fatal Accident Association, expressing regret at the deplorable accident that had taken place, and stating that had deceased been members of the Association their widows would have now been in receipt of £1 2s. 6d weekly. Dr Walker thought it was very desirable  for all men engaged in such dangerous employment to be members of some such association. – Mr. Humble said he was acquainted with this and other societies, and was quite in favour of them and he would be very glad if the workmen were in them.

Some surprise has been expressed at the verdict, and although the engiineman, Jackson, bears a very high character, it was generally thought that a more serious verdict would have been returned.

The enquiry lasted 51/2 hours.


1898 August.                   Fox, Arthur.


On Thursday afternoon, a man named Arthur Fox, late of Brampton, employed by the Staveley Company at the above pit, sustained very serious injuries from an accident, and was promptly sent on to the Chesterfield Hospital, where he has since died.


1901  September.                        Bush, James  (38)                                         Fall of bind


1904  March.                               Burrows, William     (30)                            Fall of bind



Dr. Green held an inquest at the Chesterfield Hospital yesterday on the body of a miner named William Burrows (30), who died on the 29th ult., as the result of an accident at the Markham Colliery, belonging to the Staveley Coal and Iron Company. A quantity of bind, weighing about 2cwts., fell on the deceased while he was engaged in pulling down a pack. Fourteen ribs were broken, and his prime was also fractured. The pelvis was smashed.

Mt Henry Gregory, the manager, said in reply to a question from Mr Stokes, the Government Inspector, that the accident would not have happened in all probability if a prop had been set, as required by the rules. The deceased had holed nine feet without setting a prop; the rule stipulated six feet.

The Coroner said the deceased appeared to have deliberately risked his life by disobeying the rule. He had paid the penalty with his life. That was the sixth case of fractured spine they had recently had at the hospital, and he believed they all came from collieries. A verdict of “Accidental Death” was returned.

Contractor Neglects to Obey Orders and Loses  His Life.

“It seems this man deliberately risked his own life in disobeying a clear rule of the pit, and he has paid the penalty with his life.”

In these words, Dr. A. Green summed up the evidence given at the inquest at the Chesterfield Hospital, on Thursday, on the body of Wm. Burrows, aged 30 years, who, whilst following his employment at the Markham Pit of the Staveley Coal and Iron Company on February 29th, was crushed beneath a fall of roof, and expired whilst being conveyed to the hospital. Mr. A.H. Stokes, H.M. Inspector of Mines, and Mr Henry Gregory, representing the Staveley Company, were present at the inquiry.

James Barber, colliery deputy at the Markham Colliery, and residing at Markham Cottages, Duckmanton, identified the body as that of his son-in-law, who was a road contractor at the Markham Colliery.

Samuel Lamb, dataller, residing at Calow, said he had been working for the deceased on No. 106 level, and was standing seven or eight feet away from him at the time of the fall, on Monday night about a quarter to nine. The deceased was taking out some pack at the side of a manhole, and witness was working on the other side. Deceased went round the manhole to cap the pack, and try to  get down. He appeared to go round behind to see what was holding the stuff. Then the fall occurred. The pack ought to have fallen after it was holes and capped. The stuff fell on the top of the deceased and buried him all over except his feet. About 2cwt. of stuff fell; it was a mixture of rock and bind that fell. Witness shouted for assistance and deceased was got out in about two minutes. He did not appear to be seriously hurt, but seemed stunned.

The Coroner: There are five cases of fractured spine in the hospital at the present time: I believe they are all colliery cases.

Witness said they conveyed the deceased to the hospital as quickly as possible, and witness was not aware that he was dead when they reached the hospital. He was told deceased was dead before he left hospital.

Questioned by Mr. Stokes, witness said deceased was on day wages at the time of the accident, and was in charge of the work. He had been in the manhole and trying in vain to get the stuff down. He had holed five or six feet., he believed. He did not think he had holed as much as nine feet. He hah had a sprig set previously, but had taken it down  before the accident happened. He did not think that at the time the fall occurred the deceased was underneath shovelling the dirt away.

Do you know that his shovel was found with the body? – I don’t know; we usually have a shovel.

Supposing he had been shovelling, would he have been doing wrong? – He was not shovelling.

Should he not have re-set the spray before doing so? – No answer.

Luke Lamb, dataller, 25, Arkwright Town, said he was gobbing in the Doe Lea District, about 300 yards from the scene of the accident. He was fetched from the gob to assist to carry the deceased out of the pit. He did not see anything of the accident, and did not assist to rescue deceased from the fall.

Edward Davidson, 32, Markham Cottages, Duckmanton, said he was night deputy in the Doe Lea and Lougecourse districts of the Markham Pit. He went on duty at seven o’clock, and examined the place where the accident occurred about half an hour before it happened. Deceased was standing in a refuge hole when witness passed through, and was capping the pack. Deceased was a throughly experienced man and a good workman.

By Mr. Stokes: He had holed about seven feet in length, and from eighteen inches to two feet in depth. He had no spag set. The manhole made a loose end.







1905  May                       Berresford, Walter   (15)                             Run over by tubs.



Walter Berresford, aged 15, who lived at Chesterfield Road, Staveley, died yesterday on his way to the Chesterfield Hospital. He had been run over by a train of trucks at Markham No.1 Colliery, both legs being broken and his chest and head severely crushed.

An inquest was held at the Chesterfield Hospital on Saturday on the body of Walter Berresford (15), who was employed as a clip fastener on the endless rope at Markham No.1 Pit Staveley. Mr W.H.Hewitt, assistant inspector of mines for the Midland District, was present and Mr. R.W. Cuthbertson, manager of the mine, attended the inquiry. The corporal of the district in which the deceased was employed (George Henry Kaye), noticed the rope jerk, and on proceeding to ascertain the cause, found the deceased lying on the roadway. He had evidently been run over by ten full tubs. In reply to Mr. Hewitt, Kaye said he thought the accident was caused by two tubs creating four others, the deceased attempting to “clip” the front pair without stopping the rope.

Dr Coundley, house surgeon, said there was a scalp wound ten inches long, the chest awas crushed in on both sides, the collar-bone was smashed, and both legs were fractured above the knee.

A verdict of “accidental death” was returned.


1906  March                   Eyre,John (39)                             Fall of bind.


Crushed to Death at Markham Pit.

On Wednesday, an inquest was held at the S Helen’s Inn, Stonegravels, Chesterfield, touching the death of John Eyre, aged 39, of Brunswick Street, Chesterfield, who whilst following his employment as a Stallman at the Markham Colliery of the Staveley Company was crushed to death by a large slab of coal on Monday afternoon. Mr H.R. Hewitt, Inspector of Mines, attended the inquiry, as also did Mr. Cuthbertson, manager,  Mr. Ottewell, under manager of the pit, and Mr Barnet Kenyon, assistant secretary of the Derbyshire Miners’ Association.

Fred Jones, moulder, 45 Brunswick Street, Chesterfield, identified the deceased as his son-in-law, who was a strong healthy man.

Walter Atkins, 33, Chapel Street, Whittington Moor, said the deceased worked with him in stall 84 at the Markham Pit, where the fatality occurred about 2.30p.m. on the previous Monday At the time witness was holing and the deceased was getting coals five or six yards away by wedging, Suddenly witness heard a “bump” followed bu a fall of coal, and coming out of the hole he heard the deceased say, “Oh! Wait, do come and liberate me,” Witness replied,  “Jack, lad. I can’t come because all the ‘muck’ is coming.” He shouted for assistance, and in a couple of minutes men arrived but they had to stand aside until the roof had ceased falling before they could get near the deceased.  The men then commenced to get him out. He was standing up, pinned against the side of the “pack” by a slab of coal, and a quantity of dirt, which crushed his chest. It was impossible to move the coal slab, and deceased had to be cut out, a task which occupied from 20 to 30 minutes., and when hot out he was quite dead. He had worked for nearly a year in the same stall.

Mr. Hewitt: Why couldn’t you go to him at the time?

Witness: The roof was falling, and when it had finished I could not see him. Another man named Howard had got to him at the other side and had commenced to get him out.

When did you last see deceased before the accident? – About a quarter of an hour. He shouted to me to go to him and asked my opinion how he should get off a large corner of coal. The web was eight or nine feet in width, and having pointed out a break in the coal, I suggested that he should “undercut,” so that the coal would fall away from him.

Did he raise any objection to this method? – No, but he neither said he would adopt or reject it. From the place where he was afterwards found do you think he was carrying out the advice you gave him? – No, sir.

If he had taken that advice do you think he would have been alive to-day? – Yes, I think he would.

From the position he was in and the position of his tools can you tell what he was doing? – Only that he was standing in from of the coals and wedging them.

Whereas if he had carried out you suggest he would have been out of danger? – Yes.

You don’t know where he had the wedge? – No. The coal came down on “a natural slide” and overlapped him. The was I recommended would have been a little harder work for him He was an older man than me and I gave in to him.

Bt Mr. P. Cain (a juror): By doing as he did deceased was not breaking any rule of the mine.

Harry Boyce, 17, Albert Street, Whittington Moor, the loader in the stall, said he was three yards from the deceased when the fall occurred. He had given three or four blows at the wedge when the “bump” pushed off a slab of coal, which pinned him against the “pack.”

Answering Mr. Hewitt, the witness stated that the first time he had seen deceased get coal in this manner was immediately before the fall. Had the coal between the face and wedge dropped he would have been perfectly safe, but more coal than he expected came dow, and he was pinned by that which fell beyond him. The “pack” against which he was pinned, was a yard from the coal face, and being made to the end of the stall there was no escape for him when the coal rolled over.

William Howard, Newbold Moor, assistant deputy at the pit, said he arrived at the scene of the fall three minutes after it happened, and was the first to get to deceased, who was pinned against the “pack.” Half an hour elapsed before he was released, and he was then dead. It was the witness’s opinion that deceased was not working in a proper position to get the coal, and had he been at the face he would have been beneath a new”an” good roof., and out of reach of the falling coal.

In replying to Mr Kenyon, witness said that if no more coal than expected had come down then deceased would not have been hurt, but a slab the full six feet deep of the stall fell owing to a break.

The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental Death” the Coroner remarking that no one appeared to be to blame for the accident.

The jury handed their fees to the widow, who is left with a large family of young children.


1906  May                                Yard, Mark                                                                      Crushed between tubs.

A loader at Markham Colliery, named Mark Yard of Dronfield, died on Saturday the result of being crushed between tubs.


1908  December                  Tippler, John Samuel(16)                                            Pony fell on him


A shocking fatality occurred early this morning to a youth name Tippler, employed at the Staveley Company’s Markham Colliery as a putter. It appears he was fetching a train tubs from the workings, when through some unexplained cause the pony he was driving fell on him He was suffocated.


1909 February.                Fullwood, Joseph     (25)                                                   Roof fall.



Dr A. Green, Coroner, conducted an inquiry yesterday afternoon at the Railway Hotel, Whittington Moor, into the death of Joseph Fullwood, aged 25,of St. John’s Square, Newbold, was was employed as a stableman at Markham Colliery, belonging to the Staveley Coal and Iron Company. The proceedings were attended by Mr. H.R. Hewitt, H.M. Assistant Inspector of Mines, and Mr. Barnett Kenyon, representing the Derbyshire Miners’ Federation.

Benjamin Stephens, of  Arkwright Town, stated that on Tuesday he was holding a light while deceased knocked out a prop. Deceased first cut the prop through with his pick, and then gave it a blow with his hammer. The roof suddenly gave way, and deceased was partially buried, 35 minutes elapsing before he could be extricated. By that time he was dead.

In reply to Mr. Hewitt, witness said they had drawn about 30 props that day, and in some cases the roof fell when the props were taken out. With the exception of about four, they got them out with a ring and chain, which made the operation perfectly safe. Witness said he asked deceased why he did not use the ting and chain for the other four, and deceased answered that he thought there was no need. No extra trouble was involved using the ring and chain. They were being paid by the day and not so much per prop. He knew of the rule of the colliery that no prop should be drawn without the ring and chain.

Albert Cooper, of Duckmanton, the day deputy, said deceased was a careful, experienced workman, and he had never had cause to caution him for not using the ring and chain.

The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental death”


1909  March.                    Stevenson, Thomas,  (55)                              Fall of bind.


A man named Thomas Stevenson, John Street, Brimington met with an accident at the Markham Colliery, belonging to the Staveley Coal and Iron Company, Limited, yesterday morning. He was pushing a tub, when he accidentally ran against a prop, knocking it out, and thus causing a quantity of bind to fall on him: seriously injuring his back. He was conveyed to the Chesterfield Hospital, in the Company’s ambulance, Where he was detained.

Dr. A Green, district coroner, held an inquest at the Chesterfield Hospital, yesterday, concerning the death of Thomas Stevenson (55), of 35, John Street, Brimington., who met with an accident whilst following his occupation as a stallman at the Markham Colliery on March 26th and died on Saturday.

Deceased and another stallman named Michael Kelly, of 8, Bamford street, New Whittington, were working in the same stall, when the accident occurred. Kelly was getting coal from the face, and the deceased was engaged in talking a full tub out.  In order to do this he had to twist . the tub round a corner, and in doing so it caught a prop and knocked it out. About a cwt. of bind fell down on the deceased.

i reply to questions, jelly said that the prop was set all right, and there was ample space fo the tub to pass between the props. Witness thought the deceased twisted the tub too soon, but he had full control over it.

A verdict of “accidental death” was returned.


1909  April.                      Shepherd, Frederick William,  (24)             Roof Fall.



Dr. A. Green (Coroner) conducted an inquiry at the Mount Zion Sunday School, Chatsworth Road, Chesterfield, yesterday, into the death of Frederick William Shepherd, aged 24, of 17, Florence Lane, Chesterfield, who was killed by a fall of roof on Monday morning while at work in No. 3 Pit of the Markham Colliery, belonging to the Staveley Coal and Iron Co. No one actually witnessed the accident, but the evidence showed that it had been caused by a “slip” of about two tons, which caught the deceased in a stooping posture and inflicted terrible injuries to his head, killing him immediately. A prop had been set in the centre of the piece that fell, but through the deceased getting out coal at the face the piece shifted and ran the prop out.

A verdict of “Accidental death” was returned.


“He was aiming at his own destruction,” was the remark of Mr H.R Hewitt, the Inspector of Mines, at the inquest on Wednesday on the body of a young miner named Frederick William Shepherd, of Florence Lane, Chesterfield, who was killed by a fall of roof in the Markham Colliery early on the previous Monday morning.

The observation had reference to the statement that the deceased, in making room in the coal face for the fixing of a bar, liberated “a slip” in the roof which crashed down upon him, killing him almost instantaneously.

It was stated that only on that day Shepherd, at his own request, had been transferred from another “shift” to that on which he was engaged when he met with his death.

Dr. A. Green conducted the inquiry on Thursday, at Brampton. There were also present Mr H.R. Hewitt (inspector of Mines), Mr John Neal (manager of the Staveley Coal and Iron Company), Mr Barnet Kenyon (representing the Derbyshire Miners’ Association). The deceased’s father, Robert Shepherd, a confectioner, of Wheatbridge Road, Chesterfield, gave evidence of identification. He stated that his son was unmarried. Deceased was a strong man and enjoyed good health..

The Inspector: How long had be been working at the pit?

Witness:six or seven years.

Harry Kipling, of 26, Bentick Road, Shuttlewood, who was working about five yards from the deceased when the accident occurred, said the two men were engaged in No. 3 stall of No. 2 pit. Witness was getting coal from the face to put on the conveyor, and did not see the accident happen.

The Coroner: What was the deceased doing at the time?

Witness: I should say he was getting coal. His pick was found embedded in the coal face. “I heard a fall,” added witness. “I shouted, ‘Are you right?’ but I didn’t get an answer, and, seeing no light, I went to find out what had happened. I found him on the floor with his head and shoulders buried in debris.”

The Coroner: Was he quite covered with the coal?

Witness: He was in a kneeling position with his head and shoulders buried, under bind, which had fallen from the roof.

He (witness) secured assistance, and in two minutes the deceased was liberated. “He ‘gurgled’ about twice,” said witness, “but he did not come to at all.”

The Coronner: What made the roof fall?

Witness: There was a slip came out.

How much fell? – About two tons.

Was the timber forced out by the fall? – I believe so, but I couldn’t say how many props I should think there would be two props.

In answer to the Inspector, witness said the deceased was engaged in work similar to that in which he was engaged, namely, filling the conveyor from the coal face.

The Inspector: It is a mechanical conveyor and no tubs are used in the stall?

Witness: Yes.

You think at the time he was killed he was getting coal from the face? – I think so. His pick was found stuck in the coal.

You say the fall came from a “slip” Was the “slip”  running towards the face? – Yes.

Is the “slip” exposed right away to the face? – Yes. the thickest part is in the middle.

The slippery side of the “slip” ran right into the coal face? – Yes. It ran both sides.

Do you think that the work he was doing just managed to liberate that end of the “slip” – It might have done. I should think it would.

Was the “slip” running in any other direction? -It was running towards the catch-props. And that made it look more like a pot hole? – Yes, only it was long.

Can we assume that if another bar had been set it would have held it up? – I can’t say.

Why wasn’t there another bar set? – There wasn’t width enough.

And he was making the width necessary for a bar to be set? – Yes.

Witness added that when he reached the spot he picked up a prop which was lying beside the deceased and tried to stop the conveyor with it. He assumed the the prop had been set under the stone which fell from the roof. The catch-props had been set in regular distances, about three feet six inches apart, or less. The stall was three feet three inches in height.

The Inspector: Therefore a man working at the coal face would be on his knees?

Witness: I should think he would be in a stooping position.

Can you work there standing on your feet?  I should be crouching.

How were you working at the time? – I was on my knees.

In answer to the Inspector, witness said the accident occurred about quarter to three in the morning. Evidence was given by the stallman. Walter Bennett, of 65, Barrow Hill, Staveley, who stated that the deceased had been working on the opposite shift, but came under him (witness) on Sunday night in order to get a short shift.

At the time of the accident witness had gone down the bank, and was 50 yards away from the spot.

The Coroner: Had you left any instructions with him as to what he had to do? No.

He would take his instructions from you, wouldn’t he? – They are all supposed to set their props.

You are charwoman of the stall and responsible for the timber? – Yes sir.

And you had given no instructions as to what work he was to do when you went down the bank? – No , sir.

You didn’t know at all what he was doing? – I knew hw was getting coal and filling it on the belt when I left him.

Asked to describe the slip, witness said one end of it had rested on the coal face. He had not known of this slip before it fell.

The Coroner: How much timber was run out by the fall?

Witness: One prop.

You didn’t get any bars up at this place? – No, we were getting away more coal so that we could set another bar.


Is it a good roof there? – Yes.

How long before the accident was it that you sounded it? -Half an hour.

What did you sound it with? – I sounded it with a pick, and it seemed all right.

The Inspector: It was the duty of the deceased to set catch props when he had got width enough? – Yes, sir.

And it was your duty to follow down with the bars? – It was my duty to see that the bards were set.

Was there width enough to set a bar there after he was killed? – I don’t think so.

Didn’t you measure it to see if there was room or not? – There was not room.

“That’s what I want to get at” said the Inspector. “If there was room there ought to have been a bar.”

Witness agreed that the deceased, by removing coal from the face, had liberated the slip.

The Inspector: He was aiming at his own destruction.

Mr Hewitt added that only that morning he noticed that the slip had extended further yards down, but the witness said he had not seen it.

The Inspector: Then we can’t blame you.

The Coroner: How many props would there be under the stone which fell?

Witness: One

And that would not be enough to hold it up? – It did not prove too be enough.

The deceased’s father asked witness if it was possible for a fall to be heard when the conveyor was at work.

“It has been complained to him that the signal was given and it was ten minutes before they took any notice.” he said.

The Coroner: It is stated that they got him out in two minutes.

The Inspector (to witness): Is there a big noise made by this conveyor?

Witness: Yes, sir.

And a man would not hear any cracking or settling of the roof? – No.

John Henry Rogers, of &4, Pottery Lane, Whittington Moor, ho was responsible for the setting of the bars in the stalls, said there had hardly been room to set a bar where the deceased was working. He had examined the roof, and had considered it very sound to work under. The distance between the props was about two feet six inches.

Dr. R. Goodwin remarked that all the rules of the pit seemed to have been observed. There is no evidence of carelessness on the part of anybody.” he said.

A verdict of Accidental death” was returned.


1909  April.                                  Shaw.                                                    Fall of bind.


A sad fatality occurred at the Staveley Coal and Iron Company’s Markham Colliery this morning. It appears a man named Shaw, of Brampton, employed as a filler, was engaged filling a tub when a fall of bind occurred, killing him instantly. Shaw, who was a single man, had only been at work two hours when the fall occurred. This makes the second fatality that has occurred at the pit recently.


1909  September                       Fletcher, Fenton      (17)                               Fall of bind.
1916 January                             Shemwell, William Henry (30)                           Roof fall.


A fall of several hundred tons of waste in Markham No.2 pit of the Staveley Coal and Iron Company resulted in fatal injuries to William Henry Shemwell (30), New Road Apperknowle. Deceased leaves a widow and three children

The inquest story, related at Chesterfield Hospital on Saturday, showed that Shemwell and George Miller, 151, Poolsbrook, were drawing timber from the gob on Monday evening. About  a score of props had been drawn, and Shemwell, on his knees, was putting the hook on the remaining prop when, without warning, the fall occurred. Miller escaped, but Shemwell, who was just at the edge of the fall, was caught on the heady a large piece of bind, his skull and upper jaw being fractured, and several severe wounds caused to the scalp. Deceased’s brother, Joseph Shemwell, Oak Terrace, Apperknowle is a ripper in the same pit, and he arrived on the scene the accident just in time to help to liberate the deceased. “oh, dear! this is a knock out, Joseph,” was the deceased’s remark when released.He asked for water, and when he had drunk said he wanted to lay down and sleep. Death took place on Friday morning.

Both Shemwell and Miller were stated by the deputy, Abraham Hopson, 3, Poolsbrook, to be experienced men, and an examination of the roof made by them had shown it to be apparently sound.

“Accidental death” was the verdict.


1916 December                         Samuel, John (16)                                                    Suffocated by pony.




At the Poolsbrook Hotel, Poolsbrook, near Staveley, Dr. A, Green (Coroner) conducted an inquiry into the death of a pony-drivers’s named John Samuel, aged 16, of Poolsbrook, who was killed on Friday morning by a pony falling on him while working in No.1 Pit of Markham’s Collieries. Amongst those attending the inquest were Mr. H>R. Hewitt, of Derby (h.M. Inspector of Mines), Mr R.W.Cuthbertson (agent for the Staveley Collieries) and Mr Barnet Kenyon (Derbyshire Miners’ Association).

No one seems to have actually witnessed the accident, but at about four o’clock on the morning referred to, a stallman named Samuel Berrett, of 119, Poolsbrook Cottages, heard the pony which deceased drove “scuffling about” in the gate of his stall. He found the pony lying on the top of the lad, and lost no time in getting it up: but Samuel was then dead. Witness expressed the opinion that the deceased had been walking just in front of the pony, which was hauling three full trucks, and had fallen over something, the pony then stumbling on the top of him.

Replying to questions by the Coroner and the Inspector, witness said it was the rule for drivers to walk in front of their ponies, in order to be better able to see when anything was approaching. A verdict of “Accidental death” was returned


1919 May                         Wragg. Leonard (19)                                     Slipped under tubs.




The fact that he was wearing new boots, it is assumed, caused Leonard Wragg to slip under a set of tubs he had just clipped on to the endless rope at Markham (no.1) Collier. So shocking were his injuries that he died almost instantly.

The inquest was held at the Rose and Crown, Brampton, last week, when, in addition to the Coroner (Dr. A. Green) and jury, there were present Mr H. Hale, H.M. Inspector of Mines, Mr. Frank Lee (Derbyshire Miners’ Association), and Mr W.R. Milson, manager of the Markham (No.1) Colliery.

Tom Wragg, 250, Old Road, Brampton cabinet maker at Messrs., Eyre and Sons Ltd., said deceased was his son. He was 19 years of age, and had worked for three or four years at Markham pit as a clipper-on.

J.T. H. Clark, (, Hipper Street, Chesterfield, corporal on the Doe Lea main road of the colliery, stated that the accident occurred on Tuesday about 10 p.m., shortly after the night shift had gone on duty. After speaking to Wragg at the place where he clipped-on, witness proceeded along the road, and in consequence of what he was told he knocked the rope off and returned. He found deceased lying on his back between the full and empty roads. He was dead, his head, right leg and foot having been severely injured. The tubs were 30 yards away, one being on the road and three off, and deceased had been dragged some distance. No one saw the accident, but witness thought he must have slipped while in the act of clipping-on.

Bt the Inspector: There was a roller close to where deceased worked, and he might have fallen on that.

John Stevenson, Quarry Hill, Apperknowle, rope-lad, explained that when he missed deceased he took the clips off the empties and reported the matter to the corporal.

A juryman protested against the deceased being taken straight home having regard to the fact that he was shockingly injured, and asked if he could not have been taken elsewhere.

The Coroner replied that he had suggested over and over again that mortuaries with accommodation for holding post-mortems should be provided in the district, but the authorities had not done anything in the matter.

The juryman: When a certain party saw the body it so upset them that they have been in bed ever since.

Mr. Wilson said he fully appreciated what had been said. Some people, however, would insist on their loved ones being brought home, no matter how badly they were injured.

A verdict of “Accidental death” was returned, and Mr. Wilson, expressing the sympathy of all at the colliery with the bereaved parents, said, “We have not a better lad left. Most careful in everything he did, we could send him all over the pit to clip-on, and the accident must have been due to what we call “a real accident’


1919 September.            Doughty, William,  (31)                                    Stone fall.


A fatal accident occurred at the Markham No. 1 Colliery, belonging to the Staveley Coal and Iron Company, yesterday, the victim being a loader named William Doughty, 31, living at 2, Markham Cottages, Duckmanton. It appears that while following his employment a piece of stone, weighing about one ton, fell on Doughty, killing him on the spot.


1920 December.            Adams, Charles Edgar  (43)                         Trapped in Coal Washer.



Workman Mangled in Machinery.



As the result of giving an improper order to a workmate, Charles Edgar Adams (43), of 131, Poolsbrook, met a terrible death at Markham No. 1 Colliery on Saturday. Adams, who was a married man with two children, whilst engaged in cleaning the sump of a coal washer was caught in the elevator and his body was fearfully mangled. Death was almost instantaneous.

The story of the accident was related by Albert Mitchell, of Shuttlewood, at the inquest held by Dr. A. Green at the Church Institute, Poolsbrook, on Monday. Mitchell said he and Adams were cleaning the sump of a coal washer. Adams was inside and he was on the top. The correct method of doing it was by means of a bucket and a rope, but this was too slow for the deceased, and he asked the witness to start the elevators so that he could shovel the sludge into them without troubling about the bucket. Witness at first demurred , but when Adams asked him again he got down the ladder from the top of the washer and started the machinery by means of the electric switch.

Heard a Shout. 

Almost immediately he heard Adams shout out. A foreman, who happened to be passing, stopped the elevators as soon as possible. Witness shouted to the deceased but got no answer, and when he looked into the washer saw him entangled in the elevators at the bottom of the sump. The machinery had to be reversed to get the body out. Witness’s opinion was that deceased slipped and fell on to the elevator. He only had about a foot space to stand in, and this was on an incline and wet and slippery with sludge.

Questioned by Mr. h.S. Scott (h.M. Inspector of Mines), Mitchell said he started the elevators when asked to do so, because Adams was in charge. Witness had cleaned the washer for the last six months, but had not used the machinery before. Adams had told him that he always used the elevators when cleaning the sump out. Adams had a paper authoring him to operate the switchboard and he (Mitchell) though hw was authorised to do so because Adams told him.

Mr J. Spencer (compensation agent for the Derbyshire miners): Are there not notices warning unauthorised persons not to start machinery on the switchboards? Witness: Yes, sir, I think so.

The Fatal Switchboard.

George Brewster Jones, foreman of No. 1 Belts, Markham Colliery, said that, hearing shouts issuing from the washer as he was passing, he immediately switched off the machinery. He never knew that Adams to use the elevators when cleaning the washer. Mitchell had no right to touch the switchboard.

James Potter, surface foreman for the whole of No.1 Markham Pit, said he had issued instructions that the elevators were never to be used when cleaning the washer. Adams had a paper authorising him to operate some “creepers” in another part of the colliery, Burt was not authorised to touch the switches which operated the elevators.

The Coroner considered Mitchell to be guilty of an error of judgment rather than gross negligence. There appeared to be no negligence on part of the Company.

The jury returned a verdict of  “accidental death.” adding that Mitchell was guilty of an error of judgment.


1922 February.                 Parley, Peter,  (22).                                     Run over by wagons.


At Chesterfield Hospital, last night an inquiry was held into the death of Peter Carley (17), High Street, New Whittington, wagon cleaner at Markham No. 2 pit. While he was taking out the cotter pin, of a wagon in the colliery yard, a shunter, Charles Davidson, not knowing that he was there, released the brake. Carley was run over, and died in hospital. A verdict of accidental death was recorded.


1923 May.                         Higginson, John  (25).                                      Fall of roof.


Calow Miner Lingers for 15 Months.

After lingering in the Chesterfield Royal Hospital for 15 months with a fractured spine, due to an accident at Markham No.2 Colliery, the death took place on Monday of John Higginson (25), detailer, The Cottage, Calow.

The inquest held by Dr. A. Green, Coroner, at the Chesterfield Hospital, on Wednesday, was attended by Mr. E.P. Bastide, solicitor to the Staveley Coal and Iron Company; and Mr. H. Curry, manager of Markham pits.

John Higginson, contractor, The Cottage, Calow, father of the deceased, said the accident occurred on May 5th 1923. At the time he was working about 12 yards away. Witness did not see the accident, but heard the fall of roof and saw his son buried with debris except for his head and shoulders. In a few minutes deceased was liberated and immediately taken out of the pit on a stretcher.

In answer to Mr. Bastide, witness said he examined the roof where the fall occurred earlier in the morning, and it appeared quite safe. “I could have slept under it myself,” said witness, who added that there was plenty of timber, and the bars were accurately set. The piece of bind which which fell would be about 6ft. x 2ft. x 1ft. A shot had been fired 20 yards away about an hour and a half before the fall, but witness expressed the opinion that the shot had nothing to do with the fall.

Oswald Bradley, dataller, Gladstone Cottage, Calow, said he was working with deceased on the day of the accident. Thet were engaged in building a pack when, without the slightest warning, a large piece of bind fell on to Higginson, who was in a stooping position.

Arthur Briggs, deputy, Rectory Road, Staveley, said there was no fault slips to account for the fall, which may have been caused by a sudden weight.

Dr. J.P. Michael, house surgeon at the Chesterfield Hospital, said that when admitted on May 5th last year, Higginson had a fractured spine. His system became poisoned as a result of the injury to the spine, and the death took place on Monday.

A verdict of “Accidental death” was returned.

On behalf of the employers and officials a vote of sympathy was expressed by Mr. Bastide with the parents and members of the family.

The Coroner observed that it was only the careful nursing at the Hospital which prolonged the unfortunate man’s life.


1924 October.                 Jeavons, Harold,  (22).                                     Run over by tubs.


Poolsbrook Pit Corporal’s Death.

An occurrence never known to have happened before, coupled with inexperience, was stated to be the cause of the death of Harold Jeavons (22), lodging at Poolsbrook, on whom Dr A. Green, the Chesterfield and District Coroner, held an inquest at  Staveley on Friday. Jeavons was killed at Markham No. 2 Pit the previous day by being crushed by a set of tubs which ran backwards. His injuries included a broken spine, a broken neck, and the fracture of both of his legs. He came from his home in Dudley, Staffs, only a fortnight before the accident, and was first employed at the coal face, but was transferred to the haulage road as a pit corporal. When the accident occurred he was working on his first shift in that capacity.

Evidence of identification was given by Abraham Jeavons, deceased’s brother, who said the deceased was not experienced in pit work. He joined the Army in 1918 or 1919, and was discharged in January last. As far as witness knew he had done no work since his discharge until he came to Markham Colliery a fortnight ago.

Mr H. Curry, manager of Markham Colliery No. 2, said he understood deceased had worked down a pit at his home since January.

Sidney Mittership, rope had, Poolsbrook, said he and Jeavons were working together at No. 83 gate end of Shuttlewood district of the colliery, and were rope running in the auxiliary haulage road feeding the main road. They were taking out a set of fifteen full tubs, and witness put the drag in, gave the signal, and walked in front of the tubs. As the first tub was turning into the main haulage road the clivy came off and he tried to push the tubs off the rails, as he knew some men were at the back. He could not do sp, however, as they were travelling  too fast. He did not Know where the deceased was at the time. It was the first day Jeavons had been on the work.

Mr J. Hall, H.M. Inspector of Mines: Have you known the clivy come out before?

Witness: No: I was “flabbergasted” when it came out. I went back and found two tubs off the road and the deceased under them.

Asked by Mr. Hall if he had any idea how Jeavons came to be so near the set, witness replied hat he had not the slightest idea.


The Coroner: Was he dead when he was got out?

Mr. Curry: Yes.


1924 December.                   Reddish, Walter  (31)



The question  of having first-aid dressings ready for immediate use in cases of pit accidents was raised at an inquest at the Chesterfield Royal Hospital, on Monday, on Walter Reddish (31), married , Top Alley, Calow.

Reddish was a ripper at Markham No.2 Colliery , and on December 30th he was preparing to set a bar when a large piece of bind fell, and knocked him dow, A moment afterwards another piece fell on him and his workmate, William Herring, Beetwell Street, had to call for assistance before he could be liberated. Reddish’s hip and pelvis were fractured, and blood poisoning resulted from scalp wounds, death ensuing three days afterwards from septic meningitis.

Herring said they first washed the man’s wounds with water from a drinking bottle, and then used a clean rag which one of the men had in his pocket as a bandage. He did not know there was an ambulance cabinet 100 yards away.

The Coroner (Dr. A. Green) suggested that all miners should carry with them a small packet of sterilised dressings, and Albert Briggs, deputy, who agreed as to the value of this, did not think miners generally would comply. He added that dressings were not left in the working places, because if that was done the articles would be stolen.

The Coroner and Mr. Hall, Mines Inspector, deprecated the washing of wounds with water out of men’s bottles, the latter stating that there had been cases recently where wounds washed with water from this source had turned septic, Iodine, of course was the best cleansing agent.

“Accidental death” was the verdict.

The Coroner said if sterilised dressings had been used immediately it would have given the man another chance, but whether they would have saved his life could not be said.


1926 March.                   Methley, Samuel  (38)


Samuel Methley (38), a deputy, of Armthorpe, died in Markham Colliery yesterday. The cause of death is not yet known.

A man named Clifford Japp, who was working with him heard him shouting and saw him waving his lamp. He was leaning against a prop and said that he was sick. He was taken to the ambulance room, but when Dr. Hart arrived he was dead


1926 December.            Hodgson, George (17)                                    Killed by runaway tubs.




Eight runaway tubs in Markham (No. 2) Colliery, resulting in the death of George Hodgson, 17, 2 Grove View, Walton Road, Brampton and the marvellous escape of James H. Fidler, 54 West Street, Eckington

The inquest was held at Chesterfield on Christmas Eve, when Arthur George Hodgson told the Coroner (Dr. A. Green) that his boy only started work in the pit five weeks ago. Fidler said he was the corporal, and on Thursday morning and his mate were trying to get an empty tub on to the road. Hodgson came along, and he volunteered to help them. Witness heard some wagons coming down the gradient at a fast rate, and he shouted “Look out, George!.” No sooner had he done so then he was knocked on one side, and the tubs pinned Hodgson against a prop. The impact was such as to cause the prop to give a bit, and he was able to release Hodgson who, however, was dead. Deceased was a haulage hand.

John Brooks, 26 Seymour, Staveley, slipper-on, said he attached the clip for the eleventh time that morning, and so far as he was aware there was nothing wrong with it. He gave the final for the train to be released, and he noticed it was gaining an excessive speed, so he stood in the pasty while it passed and then held on to the rear tub with all his strength trying to arrest its progress.

After the accident it was found that the cotter pin which held the bolt of the clip in position was missing. The bolt had come out and released the chain, liberating the eight wagons which dashed down the gradient, which was one in 25.

A verdict of “Accidental death” was returned. Mr. H. Corry, the manager of the Markham Colliery, said that was the first accident of its kind which had occurred at the collieries.  The rope was examined three times a day by he deputies and one a week by the rope man. In expressing sympathy with the bereaved relatives, Mr Corry remarked that the time of year intensified the calamity.


1928 January                       Perrins, Alfred  (33).                  Tapped in a screen pulley wheel.


Chesterfield Man’s Death in Hospital.

Details of an accident which betel Alfred Perrins (33), 48, St Augustine’s Avenue, Derby Road, Chesterfield, while following his occupation as a stallman in Markham No.2 Pit on January 14th, and which resulted in his death in the Chesterfield Royal Hospital on Tuesday, were related to Dr. A. Green, District Coroner, at an inquest held at the hospital on Thursday. Mr Aked was forman of the jury, and the inquiry was attended by Mr. J. Hall, Inspector of Mines, Mr. E.P. Bastide, solicitor to the Staveley Coal and Iron Co., Ltd., owners of Markham No.2 Pit and Mr. H. Corry, manager Markham Collieries.

Walter Perrins, 29, Arkwright Town, said that his brother had worked in the pit all his life. Replying to Mr. Bastide, he said that when he saw his brother the day before the accident the latter did not complain of feeling ill. He had no cough or cold.

George Thomas Tinkler, 43, South Crescent, Duckmanton, who was working with Alfred Perrins on the morning of the accident, said that Perrins was sitting down pulling, with a rope, a full tub which witness was pushing into the gate. Suddenly there was a heavy bump, and he heard Perrins, who was eight yards away, shout. He was going to the place, but the deputy got there before him and sent witness for assistance.

Answering Mr. Bastide, witness said that Perrins inspected the place before beginning work and it was quite safe. He put an extra prop in. He did not notice whether Perrins was suffering from a cough or cold. He made no complaint and seemed quite well.

Herbert Parsons, 9, South Crescent, Duckmanton, a deputy, said that as he was going to the stall where Perrins was working he heard a loud bump and a shout. When he got to the place he found Perrins in a sitting position with a piece of bind five feet long, two feet wide, and six inches thick, on the ground to his right hand side. Perrins, who was quite conscious, said both his legs were broken. Witness examined his legs, and came to the conclusion they were not fractured, and moved him into the gate for safety. He then made a further examination and found his right hip was bruised. Witness applied a bandage to the pelvis.

Answering the Coroner, witness said that another piece of roof fell afterwards. He came to the conclusion  that the bumps had unsettled the roof. It was quite properly timbered.

Replying to Mr. Hall, witness said that there was nothing dislodged, there was only one broken bank pole. It had just broken the bar down in between the two props.

Dr W. Simpson, house surgeon at the Chesterfield Royal Hospital, said that when Perrins was admitted he was suffering from a very bad fracture of the pelvis and shock. He died on January 24th from bronchial pneumonia as the result of the accident.

Mr. Bastide: Do you agree that under ordinary circumstances a fractured pelvis would not prove fatal?

Witness: Yes.

Do you agree that he had a cough on admission? Yes.

Do you agree that the origins of bronchial pneumonia was there before admission to the hospital? No.

Had he symptoms of it? No: he had signs of bronchitis.

Is that not the first stage of bronchial pneumonia? It may be.


Replying further, the doctor said that if Perrins had not had the accident he did not think he would have had bronchial pneumonia.

A Juror: I suppose it was set up as the result of the accident and not from any previous cause whatever? I don’t think he would have had bronchial pneumonia if he had not had the accident.

Mr. Bastide: You were asked whether pneumonia was set up as the result of accident. I think you will agree bronchial pneumonia was not set up as the result of the accident.

The Coroner: It was the result of the man being confined to his bed and lying on his back for a long time as a result of this accident.

The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental death through the fall of bind”

Mr Bastide, on behalf of the Staveley Company, manager and officials, expressed sympathy with the widow and four children.


1928 December                       Mellard, George Herbert (33).                 Roof Fall


Staveley’s Miner’s Death.

Rescue Efforts Appreciated by Staveley Co.

Smart work in a cramped position by workmen at Markham No.2 Colliery in what proved to be a vain attempt to save the like of a comrade who had been buried by a fall of roof was acknowledged by Mr. E.P. Bastide, the Staveley Coal and Iron Company’s solicitor, at an inquest at Staveley on Wednesday on George Herbert Mellard, aged 33, a charwoman coal-cutter, Worksop Road, Staveley, who was killed by a fall of roof while at work in the pit early on Tuesday morning. The inquest was conducted by Dr. A. Green, the Chesterfield and District Coroner, who sat with a jury, of which Mr. A. Dodd was appointed foreman. Others present at the enquiry were Mr. H Curry, manager of Markham Collieries, Mr. F. Lee, M.P., representing the D.M.A., and Mr. J. Hall, H.M. Inspector of Mines.

Mrs. Marion Mellard, the widow, gave evidence of identification: and Cyril Benjamin Thompson, aged 14, conveyor engine attendant, Bentick Road, Shuttlewood, who witnesses the accident, explained that he was attending to his conveyor and was about two or three yards from the deceased in No. 172 stall of Doe Lea district. The roof of the stall was only 2ft. 3ins. high and Mellard was on his hands and knees changing picks in his coal-cutting machine when the roof collapsed without warning. Deceased was completely buried and witness only escaped by a foot. About a dozen workmen were about ten yards away.


1929 April                       Temprell, Charles Edward (55).                  Tapped in a screen pulley wheel.


Machinery Started While Being Repaired.

After a protracted inquiry, a Coroner’s jury at Markham Colliery, Staveley, testier, returned a verdict of  “Accidental accident” and expressed the view that no one was to blame for the death of Charles Edward Temprell (55), screen hand at the colliery of North Crescent, Duckmanton, who was trapped in a pulley wheel on the screens on Monday and crushed to death. George Edward Brown, another screen had, said he was helping Temprell to put a spare belt on the pulley wheel of an electrical motor. Witness was standing on the wheel untying the spare belt and Temprell was leaning against the wheel. An electrician was repairing the switch of the motor. The wheel on which he was standing suddenly began to revolve without warning, and the witness saved himself only by holding on to a girder. Temprell was caught in the wheel.

Bernard Onions, the electrician, said he did not know that the switch he was repairing operated the machinery on which Temprell was engaged. He thought the switch operated machinery at the other end of the screens, and he looked towards this machinery to see if anyone was on it before he let in the switch.






Whittington Moor Man Involved in Pit Accident.

A fall of side in Markham No. 2 Colliery on Tuesday resulted in the death of Henry Sowerby (37), a miner, 7, Station Road, Whittington Moor, and at the inquest held at Durrant Hall, Chesterfield on Thursday, a verdict of accidental death was returned by the jury.

Elizabeth Sowerby, wife of the deceased said that she had five children. Her husband, who had worked at Markham Colliery for 17 years, was wrong and healthy. Dr R.S. Abraham (Chesterfield Royal Hospital) said the deceased died shortly after admission to the hospital. There was a slight cut on the left cheek, a small wound on the right side of the scalp, a stab wound on the front of the chest, and the six upper ribs were broken. The cause of death was shock, laceration and collapse of the left lung and compound fracture of the ribs.

Sidney Ashley, 61, South Crescent, Duckmanton, a miner, said he was working in No.2 conveyor unit stall in the Doe Lea district about 10 yards from the gate end, when he heard a fall at about 1.30 p.m. Sowerby, whom he had last seen three hours before gave a groan and the witness rushed to the gate end and shouted to the men to stop the conveyor. Witness found deceased partly buries under about a ton of side, which had fallen away from a height of about three feet.

In reply to Mr. G.F. Pickering (H.M. Inspector of Mines), witness said the gate end was timbered in the ordinary way. In anger to Mr. E.P. Bastide (solicitor to the Staveley Company), witness added that Sowerby understood his work very well, so he would not be likely to work in dangerous conditions.

Leslie Stevens, 71, south Crescent, Duckmanton, colliery deputy, said that he saw the deceased in the No. 2 conveyor unit at 7.30. He found that the lip was all right, but he had two spans set to it. On his second visit an hour later, his instructions had been carried out, and at ten minutes to one he saw deceased getting a piece of coal out towards the centre of the gate. The lip was quite safe. He laster examined where the accident happened and found that the fall weighed about 30cwts. or two tons. Prior to the accident it was impossible to take more precautions than had been taken and the timbering was done according to rules. The chest wound would be caused by the corner of the loader casing.

Albert Brown, 21, Duckmanton Road, Duckmanton, overman at Markham Colliery, said there was nothing abnormal about the conveyor unit at 11.40.

William Freeman, Garage Yard, Hollingwood, ambulance attendant, also gave evidence.

The Coroner (dr. R.A. McCrea) said that it was evident that the working conditions were as safe as possible prior to the accident.

The jury, in returning their verdict of accidental death, said that there was no evidence of negligence of the part of the deceased. They also expressed sympathy with the widow.

Mr Bastide, in associating himself with this expression of sympathy on behalf of the colliery manager and officials, said Mr. Sowerby was regarded as one of the best miners.  


William Henry Sowerby – My Grandfather by Stuart Covell


Frith, Edward Elliott (50)

Boythorpe Stallman Dies from Severe Head Injuries.

Well-known Sportsman.

Many people in Chesterfield, particularly among the sporting fraternity, will regret to hear of the death of Mr. Edward Elliott Frith. 59, Walton Drive, Boythorpe, which occurred in Chesterfield Royal Hospital on Sunday. Mr. Frith who was 50 years of age, had been in the institution since July 4th, suffering from severe head injuries as a result of an accident in No. 1 Pit at Markham Colliery, were he was employed as a miner.

Mr. Frith had resided in the Chesterfield all his life, and in his earlier days was a playing member of Chesterfield Town f.C’s first eleven. He was also greatly interested in boxing, and another favourite pastime was cricket, having at one time proved himself  to be an able batsman and bowler for a Brampton club. That he was very fleet of foot was acknowledged by all who competed with him in flat race events at various athletic sports meetings held in the town and district. For two years he was licensee of the Victoria Hotel, Chesterfield, when he made a wide circle of friends. He had been employed at the Markham Colliery for nearly eight years. Deceased leaves a widow, three daughters and one son.


The Inquest was conducted on Tuesday at the Durrant Hall, Chesterfield, by Mr. J.L. Middleton (Chesterfield and District Deputy Coroner). There were present Mr. A.L. Fint (H.M. Inspector of Mines), Mr. H. Kirk (manager of Markham Colliery) and Mr E.P. Bastide (representing Staveley Coal and Iron Company, Ltd.).

Mrs. Emily Frith said her husband was a Stallman at Markham No. 1 Colliery. On July 4th he was involved in an accident at work and taken to Chesterfield Royal Hospital. She saw him, but owing to an injury to his jaw he could not speak.

Dr. Wrigley, Chesterfield Royal Hospital, said deceased on admission was suffering from shock and a compound fracture of the lower jaw. His condition did not improve and, developing septicaemia, he died on August 14th. The septicaemia was due to infection of the compound fracture of the jaw. A post mortem examination was conducted on the following day to exclude any possibility of chest condition complicating his injury. There was no evidence of an old healed chest condition, which in his opinion had no effect upon the fracture of the jaw or the cause of death.

Mr. Bastide: Deceased had a fracture of the lower jaw. Was that the only fracture?

Witness: Yes.

Was there a fracture of the upper jaw? -No.

Witness added that the lungs were slightly congested due to septicaemia, and further replying to Mr Bastide, said there were signs of old tubercular trouble.

Mr. Bastide: You would not say the fracture caused death?

Witness: The fracture was the primary cause.

George Hall, 197, Chesterfield Road, Staveley, Stallman at Markham No. 1 Colliery, said he was present at the time of the accident. He was ripping and the deceased was similarly occupied. Four shots had been fired by the deputy about half an hour prior to the accident, and, following his instructions, a catch prop had been set. At the time the accident occurred witness was trimming the left hand side and Frith was standing having a “breather.” The fall, which weighed three to four, hundred weights came from the right-hand side, striking deceased from behind. There was no timber displaced.

George Frederick Tomkinson, 40, South Crescent, Duckmanton, the deputy, said he inspected the place about 3.30 p.m. and examined the stall and gate previous to firing the ripping shots. The first shot was fired at 3.40 p.m. and the last at 4.35 p.m., following which he went back along with Frith and found the conditions very satisfactory. He remarked to deceased that he had a roof like a “bell metal,” and then stood while the men set their catch prop. About 5 o’clock he was informed of the accident, and on examining the place found on the right-hand side of the gate a slip which ran over the gate end chock about one yard in length and 18 inches thick.

Mr. Bastide: Had you had occasion to fire shots in that district before?

Witness: Yes.

A verdict of “Accidental Death” was returned, the jury adding they thought everything had been done to avoid an accident.

Mr. Bastide, associating himself with the expressions of sympathy, said the deceased had worked for the company for five years, and it was regretted they should have lost him under such tragic circumstances.


1932 August.                  Barnett, George (47).                      Roof Fall,


Newbold Miner’s Death at Markham Colliery.

Companion’s Miraculous Escape.

The death of George Barnett (47), 10, Allsopp Place, Newbold, who was killed by a fall of roof at Markham No, 1 Colliery on Monday, and the miraculous escape of his companion., Walter Maskery, West Handley, who was thrown 10 yards without injury, were described to the Chesterfield and District Coroner (Dr. R.A. McCrea) and a jury at the inquest held at the Colliery on Tuesday.

Watching the proceedings were Mr. Flint, H.M.I. of Mines, Mr. R. Ringham, agent for the Markham Collieries and Mr. Harold Kirk, manager of the collieries.

Mrs Elizabeth Barnett said her husband’s eyesight and hearing were good. He was in his usual state of health when he got up at 4.50 a.m. on Monday.  Dr W. Stratton, Bolsover, said he saw deceased at the colliery about 9.30 a.m. on Monday. His neck was broken and death must have been instantaneous.

Maskery said he was working on the day shift with deceased in 49 Stall, West District. They had finished changing the tub road out of the old into the new. Witness fetched a tub, and as deceased stooped down to put a locker in the dirt fell on him. It hit the back end of the tub and knocked witness from 10 to 12 yards.

The Coroner: You had a rather a miraculous escape, then?

Witness: I was very lucky, sir.

He returned to the fall with another man and shouted “Are you right, George.” Another man, Ashley, whose Christian name was also George, shouted “Yes,” and witness at first thought it was deceased shouting. Ashley came down and found Barnett completely buried with the exception of one arm protruding from the fall. They got him out within four or five minutes. There was no sign of life. Thet had examined the stall before starting work that morning and had been quite satisfied that the


Mr. Flint: Did you tub rub anything or catch any of the timber?

Witness: No, I am quite sure it did not. Had there been any previous fall before? – No, it has been a very good roof before.

Had you taken any timber out or set and timber? – No.

What size was the fall? – About nine feet long, four feet six inches wide and a foot thick. Its weight would be over two tons.

How high was the roof? – Five and a half feet.

Had there been anything going off that would tend to disturb the roof at all? – No.

Did you notice any slip or break in the roof? – No.

Can you suggest any cause of the fall? No. I cannot.

Can you suggest anything that might have prevented ir? No, I cannot. It was one of those unforeseen accidents.

George Ashley, Mill Street, Clowne, said he heard the fall and was eight yards away when it occurred. It knocked out four props and two bars.

John William Turner, 23, Rectory Road, Duckmanton, deputy on the night shift preceding the shift on which the deceased was working, said he visited the stall twice during the shift. It was timbered up throughout and when he handed it over he was quite satisfied with its condition. He did not notice any fault or break in the roof. He had seen the stall since the accident and could not suggest any reason for the fall. He thought the timbering was quite satisfactory.

The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental Death” and expressed sympathy with the widow.

Mr. Ringha,, associating himself with the condolences on behalf of the Staveley Coal and Iron Co,. the officials and men, said that although deceased had worked for the company only a comparatively short time, he had been respected and held in esteem by all.  The company was sorry to lose such a useful and efficient workman.


1933 August.                 Harold Morpus (28).                                       Fall of roof.


Poolsbrook Miner Succumbs to Severe Injuries.

Duckmanton Deputy’s Skilful First Aid.

Severely injured by a fall of roof at the Staveley Coal and Iron Company’s Markham No. 1 Colliery on Monday, Harold Morpus, 1, Poolsbrook Cottages, Poolsbrook, died shortly after admission to the Chesterfield Royal Hospital.

At the inquest, conducted by the Chesterfield and District Deputy Coroner, (Mr. J. L. Middleton), the deputy, John William Turner, Rectory Road, Duckmanton, was warmly commended for his prompt and efficient first aid attention.

Mr. Middleton had the assistance pf a jury. There were present Mr. J. Hall, Sheffield , Inspector of Mines; Mr. E. P. Bastide, solicitor to the Staveley Coal and Iron Company; and Mr. R. Ringham, the Company’s colliery agent. Joseph William Morpus, the father, said his son was 28 and lived with him.

Leonard Keller, 81, High Street, Eckington, said he was working with Morpus and they were engaged in pulling back a gate end lower with the aid of a Sylvester and chain, attached to a four yards rail, erected to the roof. They had pulled the loader back as far as was required and were about to take the rail down, when there was a fall of stone from the road, one of the pieces dropping on Morpus. Bradford, who had tested the roof before the rail had been erected, had seemed to be quite satisfied with its condition. It had always seemed to be a very good strong roof to the witness., and he had never had any trouble with it before.


The Coroner: This method of pulling back the gate end loader is the usual one? Witness: Yes, we do it every day.

John Henry Bradford, North Crescent, Duckmanton, said he had assisted Keller to erect the rail to enable the gate-end loader to be pulled back. Before the rail was set up. he examined the roof all round and was satisfied with it. When the fall occurred, they had pulled the loader back and were about to move the rail., but they had not touched it. Morpus was liberated at once, and it was found that he had severed an artery in his thigh, which the deputy stopped immediately. The deputy had visited the place several times during the shift. The stone fell from a height of about nine feet.

Mr.Hall: Could anything have been done to prevent this fall?

Witness: The top had been very good – exceptionally good.

Mr Bastide: There was plenty of timber there if it had been wanted?

Witness: Yes; it is always there.

You have worked in this particular gate for six months, and is it a fact that this roof is stone bind, almost rock? Yes.

When you released the stone from Morpus’s leg , is it true that the blood spurted out to a height of 18 inches? Yes.

Considerable credit is due to the deputy for stopping this? Yes.

He is a highly skilled ambulance man? Yes.

The doctor was there in the pit with half an hour? – It did not seem as long as that.

John William Turner, the deputy, Rectory Road, Duckmanton, said that accident occurred about 4.45p.m. on the afternoon shift, which started at 2.30. Witness made his last examination of the gate before the accident at 4.15, and was quite satisfied with it.


The method employed by Morpus, Keller and Bradford to pull back the loader was the usual one. When the fall occurred witness was only about eight yards away. There was plenty of first-aid materials near, and witness stopped the bleeding from the severed artery as soon as they got Morpus free.  Dr. J.F.M. Milner, house surgeon at the Chesterfield Royal Hospital, said Morpus was admitted on Monday afternoon. His leg was almost amputated, and he was suffering from laceration of the right thigh, a severed femoral artery, a fractured femur, laceration of the right shoulder, and other injuries, loss of blood, and shock. He died thd the same night, death being due to shock which was a result of the injuries.

The Coroner said it could not be said that anyone had been lacking in his duties. The fall was really one which could not be foreseen or guarded against any more than it had been.

Returning a verdict of “Accidental death,” the jury, through their foreman, expressed sympathy with Morpus’s relatives, and complimented the deputy upon his prompt and efficient attention.

Mr. Bastide, on behalf pf the Company and of the officials, concurred in both these remarks. Morpus, he said was only 28, but he had worked for the Company since he was 14, and was held in high esteem. There was no doubt whatever that if the deputy had not been on the spot, Morpus would have died at once. By reason of the deputy being there, and by reason of him being  a highly skilled ambulance man, Morpus had received as prompt and as skilful attention, as was possible under the circumstances. Dr. J.B. McKay was in the pit within half an hour, and he was very pleased with the way in which the deputy  had dealt with case, so much so that he said he thought there was a fifty-fifty chance of Morpus living.

Harold Morpus was a member of the Poolsbrook Miners’ Welfare, and the sympathy of the members of the Chesterfield and District Amateur Bowling Association is extended to the relatives.


1934 October                       Turner, John Thomas                                    Crushed by wagons.


Poolsbrook Mimer Crushed Between Wagon Couplings.

“Accidental death” was the verdict returned at the Chesterfield inquest yesterday on John Thomas Turner (60), Poolsbrook Crescent, Poolsbrook, who for more than 35 years had been a colliery shunter at the Markham Collieries of the Staveley Coal and Iron Company.

Evidence was given that on the morning go 19th October wagons were being lowered at the collieries, there being 14 runts down the shunt, Turner was crushed between the couplings of two wagons, and it was conjectured that he was passing between the trucks to release the brakes when two others crashed into them. Mr. Bastide, the Staveley Company’s solicitor, submitted that it was a millionth chance that Turner should be in the centre of the wagons at the identical moment when a train of eight wagons was lowered down the siding.

Dr. Kilpatrick said Turner died in Chesterfield Royal Hospital the same day as the accident from shock and haemorrhage due to severe abdominal injuries.


1937 January                       9 Miners Killed                                                 Explosion

On Thursday 21st January 1937 at 2.45 pm an explosion happened just when the men were changing over from the day shift to the afternoon shift. A flame which escaped from a faulty covering plate on the coal cutting machine caused a build up of gas and ignited the coal dust. Seven men were killed at the scene and two men died later in hospital. Four men were seriously injured. The accident happened in the Black Shale seam – the deepest part of the pit and the furthest away from the pit bottom about one and a half miles. (The nine men who died have all now been commemorated as part of the Walking Together project.). More details can be found at the following links


1937 disaster

List of Miners killed in the 1937  disaster


1937 June                        Higginson, John (61)                                       Caught by ascending cage


Calow Miner’s Injuries at Markham Proved Fatal.

Conflicting Evidence As too Signals.

At an inquest at Chesterfield yesterday (Thursday) on John Higginson (61), 19, Lawn Villas, Calow, who was involved in a cage accident at Markham No.2 Colliery on Tuesday morning, the jury were faced with conflicting evidence.

At the end of the shift Higginson was leaving the pit and was partly in the cage at the pit bottom when it began to ascend. He was crushed and died soon afterwards in Chesterfield Royal Hospital. The insetter in charge of the cage at the pit bottom told the Chesterfield and District Coroner (Dr. R.A. McCrea) that he did not give the signal for the cage to move, and this was confirmed by two men who were there at the time, but the bandsman at the surface said that he received the signal and this was confirmed by a deputy, who said he heard it. The engine winder also said that he heard it. The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental death,” and said that the evidence was too contradictory for them to attach blame.

The widow, Mrs Helen Higginson, said her husband had worked at the Staveley Coal and Iron Company’s Markham No.2 Colliery for 27 or 28 years. He was a ripper. About seven on Tuesday morning she was told that he had been injured and taken to hospital, but he was dead when she got there. Dr. Rosenberg said that death was due to severe shock and loss of blood. Higginson had a deep wound on the right groin, which extended  down the thigh. He went downhill, collapsing rapidly.


Thomas Slack, Arkwright Town, the insetter, said he was in charge of emptying and loading the cage at the pit bottom. When he had a cage of men the signal he gave the bandsman was three rings, and the bandsman acknowledged this with three rings. When the cage was full and ready to ascend witness gave one ring. On Tuesday he signalled three. Higginson was partly on the cage when it began to move and crushed him. Witness at once signalled for it to stop and it did so having gone 16 to 20 feet. He did not signal for the cage to move, and no one could have inadvertently touched the signal. About a fortnight ago they had had trouble with the signals. When they rang the three sometimes  there had only been one or two rings, and sometimes none at all. The electrician had attended to the defect and there had been no fault since. James Fisher, California, Barlbro’ and Joseph Tingle, 14, Church Street, Staveley, said Slack did not give the signal for the cage to move. They were quite certain of that.

John Mitchell, Thatch Cottage, Chesterfield Road, Shuttlewood, the bandsman, said he gave three rings to let Slack know that he was sending men down, and Slack acknowledged this signal with three rings. Slack then gave three rings to let witness know that he was sending men up, and after witness had acknowledged these with three rings, Slack gave one ring – the signal to move.


The Coroner: Have you any doubt that you received this signal?

Mitchell: I am sure I received that signal, certain, absolutely certain on oath.

He said he had 30 years’ experience of the work. He had known the bell to ring when no one had touched the push.

Mr. Hanna, solicitor to the Staveley Company: You can’t possibly know whether anybody has touched it or not.

Joseph Thomas Doxey, 3, Duckmanton Road, Duckmanton, deputy, said he heard a one ring signal from the insetter, Slack.

William Henry Makin, 23, North Crescent, Duckmanton, winding engineman said he heard a one ring signal from the onsetter.

George Allott, the electrical engineer said that he had examined the signals and they were in perfect order. He had found no fault to explain how the signal had been given and could offer no explanation.

The Coroner said they had fairly definite evidence both ways.

After the jury had announced their verdict, the Coroner said that he understood from Mr.R. Ringham, agent for the Markham Pits, that the Company was hoping to instal a system whereby a permanent record of signals was made.


Mr. Hannas said that the accident was the first of its kind in the Company’s pits, but similar accidents had occurred in other collieries. The Company was taking the matter up with the Mines Department and putting forward suggestions for altering the present statutory system of bells or installing an alternative signalling system in order to avoid such accidents. The signal of a single ring might be given inadvertently and that risk might be minimised.

The jury, Mr. Hanna and Coun. O. right, treasurer to the Derbyshire Miner’s Association, expressed sympathy with the relatives.

Mr.Hall, Inspector of Mines, and Mr. R. Ringham were present.


1937 October                 Belfiitt, Maurice Frederick (40).                  Fall of stone.


Duckmanton Mine’s Tragic Death.

How a Duckmanton miner a fatal injury as a result of a sudden fall of stone in Markham No. 2 Colliery was described at an inquest at Chesterfield Borough Police Court on Monday on Maurice Frederick Belfitt (40), 44 North Crescent. A verdict of “Accidental death” was returned.

Eric Belfitt, 29, Arkwright Town, brother of the dead man, said that his brother was conscious when he saw him at the hospital, and he was with him when he died. He did not say how the accident occurred, and his only reference to it was that “he was done”

Dr. R. W. Wyse said that Belfitt was admitted to the hospital on the 5th, when he was suffering gravely from shock. He had paralysis of both legs. He died on the 7th from a fracture of the spine.  Wilfred Mullis, 171, Speedwell Terrace, Staveley, colliery ripper, said that he was working with Belfitt at the time of the accident.  Belfitt had been arches and putting covering between them. Immediately before the accident he was driving a piece of covering which was wedged beyond the last arch. Belfitt had struck a piece of covering half-a-dozen times when the witness heard a noise of falling stone and he saw Belfitt partly buried under a fall which had come from the side. Witness at once obtained help for the injured man.

Witness, in reply to Mr. J. Hall, H. M. Mines Inspector, said that Belfitt had examined the roof  beyond the arches, and he appeared satisfied with its condition.  There was not sufficient room to set a temporary prop.


In reply to Mr. R. Ringman (agent to the Staveley Coal and Iron Company) witness said he had always found Belfitt to be a careful workman.  He repeatedly told witness never to work under the lip. Sam Keeling said that he was helping generally in the area in question. About one o’clock he examined the new gate where Belfitt was working  and the roof was very good at that time, and he could find nothing about the sides to find fault with. At 1.30 he was called to the scene of the accident, and saw Belfitt with his back against a piece of stone, which was in contact with his spine. It appeared that he had been knocked back against the stone. The weight of the fall was about three-quarters of a ton. Witness had known Belfitt for 20 years and he was a very careful workman. There was nothing he could have done to obviate the accident.

Henry Hogg, 21, North Crescent, Duckmanton, colliery deputy, said that he fired the shots, between 8 and 9.30 and the nearest would be three feet from the fall. The shots would have not affected the part which fell, and that portion was normal at 9.50. Possibly the driving affected the side.  After the accident he found breaks which were interlocked, and they might have been the starting point of the fall. He could not see the breaks before the fall. He did not think anything could have been done to avoid the accident.

The Coroner (Dr. R.A. McCrea) said that if the stone which fractured Belfitt’s spine had been an inch either side of Belfitt’s spine he would probably not have received any serious injury.


1938, May               79 Miners Killed.                                       Explosion

The men on the night shift went to work as usual on Monday 9th May 1938 not knowing that by the end of that ill fated shift more than two thirds of them would be dead or seriously injured. At 5.30 am the shift was coming to an end, some of the men had already started to make their way back to the pit bottom. This was the Black Shale seam, the deepest and the farthest away from the pit bottom – some one and a half miles. In the pit yard the men on the day shift were arriving ready to start work at 6am. Suddenly, underground, a tremendous draft got up followed by a terrific bang. Black coal dust and smoke filled the pit and a wall of fire swept through the seam. There had been an explosion of gas at the coal face. Some tubs carrying coal ran out of control and smashed into an electric joint box causing sparks which ignited the coal dust. 79 men were killed and 40 men were injured. Most of the men were married with young children. All 79 men were buried on Saturday, 14th May in 13 cemeteries.

1938 disaster

List of the 79 men killed.


1939 October                 Ernest Hill (25).                                       Derailment of tubs

Duckmanton Haulage Hand Fatally Injured,

Accident in Markham No. 1 Pit,

The Chesterfield and District Coroner (Mr F. D. Worthington) conducted an inquest at Chesterfield on Tuesday on Earnest Hill (25), haulage had, 84 Poolsbrook Road, Duckmanton, who died in Chesterfield Royal Hospital on Thursday week, following injuries received in Markham No. 1 Pit the previous Monday. Evidence of identification was given by the dead man’s brother-in-law, Ernest Owens, 67, North Crescent, Duckmanton, a belt turner at Markham Colliery. He said that Hill was a single man. When he saw him in hospital he was conscious, but did not give him any account of the accident. Dr. S. Scher, house surgeon at the hospital, said that Hill was admitted at 2.10 p.m. on October 2nd. He was suffering from shock due to internal injuries and a fractured forearm.


He was operated upon the same afternoon for internal injuries.  He died on October 5th at 9.55 p.m. Death was due to peritonitis and pneumonia, following an operation for multiple laceration and a rupture of the small bowel. The4 operation in itself was quite successful. He rallied after it, but complications set in.

Ralph Coleman, haulage had, 59, Arkwright Town, said that on October 2nd he was on the day shift working at 3’s junction, Blackshale seam, Markham No. I Pit. The accident happened about 12.45 p.m. At the time there were about 32 stationary trucks at the junction. It was his job to lower these tubs to the junction. Hill was standing close to the stationary tubs, and his job was to assist the tubs over the point as they drawn into the bend. A bump suddenly came from the back, and the first tub was derailed. This brought it up against the corner of the brick wall. It cause others behind it to “heel over.” Hill was five or six yards from him (witness) when this happened. The tubs seemed to catch Hill against the side of the road and then they righted  themselves. He (witness) found Hill lying on the ground. He complained of pain in his stomach. Help was at once sent for.


In answer to Mr C. M. White (representing the Staveley Co.) witness said that he was present when the accident was re-staged for his Majesty’s Inspector of Mines. None of the tubs on the pit ten became derailed. Joseph Wainwright, another haulage had, of 56, Poolsbrook Road, Duckmanton, corroborated the previous witness’s statement.

A third haulage had, Harry Goodfellow, 191, Poolsbrook, said that he was engaged in “knocking off” the empty tubs. He heard a run of empties come on the road and he moved forward to knock them off. There was actually 16 tubs on the run. The tubs he “knocked off” ran further than he expected as the stationary tubs had been moved further than he thought. The consequent bump was harder than usual. He would not have expected that bump to derailed the first stationary tub.

The Coroner said that he was satisfied that no blame could be attached to anyone. It was quite probable that the truck was actually derailed before the bump occurred.

A verdict od “Accidental death” was returned

Expressing sympathy with the relatives, Mr. White, said Hill had worked at the pit since he was a boy and was one of the best haulage hands.

Mr. C. W. Scott H.M. Inspector for Mines and Mr H Kirk (colliery agent) were present at the inquiry.

Mr Hill was well known as a footballer, having play for the Markham and Bolsover clubs.