Peggy Marsden

When Ralph Marsden died in the 1937 disaster he left behind his wife and two daughters, Peggy aged 12 and June just 3 months old. 

On that fateful day, Thursday, 21st January, Ralph should not have been on that shift but had swapped with his friend.

Peggy remembered every bit of that day for the rest of her life and recalled it in the following story, which she wrote as if aged 12 years old again , when she was 93. 

Peggy wrote it for a special service “Remembering the Markham Pit Disasters” which was held  at Duckmanton Methodist Church on Thursday, 10th May, 2018. 

Peggy died in January, 2022 aged 97 years. 


Listen to a recording of Peggy Burrow’s story here – her words spoken by Faye Turtle a young actress from Buxton Youth Theatre and introduced by Kerry Allsop.


Read a transcript of Peggy’s account below.


Peggy Burrow’s (Nee Marsden’s) account of the pit disaster in January 1937

I was up at the shop when the Markham pit sirens began to ring. We were all aware in those days that this was a sign of accidents in the mines, so I ran home and threw the shopping on the table and told my Mum that I was going down the pit. 

I went down to Markham pit number 2 and stayed there all day as I knew my Dad was working down there that day. There were many more people gathered there waiting to see what had happened. 

We were all waiting, what seemed like an eternity before the injured men started to be brought out and there were ambulances waiting to take these injured men to hospital. 

It was around 6pm at night when a local policeman tapped me on the shoulder and said my Mum wanted me to go home. When I got home the police had already told my Mum that my dad had been injured and was in hospital. 

Mum asked my Auntie Jessie to look after me and my sister June while she went to the hospital. 

My Mum was at the hospital for a long time and she had to come home to find someone else to look after me and my sister. I wanted to go back with mum to see my Dad, however my Dad asked my Mum not to take me because he was too badly injured. 

Whilst Mum was at home my Dad died.

There were many sad things about my Dad’s death, he should not have been there as he swapped shifts with a friend. That friend died the following year in the 1938 pit disaster. 

My Mum got up with him that morning and that was unusual as she would not normally get up with him that early. 

I saw my Dad being brought out as he was the first to be brought out, but at the time I didn’t know it was him. 

I was 12 years old when the disaster happened, however I can remember it like it was yesterday. 

I am now 93 and the upset and pain from that day is still fresh in my mind.