Monday, August 19, 2019

Remembering the William Pit disaster

This week has seen the 72nd anniversary of the terrible disaster at William Pit in Whitehaven which killed 104 miners in August 1947.

The explosion which hit the mine that month also made 89 women widows and left 230 children without a father.

I remember attending the 60th anniversary commemoration in 2007 when four thousand people walked in procession from St Nicholas's gardens to the site of the former mine.

This was very far from being the only terrible disaster to hit Whitehaven during the years of coal mining. It was the worst of fourteen explosions at that mine, but there were also disasters at the other mines in the town, and in particular one at Wellington Pit in 1910 was even worse.

The Whitehaven coal field suffered many disasters and innumerable smaller accidents. It has been estimated that over 1700 men, women, and children lost their lives while mining coal in the Whitehaven collieries.

The saddest spot in Whitehaven is the memorial in St Nicholas' gardens to all the children who died while working in the town's coal mines.

Between 1880 and 1910, over 1000 fatalities occurred every year in British coal mines. An average of four miners were killed and 517 injured every day over that period.

In 1910 the national fatality figure rose to 1818 killed. Of these, 501 died in explosions, 658 through falls of ground, and 286 through haulage accidents.

The explosion of firedamp at Wellington Pit, Whitehaven in 1910, killed 136 men and boys, and remains Cumbria’s worst mining accident.

It is important to remember our history. Not least because if we remember he dangers which have tragically claimed so many lives we are more likely to be on our guard to prevent such tragedies from being unnecessarily repeated.

1 comment:

Jim said...

Are you a member of the Whitehaven Yesteryear's Facebook group? I often post town photos and did one of the children's monument today. Worth joining if you are on FB and are not on it.