Page last updated at 10:25 GMT, Thursday, 2 December 2010
Shropshire mining disasters are remembered
The Kemberton mine rescue team in 1913:picture courtesy of Ironbridge Gorge Museum
The mine rescue team at Kemberton Colliery are pictured here in 1913

It is 100 years since a cage carrying seven miners crashed to the bottom of the shaft at Kemberton Colliery on 4 December 1910, killing all on board.

Two of the victims, Randolph Miles and Albert Jones, were just 14 years old.

Eleven men should have gone down to do repair work in preparation for the 300 miners due to arrive for the following morning's early shift.

Only nine were present, so seven were sent down the shaft and the other two waited for the latecomers.

Four of the other victims were married and between them left 20 children. The final victim, Alphonso Stanley, from Shifnal was unmarried.

The Wellington Journal and Shrewsbury News reported the tragedy as: "A shocking spectacle, the bodies being so mangled as be almost beyond recognition."

Accidental death

An inquest into the deaths held on 17 December 1910 heard that the steel rope, on which the cage was wound up and down the 338 foot (103m) shaft, had broken.

The mine manager, John Cox, said pieces of the broken rope had been taken by people as keepsakes and he had tried to recover it. Coroner Mr J V T Lander said the fact that some wire had been taken away made it more difficult to ascertain the cause of the accident.

Rusting machinery at the Snailbeach Lead Mine
The machinery from the old Snailbeach Lead Mine is still at the site

The jury returned a verdict of accidental death and suggested that the colliery company, "adopt some device for safeguarding the persons who had to travel up and down the shaft."

At Snailbeach lead mine in 1895 a steel rope snapped sending seven men to their deaths.

One of the victims was George Lewis from Pennerley. His son, Will should have been with him but had gone back to collect their drills. His place in the cage was taken by another man, Arthur Wardman.

Brick Kiln disaster

More than 30 years earlier nine men and boys died at Brick Kiln Leasow pit when a hoist, pulling them up the shaft from the ironstone mine, broke.

The Madeley Nine are buried in St Michael's Church Cemetery where their impressive tomb has recently been renovated.

The memorial to The Nine Men of Madeley
Nine men and boys died in Brick Kiln Leasowe pit in 1864

Four of the victims were under 16 and two were just 18 years old. Nine children were left fatherless.

On the night of 2 January 1810 fire broke out at Meadow Pit between Madeley and Ironbridge.

Thirteen men and eight ponies escaped without injury from a depth of 1,000 feet (305m). But the following day, four men who went down to assess the damage were overcome by sulphur fumes, leaving four widows with 19 children between them.

Former miner Dr Ivor Brown has studied mining disasters in the Madeley area and believes the accident could have been prevented: "They had been dropped into gas... had they waited, their lives would probably have been saved."

He said the mine owners, The Ladywood Company, were not as hard-hearted as some: "They did pay for all the expenses of burial and they did actually help the families a little bit."

Granville Colliery at St George's was the last deep mine in Shropshire and closed in 1979.




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