186 - NEW HARTLEY COLLIERY - DAVE EDWARDS - INK - 1991

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BLYTHART

Blyth, United Kingdom

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FEATURED BY SELF-PROMOTION GROUP – 19th June 2011

FEATURED BY YOU’RE ACCEPTED GROUP – 20th June 2011

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I did this in ink in 1991. It is one of the very few drawings I have actually copied from another drawing. The original is in a very old book about the disaster. I don’t know who drew it back in 1862, but I thank them nonetheless.

Here is an anonymous account of the disaster:

THE HARTLEY PIT DISASTER

Located half-a-mile from the Village Hall, and close to the railway station of New Hartley, is the old shaft of the Hartley New Pit, made memorable by the terrible catastrophe which occurred there on Thursday, January 16th, 1862.

At the pit-head was the engine-house, containing the engine for pumping the water out of the pit supported on a massive beam over the mouth of the pit shaft.

Suddenly, and without a moment’s warning, this ponderous mass of iron snapped in half thundered down the shaft, crushing the strong wooden wall which divided the pit into two shafts and filling the shaft with debris as far down as the yard seam.
A cage containing eight men was ascending the shaft at the time the beam broke. It was at once smashed, and torn as it had been manufactured of the weakest tin instead of the strongest wrought iron.

Six of the occupants were instantly killed, and two miraculously escaped. This shaft was the only entry to the mine and being blocked by the mass of iron and woodwork, the supply of fresh air was cut off from the men imprisoned in the workings, without a hope of escape.

By the Friday afternoon it is probable that all of the entombed miners had succumbed to the deadly effects of the noxious gases. In the meantime efforts were made by devoted friends and relatives to force a passage into the workings.

Day after day, and night after night, they toiled heroically, frequently overcome by the deadly gases. The whole country was roused by the terrible tidings, and manifested the utmost interest in the fate of the imprisoned men.

On the Sunday after the accident an immense crowd gathered on the scene, and by the afternoon a huge crowd was milling round the pit head arriving by trap, railroad, and on foot.

Steadily Mr. Coulson and his brave assistants and volunteers proceeded with the clearing of the shaft, and on Wednesday morning three of the sinkers, headed by Emerson, Mr. Coulson’s chief assistant, were able to advance into the furnace drift, but were unable to proceed far on account of the gas.

In the afternoon one of the shift-men, William Adams, managed to penetrate into the yard seam through the furnace drift. He was fearfully excited when he came back to the surface and tore his hair like a maniac while relating his dreadful news in spasmodic jerks.

The bodies of the men and boys were found lying in rows, all quiet and placid, as if sleeping off a heavy day’s work. Boys were lying with their hands on the shoulders of their fathers, and one poor fellow had his arms clasped round the neck of his brother. The sleep like approach to their death has been pathetically described by Mr. Joseph Skipsey the poet of the Coal-fields, in his ballad on “The Hartley Calamity”

On the body of Armour, the back-over man, was found a small memorandum book, containing the brief but significant last entry:

“Friday afternoon, at half-past two, Edward Armstrong, Thomas Gledstone, John Hardy, Thomas Bell, and others took extremely ill. We had a prayer meeting at a quarter to two, when Tibbs, Henry Sharp, J. Campbell, Henry Gibson, and William Paltrier. Tibbs exhorted us again, and Sharp also.”

On a shot-box belonging to a hewer named James Bewick the following pathetic words were scratched, evidently with the point of a nail: " Friday afternoon. My dear Sarah,—I leave you " No doubt the writer died immediately afterwards.
The bodies were interned in Earsdon churchyard on Sunday, the 26th January, in ground set apart for the purpose, in the presence of a vast concourse of spectators. The sad procession was necessarily a long one, and many of the bodies were in the ground before the last had left the desolated village, which was four miles away.
The terrible calamity called on the sympathy of all classes of society for the widows and children of the Hartley men, and a noble fund for their relief was speedily subscribed.

Artwork Comments

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