1874: Fatal Accident in Coal Mine

In 1968 Ifton pit in St Martins near Oswestry closed for good.

At its height, some 1,300 men worked there, mining about 400 tonnes of coal a day.

On the 24th November 2018 a bronze statue was been unveiled in the village to mark the anniversary.

Ex miners were among those who saw 33 candles lit — to mark the 32 known to have died in the pit – with an extra candle for the dead whose names were never recorded in the early days.

Below is an actual newspaper account of the death of a miner at the colliery in the earlier days of the pit from the Eddowes’s Journal, and General Advertiser for Shropshire, and the Principality of Wales – Wednesday 29 July 1874.

The Fatal Accident at the New Ifton Collieries

The adjourned inquest touching the death of Joseph Davies, who was killed at this Colliery on the 14th inst, and which had been adjourned for the attendance Mr. Wynn, the Government inspector of mines, took place afternoon, at the Cress Keys, St. Martins, before E. Blackburne, ‘Esq., coroner, and jury, of which Mr. Jones, St, Martin’s Moors, was foreman. Mr. W. Appleton from the offices of Messrs. Longueville, Jones, and Williams, appeared to watch the proceedings on behalf the Ifton Colliery Company.

Capture
Eddowes’s Journal, and General Advertiser for Shropshire, and the Principality of Wales – Wednesday 29 July 1874

—Thomas Jones stated that he was working with the deceased at the time of the accident. Davies had put up the scaffolding at the pit mouth, and witness went to work with him on the morning of the 14th inst. did not examine it, because he knew that the deceased had put up. They had been working about an hour and a half when the three legs that held the scaffolding fell, and it went from under them.

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Ifton Victoria Colliery 1938

Witness was stunned with the suddenness of the shock, but caught hold one of the chains and saved himself. He found that the deceased had fallen off the scaffolding at the bottom of the pit, a distance of 195 feet.-Richard Saddler, a banksman, deposed that he helped to put up the scaffolding on the morning of the accident. The three legs which held it were properly fixed.

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Image taken from page 120 of ‘Colliery Working and Management … With underground photographs and numerous other illustrations. Date of Publishing: 1896

Witness was reaching a bucketful of cement to the men on the scaffolding, and he thought the deceased was untying the knot, when all sudden the three legs went over, but he could not tell how, and deceased fell to the bottom of the pit.—William Goodwin said assisted in fixing the three legs in the morning. The legs were fixed as usual.—Mr. Wynn, the Government inspector, said he had examined the way in which the legs had been fixed, and he thought they had been done in the usual manner.

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Image taken from page 217 of ‘Colliery Working and Management … With underground photographs and numerous other illustrations’ Date: 1896

He could not see that any blame was to be attached to anyone.

Mr. D.C Davies, the agent of the collieries, said he was authorised by the company to use every means to ensure safety, and to spare no expense to prevent accidents.

The jury found a verdict of “Accidental death.

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