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Carr House Colliery Disaster

Privacy Level: Public (Green)
Date: 20 Jun 1913
Location: Carr House Colliery, Rotherham, Yorkshire, Englandmap
Surnames/tags: Mining_Disasters Disasters England
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Worldwide Disasters | Mining Disasters | England Mining Disasters |Carr House Colliery Disaster

Contact: Joan Whitaker


History and Circumstances

  • Date: 20 June 1913
  • Location: Carr House Colliery, Rotherham, Yorkshire, England
  • Victims: 8 lives lost
  • Cause: Coal Mine Flood
Area Histrory

On 20 June 1913, Carr House Colliery, one of John Brown's Rotherham area collieries was the scene of a very serious accident shortly after 8 pm in the evening, when an inrush of water from neighboring Alwarke Main drowned eight of the men working in the Parkgate seam. This was a distressing accident for all involved, made worse because the removal of all the bodies proved to be difficult and lengthy. The last body, that of Charles Palmer, was finally removed from the pit seven weeks later in an advanced state of decomposition.

8 Lives Lost in the Carr House Colliery Flood'
Name Age Position Status Residence Approx DOB
George Ackroyd 30 Deputy Married 14, St. John's-road, Rotherham 1883
G.W. Cooke 33 Miner 4, Miners Yard, Greasborough 1880
Peter Nightingale 21 Trammer Single 34, Harpur-street, Rotheram 1892
Samson Nightingale 23 Trammer Married 19, Neville-street, Rotherham 1890
Charles Palmer 32 Trammer Single Primrose Hill, Rotherham 1881
Alfred Preston 39 Trammer Single 30, Nottingham-street, Rotherham 1874
Robert Rogers 49 Miner Married 34, Harpur-street, Rotheram 1864
J.E. Stacey 25 Engine Driver Married 67, Kimberworth Park-road, Bradgate 1888

The Carr House colliery opened in the 1860s and had a good safety record, apparently with no previous serious accidents.

The accident occurred in the Parkgate coal seam, which was 410 yard below the surface. The seam was 4 foot 6 inches thick and dipped at a gradient of one in four and a half towards old, disused workings at the Aldwark Colliery. These working were known to be flooded and careful monitoring was taking place to ensure the safety of the men working in the area. Never the less, things went dreadfully wrong.

Pumping House at Carr House Colliery

The method used to prevent the water entering the Carr House workings was to drill a series of boreholes at regular distances and at least 18 feet in advance of the workings. These could then be used to safely drain away the water. This method complied with Section 68 of the 1911 Coal Mines Act.

The work was supervised by Mr. C. W. T. Finken, the pit manager. On the day before the flooding, a deputy, Albert Moxon, had inspected the heading at about 6.30am and found that one of the boreholes was too large to be plugged or hold a pipe satisfactorily, and so another hole had been drilled a few inches away. As this was 21 feet in advance of the workings, the colliers were allowed to fill coal and advance the face another 4 feet. Another deputy, Frank Lee, was working the following evening. John Banns and Charles Palmer were working under his instruction. Later in the shift, John Banns noticed a trickling of water and informed deputy George Ackroyd, who had now taken over supervision of the work. Ackroyd immediately informed Mr Finken, who stopped the working, and advised the men to watch the water and if it increased, to evacuate the area. The water increased slightly and on hearing a "clucking noise" the men left the area, first walking and then running to the pit bottom, collecting other workers on their way. There followed and inrush of water and unfortunately 8 men lost their lives when they were unable to escape.

Newspaper Reports

There are many newspaper accounts of accident available from the time, but all tell a similar story.

Globe - London, London, England - 17 June 1913 RACE FOR LIFE IN FLOODED COLLIERY. [1] A serious colliery accident occurred at Rotherham during the night, when Carr House Colliery was flooded and eight lives lost. The disaster occurred in the Parkgate seam which is 440 yards from the surface. The men were getting coal when the water suddenly burst into the working place. All the men employed there immediately made a rush towards safety, but only three were able to get away. There was practically no means of escape for the unfortunate miners, the water cutting off the road to a higher level. The men who succeeded in getting clear had to race for their lives before the rapidly rising water. One man escaped by swimming to safety. and another ran through the water, but a comrade three yards behind was overtaken by the flood. The three men raised an alarm and Mr. Fincken, manager, at once descended. He found it was impossible to do anything as the water continued to gain ground, although the pumps were working full pressure. On retuning to the surface he announced that there was no hope of rescue. Many of the miners who were arriving for the night shift volunteered for rescue work, but the mines manager, realising that it would only mean further loss of life, declined to allow them to descend. Carr House colliery is an old pit surrounded by several disused pits, which are full of water. The presence of water had been suspected, but the management believed they had taken all precautions. One of the survivors, Wilfred Libster, in an interview, described the sudden inrush of water and said somebody shouted "run." He commenced to run followed by a mate named Rogers. The water was rising rapidly behind them. He spurted forward, a strong draught of air behind assisting him to safety. Rogers was overtaken by the water and drowned. Rescue operations may be attempted later in the day, but no hope is entertained of bringing out the men alive.

The Sheffield Daily Telegraph 18 June 1913 not only gives an account of the accident, but also describes a visit by the reporter to the homes of some of the victims. It not only gives some insight into the grief experienced by the families, but also paints a picture of the living conditions of South Yorkshire miners at that time. (Attached PDF) [2]

The Inquest

Six weeks after the disaster, seven of the bodies had been recovered and the inquest by district coroner Mr J Kenyon Parker lasted for two days and concluded hearing evidence at the West Riding Court in Rotherham, on Wednesday 29 July. The hearing found that there was a sight discrepancy in the colliery plans. The bottom of the Aldwarke drips were about three feet above the Carr House heading instead of a few feet below it. This meant that the barrier was only three feet and this had given way due to the water pressure. One of the senior mines inspectors present, Mr Thomas H. Mottram, said it was a mistake by the management of the pit to allow the heading to be driven so near to the Aldwarke drips where there was a know accumulation of water and that a single borehole 'driven from a considerable distance could have tapped the water entirely without risk to anyone'. The jury confirmed that each of the seven deaths was due to drowning by an inrush of water from the Aldwarke working, because the boreholes missed such workings. The jury also found that the system of boreholes was not sufficient and that this was an error of judgement - though not negligence - on the part of the management of the colliery.

In health an strength they left their homes,
Not thinking death so near;
It pleased the Lord to bed them come
An in His sight appear.
Death to them short warning gave,
Therefore be careful how you live,
Prepare in time, make no delay,
for who may know their dying day.
In prime of years they were cut down,
No longer could they stay;
Because it was their Saviour's will.
To call them hence away.
The have gone - the grave has received
"Twas Jesus who called them away:
The have gone to the Lord, who redeemed
From night to the splendour of day.


  • Wayback Machine
  • South Yorkshire Mining Disasters: v. 2: The Twentieth Century Paperback – 19 Nov 2009 by Brian Elliott (Author)
  1. Globe - London, London, England - 17 June 1913 Image available Find My Past
  2. Find My Past. Image available Sheffield Daily Telegraph 18 June 1913
  3. Commemorative Serviette

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