Dobson Mine Disaster 1926

Privacy Level: Public (Green)
Date: 3 Dec 1926 [unknown]
Location: West Coast, New Zealandmap
Surnames/tags: Mining_Disasters New Zealand Disasters
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Disasters | Mining Disasters | New Zealand Mining Disasters |Dobson Mine Disaster


History and Circumstances

At 3.10am on Friday 03 December 1926, a disastrous explosion occurred at the coal mine at Dobson, a small town on the banks of the Grey River in the South Island of New Zealand.

From newspaper reports - The explosion developed terrible force, wrecked the telegraph and telephone wires in the vicinity, and threw debris a distance of a quarter of a mile. Some truck wheels were hurled clean out of the mouth of the mine.

Most of the men were comparatively new arrivals in the district. Apparently there were five men engaged at the face when the explosion occurred, while three were trucking. The Dobson mine is known to be rather gaseous.

Owing to the breakage of the wires the first news of the disaster had to be brought to Greymouth by car. As soon as it was known word was immediately sent to the Blackball Mine of the State colliery. Rescue apparatus was brought from Runanga, and a number of men were summoned from Blackball to assist in the work of rescue.

The fan of the mine was re-started at 4.30 a.m., and soon after a number of men descended the shaft in order to attempt a rescue. They succeeded in rescuing Ashton and Lindsay, who were at once sent to the Greymouth Hospital, and recovered the bodies of Richards and Hunter.


Later information shows that two explosions occurred, the first being the greater and being heard at Runanga, six miles away. Much surface damage was done. Heavy colliery wheels were blown 400 yards away, and a 20-ton concrete block at the mine entrance was shifted a few yards, while houses at Dobson had their roofs pierced and their windows broken by falling debris. The cause of the explosion is unknown, and it is believed never will be ascertained.

Miner Victims

'They are gone but not forgotten and should be found, honored and remembered.'

9 Lives Lost in the Dobson Coal Mine Explosion
Name Age Approx DOB Occupation Notes/Family
Ashton, Eric 23 1903 Miner Unmarried. Formerly of Ashburton
Black, Thomas 43 1883 Miner A recent arrival from Scotland. Married - leaves a wife and three children. His wife is still an inmate of the nursing home in Greymouth, twins, having been born a few days ago. Mrs Black was Miss Ford
Brammer, Ernest 42 1884 Miner Native of Lancashire, England. Married - no family
Hunter, Robert 25 1901 Winchman Unmarried. Formerly of Huntly
Lindsay, John 45 1881 Miner Unmarried. Born Scotland. Died of injuries at the Grey Hospital
Marshall, James Mccullock 45 1881 Miner Born Scotland. Married with two children. Arrived New Zealand in 1926.
Noakes, Herbert Alfred 47 1879 Miner Married - no family. He was a native of Australia. Formerly of Reefton
Pardington, Edward 39 1887 Miner Unmarried. Native of Lancashire, England. Came to the West Coast from Huntly
Richards, James 47 1879 Deputy Of Taylorville. Unmarried. Father and uncle lost their lives in the Brunner mine disaster and two brothers were killed in the war

Miner Survivors

Three miners were above ground at the time as they had come up for "crib" (supper). It was the first time they had come out for fully a fortnight. They were W CHETWYN, Tom NIMMO and Jack SMEATON. Mr A ROBERTSON, the engine-driver, was the only other man on duty at the surface at the time.

Rescue Effort & Rescuers

The rescuers were headed by Mr J HUGHES, mine manager, and included Messrs Jack SMEATON, B WATKINS, T ALLEN, A HILL, A EDWARDS, J BELL, BULLOCK, BELL, HANLON, COSGROVE, TAIT, GLEN, DANDO, CREAGH, and F WILLIAMS (Mayor of Brunner).

Museums & Memorials

Coal Miners Memorial, Greymouth, Photo by Tim Tyson

Greymouth memorial "In memory of those lost in coal mining incidents within the West Coast Inspection District" - unveiled by His Worship the Mayor Tony Kokshoorn on 19 January 2013 on the anniversary of the 1967 Strongman Mine disaster.

Westcoast Area Museums and Parks



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