Susie_s_Resource_Bucket-24.jpg

East Wheal Rose Disaster 1846

Privacy Level: Public (Green)
Date: [unknown] [unknown]
Location: Newlyn, Cornwall, Englandmap
Surnames/tags: Mining Disasters England Disasters
This page has been accessed 1,264 times.

Worldwide Disasters | Mining Disasters | England Mining Disasters |Cornwall Mining Disasters | East Wheal Rose Disaster 1846

Contact: Fran Weidman

Summary

  • Date: 9 July 1846
  • Location: East Wheal Rose Mine, Newlyn, Cornwall, England
  • Casualties: 39
  • Cause: Inrush

The East Wheal Rose mine is situated in a valley surrounded by hills of killas rock near St. Newlyn East in Cornwall, England. The mine was established in 1834, after lead was discovered 22 years earlier. It produced mainly lead ore, but also silver and copper. By 1846, the mine employed over 1,200 men, women, and children.

Photo of East Wheal Rose, taken March 2016
East Wheal Rose 2016

The morning of 9 July, 1846 began as a bright and sunny day. However, storm clouds began gathering directly over Wheal Rose around noon. It began to rain, which soon turned into a torrential downpour. In what can only be described as a freak storm, the rain continued for an hour and a half, and there was no rain just three miles away. Those who witnessed the storm said they had never seen anything like it.

Just five minutes after the storm began, the rain began pouring down the hills in torrents, which then poured into the mine shafts. It was estimated that 200 men were below ground at the time. The inrush of water was accompanied by a great gust of wind that blew out their candles, plunging them into complete darkness.

Attempts at rescues began immediately. Mine Agent Capt. John Middleton organized 300 men to pile up earth around the shafts to try and stop the flooding, and was eventually credited with saving 161 lives. Kibbles (iron buckets) and chains were used to bring men to the surface, the men clinging to them and resembling "strings of onions". Despite the best efforts, 39 men and boys were drowned, leaving behind 22 widows and 60 children.

Photo of old flooded mine shaft at Wheal Rose, taken June 2016
Old flooded mine shaft at Wheal Rose

An inquest was held, but since the rain was considered "an act of God", the deaths were ruled as "accidental". The mine reopened just four months later, and the engine house was built in 1882. Operations contiued until 1886, when the mine closed for good.

Photo of East Wheal Rose engine house, taken 2009
East Wheal Rose engine house, 2009

The mine today is a tourist attraction, and part of the Lappa Valley Steam Railway complex. The preserved engine house and chimney stand over the site of what is considered Cornwall's worst mining disaster in history.

On 9 July, 2021, commemoration events were held to mark the 175th anniversary of the disaster. Parish church bells tolled 39 times to honor those men who died on that fateful day.


Victims
Name Age Those they left behind Sourced Bio Connected Category
John Bailey (aka James) 43 Widow + 9 children Yes Yes Yes Yes
Isaac Barkla 33 Widow + 4 children Yes Yes Yes Yes
John Bennett 31 Widow Yes Yes Yes Yes
Thomas Bishop 19 Mother, siblings Yes Yes Yes Yes
Martin Bice 24 Parents, siblings Yes Yes Yes Yes
Thomas Bice 18 Parents, siblings Yes Yes Yes Yes
William Keverne 22 Parents, siblings Yes Yes Yes Yes
James Clarke 21 Widow Yes Yes Yes Yes
James Clift 21
James Coade 19 Parents, siblings Yes Yes Yes Yes
William Eslick 28 Widow + 3 children Yes Yes Yes Yes
Silas Ellery 17 Parents, siblings Yes Yes Yes Yes
William Hosking 18
William Jeffrey 39 Widow + 6 children Yes Yes Yes Yes
Francis Lampshire 32 Pregnant widow + 3 children Yes Yes Yes Yes
William Henry Lampshire 17 Parents, siblings Yes Yes Yes Yes
Josiah Lanyon 32 Widow + 4 children Yes Yes Yes Yes
Reuben Lanyon 23
Samuel May 17 Parents, siblings Yes Yes Yes Yes
Simon Merrifield 18 Parents, siblings Yes Yes Yes Yes
Richard Mitchell 23 Parents, siblings Yes Yes Yes Yes
Francis Pearce 16 Mother, siblings Yes Yes Yes Yes
William Pearce 38 Widow + 5 children Yes Yes Yes Yes
Henry Pengelly 28
Luke Phillips 19 Parents, siblings Yes Yes Yes Yes
James Pollard
Henry Rowe 20
John Cotton Rowe 31 Pregnant widow Yes Yes Yes Yes
Frederick Sanders 23
Francis Stephens 28
John Stephens 40 Widow + 9 children Yes Yes Yes Yes
Richard Tippet 58 Widow + 8 children Yes Yes Yes Yes
John Tonkin 37 Widow + 6 children Yes Yes Yes Yes
George Trebilcock 25 Parents, siblings Some Yes
Francis Waters 16
Samuel Werry 27 Widow + 3 children Yes Yes Yes Yes
Peter White 20 Parents, siblings Yes Yes Yes Yes
Matthew Wilkin 16 Parents, siblings Yes Yes Yes Yes
William Williams 24


Research Notes

Unfortunately the newspaper accounts, as well as the GRO records, are, for the most part, inaccuate. Many names and ages at death are wrong. Any corrections will be noted on the individual profiles.

Sources





Collaboration
  • Login to request to the join the Trusted List so that you can edit and add images.
  • Private Messages: Contact the Profile Managers privately: Susie MacLeod and Disasters Project WikiTree. (Best when privacy is an issue.)
  • Public Comments: Login to post. (Best for messages specifically directed to those editing this profile. Limit 20 per day.)
  • Public Q&A: These will appear above and in the Genealogist-to-Genealogist (G2G) Forum. (Best for anything directed to the wider genealogy community.)
Comments: 7

Leave a message for others who see this profile.
There are no comments yet.
Login to post a comment.
Hi Frances, I have some additional information about Richard Mitchell. I have been researching Richard's family because my husband is descended from one of Richard's brothers. The family lived in the Parish of Kenwyn and FamilySearch has Kenwyn Parish Register images. Browsable, rather than searchable. On July 14th, 1846 Richard Mitchell (aged 23, not 36) was buried in Kenwyn and the minister has written "Killed at Wheal Rose, Newlyn" into the Burial Register. Given this link, I can tell you that he was the son of Richard Michell and Ann Jenkin. His name was written as Richard Michell when he was baptised at Kenwyn, May 26th, 1822. Thank you for your description of the mine and the disaster. Is it acceptable for me to attach a copy to Richard in my Ancestry tree, or should I keep it private?
posted by Anne Dunnadge
Hi Anne, I am very sorry for the delay; I am not getting notifications for this page and am just seeing your message now.

Thank you so, SO much for the clarification on Richard's age. I now know why I couldn't find him or his parents. This will be a huge help!

By all means, feel free to share/copy anything you'd like; no need to make it private :)

Thanks again and kind regards, Fran :)

Hey, Frances - you seem to be having a wee bit of a problem with the image code.

On mouseover is showing "caption=", where caption is one of the parameters for images that places a caption below the image. In order to have "floating alt text" (for people who use screen readers), you need to add the parameter "label=", followed by a description of the image. You can see what I mean by all that on Dorothy Wall's profile, and the attached space page for her images. If I can be of more help, just let me know.

posted by Melanie Paul
Hi Melanie,

I'm sorry, just seeing this now but thank you SO much! I actually understand what you are saying and will start making the corrections. I had struggled for hours trying to get captions and finally gave up lol

Fran :)

I am so glad that what I said was coherent enough you "got it".  :)
posted by Melanie Paul
The images appear to be privacy protected and are not viewable.
posted by [Living Ford]
Thanks so much Leandra! Turns out all my photos for all my FSPs were private and I had no idea. They should be viewable now. :)