Jarrow 1845 Colliery Disaster

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: 21 Aug 1845
Location: Jarrow, County Durham, Englandmap
Surnames/tags: Mining Disasters England Disasters
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Worldwide Disasters | Mining Disasters | England Mining Disasters | County Durham Mining Disasters | Jarrow Colliery, Jarrow 1845 Mining Disaster

Contact: TBC

History and Circumstances

  • Date: 21 August 1845
  • Location: Jarrow Colliery,, Jarrow, County Durham, England
  • Victims: 40 lives lost
  • Cause: Colliery Explosion
Area History
Early records of Jarrow date back to the 7th/8th century AD and a settlement of monks who founded St. Paul’s Monastery at Donmouth … situated at the mouth of the river Don … a tributary of the river Tyne, flowing through Jarrow. St. Paul’s Monastery was home to monk, scholar and historian the Venerable Bede … or St. Bede.
Jarrow is a town situated on the southern bank of the river Tyne. Historically Jarrow was part of County Durham, as of 1974 resided within the county of Tyne & Wear and currently recorded as being part of South Tyneside.
Evidence suggests that the North East and Tyneside area is possibly the oldest intensive coal mining district in the country and that the Romans burned and excavated coal within this region.
Newcastle (part of old Northumberland and currently part of North Tyneside) was a major seaport within the Tyneside area and it was also where the shallowest and most accessible coal seams lay within the region. It was close to the river Tyne and its important shipping lanes and trading routes. Tyneside has been a major coal mining centre for hundreds of years and from its long history in mining comes the idiom expressing the pointless task of carrying coals to Newcastle.
As the city of Newcastle expanded, the increasing population flowed into the outlining area towards the mouth of the Tyne. By the 18th/19th century, heavy industry such as coal mining and ship building contributed to the growth of the town of Jarrow.
Mine History
Jarrow Colliery, which was also known as Temple Main Colliery, was opened on the 26th September 1803 by Simon Temple.
There were several explosions during the working of the mine:
25th September 1817 where 6 were killed;
17th January 1826 where 36 were killed, see Jarrow 1826 Colliery Explosion;
15th March 1828 where 8 were killed, see Jarrow 1828 Colliery Explosion;
3rd August 1830 where 42 were killed, see Jarrow 1830 Colliery Explosion;
This explosion - 21st August 1845 where 40 were killed.
It closed in 1851 after another explosion. It was then purchased by the Hetton Coal Company and worked from their other pits.
Mine Disaster Circumstances
Two seams were worked at Jarrow Colliery – the Low Main and the Bensham. The Bensham Seam lay 175 fathoms below ground level. The Lower Main Seam a further 25 fathoms down. (200 fathoms equates to 365.76 meters and/or 400 yards (or 1,200 feet)). The two seams had one single branched shaft that served as both down cast and upcast.
The explosion took place in the Low Main on Thursday 21st August at about 1pm, when there were about 75 men in the mine, which was worked with naked lights. Of these, thirty six were working in the Low Main Seam from which there was only one survivor. The men who were working in the Bensham Seam, 120 feet above, suffered the effects of the after damp and three men and two boys lost their lives.

Investigation Report
The investigation or inquest by the coroner for the district – a Mr. John Milner Favell, Esq. - into the cause of death from the explosion at Jarrow Colliery, was held across two days at the Hylton Castle Inn in Jarrow.
A number of miners testified at the inquest, for which a verdict of accidental death was given.
At that point of time, it was not possible to determine the actual cause of the explosion and Sir Henry De La Beche and Mr. Lyon Playfair were appointed by Government to inquire into the causes of the explosion at Jarrow Colliery. Dr. Playfair conducted an inquiry into the disaster and reported on the 1st. June,1846. His conclusions cast doubts on the absolute safety of Davy lamps and condemned the practice of working a colliery with a single shaft.
Name Sourced Bio Connected Category
Adams, John
Arrowsmith, Ralph, Age24, Married
Atkinson, George, Age 11
Bainbridge, Joseph, Age 41, Married and family
Baird, Robert, Age 12
Bamburgh, Joseph, Age12
Bates, William Age 33, Married and three children
Bell, Cuthbert, Age 25, Married for only three weeks
Burdis, John, Age 59, Widowed, five orphan children
Burdis, Thomas, Age 13, son of John Burdis
Charlton, John, Age 18, Single, son of William Charlton
Charlton, William, Age 46, Deputy, Married with several children
Cockburn, James, Age 27, Single
Cockburn, John, Age 32, Married with 4 children
Cram, George, Age 29, Married with two or three children
Defty, Jacob, Age 47, Deputy, Married with several children, died during the recovery effort
Elliot, John, Age 20, Single, brother of William Elliot
Elliot, William, Age 14, brother of John Elliot
Fairgrieve, Robert, Age 13
Forster, John, Age 20, Single, brother of Robert Forster; was an orphan
Forster, Robert, Age 18, Single, brother of John Forster; was an orphan
Hall, James, Age 23, Married with one child
Hills, John, Age 44, Married and family
Liddell, Thomas, Age 44, Married and 6 children
Love, Thomas, Age 48, Married and family
MacLeod, John, Age 40, Deputy, Married and family
Musgrave, John, Age 18, Single, son of John Musgrave
Musgrave, John, Age 50, Married and family
Peel, Peter, Age 50, Married and family
Ramshaw, Robert, Age 19, Single Yes Yes Yes Yes
Robinson, Benjamin, Age 19, Married
Scrafton, Joseph, Age 21, Single
Stewart, James, Age 60, Married and family
Wailes, Thomas, Age 20, Single,son of Thomas Wailes
Wailes, Thomas, Age 44, Married and family
Walker, William, Age 39, Married
Wanless, Joseph, Age 41, Married and family
Weddle, William, Age 33, Married and family
Willis, George, Age 20, Married and several children
Willis, Mark Age 34, Married with 6 children, one an infant of three weeks

Most of the miner victims were buried at St. Paul's Churchyard, Jarrow on 24 Aug 1845.

Newspaper Articles:
21 Aug 1845 Explosion of Fire-Damp (Annual Register for 1845)
23 Aug 1845 Frightful Colliery Accident (The Times)
23 Aug 1845 Fatal Colliery Explosion, Extensive Loss of Life at Jarrow, near South Shields (Gateshead Observer)
25 Aug 1845 Explosion at Jarrow Colliery (The Times)
26 Aug 1845 The Explosion at Jarrow Colliery (The Times)
27 Aug 1845 The Explosion at Jarrow Colliery, Coroner's Inquest (The Times)
30 Aug 1845 Letters to the Editor, Jarrow Colliery Explosion (The Times)
30 Aug 1845 Fatal Colliery Explosion At Jarrow, Near South Shields (Carlisle Journal)
03 Sep 1845 The Explosion at Jarrow Colliery (The Times)
06 Sep 1845 Jarrow Colliery Explosion (The Times)
06 Sep 1845 Letters to the Editor, Jarrow Colliery Explosion (The Times)
12 Sep 1845 Jarrow Colliery Explosion (The Times)
22 Sep 1845 Jarrow Colliery Explosion (The Times)
Miner Survivors
Name Sourced Bio Connected Category
Cranston, William, Age 35, Survived after more than 36 hours in the Low Main seam
McLeod, John, Age 20, Deputy, Single, son of John McLeod
Spence, James

Rescue Effort & Rescuers

Name Sourced Bio Connected Category
Anderson, William, viewer of St. Hilda’s colliery, South Shields, helped find John Burdis
Defty, Emmanuel, born 1826, deputy-overman, Jarrow, ventured down in company with his father
Defty, Jacob, born 1798, overman, Jarrow, died during the recovery effort
Fairley, Robert, wasteman, Jarrow, with Jacob Defty when he fell, helped remove him
Johnson, A, viewer of Willington colliery. Willington, found one man alive, William Cranston
Jopling, Thomas William, principal viewer
Simpson, John, helped find James Spence and John Adams
Tate, Jacob, born 1817, miner (overman by 1851 census), Jarrow, saved Emmanuel, helped remove Jacob Defty, found William Cranston
Taylor, Thomas John, viewer, Earsdon, helped find John Burdis
Waddle, Isaac, born 1816, miner, Jarrow, helped find James Spence and John Adams

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