|Forum Home > Accidents from around the Country. > The Cramlington Blue Stone.|
As I have said before, the coming of the Railways, opened up the whole Country for the working population. When work was short in one area, there was usually plenty available in others, provided you were prepared to travel. I suppose a good example would be the popular comedian Ross Noble, who was born in Cramlington, and now works all over the Country. Still, at the time, it was a long way from the Devon town of Tavistock, to the then little town of Cramlington, about 14 miles north of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in Northumberland.
William Northey, was born in St Austell, Cornwall, in 1825, and when old enough, became a Tin Miner. He met, and married a woman from Torpoint, and in St Blazey, their first two children, Mary Jane, and William were born. The family next moved to Calstock, where the next one Richard was born. William, by this time, was working at Copper mining, and in order to stay in work, moved to Tavistock. Three more children were born here, Ann, Hannah, and John. It's a fickle trade is mining copper and in 1866, together with a friend, John Stead, they all moved North to work in the coalfields of Northumberland. They found accomodation in a small cottage in Long Row, Shankhouse, Cramlington, and obtained work at the nearby Shankhouse Colliery. This was in early December, 1865, and Williams wife, Mary Ann, was expecting their 7th child. On the 13th January, at 9.00am, William and John reported for work at the Colliery and were soon busy hewing coal at the face. Just above their heads, embedded in the roof, was a massive blue stone, and having been assured it was perfectly safe, they carried on. One of the pits deputies, Henry Dunn, ( who was also a Deputy at the Amelia Colliery,) had, before the two started work, and after a explosive shot had been fired, already inspected the stone. Finding it still firm, he signed the area off as safe. The area had not been propped, although, if the men had felt unsafe, there was plenty of timber nearby. Now it has to be said, that there is a world of difference between mining for Tin and Copper, and mining for Coal. The danger of that rock would not have had the same meaning for the pair, as they were used to scrambling over and around such rocks back in Cornwall. Henry Dunn said that he once again inspected the Blue Stone, shortly before the tragic event. Between 3 and 4pm (nobody had a watch) in the latter part of their shift, and without any warning, the Blue Stone crashed down, striking William Northey a violent blow on the head. He died within ten minutes, before they could get him to the surface, and medical treatment. All that distance to find work, and look after his family, had been in vain, for all he gained was a spot in Saint Nicholas Church Yard, and six feet of good Northumberland soil. Poor Mary Ann, left with six young children, and the 7th, Clara, destined never to know her father. That she managed to keep them altogether, is a testament to her character, and to the character and kindness of the folk she found herself among, for she did not run off back to Devon. There were collections for the family, and in time, Williams male children also became miners, the family marrying into the community. Because of that blasted Blue Stone,and it doesn't in the report say exactly what type of rock it was, William Northey was robbed of the chance to see his many grandchildren.
A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day. ( See my Blog entry )
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