Black Country Muse



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Forum Home > Accidents from around the Country. > Explosions of Sulphurous Air.

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Coal mine in other areas, tended to be a lot bigger than those in the Black Country, and in places like Durham, Newcastle and around Tyne-side, the loss of life from explosions were much higher. This prompted several complaints, in 1814, that not enough was being done to reduce the risks to the miners. Lack of ventilation, and the use of naked flames, were a well known hazard to all, but the owners reluctance to use the most basic form of safety lamp impeded any progress. Their insistance, that absolutely nothing could be done to cure the problem, was of course nonsense, but it stifled any further debate. ( They called it "unavoidable casualties" ) As the years rolled by, the number of dead miners rose, and again, further complaints to correct the problem were made. In 1829, someone decided to compile a few figures, and the results made grim reading. From 1805, until 1828, 674 miners had died from explosions of gas, in the Durham/Tyne region alone. This did not include miners who had died due to Choke Damp, Falls of Coal, Fire, Floods, or other causes. Among those 674 deaths from explosions, were several children, the youngest  to be found, and confirmed in the records, being just 9 years old. Some safety rules did come about, and the mine inspectors did get better, but as the mines got even bigger, and deeper, the loss of life in an explosion got ever higher. I wish I could say that the use of naked flames had passed into history, when Electricity came along, but it hadn't. As late as the 1950s, in the small mines still operating in the Black Country, the stubs of blue tallow candles could be found in mining spoil. Progress, it appears then, is a state of mind, and the pursuit of profit cancels out any rules.


A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

September 4, 2014 at 3:32 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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