A Warning to Miners.

September 1892

Mexborough & Swinton Times – Friday 02 September 1892

A Warning to Miners.

The terrible colliery explosion at Aberkentig, South Wales has cast a sad gloom over the mining districts, not only in Wales, but throughout the length and breadth of the land.

It has once more placed before miners with vivid realism, the interminable dangers which beset them whilst engaged in their daily toil, to earn a living for themselves and their families.

The disaster which is now occupying so much attention occurred at about eight o’clock on Friday morning last. The night shift came to the surface about seven o’clock, and reported all well in the workings. They were succeeded by the usual day shift consisting of one hundred and forty-one men who had been actually at work little more than an hour when the sad explosion happened. Of the number who thus went down thirty only have returned alive to tell the terrible tale, the remaining 111 having perished, having lost their lives in seeking the wherewithal to maintain them.

An inquest was opened, but will not resume its enquiries for a month ; in the meantime, however, investigations will be made into the causes of the calamity, and evidence will be taken thereon.

With such an a lesson of the ever-imminent danger to which miners arc subject whilst at work it is indeed essential that the men themselves should use the most precautionary measures against any breach or informality of the Mines Rules and Regulations Act. Unfortunately whilst this course is pursued by all sensible miners, there are, it is to be regretted, some few sufficiently idiotic to set so as to jeopardise not only their own lives, but likewise the life of their fellow men by ignoring the provisions of the aforementioned statute.

Within the last fortnight fewer than fear miners have been summoned before the Bench at Rotherham for misconduct of this kind. In each case the defendant was convicted. Doubtless there are many others who whilst committing broaches of discipline manage to evade detection and go unpunished, but their offence is none the less deprecable. Miners, who heedlessly expose their own live, should not be allowed to endanger lives of their fellow workmen, who themselves endeavour to use every possible preventative against danger. On matter so immediately concerning the safety their lives minors themselves should show their indignation at the conduct of their fellows who are so indolent and thoughtless at their work. Dangers are nowhere far to seek but in collieries they are ever imminent and threatening and the conduct of men, which aggravate and increase those dangers, can only be described as suicidal.

Two of the convictions already referred to were of colliers in the employ of the Denaby Main Colliery Company. One was fitted 20s. Including costs for driving a train of corves along an incline without a backstay or drag- a very dangerous practice, as experienced miners will agree. Defendant had been employed at the colliery for three years and knew at the practice was contrary to the Coal Mines Rules and Regulations Act. He had been cautioned two or three times previously.

Another collier in the same mite was fined 12s and costs for having a “working,” in which he was engaged, without a sprag for a distance of seven feet six inches. He knew quite well that he was committing a breach of the aforementioned Act. Only his own life was in danger.

In the other case two miners were fined 20s each, including costs for disobeying the orders of the Deputy  who had left in their charge the signalling arrangements of the surface.They deserted their posts without acquainting anyone, thereby endangering the lives of their fellow workmates underground.

Each of these cases: ascribes negligence on the defendant’s parts. Their punishment though not severe, will we hope, serve as a warning to them and to others and prove sufficient to deter anyone from the charge of a breach of the Mines Rule and Regulation Act, the aim of which is to protect the lives of miners from all possible dangers. It is strange indeed that miners are not more cautious about risking their own lives; It would appear that one of their foremost aims should be to acquire as much knowledge about atmospheric conditions as possible in order to counteract the causes of explosions.

Yet what do we find? In numerous cases, unfortunately an entire ignorance of the natural laws which have relation to the atmospheric conditions underground. How many miners are aware that:

“the influences that affect the barometer, are the same—at least said to be—as those that affect the issuing of the gas out of the pores in the coal, so that during the time of change in the weight of the atmosphere, gas in the pores and goaves, and the mercury in the column should move simultaneously. ”

And how many know that when the glass fails, gas is said to issue out of the pores and fissures, and on the other hand, as the glass rises, gas is said to be driven back into the pores and fissures, and in consequence does not come out into the roads?

We anticipate that the answers will, in the majority of cases, reveal a profound ignorance.