Alarming Cage Accident at Denaby Main.

April 1891

Sheffield Independent – Saturday 11 April 1891

Alarming Cage Accident at Denaby Main.

Yesterday the inhabitants of Denaby, Conisbro’, and Mexbro’ were for a time in a state of grave anxiety, it being currently reported that a dozen men had lost their lives in one of the shafts at the Denaby Main Colliery.

Investigation, however, showed this was a great exaggeration and that no fatality had occurred, though it is feared death may result in one or two cases. The number of persons injured is five, not twelve. It appears that about six o’clock in the morning the men were leaving work in the pit and were being drawn up what is known as the cupola shaft.

The accident occurred by the breaking of a steam pipe in connection with the engine which winds the cages up and down the shafts. The unfortunate mishap was so unexpected and sudden that the engine-man had no opportunity to apply the brake before the mischief was done. There was naturally a feeling of great alarm amongst the officials who saw what had happened, and it was feared that the men in the cage must have been killed by the violence with which it went crashing against the bottom of the shaft. This must inevitably have been the case if the cage had been much higher on its upward journey, but fortunately, the distance from the ground was not more than 35 feet when the pipe burst.

One man, Dodsworth, sprang from the cage as soon as the pipe had burst, and the result was he was the least injured of any of the men. The cage crashed upon the subterranean landing, and the occupants were flung together with such great violence that they were momentarily stunned. The force of the collision not only caused the light in the lamps to go out but it smashed the lamps, and the alarmed men were for a time in total darkness. Attention was drawn to them by the crash and by the groaning of the sufferers, and the news was quickly spread throughout the mine.

The names of the injured men are :—

Thomas Kirk, aged 49, living at Roman Terrace, whose back was seriously contused

Henry Hallam, aged 33, Firbeck street, legs and back seriously injured ;

James Copestake, 50, of Kirby street, Mexbro’, a dislocation of the right knee and suffering greatly from shock to system

Richard Perry, aged 65, of Regent square, whose injuries were chiefly to the back and spine

John Dodsworth, aged 36, severe shock.

Dodsworth was taken to his home in Kirby street, Mexbro’, and the rest of the men were removed to the Montagu Cottage Hoopital at Mexbro’. The wife of Dodsworth was ill in bed at the time, and when her husband was brought home injured and placed by her side she was so shocked that anxiety was for a time felt on her account.

But the extra demand upon the accommodation at the hospital was so great that no more beds were available, there being four other patients in the institution in addition to those brought in yesterday from Denaby Main.

The sufferers received every attention at the hands of the nurse, Miss Moore, and Dr. Sykes and Dr. Twigg were promptly at the hospital. Two of the men are so severely injured that some doubt is felt  to their ultimate recovery.