Cadeby Disaster Victim – Heptinstall, George

July 1912

George Heptinstall

From Shirley Clements:

George Heptinstall was my maternal grandfather, born in Gawthorpe, Ossett, on the 23 rd September 1883 . He was the eldest son of William Heptinstall and his wife Emily (formerly Eastwood and born in Swinton/Mexborough). In the late 1880´s he moved to Batley, where he lived with his parents, brothers James and Willie and sister Mary Ann. In 1901 he was working as a “carter”.

George married Emily Eva Fozard (born 1882 in Gawthorpe, Ossett) at All Saints´ Parish Church, Batley, on the 25th July 1903 (see wedding photograph). The name on the marriage certificate was George Marshall Heptinstall, in memory of his grandmother Elizabeth Heptinstall (formerly Marshall) who had died in April of that year. His occupation was recorded as “teamer”.

Four of George and Eva´s six children were born in the Batley/Batley Carr area: Elsie (1904), Doris (my mother, 1906), Emily (1908) and William (1909). However, Elsie and Emily died in infancy.

George and his family moved to Denaby Main between July 1909 and April 1911, possibly because of his mother´s link to this area. At the time of the 1911 Census, George was a corporal, aged 27, working below ground in the coal mine. He lived at 85 Clifton Street with his wife Eva (aged 28), daughter Doris (aged 4) and son William (aged 1). In June 1911 another daughter (Evelyn) was born but she survived only 25 days.

The records indicate that George was killed in the second explosion that occurred at the Cadeby Main Colliery on July 9 th 1912 . The cause of death was “afterdamp”. My mother Doris always told me that her father had survived the first explosion but had gone back into the mine to rescue the trapped miners and had died in the second explosion. He was buried on the 13 h July in the cemetery of All Saints Parish Church, Denaby.

George Heptinstall’s headstone


In loving memory of George

The beloved husband of Eva Heptinstall

Who lost his life with the rescue party

In the Colliery disaster at Cadeby Main

July 9th1912 aged 28 years

Greater love hath no man than this

That he lay down his life for his friend


George´s tragic death had a big impact on family life. Only one month after George died, Eva gave birth to another daughter, Ivy, and the children were separated. William, aged 3, remained in Denaby Main with Eva and baby Ivy, but my mother Doris, aged 6, was sent to Batley to live with her grandmother, Emily Heptinstall, and never lived with Eva again.

Eva remarried twice and lived in Denaby Main for many years. She had another six children but five died in infancy. George and Eva´s youngest daughter Ivy and a stepbrother died on the same day in the flu epidemic of 1919. I can´t imagine how my grandmother Eva coped with all the tragedy that she faced: she died in Doncaster in 1939, aged 57, before I was born. My mother Doris and her brother William were the only children of George and Eva to survive into adulthood. William developed multiple sclerosis, never married and died aged 74 in 1983. My mother died in 2001, aged 95.

Unfortunately, it was only after my mother´s death that I found out about the Miners Chapel at All Saints´ Church and in 2007 the Vicar very kindly opened the Church and showed me around. It was a very emotional experience and I wish that my mother had been there. I am the only grandchild of George and Eva Heptinstall and my grandfather´s bravery will be remembered always by me and my family.

Shirley Clements