Recovery Party In The Exploded Pit – Massive Steel Doors Used – No bodies Yet

August 1912

Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 17 August 1912

In The Exploded Pit.

Work of the Recovery Party.

Massive Steel Doors Used

No bodies Yet

The rescue men at Cadeby, supplemented by a strong force of rescue workers borrowed from neighbouring collieries, particularly from Manvers Main, commenced upon their grim employment down the Cadeby mine Saturday afternoon, when for the first time since the explosion an attempt was made to take down the stoppings which have fenced off the devastated fourteens level, nineteen crossgate, and other exploded working from the remainder of the pit.

The method of procedure to be adopted was adequately explained by Mr. W. H. Chambers, who has himself devised it, before the Home Office Inquiry at Doncaster last seek. The way was prepared by the preparation of an inert gas, which had been pumped fur some days into the affected portion of the mine from the surface by means of iron tubing, which was forced through the stoppings at 14s level. The effect of this is to exhaust the oxygen, or hasten its process of exhaustion and so deaden the fire.

Without this inert gas it is not probable that the workers would have been able to get anywhere near, for even as it is, they are working in a terrible heat. On Thursday it was reported that the area was cooling off a little and still the thermometer stood at well over ninety. It has been as high as ninety four during some stages of the proceedings. The rescue men are working in three eight hour shifts a day, so that the work is going on incessantly. The conditions are so arduous that the men are working one hour on and one hour off; that is, an hour at the stoppings with an hour to rust and recuperate and cool down. The work is being carried out under the direct supervision of Mr. W. H. Chambers, who is a frequent visitor to the scene, and Mr. H. S. Witty, the acting manager of the mine, is also in occasional attendance, though instruction, are mainly carried at the incidents  of the underground manner, Mr. S. J. Bridges, who is devoting himself solely to this work; while Mr. Cyrus Schofield, of the Denaby Main pit, is acting as underground manager for the remainder of the Cadeby pit.

A new afternoon underground manager. Mr. Bumstead, has been appointed in succession to the late Mr. Eli Croxall, who still among the fifteen for whose recovery such gallant and determined efforts are being made. A Mr. Wadsworth is acting as senior surveyor in the place of Mr. Sidney Ellis, who is also one of the fifteen, and Mr. Bridges in being assisted in carrying out the rescue operations by Mr. Herbert Williamson. assistant manager of the mine. It is supposed that there is no actual danger of a further explosion, for the freshair is effectively sealed of from the fire, but the rescue men have to work in a great deal of nasty, foul air, which is exclusion the natural consequence of the exclusion of the fresh; and a very sharp eye has to be kept upon the rescue apparatus, upon which depends the life of each wearer.

The apparatus is of the very reliable Draeger type. and so far there has been no hitch in its working. Only the men with the rescue apparatus are allowed to go beyond the stoppings and their progress is necessarily very slow indeed. The work was commenced on Saturday evening, and by Thursday evening the ventilation had only been restored something like 200 yards down the level. Great massive doors of half inch mild steel have been forged in the blacksmiths’ shop at the surface, and the rescue parties are fixing one of these doors at each interval of about 150 yards, together with a brick stopping. The task of carrying these heavy doors is very exhausting and not only accounts for the slow progress made, but along with the great heat, for the short spell the men are able to put in at a time, for the exertion consumes the oxygen in the breathing apparatus very rapidly.

It is reported that the recovery party have now reached the bottom of nineteens cross-gate, a district which was cleared out before the stoppings were put up, so that the party are not yet near the bodies, and it is improbable that any will be recovered before Sunday at the earliest.

The condition of the exploded portion of the mine for working purposes can only be guessed at, and it is impossible to say when coal will be turned there again, though it is scarcely likely that these workings will be in use for some months