Mexborough and Swinton Times October 7, 1905
Sad Accident at Denaby Main Colliery
A Chat with the Survivor.
A Miraculous Escape.
A Heroic Band.
A “Times” representative on Wednesday interviewed Wm. Henry Ellis, the survivor of the incident which occurred on Friday last at Denaby colliery, with fatal results to his mate, Solomon Watts.
Mr. Ellis was seen at his residence, Co-operative Terrace, Conisborough, and though still suffering from severe bruises and the shock to his system, was able, with the aid of a couple of walking sticks, to move about the room. He gave an impressive account of his dreadful experience of Friday last, which we keep in his own words.
“I had gone out a little further than my mates, Watts and Roper, to finish the side of the pack, and was removing my lamp from the wall when without any warning, the roof fell. If any warning rumbling was made we could not have heard it very well, because some men were working near us – and a fortunate thing for me that they were working so near. Just as I heard the fall I turned round, and saw Watts in the act of taking his lamp off the side to come with me to the back of the pack. He was not two yards from me. We were both struck down just as I turned round.
Roper was further back, or else he would have been entombed. As the stone struck Watts he fell, and his lamp went out. He was fairly buried, and I was imprisoned by the weight of stone on my legs. I was afterwards told by the men who rescued us that the same stone that was on my leg was resting on Watson’s head. It was a miraculous escape for Roper and myself, for had he been only a little distance nearer as he would have come in for some of the fall, and if I had not just finished my work there, and had started moving towards the unfinished pack I should have shared the fate of my poor comrade.
With the first crash poor Watts was buried, but not killed, for he joined with me in calling for help. The rescue party came and made several attempts to get me out, but their work was greatly hampered by the roof continually falling, and they had to fall back for their own safety. Those men were heroes, I shall never forget their services, and I shall never feel out of their debt, and my only regret is that they were unable to rescue poor Watts alive but it was impossible. Under the most trying circumstances, and carrying their lives in their hands, after about two hours work which seemed to me two days – they got me out.
Before they succeeded they had to timber the roof, and, as they got nearer remove it. During time the rescue party were working I lost my consciousness for a short time, and encouraged by their cheering shouts, I never lost feeling confident that they would rescue me alive.
There were two rescue parties working at the fall from each side, and it is to their untiring efforts I am now alive and comparatively well. On the nearside to me the party were under the charge of Isaiah Scott. Mark Kaye, and James Rogers, and on other Mr. W. Wright had charge of the operations. To them and all the others I am very grateful. Everyone treated me with every kindness.”
“And about your injuries, Mr. Ellis?” “Well, I am going on as well as can be expected. Dr. Clark is still attending me. My worst injuries are those on my legs and body. My left leg was pretty badly crushed, and I had a few scalp wounds which are healing nicely but the shock I feel more than anything. I shall never forget Paul Watts beyond the reach of help. He was alive for some time, and when I heard his calls for help cease I gave up hope for him. The experience I shall never forget, and have not the slightest wish to go through a similar one.” Speaking of his dead mate Mr. Ellis said they, with Roper, had been working together for some time, and he would not desire a better mate to work with. He would have liked to attend the funeral, but that was impossible. The bereaved family had his deepest sympathy.
Mr. Ellis. In concluding the interview, said he would like to take the opportunity to thank all of the officials of the colliery, from whom he received the greatest possible kindness, from some at great personal risk – as another fall occurred just as they were removing him – and all the friends who had made enquiries. etc
Mr. Ellis appeared to be deeply grateful to an all wise Providence for His mercy to himself.