Posted by: Graham | July 15, 2009

Maypole Colliery Explosion Wigan Aug 18th 1908 75 Lives Lost

The disaster, which took place a year before the West Stanley disaster, was thankfully not nearly as serious. This is probably just a matter of luck. There was a shift change and so only seventy odd men were down the pit. Of those down the pit only three survived.

Maypole Disaster 1908

Maypole Disaster 1908

Shortly after 5pm there was an explosion down the pit which blew out the headgear. Black clouds of smoke and poisonous vapours came out of the pit for hours. There were determined efforts to rescue men in the pit but what the rescuers found was destruction and bodies, both of miners and pit ponies. The rescue efforts carried on for three nights, whilst fires and small explosions occurred in the pit. On the third night a major explosion took place and much of the pit was set alight. In the end it was decided that the only way to put out the fire was the flood the pit. There was no hope that anyone remaining in the pit was still alive and so 100 million gallons on water was poured down the shafts to extinguish the flames.

The verdict of the inquest was that the explosion was caused by a combination of a build up of coal dust and gas, and the use of explosives to bring down coal from the ceiling.

This Is Lancashire

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