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The Tragic Thunderstorm Of July 1838


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  • Location: Camborne
  • Location: Camborne

    A severe thunderstorm at Silkstone near Barnsley on the 4th July 1838 had tragic consequencies in the nearby Huskar Colliery. As a direct result of the downpour twenty six young children were drowned in the pit. Queen Victoria took an interest in the disaster and the loss of so many young lives in a pit was a factor in the setting up of the Royal Commission to enquire into women and children working in coal mines.

    In brief.

    The Huskar Colliery was joined to the Moorend Colliery for the purposes of ventilation and the colliery was the property of Mr. R.C. Clarke of Noblethorpe.

    The day was hot and sunny but a violent thunderstorm raged from about 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Hailstones and about two to two and half inches of rain fell.

    The pit had a shaft used for pulling coal to the surface by a steam engine and in a wood there was a drift which was used for ventilation. The rain put out the boiler fire and the engine could not be use to take the men to the surface; a message was sent down the pit for all the miners to make their way to the pit bottom.

    The children, boys and girls, who worked in the mine, decided to wait until the engine was working again. They had then spent nine hours underground. Forty of them decided to go out of the pit by way of the ventilation drift to Nabbs Wood. At the bottom of the drift, there was an air door and the children went through this. As they made their way up the drift, a stream which was swollen into a rushing torrent by the downpour, overflowed down the drift. The children were washed off their feet and down to the door through which they had just passed. The water rose against the door and twenty six children were drowned. Some of the older children managed to escape along a slit which lead to the Moorend Colliery


    Every picture is worth a thousand words and this makes sombre viewing.


    Photo © Copyright John Fielding and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

    Notice attached to the front of the Red Lion public house, Silkstone Lane, where the inquest for the disaster was held.


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