Report - - Oaks Colliery, Barnsley, June 2014. | Industrial Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Oaks Colliery, Barnsley, June 2014.


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28DL Full Member
Oaks Colliery, which was one of the largest coal mines working the Barnsley area in South Yorkshire Coalfield, mined a seam that was notorious for firedamp. Almost 20 years before, on 5 March 1847, The Oaks colliery suffered its first disaster when a blast killed 73 men and boys. As mine management was aware of firedamp, there were strict rules about the use of safety lamps. A ventilation system was also used to carry any gas that emerged from the seam out of the mine. However the coal in this seam was known to contain methane making it a very dangerous working environment.

On Wednesday 12 December 1866, 340 men and boys were working the day shift. With less than an hour of the shift remaining, a huge explosion ripped through the workings. The force of the blast blew the cage up No. 1 shaft into the headgear, breaking the coupling. The cage was recovered and replaced to enable a party of "pit deputies" (foreman) to descend the pit to see the devastation. At the bottom of the shaft, they found a number of badly burned men who were sent up to the surface. The dead were taken to their homes and the survivors were given medical attention. By midnight, the exhausted rescuers withdrew to continue their work the next day.

The next morning, 27 rescuers went down the pit with Mr Minto, the underviewer, and mining engineer Parkin Jeffcock to inspect the conditions under which they were working. But as Jeffcock finished inspecting the upcast shaft, another huge explosion occurred killing all the rescuers. The blast was powerful enough to rush up all three shafts at the colliery. A third explosion took place a few hours later, again affecting all three shafts.

In total the explosions killed 361 miners and 27 rescuers. Among the many dead were the pit ponies and their boy handlers, who hauled wagon loads of coal from the workings to the mine shaft. They had all been killed in the first explosion.

A thorough investigation into the disaster could not conclusively ascertain what had caused the explosion or what was the source of the first ignition. But some survivors mentioned an exceptionally violent blast just before the main explosion. This may have been caused by the driving of a drift near the main seam, meaning the digging of a new workings may have ignited pockets of firedamp. An initial blast may have caused a chain reaction triggering the firedamp and coal dust explosion that devastated the rest of the pit.
Had a visit to this earlier in the year, but found it to be bricked off. There was a brief talk of a few of us getting roped up to have a go, but nothing ever surfaced. Then about 3 months later I got a message from Jazzywheelz to say that someone had been in. I was just about to board a flight to Ireland, so could not joint them. First chance I got when I was back I got up there hoping I hadn't missed out.

I was in luck. A few people lurking around. There was a homeless guy camping outside of the building. When I arrived, I walked round a corner to see him standing there, but he had his back turned so I carried on past. Inside were 2 other explorers finishing their trip round (trouser cowboy & boxfrenzy - not sure if they are on here much (or at all) Got up to the top & then coming down the homeless guy was in the entrance muttering to himself, so I hung around for a bit up top. Didn't see him again on my way out.

On with the pics...










Above: Really like the shot that a few people have of looking between both wheels, but my lens just wasn't wide enough :banghead



Thanks for looking! :thumb


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