Joseph Goodall is my 4 x great uncle. On 27th February 1857, Joseph was killed in one of the worst mining accidents ever to occur when a fire-damp explosion ripped through the underground workings of the Lund Hill colliery, near Barnsley. 189 men and boys were killed. One family alone lost seven members. It took five months to recover Joseph’s body from the mine after which he was buried in Saint Thomas’s Churchyard in Gawber. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert donated £300 to the disaster fund which was subsequently set up. Below is a transcription of a newspaper article published shortly after the disaster.
DREADFUL COLLIERY ACCIDENT
It is our melancholy duty to record one of the most awful and fatal colliery accidents which has perhaps taken place in the history of coal mining in this country. The scene of this sad occurrence was at Lund Hill, near Hemingfield, about six miles from this place, and one from the Wombwell station on the South Yorkshire Railway, known as the Lund Hill Colliery, at present worked by a firm under the name of “The Lund Hill Coal Company”. The accident occurred about 12.15 a.m., on Thursday last. During the time that the banksmen and the above-ground workmen were at dinner, a loud explosion was heard, and almost at the same moment the corf and chair suspended in the drawing shaft were driven with extraordinary violence against the head gear of the shaft, by which the latter was considerably broken. The alarm spread immediately, and the most direful consequences of a terrific explosion were soon made evident to all. The cupola of the air shaft was rest asunder; and the volumes of fire and smoke which issued there-from depicted fear all around.
The workmen at hand immediately hastened to the spot, and under the superintendence of Mr. Coe, the viewer of the mine, proceeded to repair the head gear of the shaft, in order to render assistance to the workmen down in the mine. But in the mean time no person can describe the scene which speedily followed. As the alarm spread, the most fearful forebodings sat upon each countenance. Messengers were despatched for assistance in every direction to the neighbouring collieries, and in a very shot time the vicinity of the pit was alive with the most distressing and horror-stricken faces. The surgeons from Barnsley and the district were summoned or volunteered to render assistance to any of the men who might be got out. But before any of the unhappy beings who were at work in the mine could be got out, a large concourse of the wives, children, and relatives of those in the mine were gathered round the pit hill, and the most appalling and heart-rending sight was presented. The despairing shrieks of the women and children, and the fear which sat upon the faces of all assembled cannot be here adequately described.
The number of persons who descended the shaft in the morning would be about 180, including men and boys; and from the above-ground appearances, those experienced in mining expressed but faint hopes for the lives of those below, The utmost efforts were, however, made to prepare for a descent into the mine, and many times were those persons attempting to gain an entrance drawn up and down the shaft before the chair could descend to the bottom. The effort being at last successful, they, however, only succeeded in rescuing about 19 from the bottom of the shaft. Those men, being engaged in the dip workings, had rushed to the pit shaft on the first shock of the explosion; and, awful to relate, these 19, with about 12 persons who came out of the pit at dinner time, and just before the explosion took place, are all that are that saved out of the number who entered that morning. The sacrifice of life must therefore amount to near 150 persons who have thus met an untimely death, in this most fearful of all calamities which has yet befallen this mining district. The report of the disaster soon spread far and wide, and but few persons could at first believe the report circulated, so fabulous indeed did it appear. The owners of the colliery were telegraphed for, and messengers despatched to inform them of the awful tidings. Mr. (missing text) work to subdue the fire, but, at the hour of our account leaving on Friday the fire still continued, and the pit remained sealed up to stop the current of air which feeds the flame in the cupola shaft. On Friday the interest seemed only to increase, and thousands of persons assembled at the colliery. Many to satisfy themselves of the reality of the accident, and many more unhappily to bewail the fate of those buried in the dark abyss below. We shall endeavour, in our subsequent editions of the week’s paper, to present any further information which we can obtain relevant to this dreadful catastrophe.