On the morning of Friday, 18 January 1889, 200 miners started their morning shift at 5:30am assisted by seven pit ponies.
The underground explosion occurred at just after 9:00am in the Tw0-foot Mine.
The explosion occurred at some distance from the bottom of the downcast shaft (274-yard deep) and its site was actually below Haughton on the other side of the river Tame.
From the bottom of the downcast shaft the Two Foot Mine was accessed down an incline of about 1 in 2½ (about 21.8°). At the time of the explosion 43 men and boys and 3 ponies were working in the Two-foot Mine:
26 Coal Miners (hewers of coal).
10 Waggoners or Putters (youths or boys who drew coal tubs in places where ponies could not be used).
4 Jiggers and Takers-off (miner in charge of operating inclined planes and workmen who unhooked coal tubs on inclined planes).
1 Dataller (miner responsible for maintenance who was paid by the day rather than by the hour).
2 Pony Drivers or Pony Putters (miner in charge of ponies drawing coal tubs).
On hearing the explosion, a team of rescuers immediately went down the mine and their first task, in spite of foul air and roof falls, was to bring to the surface living miners, including those who were injured.
Local doctors were called to the pit head to treat the injured. The main injuries were burns, mainly to the head and shoulders. After treatment they were taken to their homes as quickly as possible.
The next task of the rescuers was to start bringing the dead to the surface and it was not until 8:45pm that the last of the 23 bodies was recovered and brought to the surface.
The inquest opened at the Navigation Inn (now the Cheshire Ring), situated on the corner of Manchester Road (formerly Hyde Lane) and Canal Street, and it was told that most of the deaths were caused by suffocation and
not by the explosion or burning. However, the explosion had caused some damage to tunnels and put out all the lights.
Some of the miners were called to give evidence and James Davies told of how he heard a thump and was blown off his feet but not badly injured. He then went on to describe how he struggled in the blackness to
find his way to the main shaft through a labyrinth of tunnels connecting other seams and disused workings. Repeatedly, he was driven back by the foul air until he eventually made it to safety.
William Gee explained how the explosion knocked him down and threw him a few yards. He told of the lights being blown out and that there was total blackness. To get to safety, he said that he was able to follow a current of air.
Among others who evidence were Joseph Goodwin, Manager, and Edward Jackson, Under-manager.
The owners of the pit at this time were the brothers Joseph Watson Sidebotham MP (1857-1925) and James Nasmyth Sidebotham (1864-1904) of Bowdon, Cheshire, but during the inquest the company name,
Hyde and Haughton Colliery Company, was substituted for their names. By 1902, the colliery was trading as Hyde Lane Colliery Ltd, Manchester Road, Hyde, and the manager was T H Machin.
The inquest was told that there was an agreement between the management and miners that it was the practice to use naked candles to provide light. It had been decided that it was safe to do this because the
pit was very well ventilated with hardly any sign of gas. The inquest decided that there had been a release of gas as a result of a roof fall and that the open candles being used for lighting were the cause of the explosion.
The jury returned verdicts of accidental death for all 23 miners.
Of the 20 survivors of the explosion in the Two-foot Mine, the names of 14 of them are known. The three ponies working in this seam also survived.
The disaster occurred on Friday, 18 January 1889 and the pit reopened at 5:30am on Thursday, 24 January 1889.
Roll of the 23 Miners who died:
Frank Ashton (14), Jigger of Queen Street, Hyde. His mother, Jane, identified him because his father, Joseph, was in America.
Emanuel Bailey (47), Coal Miner of Limehurst, Waterloo, Ashton-under-Lyne. Thomas Howles identified him because his widow, Eliza Jane, who had five children, was too much affected to look at his body.
John Bailey (52), Coal Miner of Edna Street, Hyde. His widow, Hannah identified him.
James Bradley (20), Waggoner of Haughton Green. His father, John, identified him.
James Broadhurst (19), Waggoner of Charles Street, Hyde. His brother, Samuel, identified him.
William Catterall, also known as William Catterall Platt (63), Coal Miner of Reed Street, Hyde. His sister, Sarah Henshall, identified him.
Thomas Davies (46), Coal Miner of Norbury Street, Hyde. His widow, Ann, who had three children, identified him.
Joseph Fish (23), Coal Miner of New Whittington, near Chesterfield, Derbyshire, but lodging at 2 High Street, Gee Cross. Unmarried. His brother William Fish, of New Whittington, identified him.
Joseph Gee (34), Coal Miner of Fountain Street, Godley. Married. His brother, Samuel, of Back Lane Farm, Woodley, identified him.
Peter Gee (27), Coal Miner of Two Trees Lane, Haughton. Married with two children. His brother, Samuel, of Back Lane Farm, Woodley, identified him.
Thomas Gee (27), Coal Miner of Manchester Road, Hyde. His widow, Elizabeth, identified him. His father, William Gee was one of the injured.
James Hall (65), Coal Miner of Nelson Street, Hyde. Widower. His daughter, Mary Haughton, identified him. James had worked at the pit for 52 years.
William Haslam (20), Waggoner of Reed Street, Hyde. Single. His father, James, identified him.
Frederick Howles (17), Waggoner of Ann Street, Hyde. His father, Thomas, identified him. Thomas was the Horse Keeper and Furnace Man at the pit.
John Ridgway (20), Waggoner of Norbury Street, Hyde. His father, William, identified him.
Thomas Shaw (35), Coal Miner of Manchester Road, Hyde. His widow, Maria, who had three children, identified him.
Thomas had recently transferred from the nearby Broomstair Colliery in Haughton on the other side of the river Tame.
William Slate (37), Coal Miner of White's Court, Water Street, Hyde. His widow, Susannah, who had seven children, identified him.
Henry Slater (43), Coal Miner of Cheapside, Hyde. Married. His son, Alfred Edward, identified him. His widow was left with a large family to care for.
Harry Slater, also known as Henry Slater Junior (15), Jigger of Cheapside, Hyde. His brother, Alfred Edward, identified him.
Samuel Watson (24), Coal Miner of Cotton Street, Hyde. His widow, Ellen, who had no children, identified him.
George Harry Wilde (19), Waggoner of Syddall Street, Hyde. His father, James, identified him.
Joseph Wilde (31), Fireman of Port Street, Hyde. Married. His brother, Samuel, identified him.
Arthur Wildgoose (15), Taker-off of Hyde Lane, Hyde. His father, Richard, identified him. He was born at Hyde in 1873, the son of Richard Wildgoose and Rhoda Kay who were married at St Mark's Church, Bredbury, in 1859.
At the time of the 1891 census, the family were living at Hyde Lane. Richard, aged 53, and son, Frank, aged 20, were both Coal Miners.
In honour of those who lost their lives [PDF File] » In Memoriam
Roll of the 14 known Survivors:
Tom Brown, of Kingston Brow, Hyde. Single.
James Davies, Coal Miner, of Dow Street, Newton.
Master Etchells, Taker-off, of 'Nat Fowt'.
Thomas Taylor, of Francis Street, Hyde.
William Gee, Coal Miner, of High Street, Gee Cross. Married. He was burned about the waist but his son, Thomas, died. William had worked at the pit for 48 years.
Edward Jackson, Under-manager.
John William Wilde (22), Waggoner, of Syddall Street, Hyde. Single. John William was severely burned but his brother, George Harry, died.
Mr Grattan (saved by the above John Haslam).
On Tuesday 22 January 1889, 12 of the fatalities were buried in St George’s churchyard, Hyde. On Sunday 27 January a service in memory of the deceased was held at the church and
there was a procession through the town headed by Kingston Mills Band.
On Saturday 19 January, Alderman Peter Green J.P., the Mayor of Hyde, presided over a special meeting at the Town Hall and it was decided to open a relief fund for the families of the deceased.
Joseph Watson Sidebotham and Nasmyth Sidebotham, the proprietors of Hyde Lane Colliery, gave £500. Collections were made at St Mary’s in the Market Place, Stockport, and throughout the region.
Additionally, many commemorative events were held, including a concert given by the Band of the 4th Volunteer Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment held in the Drill Hall of Stockport Armoury on Greek Street.
In total £6,907 8s 2d was raised for the families.
On the 21 February 2001 a blue plaque was unveiled by Tameside Metropolitan Borough in memory of the 23 men and boys killed and five seriously injured in the underground explosion on Friday 18 January 1889.
The was located in the entrance to a footpath off Manchester Road, Hyde. This path runs alongside the canal, on the opposite side to the towpath, and it is where a coal chute was located that was used to load coal boats.
Roll of other fatalities
27 Feb 1880: George HARTLEY, 27 years. Roof fall.(Hyde, HYD/41/22)
13 Feb 1897: John LOMAS, 46 years. Crushed by a cage at the bottom of the shaft.(Hyde, HYD/60/30)
18 Aug 1899: William HYDE, 43 years. Run over by a tub.(Ashton Town, AST/121/65)
22 Feb 1901: Samuel BROADHURST, 37 years. Roof fall.(Hyde, HYD/64/76)
19 Jun 1902: William HIBBERT, 32 years. Banksman. Fell down the shaft.(Hyde, HYD/66/23)
18 Dec 1902: William SIDDALL, 45 years. Roof fall.(Hyde, HYD/66/69)
26 Dec 1904: George HARRISON, 62 years. Fell about 5 feet off a coal-bag stage on the 17 Dec 1904.(Ashton Town, AST/132/87)
8 Jun 1905: Robert DUCKWORTH, 55 years. Roof fall.(Hyde, HYD/69/21)