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Hyde Lane Colliery Explosion

18 January 1889

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:

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:

In honour of those who lost their lives [PDF File] » In Memoriam

Roll of the 14 known Survivors:

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.

TAMESIDE METROPOLITAN BOROUGH THE HYDE COLLIERY EXPLOSION 18th January 1889 This plaque is located near to the site where a horrific gas explosion in the Hyde Lane Coal Pit killed 23 men and seriously injured 5 more victims. The inquest recorded that the explosion took place at some distance from a shaft, which was known as the 'Two Foot Level', shortly after 9.00a.m. The verdict reported that the incident was accidental and was caused by the use of naked lights by the miners. Unveiled by Councillor Joe Kitchen, Cabinet Deputy of Lifelong Learning, on February 21st 2001.

Roll of other fatalities

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