Moorfield Pit disaster 1883
Moorfield Pit disaster 7th November 1883
Moorfield Pit was a coal mine at Altham near Accrington. In November 1883 an explosion occurred underground leaving 68 men and 13 boys dead, another 40 injured and 95 children fatherless. It remains the biggest pit disaster ever to strike North East Lancashire.
During Victorian times there was great public interest in mining disasters and the Illustrated London News and the Graphic among other popular magazines of the time dispatched an artist to capture the scene at the stricken mine. The sketch was rushed back to the office and a skilled wood engraver would make the plate to produce the magazine.
Higly recommended reading is the booklet 'The Moorfield Pit Disaster' by Harry Tootle. A copy of this booklet can now be seen at the Unseen History Collection website. Details of the disaster, mining terminology and names of the victims are contained therein. A useful resource for anyone researching their family history in the coal mining industry, and pits between Rishton, Accrington, Altham and Burnley. Read on.
A photograph of the plaque on the A678 bridge over the Leeds and Liverpool Canal near the Moorfield Colliery site can be seen here
Moorfield Pit Prints - Some lovely prints associated with the Moorfield pit disaster can be found on this site under 1880-89 section.
Within The Tree you will find references to the colliery manager Thomas McIntosh (b.1828), and his son James McIntosh (b.1853), the Bracewell family, Thomas Henry McIntosh, Thomas Blackburn and John Shorrock
Many of the victims were buried in Altham church.
The shaft at Moorfield pit was completed in 1881 and was within 18 metres of the Leeds Liverpool Canal. The entrance to the pit yard was by the side of Pilkington's bridge which carried the A678 Blackburn to Burnley road over the canal. Moorfield pit is also known as 'Dickie Brig Pit' which took it's name from the bridge 'Dickie's Brig'.
In 1864 a law was passed to outlaw single shaft mines. This followed an event in Hartley Colliery near Newcastle-upon-Tyne when the cast iron beam of the pumping engine broke away, taking the cage and brattice (wooden partition in centre of the shaft to assist air circulation on either side) with the result that 204 men and boys were entombed.
Many owners avoided the costs of sinking second shafts by working the mine until it linked up with the workings of another colliery. Moorfield pit was subsequently joined up to the two shafts at Whinney Hill Pit and also to the two shafts at Martholme pit.
AN APPEAL ON THE MOORFIELD EXPLOSION.
Once again we must turn to our annals of sorrow,