> > > 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. [off site] Read on.

[off site] A photograph of the plaque on the A678 bridge over the Leeds and Liverpool Canal near the Moorfield Colliery site can be seen here

[off site] Coal Mining History Resource Centre

[off site] Moorfield Pit Prints - Some lovely prints associated with the Moorfield pit disaster can be found on this site under 1880-89 section.

Tree 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.
By Matilda Harrison of Accrington 1890.

Once again we must turn to our annals of sorrow,
But where shall we seek fitting language to borrow,
To add yet another sad link to the chain?
Sure none but an angel could bend to the strain.
And yet even he, had he gazed on the sight,
And were asked to record it in mansions of light,
Had he heard the loud wailing so painfully deep,
At the sad recollection that angel would weep.
Then how shall a mortal presume to unfold
The tale that could never by angels be told?
How breathe the sad notes of the mournful refrain?
We must pass o'er the scene of such terrible pain.
With a fervent heart-prayer that the God of all love,
May send consolation and strength from above,
With blessings that none but a God can impart,
To soothe and to comfort the poor stricken heart.
May the widow trust always His power to defend,
Hay she prove Him her truest, her tenderest friend;
May the fatherless little ones yield to His care,
He'll guide and protect them though father's not there.
We pray that our wounded ones, father, may share,
Thy ministering angel's attendance and care,
That soon from their pain they may hope to be free,
And render their rescued lives back unto Thee.
We pray Thee to guard and most graciously save
Our gallant explorers, so daring and brave,
Such hearts, we are sure, must have honoured the name
Of England's proud heroes we boast of in fame.
We thank Thee, kind Father of earth and of heaven,
For aid to the suffering, so readily given;
May the blessing of those who were ready to fall,
Like a halo of glory encircle them all.
Ye wealthy, on whom fair goddess has smiled,
Who know not the struggles of poverty's child,
In pity respond to humanity's call,
That we soon may rejoice in provision for all.
If ye give to the poor, ye lend but to the Lord,
'Tis the safest investment, He well can afford
To give good per cent. in a prosperous store,
With a kingdom of glory and life evermore.
Then give in the Name of the One we adore,
Who commended the widow, though small was her store;
Remember the cup of cold water was blest,
Then throw in your gift, ye shall fail not the rest.
Such deeds of benevolence, kindness, and love,
Though sown on this earth, shall be garnered above;
Shall shine to your honour and glory at last,


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