"What the Papers Said" - from Shropshire Caving & Mining Club Archives
Warminster and Westbury Journal, Saturday 29 August
1908, page 2
In accordance with the decision of the directors the work of flooding the Wigan mine, in which it seems only too certain that 76 miners lost their lives, is now in progress
The results were quickly manifest. An official statement was issued, and in this the management state that the fumes coming from the shaft are much denser than was the case previously to the flooding. This indicates that the flooding of the mine has taken the course anticipated. It shows that the gusts are being compressed and rendered more dense, and that a greater amount of gas is being driven out. It will, according to the present anticipations, be at least a few weeks before the mine is effectively flooded. The management have a fear that another explosion may occur while the flooding is in progress.
A statement made by Mr. John Knowles, the general manager, was to the effect that the locality of the fire had been ascertained, and this locality was being hermetically sealed, so that the fire could not spread. He could not estimate how long it would take for the water to get to the part sufficiently to put out the fire.
Mr. Harry Twist, the local miners' agent, who was one of the first volunteers to descend into the underground workings, has stated that there is no possibility of any of the men being alive. He travelled along the main intake, where the air should be comparatively fresh, and the atmosphere was so bad even there that no one could live long breathing it.
Further in the workings, of course, the air would become worse and worse, until it would simply become poison to the system. All the men met with, even in the main intake, were dead apparently from the first blast of the explosion, and the explosion would increase in its deadly effect as it went along. No doors or other shelter that might have afforded refuge could stand against it. The explosive force shattered a 2 ft. thick brick wall into atoms.
The King's Sympathy
The Mayor of Wigan has received the following telegram from Marienbad:
"The King is much grieved to hear of the terrible disaster that has occurred at the Maypole Colliery, Wigan, and wants to be kept informed of the latest intelligence of those whose fate is still doubtful.
His Majesty deplores the loss of so many lives, and would ask you to convey to the wives and families of those who have perished his sincere sympathy in their sorrow. PONSONBY"
King and Relief Fund
Subscriptions are coming in from all parts of England for the relief fund. The following telegram has been received by the Mayor of Wigan from General Sir Dighton Probyn, Balmoral:
"I am commanded by the King and queen to ask you to record their Majesties' names as donors of £100 each towards the relief fund which their Majesties are glad to see you have opened for the benefit of the wives and families of those poor people who have perished in the terrible disaster at the Wigan Colliery."
It is estimated that as a result of the disaster 36 wives are widowed, and 102 children are rendered fatherless.
Pathetic scenes were witnessed at the gravesides of the victims who were interred on Saturday. Draper and Dawson were buried at Hindley, near Wigan. Draper was engaged to Dawson's daughter, and the two were to have been married shortly. Mother and daughter were prostrated with grief. All along the route of the funeral procession there were demonstrations of sympathy and pity for the sufferers.
Thousands of spectators visited the district on Saturday from all parts of Lancashire, but were not allowed to go near the pit.
Submitted by Roger Gosling
A Memorial to the victims can be found in Abram Churchyard, Wigan.
In St. Patrick's Church, Wigan; a marble plaque to 21 of the victims can be found in the floor of the porch.