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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 Two Foot Seam where 43 men and boys and 3 ponies were working:

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 was held 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, the Manager, and Edward Jackson, the Underlooker.

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 Seam, 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

In Memoriam

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Roll of the 14 known Survivors

Description and Location:
A blue plaque in memory of 23 men and boys killed and five seriously injured in the underground explosion on Friday, 18 January 1889.

In the entrance to a footpath off Manchester Road, Hyde. This 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.


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.

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