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Victoria Colliery Disaster

Thursday, 14 June 1866

Sacred to the Memory of

THE
FOLLOWING
COAL
MINERS

WHO WERE KILLED BY AN EXPLOSION IN VICTORIA COLLIERY.
DUKINFIELD, ON THE 14th DAY OF JUNE, 1866.

Roll of the 38 miners who died with their references at Tameside Register Office

Verse composed by J. Burgess of Droylsden

Forth from their homes at early morn were seen
These hardy toilers hastening to the mine,
Where, far beneath the groves and meadows green,
No sunbeam on their gloomy path can shine;
Yet cheerful still to earn their bread they go,
Though momentous dangers threaten them below.

By duty urged, the deep shaft they descend,
The task is daily - all are free from fear;
Though choke-damp† there has blighted many a friend;
They deemed not then the deadly gas was near,
With lamp and pick to labour now they bend,
Unconscious all how soon their work must end.

But ere their labour they had begun
The foul air gathers round them thick and fast -
It ignites - Explodes! - The fatal work is done! -
Death struck them down by one tremendous blast;
The loud explosion shook the earth around -
All stood aghast who worked above the ground.

Entombed beneath, the smothered victims lay,
While anxious crowds fast throng the bank above;
Mothers, and wives, and children in dismay
Rush to scene in search of those they love:
Alas! on Earth, their loved ones ne'er must meet -
Hope points to Heaven, and shows "The Mercy Heal".

†Note: The composer was in error with his reference to chokedamp (also known as blackdamp or stythe), which is an asphyxiant that reduces the available oxygen content of air to a level unable to sustaining life. It is a mixture of unbreathable gases left after oxygen is removed from air, typically consisting of nitrogen, carbon dioxide and water vapour. The gas encountered here was firedamp, which is a flammable gas found in coal mines that mainly consists of methane.

Roll of the 10 miners who were injured

Victoria Colliery Disaster, February 1849
The colliery disaster of 1866 was preceded by an explosion of firedamp that occurred 17 years earlier in 1849. In this explosion five miners lost their lives but their names are unknown.

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