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Accident At Pit No. 2

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Choke Damp: Gilbert Daykin
Choke Damp: Gilbert Daykin
On 25th May, 1863, at Pit No. 2, three widows and fourteen orphans were left behind following a tragic accident beneath Cleator Moor. Three men and a boy had suffocated at about 9pm that night:
  • William Weir, aged 32
  • John Weir, aged 35
  • Alexander Weir, aged 30
  • William, son of Alexander, aged 10
Thomas Taylor, the pits steward, found the boy lying in the stone drift, dead, and near to him the men were also found lying dead. It is supposed that the first man went into the drift for the purpose of getting a saw, and that, not returning, another man went in search of him, and afterwards a third, and, last of all, the boy. The deceased were found about 12 or 14 yards from the place where they were working. It further transpires that the first man went in without his lamp, as it was found hanging by the side of the pit.

The boy had only gone with his father to see the pit; he was not working, nor engaged in any way about the pit. It was his first visit there. The boy once worked in Wellington Pit at Whitehaven.
  • It is believed they were all killed by choke-damp. There had not been any explosion.
  • Pit No. 2 belonged to the Hematite Iron Company.
The three deceased men belonged properly to Croft Pit, and were accounted strong able hands at drifting. In consequence of the temporary closing of Croft Pit, they obtained a casual job at No. 2 Pit, as it turned out very unfortunately for themselves. The boy, it seems, had merely been taken down to let him see the pit.

On the Saturday there had been a fall from the roof of the drift, which had smashed three air boxes, and liberated a large quantity of gas, which, owing to the breakage of the air boxes, accumulated in the steer-head adjoining.

It is probable that, when the deceased got to the drift, their first efforts would be directed to repairing the damage to the air-boxes; and that, for this purpose, one of them went to the steer-head for a saw, and was at once overpowered, and the others following shared the same fate.

The men had lived at New Houses, Whitehaven. They were each fathers of large families, and when their bodies were brought home a most distressing scene ensued.

Daniel Weir, brother of the deceased men, identified the bodies.

The Inquest (June 1863):

The adjourned inquest on view of the bodies of the three men and a boy who unfortunately lost their lives by suffocation in No. 2 Pit, Cleator Moor, a fortnight ago, was opened at the house of Mr. Cowx, Ginns, in this town, on Tuesday last.

The interest attaching to the case was testified by the large number of persons, mostly connected with collieries, who had congregated in the neighbourhood. Mr. Dunne, government inspector of mines, was present; Mr. Dickinson was also present, having been sent down by the Secretary of State, on Mr. Dunne's application. Mr. Blakey and Mr. P. Kitchin were excused serving on the jury; Mr. E. Lewis wished to be excused, but the coroner could not grant his request, as Mr. Fisher had not put in an appearance, and he feared if the case should be adjourned that some difficulty might arise if any other jurymen should be unable to attend. On the recommendation of Supt. Little, the inquiry was adjourned to the police-court. Mr. Paitson appeared to watch the case on behalf of the company, and Mr. Roberts, of Manchester, on behalf of the friends of the deceased.

Among the gentlemen present we noticed W. Lumb, sen., Esq., S. and J. Lindow, Esqrs., J. Postlethwaite, Esq., H. Collins, Esq., J. Atkinson, Esq., the Rev. J. Rimmer, Dr. Fider, Dr. Thompson, R. Gibson, Esq., J. B. Wilson, Esq, &c. The court was crowded throughout the investigation.

Daniel Weir was the first witness called: He said, I live at New Houses, and am a miner. I know No. 2 Hematite Coal Pit, Cleator Moor. I knew the four deceased persons; Alexander Weir was 30 years of age, and was a drifts-man. William Weir was aged 32; he was also a drifts-man. John Weir was 35, and William Weir, the son of Alexander, was 10 years of age. The first three were my brothers, and the boy was my nephew. The three men left home about nine o'clock on Sunday night to go to work. They all lived in the New Houses. The boy went with them, but not to work. He was not employed in any way about the pit, but went to see if his father could get him work there next morning. They must have gone down into the pit, because I saw the deceased boy there on Monday morning. He was then dead; that would be about half past six. He was in the drift. I went because it was my shift, and I had to commence work. Mr. Taylor was the first to find the boy, I had proceeded within 12 or 14 yards of the end of the drift before I saw anything wrong. When I shouted to my brothers I got no answer. As I did not meet them further out of the drift-way where I thought they should have been, I shouted to my brother John. I got no answer, and on going further on towards the steer bottom I lost my light.

The CORONER said the plans of the pit had better here be laid before the jury, and Mr. Bailes accordingly produced one, and joined the jury for the purpose of pointing out the localities spoken of by witness.

Mr. Bailes was sworn, and said the plans produced were true representations of the pit and a section of it where the accident happened.

WEIR continued: On losing my light I turned back out of the pit to where the fan is. I got another lamp there, and a young man named John Nulty went back with me. I also sent another young man for the overman; because I thought something had happened. The overman's name is Thomas Taylor. He came to where Nulty and I were. I had then got to the same place and again lost my light. Both lights were Davy lamps. When I lost my second light I turned back and saw Nulty pick up three lamps belonging to my brothers. Nulty's lamp was lighted. The three lamps were out. Two of them were hanging, one of them on the air boxes, and one on the right hand side on a prop; the third lamp was standing on the ground upright as if it had been set down. I went and sat down on a fall. The lamps were inside the fall. The fall had happened from the roof on Saturday morning before. I was in the pit and heard the fall; it would be about four o'clock when it occurred. Nulty and I went over the fall and sat down until Taylor, the overman, came. He came in maybe four or five minutes. I told him there was a bad job happened. He asked if I was sure they were found in the drift. I said I knew they were because we had found both their clothes and their lamps. Taylor then went forward; he had the lamp burning. He went to see if he could find the bodies. He went alone first but returned to me in a minute or two, and sent Nulty for more men. He knew then it was a bad job; I don't think he had seen any of the bodies then. Some men came as soon as they could. They started to get the boxes repaired in order to get the gas away. Three of the boxes had been broken by the fall on Saturday; I saw that they were broken on Saturday, about four o'clock in the morning. The boxes are the necessary conductors of air into that part of the pit. They were the only means of ventilating the drift. Three men went to move the fall on Saturday morning; they began between five and six o'clock in the morning. They worked until nearly one o'clock in the afternoon. They had not got all the earth removed. I saw the fall on Saturday morning. My brother John was in the pit with me on Saturday morning about five o'clock; that was after the fall; he saw the fall and that the boxes were broken. We said we should have to have our things out. We had finished our shift about five o'clock. He said we must get our clothes out as the gas might accumulate. We had nearly done working then. We were afraid of gas after the boxes were broken. We sent out for a deputy, and waited until Peter Edgar, the deputy, came. He said we must take care of ourselves when he had examined the boxes.

The CORONER: I have put these questions to ascertain if deceased knew that the boxes were broken.

WITNESS: Yes, they knew that the boxes were broken. William and Alexander heard us talking about it at the paytime. Boxes are generally made new ones at the pit top and sent down. When broken they are replaced as soon as possible. The time of replacing depends upon the weight of a fall. When the fall is removed the boxes might be replaced in about half an hour. Another shift might have removed this fall. A shift is about eight hours. I saw the boy found in the drift way about half past six; I identified him. Mr. Taylor lifted him. I then came away.

By Mr. DUNNE: It is the deputy's duty to keep the air boxes right. There are three deputies at that pit: I don't know which of them had to look to this fall. Hugh Emerson is one of the deputies; Martin Chandler and Peter Edgar are the others? Mr. Taylor frequently visited the pit. I think he never missed seeing the pit once a day. The drift was constantly making gas from the coal. (The jury here inspected the "trouble.") The boxes were 12 inches square; they were made of wood, and would be about an inch thick. I don't know of what sort of wood they were made. The ventilation was carried on by fans worked by men. At the time of the accident there were two men working at the fans; one would work and the other would shift with him. They would work alternately. There had been three men, but one was taken away. On some shifts they worked two together. The two men complained on Monday morning that they could not keep the ventilators up. I know that only one was turning at once. James McDonald, one of the fanners, complained, and said the turning was too hard work for one to turn at a time; that was on Monday morning. More men were put on after the boxes were replaced. There were four men at the fan yesterday. In my own judgment two men were not enough to work the fan. There are more men on now. The boxes will be between 260 and 270 yards long. As the drift goes on, the length of the boxes increases. The boxes all the way on are supported and protected by props. Falls are infrequent in this drift way, but not so heavy as this. This mode of ventilation by fans is not, in my opinion, satisfactory. I have been a miner nearly 30 years. We should have had two drifts, or a brick air pipe would have been satisfactory ventilation. The ventilation in the drift way, at present, would not be sufficient for naked lights for gunpowder blasting. I have blasted further back in that drift; we gave up blasting when we got coal. Mr. Bailes did not visit it when there was no danger; he was eleven weeks and never was in it — that's truth. There was no gas in the drift at that time. I have been at this drift since the 8th of December. I don't know how long they had been working the drift before I went there. The roof is very irregular, and gas is likely to hold there in the holes.

By Mr. ROBERTS: Hope Pit and No. 2 pit are under the same management. Mr. Bailes superintends in both pits.

Mr. PAITSON: I object to any questions that do not refer to this drift.

Mr. ROBERTS: Are they working this drift to connect the two pits?

WITNESS: Yes.

Mr. ROBERTS: Then I have connected the two.

WITNESS, continued by Mr. Roberts: I think it is not possible that the gas in Hope Pit could find its way into No. 2 pit. At the time of the accident there would be an accumulation of 13 or 14 yards of gas in the drift. It had accumulated between Saturday morning and Sunday night. There was too much gas to be safe to work in on Saturday night. I believe there has been gas in the working since the fore-end of February. A smaller fan than the one now used was put in in February. Complaints have been made at Mr. Bailes that the fans were not sufficient; I complained to him myself. I recollect a conversation I had with him about it seven weeks since; at that time the fan was standing — they were putting a new one in. I asked him to pay me my money and I would leave the pit. I said that because he did not give us any satisfaction about the ventilation. I said it was too dangerous a place to work in for the money he paid us. I and two of my brothers, William and John, said we would leave if he would pay us. He said we must continue on, and when the fan was ready and if it was not sufficient, he would stop the working and find us another place. The ventilation did not improve; he did not stop the working. Since the accident happened he said he was sorry he did not stop the working; that was last Friday to my father and me. He was going to stop it three weeks ago. He said that to two of my brothers. He said to me last Friday that he had a notion of stopping it three weeks ago, and that he wished he had done so. Four men were employed at the fans lately. The third man was dropped off a week last Friday — just before the accident. I have had some conversation with Mr. Taylor about the place. There is evidence to prove that Mr. Bailes himself suffered from this gas. These better means of ventilation that I have suggested would not have been dependent upon the fans. I think 260 yards too long for the box and fan plan; that means of ventilation can only be fit for short distances. Where a constant state of ventilation is required they are not fit. I know the 2nd special rule of this colliery, "That no workman shall enter a working until it has been examined by some deputy." I don't know whether any deputy examined the place before my brothers entered on this occasion. My deceased brothers complained to Mr. Bailes about the pit the same time as I did. Wm. Nolan heard us ask for our money. Thomas Taylor, overman, asked me to sign a declaration to the effect that the pit was safe; I did sign it. I did not read the paper over but Mr. Taylor read it to me. I signed as to the general state of the pit. I thought the drift would never be worked more. When the third man was taken off the fan the two who were left complained to me, but I did not know whether they complained to our masters. The gas is dangerous to life without an explosion. A sudden fall of roof might so spread the gas that it would reach men who were working elsewhere. The gas ought to be got entirely away before men were permitted to commence working. The fan began to work at two o'clock on Sunday; it was standing from the middle of Saturday, and during that time the gas would be accumulating. The roof would be from 4½ feet up to 6 feet in height. This drift is a place within the meaning of a working.

By Mr. PAITSON: I and my brothers belong to the Whitehaven collieries, and went to work at No. 2 pit, to work specially. We went to do any work. I believe we were recommended as experienced workmen. The charge of working the drift was given to us. We never had the working on piece, and he paid us wages. We had not an agreement for 30s a-yard. He offered us that when we were working in the stone, but we said it was too little, and he said we must work away and he would see us right. We unexpectedly came upon a piece of coal about 11 yards from the end of the drift. We had then to take the drift up four or five feet. I never made any regular complaint to the overman that the ventilation was insufficient. One of my brothers was in the drift when the fall occurred. We were not stinted in the supply of wood for propping. When we left the drift on Saturday I met Wm. Nolan. We told him that he must take care of himself. My deceased brother John was present. We told Nolan that he must not go past the broken boxes. This was on Saturday morning about five o'clock, and after the fall. When I went down on Saturday morning I saw Peter Edgar; he saw that my lamp was all right. The men at the fan did not make any remark. I knocked at the door where the men were fanning but got no answer. I went about 15 yards past the box lid before my lamp went out. I got about 15 yards past the far end of the boxes before the gas put my lamp out. The body of the boy was found about four feet from where I got. I looked at my brothers' lamps, but I did not examine them, and cannot say whether they had burnt out or been put out by gas. I saw a tram full of prop wood and heads near the place. We found some clothes there. There was an axe there but not a saw. I think my brothers went into the place for a saw. I did not say it was my brothers' own fault. As soon as the fall took place immediate steps were taken for removing the earth. We knew we could not work then until the boxes were mended, and we therefore came away. Taylor was a very attentive man to his business. I suggested to Taylor that additional air courses should be provided; he agreed with me in that. We talked about that two or three times. I never saw Mr. Dunne in the drift. It was not necessary to remove the fall before the boxes were replaced. When we left on Saturday we brought all our clothes out because we wanted them to go home in. We knew that after the fall it was not safe to go past the broken pipes. I suppose they wanted the saw and they might venture to fetch it. I know my brothers were aware of the danger of the place, but they thought they might venture to fetch the saw. My brothers John and William were working with me on Tuesday. After a portion of the pipe had been broken off the fauning would not be as hard work. About 27 yards of the piping would be cut off. They lent us this saw and we kept it in the drift. There has not been gunpowder in this place for some months, so that there could not have been any explosion. There was no gas in the stone part of the drift. After we got to the end of the perfect pipe we could go about 15 yards safely. If my brothers had stopped there they would have not suffered at all. If any one finds dangerous gas he ought to report it. Wm. Nolan was present when we spoke to Mr. Bailes about the place being unsafe. The fan was being put up then, and we continued to work for four or five weeks without complaining again.

By Mr. ROBERTS: At five o'clock on Saturday the fan was working. When there is gas something ought to be put to indicate it. We generally write "dirty" so that a person might know there is danger. Taylor said the distance was too far to go with one drift. He said that before the accident. We brought our clothes out of the working to wear them. If the fan had been working from Saturday until Sunday, the gas would not have accumulated to the same extent. The saw was where we usually placed it.

By Mr. PAITSON: If the fan had been worked it would not have cleared the place where my brothers were found.

The examination of this witness was not concluded until a quarter past one, when the court adjourned for a quarter of an hour.

On the re-assembly of the court,

John Nulty, a trailer, living at Hensingham, said — I came out of No. 2. pit on Saturday last. I had been working there since December last. I know this drift way. I was trailing for another party of men who were on shift with the deceased men. I recollect Sunday se'nnight. I was in the pit on the Saturday before. We were working at the coal. I went in on Saturday morning, and the first work we did was at the fall, which occurred. Wm. Nolan and Richard Lowther were with me. When I left on Saturday morning there were about six or seven bogies of earth remaining at the fall; another shift would have removed it. The air boxes were broken. When I left there was gas in the drift above us. Mr. Taylor had been there; I could not say what time he was there. I don't know exactly if there was any gas when he was there. We gave over working at one o'clock and were not succeeded by any other men. There has often been gas since we got to the coal. I don't know when it was we got to the coal. The gas increased a good deal when we got to the coal. I saw Daniel Weir in the pit on Monday morning; he told me to stop at the shaft as he went into the far end of the pit where the men ought to have been working. I afterwards went into the drift with him, and found the clothes and lamps belonging to the deceased men. The air was pretty good at the fall, but further in there was gas. We came out and waited until Mr. Taylor came. Mr. Taylor sent me to the fan, and whilst there I saw the deceased brought by.

By Mr. PAITSON: When I went in at five o'clock the end of the pipe was broken, and the air could not get through; this would account for the bad air. I went with David Weir about seven yards past the fan; my lamped burned then. The air was bad where my head was. I worked at the fan when Mr. Taylor sent me. I did not see the lamps opened, and cannot say whether the wicks were burnt down.

By Mr. ROBERTS: I had nothing to do with working the fan. I cannot say how many yards the fan was from the end.

Thomas Taylor said — I am an overman at No. 2 pit. I have been there about six months and know this drift. It has been making gas ever since I went there. I knew the deceased men but not the boy. The object of the drift is to make a connection between No. 2 pit and Hope Pit. The drift has been in a good state up to the time when the coal was got. There was gas in large quantities at first, and we applied a small fan to get rid of it. We worked the fan by two men. We found the small fan insufficient, and we therefore applied a larger fan. We got to the coal about three months since. The larger fan was worked by three men and answered well. I don't recollect ever missing a day since the coal was reached but I went to the drift. The larger fan was put in about two months ago. I went over the fall on Monday morning; I went up to the steer and found some gas; I returned but went up to the steer again. I then saw the boy's clogs; Hugh Emerson, the night deputy, came in behind me, I gave him my lamp and got hold of the boy's leg and got him out. He was quite dead. There was a tub standing near the steer; I went to the right side of it, and there found the dead body of Wm. Weir. I got hold of him but the gas knocked me down, when I got on a bogie. I rested a minute or two, and knowing that the boy was dead, I thought it better to have the boxes repaired before running any further risk. I should think the men had been dead some time. Further assistance arrived, and I sent some men to get some fresh boxes. When we got them we joined them together, and put more men to the fan, and in about an hour and a half we got all the bodies. They were all quite dead. We recovered them about nine o'clock.

The bodies were sent to bank; when I got to bank the bodies were being taken away in a cart. I never heard any complaints, but I know that the small fan was insufficient; I considered the large fan sufficient. No living creature could have existed in the gas, and I have no doubt the men died from the effects of the gas.

By Mr. DUNNE: The drift was advanced about 100 yards. The distance of the drift from pit to pit will be about 700 yards when finished. I have not seen a drift of this length ventilated in this way before. I never saw a drift ventilated by fans before. The length of this drift-way ventilated by fans will be 260 or 270 yards. If I had to make this connection between the two pits, it would have required consideration whether I should have adopted the fan mode of ventilation. A double drift would have been the proper way to have worked in this case. I don't know whether or not this subject has been laid before the owners of this pit. I am leaving the employment of the company.

By Mr. ROBERTS: A board has been placed since the accident to assist the ventilation. I ordered it two or three days after the accident. Gas was always escaping. I know by the Act of Parliament a place must be kept ventilated whether men are at work or not. I do not consider that it was necessary to keep the fan going when the men were not working. Fanners were sent to clear the place eight hours before the men went to work. The deputy-overman went in with the Weirs to examine the pit. It was his duty to see that the pit was right before the men were allowed to go down. I don't remember Mr. Bailes falling down from the gas about ten weeks ago. I asked some men to sign a declaration that the pit was safe. I thought it desirable to get them to sign this paper because I considered the pit was safe. I was ordered to get the men to sign this paper. Mr. Bailes sent me. I copied the declaration from a paper given to me by Mr. Bailes. At the time the paper was signed I knew that letters had been sent to Sir Geo. Grey complaining of the pit. The large fan has kept the drift clear.

Mr. ROBERTS: With this awful evidence before you, can you repeat that the fan was sufficient to keep 270 yards clear?

WITNESS: I repeat that with care it might have been good enough.

Mr. ROBERTS: Do you consider any plan too good when human life is at stake?

WITNESS: No, I think no plan too good.

Mr. ROBERTS: Is there no better plan of this than fans and boxes?

WITNESS: There might be better.

Mr. ROBERTS: What?

WITNESS: By double drift.

Mr. ROBERTS: Have you any other plan to suggest?

WITNESS: I am only an overman, and cannot suggest plans. We workmen talk together, and say what we think would be better.

Mr. ROBERTS: Have you talked to Mr. Bailes about it?

WITNESS: I don't recollect that I have talked to him. The men were at the fans eight hours, and were then relieved by two others. I have sometimes found a little gas in the higher parts. The highest part of the roof would be six or seven feet, and the lowest five feet. They have not the fan contrivance in Northumberland or Durham. If the boxes were kept tight the fans would carry a good way.

By the CORONER: I have said before that a better plan than the fans would have been to have worked it by two drifts. I think the plan was a prudent and proper one under the circumstances.

By Mr. PAITSON: Practically I have found the fan sufficient in this case. I left the service of the company last Monday. My leaving had nothing to do with the working of the pit. When the fall occurred I did not go to it immediately; the deputy-overman was there. At eleven o'clock on Saturday morning I went to the fall; it was then quite clear. I told Hugh Emerson to tell the men not to go any further than the box end; any one going further did so in contravention of my orders. I told Emmerson to tell them the place was foul and that they must not pass the box end. When a fall occurred in a drift it was the duty of the driftmen to remove it.

Drifting is special work and is left to experienced men. The deceased said they would accept an offer I made them to do the work at £2 a yard. We expected that the drift would be all through stone, and the finding of coal was unexpected; I had my lamp with me when I went in on Monday morning; the place was perfectly safe up to where the men were timbering. I did not discover gas until I had passed the pipe end, 40 feet. If they had stopped where their work was, this accident would not have happened. It was an ordinary place for tools, but under the circumstances they should not have gone for them. In an hour and a half we had cleared the place of gas. Daniel Weir was in the drift when I got down; I said I thought his brothers were on bank; he said he had found their clothes and their lamps, and that it was a bad job. He also said that the deceased had nobody to blame but themselves. I am quite positive he said that. From that time to this I have never heard him attach blame to any one else. Neither a wood nor brick brattice would have made the place safe. The air had been getting better for some weeks and I never heard any of the men complaining about it. None of the men were pressed to sign this declaration; I think it originated from some proceedings, which had been taken some time since.

The CORONER: I think we need not go into that.

Mr. PAITSON: I wish to have everything cleared up; I do not wish to hide anything from the jury.

Mr. ROBERTS: I alluded to it in order to show that it was known that there was some danger at the pit.

WITNESS: I did not see the lamps. There was a tram of wood near the place, but none of it had been taken away.

Mr. DUNNE: You have heard me clamour a good deal about this second section:

WITNESS: I have. Mr. Bailes never consulted me as to the best plan for working the drift.

By Mr. ROBERTS: I don't recollect any man refusing to sign the paper; one man would have refused if it applied to Hope Pit. I think men could work safely near a large quantity of gas with safety lamps. A sudden fall of roof might cause a rush of gas.

Mr. PAITSON: But not of sufficient quantity to do any harm.

Mr. ROBERTS: If the gas comes to them, it does them no harm; but if they go to the gas, it seems, it kills them.

WITNESS: I do not think the gas would have come upon them instantly if there had been a fall of roof.

By Mr. PAITSON: Mr. Dunne never suggested any alteration in the mode of ventilating the pit.

By CORONER: The deputy warned the men before going down that the place was unsafe. He was quite justified in sending the men to timber up so that the ventilation might be restored. If the ventilation had been carried on between Saturday at one o'clock and one o'clock on Sunday it could not have prevented the accumulation of gas on the steer until the boxes were restored. The drift is now going through stone. Off handed men are generally looked upon as deputies. The boxes would ventilate the pit to some extent without the fans going. The deputy would not know that the saw was in this unsafe place and could not warn them of the danger of going for it.

Hugh Emmerson was next called, when

The CORONER said to him, — It is my duty to tell you that I believe there is some supposition that you did not properly caution these men. I tell you this, to warn you, as what you say may be used against you, and you can, if you like, decline to give evidence. I do not mean to say that there is any cause for suspicion, but it is my duty to give you this caution.

Hugh Emmerson said — I live at Goose Butts, and am deputy-overman at No. 2 Pit. On Sunday night, the 24th of May, I was on duty at the pit. I saw the Weirs all go into the pit about a quarter to ten o'clock. I went down the shaft in the same cage along with the deceased William Weir. The others followed immediately. The Weirs were accustomed to go to work by themselves. They could go in whenever they liked. When I got to the bottom of the pit I examined their lamps. I ordered them to go to this fall, but not to go near the steer at all. They knew that the steer was dangerous. I told them she would be full of gas on the steer. All the three said they knew of the gas. Two of them left me; they asked for a saw and an axe. John Weir came with me, and I showed him where they could get them. They had been working on Saturday, and I did not know where they had left their saw. I never examined Weirs' place before this time; they always set themselves to work. I told them Mr. Taylor wanted them to "wood" at the fall, but that they must not go over the fall. If I had gone with them I could not have done more; I could only have told them not to go into the gas, and I did that as it was. I did not hear of the fall until Monday. I did not think it necessary to go with them as they were all experienced men, especially John Weir, and were aware of the fall that had taken place on Saturday. The drift makes a good deal of gas since the coal was gone through. I have been a collier for 10 or 15 years, but I have only been an overman for about 12 months. I cannot say whether or not the fan system was sufficient, but whenever I went into the drift I found more or less of gas. I have seen a foot or 18 inches off the roof; the quantity was often dangerous.

By Mr. ROBERTS: When I have found gas the fan has been working. The fan was not sufficient to drive gas away from the highest spots. I have not had any conversation with Mr. Bailes or Mr. Taylor about the ventilation. I have had conversation on the subject with Peter Edgar. I said there was a good bit of gas in the spot.

Mr. DICKINSON here (with some warmth) complained that Mr. PAITSON kept up a running commentary upon the evidence, adding that the gentleman repeated the evidence when it pleased him, and frequently addressed his remarks specially to the coroner. This was unusual, and if it was agreeable, he should like to have it discontinued.

Mr. PAITSON indignantly repelled the imputation.

Witness continued: Edgar agreed with me and suggested the putting up of a clout and some bratticing. It was put up on the steer, at the same place where a plank has since been put up. I cautioned the Weirs every time I saw them. They did not complain much lately — since the big fan was put up. I have not been in the habit of seeing fans used, but I never worked in any other but this. The more men there are at the fan the harder it would go. If two men were strong enough they would do.

By Mr. PAITSON: I can turn the fan, but not easily for any length of time. Two men might do it, but it is hard work. When I saw the Weirs on Sunday night we spoke about the boxes. There were some new boxes at the bank, and I said if they wanted they must come up and we would get them down. They said they should not want them as they were going to work at the wood. I gave them the orders I had received both before going down and when we got down. All three of them said the gas would be on the steer. We were talking for about half an hour before going down. I told them they would have plenty of work without going over the fall. They had told me several times before that Mr. Taylor had nothing to do with them. They said I, or any other overman, had nothing to do with them. I thought it was the case. I had no directions to look to their work; I was told not to look after them. I never made it a practice to go the drift; the other deputies knew this. They were left to take care of themselves.

By Mr. Roberts: I have not got a copy of the rules.

By the CORONER: I did get a copy when I first went to work, but not when I was made an overman.

By Mr. PAITSON: The rules are to be got by asking for them.

Some conversation was held here as to whether the drift was a "working place," properly speaking, and ought therefore to be examined by the deputy before the workmen were allowed to enter it. Mr. Paitson contended that the drift was not a "working place," but Mr. Dickinson argued that it was. The Coroner thought Mr. Dickinson was right.

Peter Edgar said: I live at Cleator Moor and am deputy in the pit. I know No. 2 pit and the deceased men and boy. I have been 15 years deputy at the pit. I went into the pit about a quarter past three o'clock on Monday morning. When I got down I examined the air-course end before the men went to work. I did not examine the drift because I was detained with a fall in the main road. I should have examined the drift if I had not been detained. I first heard of what had happened when I was in the cabin at the foot of the shaft; that would be between five and six o'clock. I went with Mr. Taylor to the place. Mr. Taylor went onward to Daniel Weir and I went for more men. I was not present when the bodies were recovered. I know the drift; it has been ventilated for a long time by air boxes, and then a fan was got in addition. The ventilation was very fair for a time; when the fan was put up it was a little better. A larger fan was subsequently got and it was then much better; sometimes it was better than at other times. There was always a little gas in it after the coals were drifted into. I have been a collier for 43 years. If all things were kept right the drift would be in a working state. She was not exactly clear. It would have been better to have had two drifts.

By Mr. DUNNE: The boxes were liable to be broken; they were mended as sharp as possible. If I had been the manager of the concern I should have had two drifts from the first.

An expression of feeling was here shown by the crowded court, one or two persons calling out "Hear, hear." The Coroner, however, at once checked the interruption.

By Mr. ROBERTS: In all other collieries I have seen the drifts worked double. I never had any conversation with Mr. Bailes about it.

By Mr. PAITSON: The Weirs have often told me that I need not bother myself with their working. They were experienced men and were well qualified to take care of themselves. They never suggested there should be two drifts — that is my own opinion. When Mr. Dunne was down last time he would get to know that the drift was being made.

Martin Chandler said I have known the pit for eight months. I leave the pit about four or five o'clock, after the coal has been drawn. The air boxes were quite sufficient so long as the drifting was going through the stone, but insufficient whilst going through the coal. The ventilation was sufficient for where they were working if the boxes had not been broken. I have seen a good bit of gas in the drift at times. I think it was safe for the men to be sent where they were without examination, as they could have worked safely enough, although the boxes were broken.

By Mr. ROBERTS: A double drift is a safe thing at any time. It would have decidedly been safer than the boxes. I certainly should have preferred working in a double drift.

Mr. ROBERTS: Mr. Bailes knows as much as you, does he not?

WITNESS: I should think so.

James Macdonald deposed that he was a shifts-man, and that his general work was as a mason's labourer. Knew all the deceased men. Last saw them on Sunday night near the fan at about ten minutes to eleven. They had a tram of wood, and were on their way to their work. John Weir called to me to shut a door near the fan, as it was too stiff. He told me to shut it to keep all safe and secure. I did not make any remark to this. I heard them talking about the gas when they were at the pit top. They wanted to take two new boxes down to re-place the three broken ones. The deputy, Emmerson, told them they need not bother till morning, but take one from the in-by side where the boxes were broken, and put it to the outside where they were broken. They went down without the boxes. I never saw them alive after they left the fan; I did not see them removed. I do not understand much about ventilation.

By Mr. ROBERTS: They were duly sober as usual. I have worked at the fan; it is hard work; it is fitter for four than three, or for three than two. I suppose it is cheaper to have only two. I never spoke to Mr. Taylor or Mr. Bailes about the ventilation of this place. I have worked at the fan for 8 or 9 weeks. There were two men beside myself at the fan until a few days before the accident. A trapper was never employed since I came to the pit.

By Mr. PAITSON: I was not trapper as well as fanner. I shut the door when Wm. Weir asked me, but it was not my duty. Two men were not enough to work the fan, and the last shift I got I said I would never take another. As far as I and my comrade were able to keep the fan going all night; a shift is eight hours. I did not hear Emmerson say to the Weirs that they must not go over the fall. I was too far off.

Richard Dixon said — I live at Hensingham, and am a miner. I know No. 2 Pit, and have done so ever since it was sunk. I have wrought in it for a long time. I was at the pit about half-past six on Sunday morning. I did not hear of the accident until I got down the shaft. I was going to work on an incline on the way to this drift. I prepared to go and assist at the scene of the accident. Peter Edgar said a bad job had happened, and he went to the drift. When we got there they were bringing the little boy out. We commenced to get the stuff away to get the boxes right. I have not been in the drift for eight or nine weeks. I have been 19 years a miner, and believe the fan and box principle is not sufficient, excepting for short distances. It might do for black damp. I should consider 50 yards is quite long enough for air boxes, and a fan or brattices, as a general rule, though they may be used on an emergency. There should be two drifts. I have talked with the Weirs, and I have remarked that they must be cautious for fear that anything should happen. We have said many times it would have been far better if there had been two drifts. With the means of ventilation used I believe everything that could be done for the safety of the men was done.

By Mr. DUNNE: The boxes are lime-washed, and there will be cracks when the lime dries, but the deputies' very likely look to them nearly every day.

By Mr. ROBERTS: I dare say the ventilation of the pit has been a general subject of conversation amongst us workmen. We did not think the fan and boxes were right. Mr. Bailes did not tell me it was the cheapest mode of working the drift; I dare say they have cost as much as any other plan.

By Mr. PAITSON: If care had been taken to have shifted the fall and made all right, I don't think anything would have happened. The drift was right enough for anything I know. At 250 yards the piping had done its duty. If I had been sent to the fall I should have discerned anything had happened to me if I had gone past it. I have seen cases where one of a double drift has been stopped up.

Mr. PAITSON: Then this double drift that we hear so much of is not a perfect cure.

Mr. Bailes said: I have been viewer to No. 2 pit for about eleven months. This drift was begun before I came. About forty yards had been done before I came. The system of ventilation is the same as when I came, excepting that the fan has been added. I consider that the ventilation is quite sufficient. I was down Hope Pit on Monday, when I got intelligence of an accident at No. 2 Pit. I went to the drift about seven o'clock. I found that the box had been broken by a fall from the roof, and the ventilation intercepted beyond that point. I was told at the bottom of the pit that the men had gone in past the fan, and that they had thereby lost their lives. By measurement I found that they had gone fourteen yards beyond the point they had been set to work at. As regards No. 2 rule, I am of opinion that it was not broken. I think it is a deputy's duty to examine every coal working. I look at it in the light that these men had special instructions given to them.

The CORONER: But these rules are to obviate special instructions.

WITNESS: If it had been their ordinary working place, I should have said that the overman had not done his duty.

The question again arose here as to whether the drift was a working place within the meaning of section 2; Mr. Bailes stating that in his opinion it was merely "a travelling road," and Mr. Dickinson contending that it had been clearly laid down that any place where work was carried on was a working. Mr. Bailes said further that he considered the ventilation was quite sufficient under ordinary circumstances.

By Mr. DUNNE: I understand it was decided before I came that the communication should be carried on by a single drift. I have seen a stone drift carried upwards of 300 yards. I am 30 years of age. My father was a viewer. The first colliery I had the management of was in the Auckland district. I have been 12 years daily going up and down coal pits.

Mr. DUNNE put several questions to witness to test his experience of management, stating that the No. 2 pit was a very difficult one to manage.

Mr. BAILES: You have been very seldom down, and cannot know much about it.

Mr. ROBERTS: Do I understand that you consider the best system for ventilating a mine is one, which prevents gas to accumulate?

WITNESS: Certainly not. If I saw any gas about the place, of course I could not say it was clean. Gas may accumulate at the roof, and will do so when the roof is uneven, as in this case.

Mr. ROBERTS: If the ventilation is not sufficient to take away the gas it must be insufficient for these mines.

Mr. BAILES: That does not follow. We are only required to keep the mine clear for working under ordinary circumstances. When this fall of roof occurred we were in extraordinary circumstances.

Mr. ROBERTS: How many men do you think there ought to be slaughtered every year under "ordinary circumstances?"

WITNESS: Mr. Dunne is the Government Inspector and may be able to give you the figures.

Mr. ROBERTS: Then you think it is a question of figures?

WITNESS: It is a question of returns. It is entirely false that I was knocked down by gas in this place. I smelt the gas, and felt it too, but I walked out.

Mr. ROBERTS: Yes, and pretty quickly, too!

Considerable discussion ensued on Mr. Roberts asking witness if he intended to carry on the drift under the same arrangements as now, Mr. Paitson arguing that at this inquiry they had only to deal with the cause of the deaths of these men and not with anything perspective. The Coroner ruled that an answer to this question might show whether or not the proprietors of the pit had sufficient confidence in the safety of the old system to continue in it. Mr. Bailes in answer to the question said he could not tell what his directors might decide upon.

Mr. ROBERTS: But do you hold to the system yourself?

WITNESS: It answers its purpose.

Mr. ROBERTS: It answers its purpose! But is it the best system?

WITNESS: It may not be the best. Parallel drifts might be better, but you would still have to depend upon air boxes.

In answer to pressing questions witness said he knew nothing of the "declaration," but that he had received it in an envelope from Whitehaven.

By Mr. DUNNE: About 20 yards of the drifts remains to be done yet. I shall be disappointed if it is not done in a month.

By Mr. PAITSON: The larger fan was amply sufficient to ensure the ventilation. I never had any complaints about the ventilation made to me. Gas would accumulate in a double drift. There is no danger from these small accumulations of gas at the roofs. The danger to life is greater in double drifts than in single ones. I have asked Mr. Dunne to go down No. 2 pit; he declined to go down. He never said the boxes should have been shorter. I am led to think that these men met their deaths by attempting to get a saw. This witness then spoke as to the position in which the unfortunate men had been found. Had examined one of the Lamps; it had died out for want of raising up.

Mr. DUNNE said Mr. Bailes had spoken as to what he had told him as to the state of these mines. He (Mr. Dunne) had taken notes of all that had been told him, and, perhaps, might be able to contradict Mr. Bailes to morrow.

The inquest was then adjourned until nine o'clock on the following morning.

WEDNESDAY — June 3.

The inquiry was resumed at 9.15 this morning, the court again being crowded.

Wm. Noden was the first witness called. He said — I live at Hensingham, and am a coal hagger. I know No. 2 Pit, Cleator Moor. I have known it upwards of twelve years, and have worked in it for about eight years. I knew the deceased men. I have known the drift-way for ten or twelve weeks. I had been working at the drift for ten or twelve weeks, along with the deceased men. The ventilation has been workable since the big fan has been put up. There have been no complaints since it was put up. It was not quite sufficient to keep all the gas away, as there was some it could not get to. There was danger if you looked for it, but with proper precautions there was no danger to workmen. The large fan was put up six or seven weeks since. I was in the pit from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. o'clock on Saturday. I was shifting the fall in the drift-way. When I left at one there were about six or eight tons. Richard Lowden and John Lewthwaite were with me. I was never over the fall, as it was not my duty to do so, and I cannot therefore say anything of the gas. The fall was caused by a "trouble," it was composed of free stone and rubbish. I have been a collier for 20 years. I think the gas was caused by that fall. The deceased were removing the fall. The work is stopped after one o'clock on Saturday. This is the first fall we have had at this drift. It is usual to leave part of a fall to be removed on another day. It is quite safe to do so to any man who knows what to do. The deceased were my marrows. The fall took place at John and Daniel Weir's shift on Saturday morning. There was a further fall after we went in, which completely blocked the road. Our plan then was to clear away as fast as we could to allow the ventilation, as the boxes were broken. It was not the deceaseds' duty to go over the fall until they had got the air boxes put in. I should have considered there would have been danger in going to the steer or to the forehead. They should have known of the danger because I told them myself. I told Alexander and William and Daniel that Taylor said they must shift the fall and put the boxes right. I told them that twice. They joked about it, and made light of any danger. I met them again on Sunday night, and told them again as they were on their way to their work. I told them they had better carry a pick of somebody's if they could get one, as the one we were using was blunt, and our gear as in-by. They said they would. I told them I had put 14 tubs of stuff out; that was in answer to their question on Saturday. The tubs may hold 4½ cwt. of coal, or a greater weight of metal. I said there was from 6 to 8 bogies left. A bogie is the same as a tub.

By Mr. DUNNE: I left about five minutes to one on Saturday. We had then pulled a box out which gave better ventilation at the box end. The drift beyond there would be fouling. Taylor was in at that time. If they had been there on Saturday the replacing of the boxes might have been accelerated. It should have been wooded first. It would have made little odds whether we worked on Saturday night and Sunday, as nobody was allowed to go there but ourselves.

By Mr. ROBERTS: It is necessary enough to keep the place clean. I consider it necessary that places should be kept clean when the men are not there. They could not have got this place clean if they had worked until the boxes were replaced. The place had been fanned eight hours before they went to it. It could not clear the place in-by until the boxes were put in. If the fans had been kept working it would not have cleared the place in-by. The fans could not have made any difference how they worked past when they were broken. A double drift would have been a great deal better. Mr. Bailes and Mr. Taylor should know that. I never saw Mr. Foster. I was not there when the bodies were found. When the last fan was put in I went 200 yards past it. There was only a small portion of gas there then. No air could get past the broken box.

By Mr. PAITSON: I told the Weirs she was not fit to go in, and that they ought not to go in-by for our tools. I did not tell them the place was full of gas, because they knew that as well as I did. I was told to shift the fall and I did so. I did not go past the fall because I had no business there, and I knew it was not safe.

Dr. Thompson said: I live in Whitehaven and am a legally qualified medical practitioner. I am surgeon to this colliery. I was sent for on Monday morning to go to No. 2 pit. I got there about 10 o'clock. The bodies of the deceased men were in two carts, and some persons were about to remove them to their homes at Whitehaven. I made an external examination of the bodies about noon on the same day. I did not examine them at the pit. I found a few scratches on three of the bodies, but they would not account for death. Wm. Weir (the man) had a small punctured wound under the jaw. On the body of John Weir there were a few slight cuts on the nose and forehead. On the body of Alexander Weir there were a few slight cuts on the nose, one on the left eye, one on the left cheek, and another on the left knee. On the body of the boy there were no external marks of violence. The marks had nothing to do with the deaths of the deceased. The faces and lips of all were very livid. The posterior parts of the bodies, with the exception of one, were highly discoloured. The exception was in the case of a body, which had been found on the face. That had arisen from the position of the body, and the fluid state of the blood at the time of death. Gaseous poison might cause these appearances; death by lighting might also produce similar appearances. The fingers were contracted, and the rigidity of the limbs was very remarkable. This was so strongly marked that I fancied there had been convulsions before death. There was a very offensive fluid issuing from the nostrils and perhaps the mouth. Decomposition had then begun. They had been dead several hours. I believe this gas to have been carburetted hydrogen. I should say they had been dead 12 hours. I believe they died from gaseous poisoning in the coal pit. There may have been other gas. Eight or nine per cent of the gas is dangerous to life for any length of time; 14 per cent will explode; I should think 20 per cent might be fatal in a very few minutes. I have no doubt that what I have stated was the cause of death.

By Mr. DUNNE: Post mortem examination would not have revealed very much, in consequence of decomposition having advanced so rapidly. It might, however, have negatived the idea that death had been caused by structural disease. The appearances that are generally found after gaseous poisoning are congestion of the brain and lungs, and sometimes the right side of the heart is distended with blood. I was sent to make a post mortem examination along with Mr. J. B. Wilson on Tuesday. We were not allowed to make the examination; we went again on Wednesday, but the friends of the deceased would not allow it.

The CORONER: I issued a warrant for the post mortem examination. It was more for the purpose of negativing any supposition as to the cause of death. It was very unfortunate that the examination was not permitted. When the police reported that a riot might ensue, I withdrew the warrant. If it should be thought necessary it must still be made. The people got it into their heads that it was an attempt to prove some other cause of death. No such thing was intended.

Mr. DUNNE: I believe there was an idea that the men died from drinking.

WITNESS: There was no ground for such a supposition.

WITNESS, by Mr. DUNNE: I think a man could not work day after day in a pit containing 8 or 9 per cent of the gas. Half the quantity might be dangerous. All impurity must tend to shorten life.

The FOREMAN: There was a rumour that one of the men died from drink; I am glad to hear that you do not think so.

Dr. THOMPSON: I distinctly state that there is no ground for such a rumour.

On being put to the jury, it was decided to take the evidence of Mr. J. B. Wilson.

Mr. J. B. Wilson said — I live at Whitehaven, and am a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons. I went to examine the bodies of the deceased on Tuesday evening last. I went by your (the coroner's) orders. Dr. Thompson accompanied me to the house of the Weirs. At William Weir's we more particularly wished to make an examination in preference to the other two, as their wives were pregnant, and we wished to avoid any excitement to them. We explained that it was requisite to make the post mortem examination, but there was a good deal of feeling displayed, so that we did not think it prudent to make the examination. We could not have made it under the circumstances. I did not think it was imperatively necessary, though it might have been better. The friends of the other deceased also objected. No post mortem examination was consequently made. I did not see any of the bodies. I have heard the evidence both yesterday and to day, and I judge the death was occasioned by breathing a noxious gas, which I believe to have been carburetted hydrogen. I agree with what Dr. Thompson has said as to the cause of death. There was no explosion in this case; such cases of death are very rare. I have had cases of persons being made ill by this gas, but never a case of death. If you excluded atmospheric air it would not cause such a death; there was a directly poisonous gas present.

By the FOREMAN: The less discoloration of two of the bodies might be caused by the state of the living body and the less amount of the gas imbibed.

That was all the evidence the police called.

Mr. DUNNE then called and examined

James Develin, who said — I live at Goose Butts, and am a coal miner. I worked in No. 2 Pit about six or seven months since. I left because Mr. Bailes turned me off on account of a letter, which had been despatched to the managers.

Mr. PAITSON objected to this evidence, as the man knew nothing of the present state of the pit.

The CORONER did not see any objection to admitting the evidence for what it was worth.

Mr. DUNNE agreed to withdraw the witness, but Mr. ROBERTS said he should call him. Mr. DUNNE accordingly examined

WITNESS, who said he kept a record of the state of the pit. [Record produced.] I made the record every day. It begins shortly after Mr. Bailes came, and extends over about three months.

By Mr. PAITSON: The reports I sent in to Mr. Bailes every day were similar to these entries.

The CORONER: Then you have opportunities for contradicting him; he has gone fairly against you. You can get your reports in a couple of hours if they are only at Cleator Moor.

Witness was then ordered to stand down for the present, and

Patrick Flinn was called, and examined by Mr. Roberts. He said: I live at Hensingham, and am a labourer. I have been working at No. 2 Pit up to this accident. I have worked there since the Weirs started. During the time I worked there the ventilation of the drift was very poorly. I worked the shift before the Weirs. I last worked there on Saturday morning. I never complained to Mr. Taylor, but John Weir, a man I worked with, complained about the ventilation. Mr. Taylor said, in reply, that it was very bad. I have heard this often. Complaints had been made both before and since the fans were put in. Mr. Taylor suggested another drift after the first fan was put in. Since the second fan was put in the complaints utterly ceased. I have not heard anything said to Mr. Bailes. I have seen 150 yards of gas in the drift; it was before the large fan was put in. Since it was put in I have seen 10 to 15 yards of gas. The more vigorously the fan is worked the more air will come. I don't consider two men are sufficient to work the fan because they did not consider so themselves. The masters considered two sufficient. Mr. Bailes was nearly overpowered with gas once when there, when three men were at the fan. He said the place was very warm

He appeared likely to fall. I recollect Mr. Dunne coming about three months ago. I heard Mr. Taylor say he was going to visit No. 2 Pit. We had an order to suspend work in the drift to allow the inspection of it. I heard Mr. Taylor say something like "Get out of the way, the inspector's coming." I only know by report that complaint has been made to Mr. Bailes.

By Mr. PAITSON: After the big fan was put in the complaints ratherly ceased. They ceased because it was considered better ventilated. I am a married man. I had apprehension of danger after the larger fan was put in. I have continued working in this dangerous place up to the present time. I cannot tell what month or day it was that Mr. Bailes was affected by the gas. I think it would be about the latter end of March. The big fan was not in then. I heard Mr. Bailes say yesterday that he did not suffer anything. Timely prevention saved him from falling. I put my arm round his waist, and saved him from falling. Mr. Taylor was there at the time. I did not see Mr. Dunne in the drift when he came in January.

Mr. DUNNE: I may state that I was never in the drift.

WITNESS: Ever since the coal was found I have found 10 or 15 yards of gas in the drift at the weekends. It was driven away by the fans previous to the men going to work. I have not subscribed anything to the enquiry.

John Develin, recalled, said: This is my book. It contains an entry on Thursday, October 9, 1862.

Mr. ROBERTS: I ask Mr. Paitson to produce his counterparts of these entries.

Mr. PAITSON: We had no notice to produce them.

Witness continued: The book contained a minute dated August 7th, 1862, reporting to Mr. Bailes the state of a place where there was a great deal of gas. I had removed some men on account of the ventilation being bad. Witness proceeded to read a number of the minutes, all of which complained of the bad state of the pit. I was overman in the pit for about 18 months. I quitted about eight months since. I first gave notice, but Mr. Bailes persuaded me to stop. He afterwards discharged me. On 30th September, there is an entry, "Mr. Bailes is in a terrible way, I really think he is not right in the head." I gave him notice on that day.

By Mr. PAITSON: The drift had commenced when I made the entries. None of the Weirs were working in the drift when I made the entries.

Mr. PAITSON proceeded to read a number of entries from the book to the effect that on certain days the pit was well ventilated. The last entry but one was "all the workings are clean, everything all right."

WITNESS: Belton's place is excepted.

Mr. PAITSON: The very last entry says all was clean.

WITNESS, by Mr. Roberts: I made entries according to the facts.

By Mr. DUNNE: It was my duty to visit the drift. If it had not been wrong I should have made an entry to that effect.

Mr. PAITSON: Did you ever see anything wrong in the drift?

WITNESS: Not in my time.

Mr. ROBERTS asked witness if from what he had seen of Mr. Bailes he considered him fit to manage a pit. Mr. Paitson and the Coroner, however, objected to the question, and it was withdrawn.

Owen Reynolds said: I am a coal miner, and have been working in Hope Pit. I worked in No. 2 Pit 12 months since. I was asked to sign the declaration but refused. Mr. Bailes told me the declaration came from Sir George Grey.

Mr. PAITSON: The jury will hardly swallow that.

John Latchford said: I live in the Ginns, and am a collier. I have worked at No. 2 Pit, but not within 600 yards of the drift. I work in the main band. I have complained to Mr. Bailes and Mr. Taylor of the ventilation. I left the employ on Saturday last. Mr. Bailes did nothing but laugh when I complained. When I complained he said he could get plenty of men to work if I left.

Mr. ROBERTS: Unfortunate fact!

WITNESS continued: Taylor told me he had nothing to do with it, and that I must speak to Mr. Bailes. Mr. Bailes would not give me any satisfaction. Whenever I began to complain to him he would walk away. They have made some alterations in the pit since the accident. They always made changes when the government inspector was expected. They fixed trappers at the doors when he was there, and took them away when he had gone away. Since last Saturday they had hung a door and fixed some clothes up. That was for the purposes of better ventilation. I recollect Mr. Dunne coming a few months ago. I did not receive any directions to keep out of the way.

By Mr. PAITSON: Where I worked was six or eight yards from the drift. It is the same ventilation. I don't think the air from the main band goes to the drift. I don't think the changes would have been made if Mr. Dunne had not been coming. I think one of the trappers I have spoken of was Matthew Maguire. Another was a young brother of Maguire. I have only seen Mr. Dunne down the pit once. I did not make any complaints to him.

By Mr. ROBERTS: I had only been in the pit three days then, and did not know the state of the pit.

Mr. Dunne, sworn, said: I am Government Inspector of mines for this district. It is my duty to hear complaints from men as to the state of ventilation. I have no power to enforce ventilation. If I make suggestions of very important alterations it is not my duty to see them carried out? If I find a pit in a foul state it is my duty to report to the owners, and if they do not carry out my suggestions I have to report to government. They may take my suggestion on their own responsibility, but I cannot stop a pit if it is wrong. I saw No. 2 pit about February. I saw the owners and Mr. Bailes and complained of the state of the pit. I had two interviews with the directors. I complained that there was not sufficient air passed through the workings. There may be plenty of air in a shaft but still the ventilation not be properly distributed. I could not pretend to go over all the pits in my district. My attention was directed to this drift. I think it should have been double because it had to pass through unknown ground, and it ought therefore to carry a good ventilation. Boxes might do for a stone drift, but were quite insufficient for this drift. I think I should explain what has taken place between the directors and me. He then proceeded to read several letters.

The CORONER thought this had better be avoided, as it might only increase the bad state of feeling, which it was evident, existed between Mr. Dunne and the directors.

Mr. DUNNE, however, thought it necessary to go into the details, Mr. PAITSON stating that this would necessarily lengthen the inquiry indefinitely.

The case was interrupted here by one of the jurymen, Mr. McIntyre, publican, Market Place, falling into an epileptic fit. He was immediately attended to by Drs. Thompson and Fider, and was very quickly brought round again.

Dr. Thompson was sworn, and deposed that it would not be safe for Mr. Mc Intyre to be kept on the jury, and he was excused, the coroner stating that fortunately he was able to proceed with the enquiry, as he had still a jury of thirteen left.

Mr. DUNNE said he should now read portions of a synopsis of the proceedings taken in connection with Hope Pit recently, which had been transmitted to him by the managers of No. 2 Pit.

Mr. PAITSON: If any portion of it is read I shall be compelled to have the whole of it read.

Mr. ROBERTS: I pledge myself not to object to a single document you may produce.

Mr. DUNNE proceeded to read a letter to him from Wm. Barratt, a workman engaged at No. 2 Pit, calling attention to the bad state of the pit. He next stated that he went to investigate these allegations. He visited Cleator Moor, but was unable to get down No. 2 Pit, as the engine was broken. Found that Barratt was on notice on the ground of having used bad language to Mr. Bailes. Mr. Dunne proceeded to relate all the proceedings connected with the late case which came before the Whitehaven magistrates, brought by him against Mr. Bailes for ineffective ventilation of Hope Pit, and which resulted in the exoneration of Mr. Bailes.

The reading of this document occupied a very considerable time, and its reproduction would scarcely be of interest to our readers.

Mr. PAITSON read a reply from Sir Geo. Grey to the Hematite Company to the statement which Mr. Dunne had read from, and also the report by Mr. Foster as to the state of the pits.

The report stated that all was done that could be done for the safety of the workmen, and that the ventilation was good, but would be better when the drift should have been driven to connect Hope and No. 2 Pits. He believed nothing was to be apprehended except from the carelessness of the workmen, or from accident to the safety lamps.

Mr. Dunne examined by Mr. ROBERTS: I complain of several parts of that statement as incorrect.

Mr. ROBERTS: Our object is to show that the owners of this colliery were aware from the first that the ventilation of the pit was considered defective. The document proves that you complained.

Mr. DUNNE continued: The directors believed everything that Taylor said, but nothing of what Barratt said; I thought this unfair. The document says I was treated respectfully; on the contrary I was treated more like a culprit than anything else. The letter of the directors to Sir George Grey with respect to myself is not entirely true.

In cross-examination by Mr. Paitson, respecting the dismissal of Barratt, Mr. Dunne was considerably "bothered," and for a time refused to answer the questions. On being pressed for answers, he showed some feeling, and finally weakness.

Mr. Joseph Dickinson said: I am one of the Government inspectors of mines for the Manchester district, and live at Pendleton. I have been deputed by government to assist Mr. Dunne in this enquiry. I visited No. 2 pit on Tuesday last, in company with Mr. Dunne. The inspection was confined principally to the drift way where this accident happened. The fan was working. Four men were by standing it; two men were working it. The air they produced would not clear away all the gas in the drift. Perhaps the boxes were large enough to convey the air, but to clear the pit for a certain distance would depend upon the quantity of gas met with. When I saw the boxes their size was too small, and in my opinion not sufficient for ventilation. It is likely I saw it under as advantageous circumstances as it could be placed. The jointings of the boxes looked newly plastered with mortar, and no work having been going on in the way of driving the drift way, no fresh surfaces were being cut so as to liberate fresh supplies of firing. From what I saw of it I say the boxes were too small. It seems by the evidence that to put the small fan was right, and that to try a larger one was also right. That failing, further means ought to have been tried. They were not tried. There were besides the fans two furnaces, which would also tend to cerate a draft, and be an assistance to the ventilation. I measured the air that was coming out of the pipe and going to the end of the drift, and found it to be 258 cubic feet per minute. That was insufficient to meet such emergencies as might be expected in such places. I went into the drift way which connects Whinny-hill Pit and No. 2 Pit, and saw that there was a regulator with an aperture about 14 inches square, the rest of the air way being stopped up so as to force air into the other part of No. 2 Pit, distinct from the drift. I measured the air coming through the aperture, and found 2398 feet coming per minute, that being the only available supply for the drift way; of that only about one-ninth, or 258 cubic feet, reached the extremity where it was principally required, which was insufficient in my opinion.

By Mr. ROBERTS: Seeing that they had got to the coal, I think the boxes should have been 3 feet square instead of one foot square as they are now. There should have also been means taken for throwing the air into the upper portion of the drift, so as to prevent gas lodging in the roof. This could have been done by a brattice placed across the lower portion of the drift so as to throw the air over it into the upper portion. Another way would have been to have bratticing placed lengthways in the drift, so as to have air going in underneath and returning from the top. This accumulation of gas in the roof, which so many witnesses have spoken of with so much liberty as being impossible to be got rid of, is in my opinion, a violation of the Act, and such as ought not to be allowed in any properly regulated colliery. They are dangerous. I was surprised at the timidity with which the men witnessed my making the examination of the roof with the safety lamp. They seemed to consider there was a danger of explosion. A strata of 5 or 6 inches of gas might be at the roof. Such examination should be made according to these rules every eight hours, but seems to have been disregarded. The colliery owners make the rules and then they are submitted to the secretary of state. I am sorry to find that it is attempted to be shown that this is not a working place. Any place in a colliery is a working place where men are set to work. It would be an injury to the owners if such places were not considered working places. The efficiency of the operations at Whinnyhill Pit depends upon the other portions of the pit that I did not examine. So long as boxes prove efficient in coal I do not object to them. The ventilation ought to be supplied for all ordinary emergencies. Their ventilation allowed them no margin and ought not to have been stopped between Saturday and Sunday noon. It should have been continued. It seemed hard work for even four men at the fan; I do not think four were too many. It appeared to be hard work for two men to turn the fan. Two men could not keep up the work for eight hours. An inspector has the power of inspecting every part of a colliery but the extent of the collieries would not permit of it. I have collieries in my district with 30 miles of galleries under ground. Alterations have to be made upon the responsibility of the owners. We have to report whether a colliery is sufficiently ventilated. Owners have to peril the consequences of not acting upon an inspector's suggestions.

The court here adjourned for a quarter of an hour.

On the resumption of the inquiry, Mr. PAITSON proceeded to cross-examine.

Mr. Dickinson. He said — My inspection was made on Monday last. I found a little gas, but it was above the timbering. I only found it in one place. There are pits free from gas. The gas in this place was in an uneven place, and I could not see the extent of it. At some places you would have to stoop to walk along. After finding coal gas gradually a way from it. When I was there they were working in stone, but it was not to be trusted for gas. I did not find any gas immediately near the place. I do not think there was adequate ventilation; I do not think it was sufficient to meet the consequences that might arise. I believe I have not a colliery in my district in the same condition as this. To render gas non-explosive, there should be fifteen parts of air to one of firing. The furnaces would draw a certain amount of air through the working. I saw the place where this fall occurred. If the fan and boxes had been perfect, the quantity of air running upon the face of the fall would remove the gas so that it would not affect the lives of the men. The impurity of the air gives colliers their pallid faces. The quantity of gas here would not probably have caused death. If you had a more liberal supply of air it would have removed the gas further away. If there had been more air the probability is still that there would have been gas at the end of the steer: men go into firedamp and do not suffer fatally. I do not know whether more air would have diluted the gas enough to prevent fatality. The air could not get past the point of breakage; it could not get up to the steer. The nearer the end of the bore the more the gas would be diluted. In the higher parts of the mine the gas would be stronger. I have met with very large blowers of gas coming out of apertures of stone. In this case we have no evidence that there was more gas coming from the stone than the ventilation would remove. It occurred to me that if an hour and a half would remove the gas that had suffocated four persons, why was it not done before. It seems that four persons were suffocated before striking a stroke. The furnace sucks the air from the pipe, and the air from the pipe drives it from it, and the air would be explosive for some distance. I held my lamp horizontally; Mr. Dunne showed some little timidity respecting this test.

The Coroner: That seems a very efficient mode of testing the gas.

Witness continued: If the flame had made the gauze red hot I believe the test would have been safe. I have never yet been able with a standard gauze to fire gas; I do not recommend anyone to needlessly try this experiment. I believe Sir Humphrey Davy never intended his lamp to obviate ventilation. There was a bratticing, which had been put up, but I believe it had been put up too late. I approve of boxes and fans to a certain extent.

By the CORONER: Two or three hundred cubic feet of air would have been sufficient; to ventilate the drift the real amount of air was actually 258. 2,000 cubic feet would, I believe, have cleared the drift. If fair ventilation had been in the gas no lodgement of gas should have taken place in these pits. The system of management here ought to be raised to a higher platform. I do not attribute that entirely to Mr. Bailes. If this colliery were in my district I should stop it if I could. The deputies were fifty thousand times more to blame for allowing these poor men to go into this place without examination than the poor men were for exercising their own judgment, and going to fetch that fatal saw. (Applause.)

By Mr. ROBERTS: I have been connected in cases where penalties were enforced in cases of this sort. The plaster was necessary to fit two wooden boxes together. I was told that these pipes were plastered once a week. The fire I saw at the roof was going on at the same time the fans were being worked.

Thomas Taylor re-called and examined by Mr. Paitson: I have been in the drift when Flinn was there. I have turned the fan myself; it was not much more difficult than an ordinary grindstone. I saw a boy of 14 years of age turn it for ten minutes. I had some talk with Mr. Bailes about reducing the number of turners. We re-placed the mortar on the boxes every week or fortnight. I looked at it every day.

By Mr. ROBERTS: I have not heard all Mr. Dickinson has said. I say as I said before, that I consider the large fan sufficient. The accident happened within two or three days after the fanners were reduced from four to two men.

By Mr. PAITSON: That was after the accident happened.

By Mr. DUNNE: I did not attend at a recent inquest on a boy who was killed at the pit, because Mr. Bailes said I was not to go.

By Mr. PAITSON: I did not go because Mr. Bailes said he was going himself.

Mr. Mulcaster, called by Mr. Dunne, said: I have been in No. 2 pit yesterday morning. I went to the far end of the boxes. I was on top of the steer; there had been an accident, and some boxes had been broken and there was some gas overhead. The air was not going to the far end of the drift.

By Mr. PAITSON: There was no gas considerably beyond where the boxes were broken. I do not know any collieries without some gas up over-head. When I was on the top of the steer after the fall of the stone I would not say it was in a workable condition. It was safe for men to go and clear the fall that broke the boxes. If men went beyond the place they were ordered they would have been to blame.

By Mr. ROBERTS: I do not altogether agree with Mr. Dickinson in what he says. The better ventilation you can get the better. I think it is very difficult in practice to dislodge all accumulations of gas in the roof. Gas is better away. If it can be done it is better to clear all the gas away, but it is possible for gas to be in a roof and a man may work beneath it safely. I do think it essentially necessary to remove all gas from the highest parts of a drift.

This concluded the examination of witnesses, and the Coroner proceeded to sum up.

The CORONER said, after the voluminous evidence that had been adduced, it was not necessary for him to say much. He should simply go over the facts of the case. There was evidence that the men were in the pit driving a drift way for the purpose of connecting two pits. The inference to be drawn was that they never got to work at all. There was a pause in the working of the drift from Saturday noon to Sunday at noon, when the fans began again. The fall had taken place on Saturday, and parties were immediately set to work to set it right. The deceased went past the fall, which was a gross act of disobedience. The second rule, however, said that before workmen were allowed to go to work the place had to be examined. Hugh Emmerson was the overman at that time; according to the rule he should have examined the place. The rule is that men should not have an opportunity of disobedience. The rule says men should not have been allowed to go into the pit. After one o'clock the removal of this coal was stopped from Saturday to Sunday night; there would thus be a considerable accumulation of gas. It might have been safer, under the circumstances, to have kept the fans working. You have to be satisfied that the men lost their lives in consequence of the cessation of this ventilation — that the men lost their lives by an accumulation of gas. Could that accumulation have been prevented? Ordinary precautions ought to be taken — were they taken? It appears to me that the real inquiry is — Was the pit properly ventilated? A small fan was provided, and subsequently a larger fan was provided, which, according to the evidence, was much better. Other people tell you that the ventilation was wrong, and that there should have been a double drift. If it was only an error of judgment in the ventilation of the pit, there was no responsibility. If there had been negligence in the ventilation, there was a criminal responsibility. He hoped no undue importance would be attached to the document, which had been read; by opening it out today, he feared no other object would be obtained but the opening out of fresh grievances between Mr. Dunne and the proprietors of this pit. There was no imputation that these lives had been lost wilfully. The first question was — was No. 2 rule broken? If the evidence was true, it had been broken; it was not for him to speak on this point. They might believe the evidence on this point or not. The next question was, was life sacrificed by the infringement of this rule? Was life lost through this infringement of the rule? Did they consider the ventilation sufficient? If they thought not, was the death of the men caused by this insufficiency? Mr. Dickinson's evidence must not have more credence than it was fairly entitled to, just as evidence from any colliery viewer. No doubt the character of a government inspector carried weight, but that must not be considered too much. He tells you that in his opinion the ventilation was inefficient. He also said that lodgements of gas were nature's warning, and the gas ought to be removed by other means. He did not seem, however, to direct his evidence against anybody. He said 2000 feet would be sufficient; the amount actually passed was only about 258 feet, and that appears to be a very great difference between what was proper and what was improper. Was anyone guilty of such criminal negligence as to be criminally culpable? If so, a charge of manslaughter might lie, — if they thought men of ordinary judgment could say the working was not safe; but if they could think the means were ordinarily sufficient no blame would attach. Had the rule No. 2 been infringed? Had the ventilation been proper or improper? Were the deaths of these men caused by such gross negligence as to induce their deaths? These were the questions for them to consider.

The Verdict:

The jury then retired for the purpose of considering their verdict, at five minutes to five.

At twenty minutes past eight o'clock, the jury returned into court. The coroner requested that whatever the verdict might be, the public would not give way to any expression of feeling on either side. He did not know what the jury intended to do, but he had to request the public that they would abstain from any expression of feeling.

The FOREMAN, (Mr. John Hodgson): I am sorry to say, sir, that we have not arrived at any conclusion, and that there is no likelihood of our doing so. There are several of our body who wish to be informed if they could return an intermediate verdict, between accidental death and manslaughter?

The CORONER said they could return any verdict they chose, without any dictation from himself. If they required any explanation he should be happy to give it them, but the verdict was entirely their own. There were thirteen on the jury, and if he got the verdict of twelve of them he should be satisfied. He was sorry to say they would have to go back to consider their verdict. If they wanted any assistance he should be happy to give it them; but, as in the inquiry, so far, had been conducted in public, he thought it would be better that any question they wished to have answered should be answered in public.

Inspector Douglas was then sworn to keep the jury in some private and convenient place until they had arrived at a verdict.

Inspector DOUGLAS: If they want water, I suppose I can supply them.

The CORONER: I do not expect they will want it yet.

Mr. PORTER said there was no hope of their coming to a conclusion, but the Coroner said they must go back, and he should recommend them to consider the question at issue calmly and deliberately, and without any personal feeling or any regard to any reports or rumours they might have heard out of the court.

The FOREMAN said he was happy to say that there had not been any display of feeling as yet, but there was a point or two, which required examination.

The jury then again retired.

After a further consultation of upwards of an hour, the jury again made their appearance in court.

The CORONER: Are you all here, gentlemen, and have you agreed upon your verdict?

The FOREMAN: Yes.

The CORONER: What is your verdict?

The FOREMAN: "Accidental Death;" and the JURY would recommend the Colliery Proprietors to keep a more efficient staff of overmen, to carry out the colliery rules properly.

There was no public expression of feeling on the delivery of the verdict, which appeared, as far as we could learn, to be the result that had been very generally anticipated.

The CORONER explained to the jury that the only verdict he could enter was their finding of "Accidental Death:" what followed was a recommendation only to the Colliery Proprietors. He proceeded to record the verdict accordingly, and to fill up the inquisition, which was signed by the jurors severally, and the proceedings then terminated.

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Cleator Moor | Cumbria: Little Ireland: Accident At Pit No. 2
Accident At Pit No. 2
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Cleator Moor | Cumbria: Little Ireland
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