An awful catastrophe of the above-mentioned description occurred or. the 23rd of last month, near Wigan, in England, by which forty or more individuals lost their lives. The spot where this dreadful accident took place is called the Arley Mine, and forms one of a cluster ot eight coal pits, belonging to the Ince Hall Coal Company, extending over an area of about two miles. The explosion wal fortunately confined to the Arley Mine, which is 414 jards deep, and ventilated, it is said, with every suitable regard to safety. At the time of the accident the hands employed had left off work, as it was their fortnightly pay day, and were congregated about the pit mouth waiting their turn to go up. From 140 to 150 men and boys are generally employed, and about 64 of the number had already gone up leaving a group of about 20 others at the bottom of the shaft, near the furnace by which it is ventilated, the remainder being distributed in various parts of the mine. At Jthis time, a few minutes after 1 o'clock in the afternoon, the explosion took place, close to the furnace, and lound vent up the shaft, doing considerable damage to the masonry and brick work in its progress, and shaking even the furniture of two inns that were 300 yard distant from the scene of the accident. The force of the explosion was such that a quantity of material were carried up the whole altitude of the shatt and hurled into the Leeds and Liverpool canal, which passes close to the spot. By the next morning after, the last of the living, as it was supposed, was brought out, a workman who, at the time ot the explosion, was in a distant part ot the workings, about three-quarters of a mile from the pit mouth, and from this lucky circumstance he escaped the more severe effects of the'explosion. The accident is attributed to gross negligence on the part of the workmen, as the Company allow only Davy's Safety Lamps to be used below, ar.d these are always kept locked. How the accident took place will probably remain unknown, but the cause of these explosions is so well understood that the reckless indifference of some of the men engaged in coal pits is almost beyond comprehension. Notwithstanding the awful warnings that are continually given, this class of men are unceasingly exposing themselves and their fellow workmen to inevitable destruction, and the colliery explosions in England are only rivalled by the steamboat explosions in the United States. When will either of these dreadful contingencies of modern civilization be one of the matters of history, which we may read as having formerly occurred, instead of having our feelings continually harrowed by accounts of such destructive calamities, that can be obviated by proper attention, and are generally attributable to neglect and mismanagement ?
This article was originally published with the title "Colliery Explosions" in Scientific American 8, 32, 254 (April 1853)