Wallsend Colliery Disaster 1835
1835 "June 18. This afternoon about two o'clock, one of those dreadful explosions took place, which have been so lamentably frequent in mining districts, at one of Mr. Russell's collieries, at Wallsend, known by the name of the Church Pit, or Russell's Old Wallsend, by which twenty-six men and seventy-five boys lost their lives, leaving twenty-four widows and eighty-three children to lament their fate. The number of work-people employed in this colliery was about 220, one hundred and five of whom were in the mine at the time of the explosion. The colliery was inspected in the morning by the under-viewer, when it was considered to be perfectly safe ; and four " overmen" and " deputies" who were among the sufferers, had been acquainted with the pit for thirty years. The catastrophe was made known to the banksman by a considerable report, which they spoke of as being like an earth- quake, accompanied by a rushing of choke-damp to the mouth of the shaft, bringing up some of the pitmen's clothes, and other light articles from the bottom. On the alarm being given, the vicinity of the mine was soon thronged with anxious enquirers, but it was mnd impossible to enter the workings until the next day, when after-damp had partially cleared away. During this long terra! the anguish of the relations of the workmen may easily be conceived. On the following day twenty-one bodies were removed, and the work of humanity was persevered in, until all the bodiea had been found and taken to their sorrowing friends. But on the 21st, to the astonishment of every one connected with the colliery, four of the unfortunate creatures were found to be alive. They were immediately brought up with the most assiduous care, and eager hopes were infused into the hearts of many, that others would be found who had been similarly favoured. This pleasing hope was however soon dispelled. These men thus rescued from a terrible fate, could give no idea of their mode of preservation. They were at times quite delirious, and had no idea of the time which elapsed between the occurrence of the accident and that of their fortunate rescue. The scene at Wallsend on the 22nd was especially distressing; numbers were buried there, and it was a painful sight to see two and even three bodies brought from the same house and borne away amid the agonized cries of their relations. No cause could be assigned for this dreadful calamity, which was the second great explosion that had occurred at the pit."
From: T Fordyce, J. Sykes. Local records; or, Historical register of remarkable events which have occurred in Northumberland and Durham, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and Berwick-upon-Tweed..., published 1867