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List of MInes in MR. WARDELL'S DISTRICT, 1873 and 1874—continued.

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Mr. Bell's Report.

REPORT on the INSPECTION of Mines in the WEST LANCASHIRE and North WALES

INSFECTION DISTRICT, from the 31st December 1872 to the 31st December 1873.-By Thomas BELL, Esq.

SIR,

1873.

Liverpool, 31st March 1874. As Inspector of Mines for the West Lancashire and North Wales District, I have the honour to submit my annual report for the year ending 31st December 1873, together with a list of casualties which have occurred during the said year.

In doing so, I regret to have to report an increase both in the number of fatal accidents and the number of lives lost thereby as compared with the previous year. The following table shows the comparison between the two years 1872 and 1873:

1872. Number of persons employed

34,000 42,300 Quantity of coal raised

9,000,000 10,288,583 Separate fatal accidents

84

101 Lives lost by the accidents

90

125 Persons employed per separate fatal accident

405

548 Persons employed per life lost

378

500 Tons of coal raised per separate fatal accident

107,143

101,867 Tons of coal raised per life lost

100,000 82,308 The increase in the number of accidents and lives lost is accounted for in the list of explosions of fire-damp and of accidents in shafts and on the surface.

There were nine fatal explosions of gas during the year causing the deaths of 31 persons, being an increase of 26 deaths, 21 fatal accidents in shafts causing the deaths of 22 persons, being an increase of ten deaths, and nine fatal accidents on surface causing the deaths of nine persons, being an increase of two deaths from this cause as compared with the year 1872.

The number of deaths caused by falls of coal and roof show a decrease of two, and that of miscellaneous accidents underground a decrease of one, showing in the aggregate an increase in the number of separate fatal accidents of 17, and an increase in the number of deaths of 35 as compared with the preceding year.

Referring to the foregoing table there appears to be a total increase of 8,300 in the number of persons employed in and about the mines, and an increased output of coal of 1,288,583 tons for the year, but on looking at the return of quantity of coal raised per separate fatal accident, it shows a falling off of 5,276 tons, and of 17,692 tons raised per life lost as compared with 1872, which is very unsatisfactory, although it may in some measure be accounted for by a larger number of workmen than usual being employed in sinking and opening out new works in the district, with a decreased output of coal per man per day, consequent on the shortened hours the pits are working since the new Mines Regulation Act came into operation, limiting the hours of labour of the boys employed underground.

The number of working pits have been increased during the past year by 31, and there are at present other 38 pits either in the course of sinking or opening out.

Although there are no mines in this district worked exclusively as ironstone or fireclay mines, there has been 46,896 tons of ironstone and 41,121 tons of fire-clay returned by the different colliery owners as worked by them in connection with their coal works, principally from the roof or floor of the mines in making roads and by picking it out of falls in the goaves, &c.

. The fatal accidents in the accompanying schedule requiring further explanation are:

Explosions of Fire-damp.

Accident No. 31 on Schedule. This explosion took place in the New Coal seam at the Wynnstay Colliery, Ruabon, Denbighshire, belonging to the New British Iron Co., on the 24th April 1873, causing the deaths of seven persons, the mine, which lies at an angle of one in three, was worked with locked safety lamps, the colliers being allowed to use gunpowder for the purpose of

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bringing the coal down after being holed, and a fireman was appointed to light the shots after they had been charged by the workmen, and his instructions were to examine the places before doing so, to ascertain if they were free from gas.

Two levels were being driven, and it appears that the colliers in both places were ready to have their shots fired when Griffith Hughes, the fireman, since deceased, went into the lower level and fired a shot, which went off all right as spoken to by the witness John Hughes, shortly after, another shot was beard by him to go off, as he thought, in the higher level immediately followed by an explosion.

The accompanying section shows the position of the shots as placed in the coal in the upper level where the explosion took place, the shot A. on the lower side of the place, appears to have blown only a small piece of coal off from a slip at the front, the higher side shot B. has been badly planted, the hole being drilled into a hard “brass " lying above the portion of coal seam worked, and probably insufficiently stemmed, which would account for the charge being blown out, and the two reports being heard so closely following each other shows that both shots had been lighted together instead of separately, if the shot A. exploded first, gas might have been liberated from the slip in the coal and the second shot B. would ignite it, neither of the shot holes had been drilled deep enough.

At the adjourned inquest held at Rhos-y-Medre on the 16th May before B. H. Thelwall, Esq. coroner for Denbighshire, the following evidence was taken :

Mr. Ralph Darlington sworn said “ he was the certificated manager of the Wynnstay Colliery and personally knew all the deceased. He produced a plan of the workings of the colliery, Nos. 1 and 2 pits were downcasts and No. 3 was the upcast for all the colliery, the ventilation being produced by a furnace placed at the bottom, the men were working in No. 1 pit in the New Coal seam, which is 308 yards deep, and were 820 yards from the “ Pit-eye” in a S.W. direction, the explosion took place at 12.15 p.m. on the 24th April, he had not been down the pit that day, had been down the day previous but did not go to the very point of the accident, no man could examine the whole of the pit himself, and they had three certificated managers, the fireman had seen the place in the morning, it being his duty to inspect it, and he now produced his report which stated“ I have duly examined the above district and find all the working places free from gas and dirt and in good working order” his opinion was that a shot had been evercharged and badly planted in the top level, he saw the place three-quarters of an hour after the explosion, and did not believe there was any gas in the place. It was the duty of George Edwards to bore the hole, he (witness) believed the explosion was from powder and that the men were burnt by the powder in consequence of the shot blowing out, there were two shots in the place and the first appeared to have been overcharged and had only blown a little coal off at a slip, the hole ought to have been at least 12 inches deeper. The fireman had been appointed 18 months and he considered him a competent man, did not think him in any way to blame, but thought the colliers had made a mistake in planting the shots badly, the second shot did not break any coal the hole being driven into the brass above, but it was not customary for that to be done. They had no rule to the effect that the fireman was to inspect the holes before charging, he was of opinion that if the hole had been properly drilled the accident would not have happened. The men nearest to the shot when it went off were about 47 yards from the face, the others about 180 yards from it, he thought the B, or second shot did the mischief, it exploding two minutes after the A. shot, the shots were 12 to 13 inches long and 12 inches diameter, he believed the second shot going off so soon after would set fire to the dust caused by the first, which would account for the flame as spoken to by some of the workmen, he believed the man Thomas who was found 180 yards off had been burnt by the heated air and not by the flame, had known a bag of powder fired 50 yards from a blown out shot, he had never seen gas in this place, although the ventilation had been cut off for 15 days nothing had been perceived, if there had been an explosion of gas, a vacuum would have been caused which would have drawn out gas, but in the present case there was no such vacuum nor was there any after damp, which is always left after an explosion. There is a workmen's committee appointed who examine all the places weekly and report the result in a book (book produced) and all reports appear satisfactory, he considers such reports valuable. The total amount of ventilation is 201,800 cubic feet per minute, of which 31,400 cubic feet goes into the New Coal workings, since the explosion a set of rules bas been drawn up for the shot lighters, one of which is that no hole is to be charged until it has been examined by the fireman, he has already had to condemn four badly bored holes as being like those blown out on the 24th April, the lighting of two shots in one place at one time is contrary to orders and the fireman ought not to have done so.”

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