Monday, March 26, 2007

One Hundred Years Ago

At 5.40 a.m. on the morning of Tuesday 26th March 1907 at Shirebrook Colliery in Derbyshire, fourteen day-shift men entered the cage of No.2 shaft to go down into the pit at the start of their working day. When the cage was about halfway down the shaft one of the conductors broke, the cage became unbalanced and tipped up and its roof was hit by the loose conductor which wrapped itself around the cage. The men inside clung on to the guards but three of them fell out and hurtled to their deaths at the bottom of the shaft. The remaining men were suspended in the pitch black darkness clinging on to the side guards, two of them badly injured, for about two hours before rescuers could reach them. Meanwhile up in the early morning air news of the accident had spread rapidly through the village and hundreds of people congregated in and around the pit to hear news. The stranded men were finally rescued at about 8a.m. the doctor having descended into the pit to treat the injured men. The dead and injured were brought to the surface via the No.1 shaft, the bodies of those killed were taken to the colliery offices so that the coroner could make his initial report.

Those killed were:-

William Edward Limb of Warren Terrace, Shirebrook

William Phillips, a Scot, who had only started work at the pit the previous day

Arthur Burton who had come from Bulwell to work at the pit only a few weeks before.

Those injured were:-

Richard Merriman of Central Drive, Shirebrook

Thomas Widdowson of Langwith Road, Shirebrook.

An inquest was opened and adjourned pending a full investigation into the accident and the deceased were identified by family members.

You may wonder why I’m telling you this story but when I tell you that William Edward Limb (of whom more here) was my great - grandfather you will understand. My grandfather Alexander Joseph Limb identified his father’s body and registered his death just two days after registering the birth of his first child. What a week of mixed emotions he must have had.

Yesterday in a cool breeze which eventually lead to warm sunshine five of William Edward’s great grandchildren, some of them meeting for the first time, gathered at Shirebrook Cemetery and laid a wreath on his grave, exchanged memories, got to know each other over a lunch table and hoped that he would have been pleased for us to have been together.


  1. Rosie
    Now I have another site to visit — your 'Family Matters'. I've just had a quick peek and will return later in the day. As for your great-grandfather and his untimely death, the tragedy remains despite the passing of the years. How you met some of your distant cousins for the first time and what their take on it all is, I suspect, a fascinating story in itself. Will you and your cousins stay in touch or will the day have been a fleeting moment of contact that will be a warming memory for the rest of your days? Whatever, it's a touching story and I don't know whether to be sad or happy after reading it. In truth, it's a bit of both and that is probably as it should be. Thanks for sharing.



  2. Hi Ros,

    You have done an excellent article to remember William Edward. Really enjoyed meeting you.

    Thanks again

    Best wishes

  3. That is an incredible gift, Rosie. To know that much about your history and to stay so connected to it.
    Thank you for sharing that....