Remembering the South Normanton Colliery disaster
Roger West pays tribute to those lost at the mine in 1937 – and the brave men who risked their lives for others.
We are handing over this week’s Remembrance Blog to Roger West who has kindly sent us this article previously published in the Derbyshire Life, March / April 2021. All the words are taken directly from Roger’s article. The photographs are copyright Pinxton and South Normanton Historical Society.
“South Normanton Colliery had been relatively free from major incident. Indeed, it was one of the hallmarks of the company that this coal mine had been so free of tragedy and accident since the shaft was sunk in 1893/94. That solid reputation of being a ‘safe pit’ darkened by the hour on the afternoon shift of Monday February 15, 1937.
It was almost 9pm on that dreadful evening when Clarence Dye, a contractor, noticed weighting in the roof with a tremble underfoot in the Elevens District of the 180-yard-deep Waterloo seam. Without hesitation, Mr Dye immediately ordered all men from the coalface into the safety of the loader gate, a supply route from the coalface to the pit shaft.
Under Dye’s instructions the mineworkers were hurrying to safety when, almost 25 yards up the loader gate, a powerful gust of warm wind sent the men flying in the thickest, blackest clouds of suffocating coal dust. Dye reacted instinctively, shouting for the power to be cut off before sending men for stretchers.
He then telephoned the pit bottom for ponies and tubs, ordering the men to move further from danger. Jonathon Waltho and Clarence Dye, both unprotected, lacking in respiratory helmets and with minimum light, advanced bravely towards the coalface left bank where the explosion seemed to have generated from, knowing men would be in there.”
For the remainder of Roger’s article please follow this link: Roger West’s Derbyshire Life article on the South Normanton Colliery Disaster