A Report from the Evening Post March 1st 1927

The worst pit disaster in the Notts coalfield since 1913 occurred at Bilsthorpe Colliery in the early hours of today during shaft sinking operations involving the deaths of 14 men and injuring three of them. Piping, through which flood water is pumped out of the pit, burst or broke and crashed onto nine men suspended on staging well down No 1 Shaft (which is 276 yards deep) and on to eight others being lowered in a hoppit (a bucket-shaped carrier).

PHOTO When Disaster Hit Bilsthorpe Colliery-001 PHOTO

Rising Water

Agonising moans of the entombed men helped to direct the efforts of the rescue party, who apart from the danger from damaged piping and woodwork had to combat rising water, creeping up at the rate of four feet an hour.

The accident occurred in the wild and eerie hours about three o’clock in the morning and the howling winds heralding the coming of March, were blowing with almost gale force as the men happily unaware of pending doom, were being lowered into the shaft workings following their usual meal at three o’clock.
The first batch of eight men had been safely lowers into what is known as the sump, the staging on which the men work at the bottom of the shaft and the second batch were descending when the crash came.

It would appear that the primary cause of the accident was the bursting or breaking of one of the water pipes used in the pumping operations. At any rate there was a tremendous crash and huge portions of iron piping came hurtling into the shaft. There are at least two pipes in the shaft, one for drawing the water from the bottom and the other for conveying the electric cable. When the pipes collapsed probably 100 tons of shattered iron fell on the hoppit and on the staging below, smashing the platform and hurling the men to destruction. The King and Queen were among those who expressed their sympathy to the relatives of the men who lost their lives in the accident.

PHOTO When Disaster Hit Bilsthorpe Colliery-001 PHOTO

One of the men killed in the disaster was Patrick Kelly aged 22. As you can see from the record card above he started working at Bilsthorpe Colliery on 5th January 1927 and tragically died on 1st March.

The family of Patrick Kelly are in the process of arranging a memorial in Bilsthorpe for those that died in the disaster.
If anyone knows of any relatives of the men who were killed and would like further information about the memorial please contact the NUM Area Office on 01623 621 611.