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Lancashire Mining Disasters chronicles the effects, death and grief of the local mining communities in Lancashire, through colliery accidents and explosions from the early 1830’s through to 1910. It also recalls the great bravery of other miners, often from other pits in the rescue attempts, who with no thought of their own safety went below ground to try and their fellow comrades. In doing so, they knew full well that they were risking their own lives, probably facing death. Such was the comradeship in coal mining communities. In no other industry would men grapple at rock and roof falls with bare hands, wade through flooded smoking underground galleries, or face further explosions and deadly suffocating gases in order to try and save their fellow colleagues. And while all this was ongoing, the pit banks filled with the old men, the grieving womenfolk and children, waiting for news of a loved one, a brother, a son, a husband from deep below in a silent hell. As each cage was raised to the pit bank, the crowd lunged forward hoping, perhaps beyond hope, that their loved one was safe. Little wonder there were no carols sung at Christmastide 1910, at Westhoughton and Atherton in South Lancashire for here, a few days before Christmas an explosion followed by a searing hot fiery blast tore through the workings of the Hulton Colliery Company’s Pretoria Pit and in doing so in just a few seconds took away the lives of over three hundred man and boys. This still holds the unwelcome record of the greatest single colliery explosion in English coal-mining history. It was coal the fulled the steam engines at mills, factories and foundries which was to make Britain the greatest industrial nation in the world – but what a terrible price the miners paid in putting the ‘Great’ in Britain. This was the ‘True Price of Coal’ Ref: 388
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