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British Industrial History

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Malago Vale Coal Pit

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in Bedminster, Bristol

1852 'Serious Accident at the Malago-Vale Colliery, Bedminster.

'We published in a third edition last week particulars of a serious accident which occurred on Saturday morning, at about half past 5 o'clock, at the Malago-Vale colliery, worked by Messrs. Reynolds and Co., at Bedminster.

'There were at the time 33 men and boys at work in the veins, and everything was going on as usual, when all of a sudden there was heard a terrible smash of the engine. The great fly-wheel of the colliery, which is 14 feet in diameter, of massive iron, and weighs full six tons, works in connexion with a small cog-wheel, on the fly-wheel shaft, which is technically known as the "nut." While the engine was employed in raising a cart of coal, weighing about 30 cwt., this small wheel broke in the boss, and the fly-wheel being thus released from all restraint, the engine dashed off with tremendous impulse, tearing away the massive pieces of iron work and masonry connected with it, and snapping beams of several feet circumference as if they were bits of stick.

'The large new rope which works on the drum shaft broke like a riband - the cart and coal, with the rope attached, were dashed down the shaft - and the ground for many yards around the mouth of the pit was strewed with the debris of the ruin.

'Of course the first anxiety was for the hands below, who it was feared might have been injured by the falling materials, or blocked in by damage to the shaft itself. After some considerable time those above had the satisfaction of learning from the filler who was at the bottom of the shaft, and to communicate with whom a man was sent down by means of a horse whim, that all hands had fortunately escaped injury, although they were of course terribly alarmed, the more especially as they could not tell to what cause to ascribe the sounds they heard. Any attempt to lower the bucket being entirely out of the question, the horse engine was rigged with a whim, and the raising of the hands proceeded with and happily accomplished without accident; as they all had to be raised singly, it was a work of considerable time.

'The accident was one of those which are inseparable from mining operations. The rope was a new one of superior quality, which had just been received from a manufacturer at Sunderland; and only a month since the whole of the engine gear was overhauled by men specially employed for the purpose by Mr. Bush, engineer of this city.

'The pecuniary loss to the company cannot fail to be considerable, and as some 60 hands (many of them with families) will be thrown out of employ for at least a fortnight, the accident is of very serious consequences to the neighbourhood.' - Bristol Mercury [1]


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Sources of Information

  1. Sherborne Mercury, Tuesday 11th May 1852