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Walton Colliery Disaster

On 22nd April 1959, at 1p.m., an explosion of firedamp occurred, initiated by an electric arc from the damaged trailing cable of a coal-cutting machine.
The explosion was propagated to some extent by coal dust.

Commemorative Plaque
at the
Walton Village
Millennium Gate, School Lane.

Click to enlarge.
Names on the plaque:
Jack Rothery,
Wilf Wardle,
Bill Hudson (SAB),
Charlie Wray
Lawrie Coe#.

Another miner, Jack Williams, was injured.

(* "Ray" in the following reports,
see the note below N.U.M. report.)



Report by
The National Union of Mineworkers

National Union of Mineworkers

The report lists the men as follows:
J. Rothery (Belt Maintenance Man),
W. Wardle (Captain of Walton Rescue Team),
H. Hudson# (Collier),
E.C. Ray# (Belt Maintenance Man)
C. Coe# (Overman).


Read the conclusions
reached by the N. U. M. report.
This is an extract from
"Explosion at Walton Colliery on 22nd April 1959",
a report by J.R.A. Machen,
President, Yorkshire Area, National Union of Mineworkers.
Published 16th November 1959, Miners' Offices, Barnsley.
N.U.M. website.

# There are differences between
the two reports regarding some names and/or initials,
* Both reports refer to "Ray" not "Wray".

Official Report by
H.M. Chief Inspector
of Mines & Quarries

Walton Mining Disaster, Official Report by H.M. Chief Inspector of Mines & Quarries.

At about 12.30 p.m. five men were actually in 5's Unit, namely,
L. E. Coe# (the overman),
W. Hudson#,
W. Wardle,
J. Rothery
C. E. Ray# ;
J. Williams was just outside it.

There were no eye witnesses to say what happened during the next half hour.
Of the six men, the first five were killed in the explosion.

The sixth man, Williams, escaped with minor injuries, but he remembered little.

Read an extract
from the official report
by H.M. Chief Inspector of Mines & Quarries.
Minister of Power, Cmnd. 843, H.M.S.O.
September 1959.
# There are differences between
the two reports regarding some names and/or initials,
* Both reports refer to "Ray" not "Wray".

Walton Mining Disaster, Official Report by H.M. Chief Inspector of Mines & Quarries.
Walton Colliery.
Plan showing the development of the explosion.

Walton Mining Disaster, Official Report by H.M. Chief Inspector of Mines & Quarries.
Miners taking a tea break during the rescue efforts following the explosion.
Wakefield Express.

A statement by the Paymaster General in response to a question posed by Arthur Creech Jones, Member for Wakefield.

Hansard, House of Commons, Debate 23 April 1959, vol 604 c613.
Mr. Creech Jones

(by Private Notice) asked the Paymaster-General whether he will make a statement on the explosion and tragic loss of life in Walton Colliery, near Wakefield, yesterday.

§ The Paymaster-General (Mr. Reginald Maudling) (More about Mr. Maudling)

The overman in charge of a district and four men working with him were killed in an explosion at Walton Colliery, near Wakefield, yesterday. There were no survivors from the district. Eight men who were affected by breathing carbon monoxide during rescue attempts were taken to hospital. Six of them have now been sent home, and the other two are expected to leave hospital today.

The explosion caused considerable damage, and roof falls have obstructed access and prevented the restoration of ventilation. It has not been possible for anyone except rescue teams, wearing breathing apparatus, to enter the district. There are indications that something is still burning and because of the danger of another explosion it has been decided by the inspectors, management and workmen that the district should be sealed off The necessary stoppings are being constructed and should be finished later today.

Her Majesty's inspectors are investigating the occurrence, but it is not possible yet to determine the cause of the explosion.

The House will wish to join with me in expressing deep sympathy with the relatives of the men who lost their lives.

Mr. Creech Jones
May I thank the Minister for his statement and his promise of an inquiry and thank him, on behalf of myself and my right hon., and hon. Friends, for his expression of sympathy to the relatives of the men who have died, with which we should like to associate ourselves May I also express our admiration of the magnificent work done by the rescue teams during this trying business

Source page: Historic Hansard .
Contains Parliamentary information licensed under the Open Parliament Licence v3.0. .
Arthur Creech Jones (15 May 1891 – 23 October 1964) was a trade union official and politician. He was the Member of Parliament for Wakefield 1954 - 1964.

Mining Ephemera perhaps ....
These two signs below, serve as a reminder that the risk of an emergency is ever present in the mining industry.
These posters are actually from St John's Colliery, Normanton (West Yorkshire), but are typical of the type of organisation required to deal with an emergency.
[Source: Nick Lyons]

Click on these images to enlarge.
Click to enlarge
Emergency Organisation -
Click to enlarge
Emergency Organisation -
Operations Log Keeper

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Walton near Wakefield, West Yorkshire.