Express & Star

Service to honour pit disaster 150 years on

A memorial service to commemorate the 150th anniversary of a colliery disaster which killed 22 miners will be held on Monday.

COPYRIGHT TIM STURGESS EXPRESS AND STAR 18/03/03 A scene depicting the Pelsall Hall colliery disaster of 1872 on the sister Dora statue , Walsall town centre.

The miners, aged from 13 to 89, perished when Pelsall Hall Colliery near Walsall was hit by flooding on November 14, 1872.

A service will be held at 11am to remember the miners at St Michael's and All Angels' Church in the village.

A wreath and 22 mixed-colour carnations – representing each of the miners killed ­– will be laid at the miners' memorial in the churchyard.

The service, attended by both adults and schoolchildren, is held each year.

Sim Mayou, of Pelsall Civic Heritage Trust, said he was hoping this year's commemoration would be extra well attended.

He said the Mayor of Walsall, Councillor Rose Martin, would be attending Monday's event.

"I think it's going to be very special, a bit bigger than on previous occasions," he said.

Mr Mayou, whose father Bertie was a miner, said pupils from St Michael and All Angels CE Primary School, Pelsall Village School and Ryders Hayes Primary School normally attended the service.

"Knowing the situations they worked under I always feel close to miners," said Mr Mayou, who served in the Royal Navy.

“One of the tunnels was full of water and 22 men died, one as young as 13.

“I felt that we should show our appreciation and show we remember these people."

The flooding began when miner Michael Cash swung his pick into the coal face at about 9am.

The trickle of water quickly developed into a full flood as water from a previous unknown working flowed out.

Approximately 35 men and boys were working below, and were heard crying out 'we sahll all be drowned' on the bank above.

Manager Charles Sankey went down in the cage and managed to rescue 10 of the men, but 22 of them were trapped below as the water continued to rise.

The next days saw frantic efforts to pump the water out of the pit, but the efforts proved futile.

The disaster is depicted on an engraving on the side of Walsall's famous statue to nursing pioneer Sister Dora.