South Shields Daily Photo

A collection of images from South Shields and the North of England

St. Hilda’s Colliery

with 5 comments

St. Hilda's Colliery, South Shields

The 1839 explosion

The picture shows all that presently remains of the St. Hilda’s Colliery in South Shields where an explosion of methane gas caused the deaths of 51 men and boys in 1839. In total 118 were killed at this colliery during it’s working life, you can read further details – here

They were amongst the high prices paid during the industrial revolution of the British Isles.

A dreadful explosion took place at the St. Hilda pit, the property of Messrs. John and Robt. Wm. Brandling, at South Shields. The first intimation of this sad event was given between eight and nine o’clock on the morning, by a rush of smoke mixed with small coals from the down-cast shaft, which was observed by the banksmen. Soon after this, men and boys, to the number of 100, were brought to the mouth of the pit; but all they were capable of explaining was, that there was an explosion in the west working of the mine. Several of these were nearly exhausted from the effects of “choke damp,” but in a short time many of them rallied, and, attended by some other men who had not been in the pit at the time of the explosion, courageously went down again to make what exertions they could to rescue their unfortunate fellow-workmen and relatives, who were in the immediate scene of danger and death. Melancholy to relate, not a solitary being was found alive !

Taken from Local Historian’s Table Book of Remarkable Occurrences Connected with the Counties of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, Northumberland and Durham by M.A. Richardson. Published in five volumes in 1844. Extract available on this web page.

Two layers in Photoshop, black and white over the original colour, I used the eraser tool to reveal the poppies.

Camera details: Pentax K100D, 30mm lens, 1/125 second, f4, iso 200


add to :: Add to Blinkslist :: add to furl :: Digg it :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! :: add to simpy :: seed the vine :: :: :: TailRank :: post to facebook


Written by curly

September 29, 2008 at 12:01 am

5 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. I just love industrial history. The poppies treatment seems reminiscent of WW1 imagery of course.


    September 29, 2008 at 12:08 am

  2. This is very thought provoking and so I thought I would share this poem with you. It was written by my Great Uncle, David Blythe Tweddle in 1952 in an old exercise book which came down the family to me. I find it incredibly touching. Knowing as I do that he was a very intelligent man who had no choice by to go into the pits at 14 (which would have been 1915) as, as a miners son he would have had no other option.


    In a little churchyard,
    Far above the plessey seam,
    We laid the miner – victim
    To his eternal dream.
    Fate called the tune, he did not know
    He did not feel the crash
    The instant that the roof caved-in
    My marra breathed his last.

    This tale I tell, I know is true
    As I beside him stood,
    The crushing mass that laid him low
    Was in an angry mood.
    A spring brought me just inches clear
    Of this falling avalanche
    As by unseen hands, I was safely steered
    Beneath the timbered canch.

    Was I afraid? Was I afraid to die?
    The fatalist in me said no,
    But when fate decides, to cast the die
    Then I’m prepared to go.
    The consumer grumbles at the cost
    Of plessey nuts and doubles,
    Yet thinks him nothing of lives that lost,
    Of broken bones and troubles.

    Had fate decreed that he should be
    A hewer instead of user,
    I’ll bet my lamp, that he would be
    A lump the less, Miner’s abuser.

    The Fatalist by
    D.B. Tweddle
    2 Fairbairns Yard
    Northumberland 14/9/52


    September 29, 2008 at 6:38 pm

  3. Whoops excuse my typing in my paragraph! That should read ‘but to go into the pits’ not ‘by’!


    September 29, 2008 at 6:43 pm

  4. Interesting and sad narrative. Baurtifully executed image.


    September 30, 2008 at 12:34 am

  5. a fascinating building and history and striking shot, thanks

    S Wilson

    October 1, 2008 at 10:44 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: