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picture of the collieryA Remembrance of

Hyde Lane's Colliery Explosion

18th January 1889

The Hyde Lane Colliery was a prosperous business in the late 1800's, the proprietors of the pit were Mr J.W. Sidebotham M.P for the Hyde Division and his brother Mr J. Nasmyth Sidebotham.

However one fateful day in 1889 changed local history and several local families lives forever.

The Blue Plaque located on the canal towpath off Manchester Road, Hyde. Is near to the site where the colliery once stood.

The Morning...

Shortly after 9.00 am on January 18th 1889, a loud explosion racketeer around the colliery extinguishing many of the miners' lights. Coal were blown into many of the miners' faces, whilst dust whirled through the passages.

The explosion took place at some distance from a shaft which was known as the "The Two Foot Level".

The shaft's depth was 270 yards (247 metres) and from the bottom there was a decline of 1,400 yards (1280 metres) with an inclination of one in two. Additional to this was another level leading almost under the village of Haughton. It was at this level where the explosion took place killing 23 men who were working there and seriously injuring 5 more. Only a few escaped without injury.

The explosion had been caused by methane gas that had been ignited by the use of naked lights.

The Night...

A rescue operation was immediately organised, which took most of the day to recover the bodies.

Dr Griffiths and Dr G.W. Sidebotham went with the rescue party and both gave graphic accounts on what they had seen.

Dr Griffiths reported "...the air was terribly close owing to 50 men being seated there to lack of ventilation and the remains of the after damp. When the door was opened we went through and came to 6 or 7 bodies and the pathos of the sight was greatly increased when it became evident how strenuously several of the men had tried to escape before death came upon them. The body of one lad was in a sad state. He had been blown down with such a force that there was a great fissure at the back of the head. Another of the dead had a cap before his face, he had most likely been trying to protect himself from the after damp. Others had closed clenched hands held before their faces".

All the bodies had been recovered by 9.00 pm and laid out in the carpenter's shop. These were later carried in coffins from the colliery gates to the homes of the victims. Many reports recorded this heart-rending experience.

The dead were:

  • William Haslam (20 years)
  • Thomas Davies (46 years)
  • Henry Slater (Snr - 48 years)
  • Henry Slater (Jnr - 15 years)
  • William Cattrall (64 years)
  • Joseph Wilde (31 years)
  • John Ridgeway (19 years)
  • James Hall (65 years)
  • George Harry Wild (19 years)
  • Thomas Shaw (35 years)
  • Joseph Gee (34 years)
  • Peter Gee (27 years)
  • Thomas Gee (27 years)
  • Frederick Howles (17 years)
  • Frank Ashton (14 years)
  • Emmanual Bailey (47 years)
  • John Bailey (45 years)
  • William Slater (37 years)
  • James Bradley (20 years)
  • Arthur Wildgoose (15 years)
  • James Broadhurst (19 years)
  • Joseph Fish (28 years)
  • Samuel Watson (24 years)

There are some minor discrepancies in the ages of the dead according to different sources.

On Tuesday 22nd 1889, twelve of the victims were buried in St George's churchyard. One week later on Sunday 27th a special service was given, complete with a procession through the town headed by the Kingston Mills Band.

The Mayor's Relief Fund

Two days after the explosion, on Saturday 19th January, the Mayor of Hyde, Alderman Peter Green J.P presided over a meeting of ratepayers in the Town Hall. It was agreed to open a relief fund for the relatives of the deceased.

Mr J.W. Sidebotham and Mr Nasmyth Sidebotham, the proprietors, gave £500. Collections were made at the Parish Church, Stockport and throughout the region, with many recreational evenings held in memory of the disaster, including a sacred concert presented by the Band of the 4th V.B.C.R at the Volunteer Drill Hall in Stockport.

In total, a sum of £6,907 8s. 2d was raised for the families - a huge amount in those days, equivalent to £280,000 in present day value.


The assistance of the following are greatly acknowledged:

  • Alice Lock (Tameside Local Studies Library), for the kind permission for use of the front photograph
  • Lynn Wild, TMBC
  • Mr and Mrs Kirby
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