84 years on from Markham Colliery disaster that claimed 79 lives

Today marks the 84th anniversary of one of the worst pit disasters in north Derbyshire.

Tuesday, 10th May 2022, 9:58 pm

On May 10, 1938, 79 miners were killed and 38 of their colleagues seriously injured when a gas explosion caused fire to sweep through a seam at Markham Colliery.

The blast happened when several runaway tubs carrying coal smashed into an electric joint box causing sparks that ignited the coal dust.

Two-thirds of the night shift died or were injured, just as their stint was coming to an end and when men on the day shift were arriving to start work at 6am.

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Rescuers and relatives on the colliery surface after the blast (photo: Sandra Struggles)

All the casualties were buried four days later in 13 cemeteries.

Posting on Facebook, John Allen wrote: “Fredrick Greaves VC helped deal with the casualties, he spent hours on end underground, winning one of the highest medals the St John's Ambulance Brigade could bestow on him.”

Buzz Keith Hutchinson wrote: “My grandad Percy Bennett worked there on the same coal seam, luckily he was on a different shift. He lost a lot of mates in the disaster.”

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