One Place Tragedies #2

A week or so ago I posted on the wildlife blog about the damage to the Irwell and its wildlife caused by pollution from the industry along its banks. Some, but by no means all of this was from the collieries part owned by John Ashworth of Springhill.

Bad though this is, unfortunately the damage caused by the collieries is not limited to river pollution.

Wilful damage:
The Blackburn Mail, November 15th 1826 reported what it described as 'a most gross act of mischief' when it was discovered that the rope holding the basket had been almost cut through. Fortunately this was discovered just before the men descended into the pit. Thankfully not quite a #OnePlaceTragedy. Baxenden Pit.

The Accrington Times February 22 1873 reported a fire in the engine house of Black Moss Pit, thought to be caused deliberately by an incendiary device.

Roof falls:
Rossendale Free Press October 14th 1893 described the death of John Towers, aged 26, who was crushed following a roof fall. Some of the roof props had been removed shortly before the roof fall, this was described at the inquest as 'usual'. Baxendedn Pit.

Equipment injuries:
Bacup and Rossendale Times December 5th 1874 reported the death of Richard Hindle, 17, who died after getting his leg caught in the spokes of a flywheel. Black Moor Pit.

Knocked down by wagons:
Accrington Gazette April 19th 1890 described a compound fracture to the leg of Thomas Chadwick when he was hit by wagon whilst walking along a tram line carrying a plank. Huncoat Colliery

Falling down shafts:
Accrington Times March 15th 1884 described the death of John Woods Lambert, 14, who was sitting on the wall surrounding an air shaft when the coping stones gave way, leading to his falling down the shaft. Unfortunately it appears that his body was not found for a week. Black Moss Pit.

Explosions:
Accrington Times April 31st 1870 reported the death of James Hindle, 36, who died after carrying a naked candle into a poorly ventilated area of the pit whilst looking for a spade. Railway Pit. This incident led to the manager being blamed for not appointing a fireman (a charge he refuted) and the pit underlooker being charged with neglect and fined £1. Railway Pit.

Assaults:
Accrington Times September 18th 1869 reported that the prosecution of George Tattersall, collier for assault on Christopher Kenyon, collier, was adjourned due to significant injuries to the latter man. Hole i' th' Bank Pit.

Strikes:
Accrington Times September 18th 1869 also described that colliers had taken strike action following a number of disputes with management. The management had brought in 'strangers' to work the pits. This led to various acts of intimidation by the colliers against the new men, and an assault on a random insurance agent whom the protagonist mistook for the colliery manager. Hole i' th' BankPit

Some of these reports give extra details of the events, often in a degree of technical detail.

These were all in pits managed by Ashworth Hargreaves and Co, latterly Rossendale Collieries and Baxenden Collieries. I am not aware that their safety record was particularly unusual.

One Place Tragedies #1 Eliza Tattersall

February's blog prompt for the Society of One Place Studies is #OnePlaceTragedies. I have posted this before but it bears retelling.

Transcribing the gravestones in Sion I came across a sad story:


gravestone 2 tattersall 3 200

IN
MEMORY
OF
ANN
THE BELOVED WIFE OF
JAMES TATTERSALL
OF BOOTHFOLD
WHO DIED MARCH 27
TH 1873
AGED 26 YEARS
AND OF ELIZA ANN THEIR DAUGHTER
WHO DIED MARCH 26
TH 1873
AGED 1 DAY.

As an obstetric anaesthetist this aroused my curiosity. A baby dies virtually at birth and her mother the day after. What could have gone on? Common causes of maternal mortality in C19 were puerperal sepsis and post partum haemorrhage but usually in those cases the baby survives. Eclampsia, involving high blood pressure, fits and kidney problems often caused the death of both mothers and babies so this was a possibility. Obstructed labour was a relatively uncommon cause of both maternal and infant mortality.

Speculation over, I ordered the birth certificates.
Eliza Ann Tattersall d 26th March 1873 aged 12 hours Atelectesis Pulmonium since birth.
Ann Tattersall d 27th March 1873 aged 26 years Morbus cordis, unknown, Partuition, Failure of heart's action. 36 hours.

So Eliza's death was relatively straightforward. She was born in poor condition, needed resuscitation at birth (which she probably didn't receive) and never established a regular pattern of breathing. 'Atelectesis plutonium' means 'collapsed, non-inflated lungs'.

So far so clear but why was Eliza born in poor condition? Unfortunately her mother's death certificate doesn't really help us here. 'Morbus Cordis' of unknown cause…well that could be secondary to severe infection. Alternatively primary heart failure secondary to pregnancy does occur, it is relatively uncommon but the prognosis in 1873 would have been very poor. So I will go with sepsis, but that is pretty much an educated guess.

Whatever happened that left a father who suddenly lost both his wife and child. Thomas Tattersall, licensed victualler, b ~ 1846 was the landlord of the Pack Horse Hotel, Boothfold. The couple had another daughter, Alice, b ~ 1870.

Which leads to another question. Sion was known for many years for its association with the teetotal movement and the Band of Hope - interesting therefore that a publican's family were buried there and that he is not with them…