The Burradon Mining Disaster 1860
In 1860 an explosion took place at Burradon Colliery killing seventy-six men and boys. The disaster became of national interest and significance.
At this time laws were inadequate at ensuring the safe operation of collieries and the families of disaster victims would have to rely on charity rather than compensation.
The inquest and newspaper coverage of the disaster (mostly the involvement of the Newcastle Chronicle) took issue with who should be responsible for both compensation and mine safety in what was to become a hotly contested debate. A group of the more senior Burradon miners had been at the forefront of a campaign to set up an insurance scheme for miners hurt or killed down the pit. The mineowners procrastinated on this proposal. The mineworkers had enlisted the help, and won great respect, from the the editor and owner of a local newspaper, who supported their case with everything at their disposal. The anger felt towards the mineowners and the vigour with which the subsequent trial was fought was all the greater because the disaster had been predicted.
Click on the link below to read a detailed account of the disaster and its aftermath. This is the full text of a book published in 1996. It’s quite lengthy! Or read the summary versions, which are printable.
The Mining Disaster (full text)