Wooden crosses mark 150th anniversary of Yorkshire pit disaster

12 Dec 2016.....A beacon is lit and 384 crosses are planted to mark the 150th anniversary of the Oakes Pit Disaster in Barnsley. A member of the public amongst the crosses. Picture Scott Merrylees
12 Dec 2016.....A beacon is lit and 384 crosses are planted to mark the 150th anniversary of the Oakes Pit Disaster in Barnsley. A member of the public amongst the crosses. Picture Scott Merrylees
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WOODEN crosses were planted today to mark the 150th anniversary of what is believed to be England’s worst mining disaster.

And a beacon was lit from the spoil tip to remember the victims of the 1866 Oaks Colliery Disaster at Hoyle Mill, Barnsley.

12 Dec 2016.....A beacon is lit and 384 crosses are planted to mark the 150th anniversary of the Oakes Pit Disaster in Barnsley. Picture Scott Merrylees

12 Dec 2016.....A beacon is lit and 384 crosses are planted to mark the 150th anniversary of the Oakes Pit Disaster in Barnsley. Picture Scott Merrylees

More than 350 people - including many children, some as young as 11 - died in two explosions at the Oaks Colliery in Barnsley in December 1866.

The death toll is the worst of any pit disaster in England, although it is second to the 1913 Senghenydd Colliery disaster in South Wales in the grim table of the most deadly UK mining tragedies.

The official number of dead in the Oaks Disaster of December 12 1866 has traditionally been estimated at 361. But a volunteer project earlier this year added 22 new names to the roll of those who perished.

The volunteers working at the Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership’s (DVLP) suggested 294 men and 89 boys died in the devastating blasts, totalling 383.

Dozens of rescuers went into the stricken mine, but only six people who were in the pit at the time survived. At 9am the next day, the pit exploded again with 28 rescuers still underground. Only one of these men survived.