Leeds nostalgia: The Big Story, July 1973

On July 31, 1973, 18 coal miners lost their lives and a further 11 were seriously injured in a mining accident at Markham Colliery at Staveley, near Chesterfield in Derbyshire.

The funeral of one of the miners killed in the Markham Colliery disaster.
The funeral of one of the miners killed in the Markham Colliery disaster.

The accident sent shockwaves throughout the mining industry and the country as a whole.

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It happened when a descending cage carrying the men failed to slow down as it approached the bottom of the mine shaft and 18 miners were killed by the impact. The accident was caused by fracture of the brake-rod, when a slowly growing fatigue crack reached a critical size and the brake-rod parted. Inquiries later revealed other flaws in the design and maintenance of the braking mechanism on the cage lift and in the aftermath of the disaster, other measures were implemented in a bid to prevent future accidents.