THE explosion made the ground shake for miles around, and flames erupted from 300 yards below. All around Barnsley – it was just before Christmas – “black snow” and burning wood fell out of the sky.
The apocalyptic scenes of December 1866 claimed 361 lives in England’s worst coal-mining disaster. The Oaks Colliery Disaster, which wrought so much devastation, was remembered yesterday as over a thousand people joined a huge procession, which bought the town to a standstill, for the unveiling of a new memorial.
In a poignant connection with the past, a steam buzzer, used to alert people of a disaster, was sounded before 20 descendants – including a Texan Sir William Jeffock, who bought his family across from the US – stepped forward to unveil the sculpture. Its centrepiece is “Kitty” whose eyes are fixed directly on the colliery, as her child clings terrified to her shawl. Continue Reading →