At the Brookhouse colliery, Bucknall, North Staffs, on Monday morning the 7th November 1859 a number of men were in the pit when water broke in, near where 8 men were employed.
All the men but 3 got to a place of safety and were raised to the surface.
The 3 less fortunate companions, Samual and Peter Bate, and a boy 14 years of age, named Ash remained. Despite every effort that could be made to recover them, it was not before the following Thursday that the water had subsided sufficiently to allow a rescue party getting to a level in the workings in which these men were known to have been engaged.
The excitement was very keen among the crowd who stood on the bank waiting for news when it was reported that a voice replied to the descending rescuers.
After being prisoners in the mine for ninety hours, both men and boy were brought to the surface and as once more they came into daylight received such a cheer of welcome from the crowd they were never likely to forget.
It appeared that they fled before the rushing water up an incline. They had a candle but the damp put this out, and during the first 24 hours they suffered very considerably from want of food and light.
The 2 men placed the boy between them and the only knowledge they had of time was by passing their fingers gently over the hands of a watch, which one of them carried.
As soon as the water began to retire, they had greater freedom of breathing, though at one time they had made up their minds to face death, and write a few parting words to their friends on their food cans.
It is stated that one of the men never slept throughout the period but that the boy had slept a good deal.
Back to Stories Back to Names Back to Index