The Exhall Colliery Disaster - Inquest

At the pit.
Image supplied by Vince Taylor.

(An account of the disaster can be found in this article)

The circumstances of the disaster were investigated by the Coroner and jury at Coventry County Hall.

The first witness was Dr. H.G. Webster from Longford. His view was that the fatalities were caused by a combination of asphyxia and carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is known as “white damp.”

A paraffin torch

Charles Thomas Garner, employed as an oiler at the pit bank, explained what happened when he was working on the haulage wheels sited just below the pit bank level. He had carried a paraffin torch in his left hand with the oiler in his right hand. As he set the lamp down it fell over, although the beam on which he placed it had been perfectly firm. The lamp fell into the wheel race five feet below. He tried to get the lamp back but could not reach it. Then he went out on the surface and got down in the cage. By that time the shaft was on fire. He first threw water on the flames and then got the chemical extinguishers. The fire was extinguished but vast amounts of dense smoke continued to go down the shaft.  The cage rope burnt through and fell to the bottom, preventing further the use of the shaft.  He said that he had been given no instructions as to the type of light he was to use for this particular task

Five hours of inquiries

The jury retired after five hours of inquiries. After considering all the evidence the jury came to the decision that the 14 men met their deaths by inhaling carbon monoxide, caused through the overturning of a lamp, which they considered a pure accident.

The memorial in St. Giles’ Meadow, Exhall, to the miners who perished, will be unveiled by the High Sherriff of Warwickshire, Janet Bell-Smith, on 20th September 2015.

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