In the News


These two articles are shown with many thanks to David Pollard for passing them on to the FoRHC

From the Bristol Mirror, Saturday 2nd October 1852

“Fatal Colliery at Coal Pit Heath”

An inquest which had been adjourned for the purpose of the Coroner communicating with the Government was concluded by W. Joyner Ellis, Esq., on Tuesday last[1], at the Ring of Bells, Coal Pit Heath on the body of Joseph Lawrence, who was killed by being precipitated over the spiver wheel[2] at Ramshill Colliery[3], the property of the Coal Pit Heath Company, in whose employ the deceased was, and it appears that the accident was mainly caused by the negligence of the engineer.  It appeared from the evidence of three witnesses who were examined, that on the day of the accident the deceased went to work as usual, and when he had finished gave the ordinary signal to be hauled up.  The engine was set in motion and the ascent had been partly accomplished when the engineer’s attention was attracted by a man in the road, who had with him a pig, which had been purchased for the engineer.  He at once gave his son the handle of the engine to conclude the task of hauling up the deceased, whilst he himself when to look at the pig.  The lad it was said had been accustomed occasionally to haul up the cart, but unfortunately this time he mistook the reversing handle and the result was the deceased man with the bucket was carried over the spiver wheel and precipitated a distance of 50 or 60 yards.  He expired soon afterwards.  The jury, after a brief deliberation, returned a verdict of manslaughter against the engineer, who has accordingly been committed on the coroners warrant to Gloucester jail to await his trial at the next Assizes.

[1] Tuesday last would be Tuesday 28th September 1852

[2] Spiver wheel – presumably the winding wheel at the top of the shaft

[3] Ramshill Colliery – Ram Hill Colliery – Coalpit Heath


From the Bath Chronicle, Thursday 15th November 1855


Wm Gaisford Esq. Coroner held an inquest last Wednesday week at the Ring of Bells, Coal-pit Heath, on the bodies of Job Dando and George Rolph, two colliers employed in No 2 Ram Hill coal mine, coal-pit Heath.  Herbert Mackworth Esq., Government Inspector of Mines attended having previously examined the pit, and proceeded, with the Coroner and Jury, to view the bodies of the deceased and inspect the coal works and rope.  From the evidence of the several witnesses, it appeared that about 12 o’clock on Saturday the 3rd inst., the deceased, Job Dando and George Rolph were being hauled up the shaft of the pit, which was about 90 fathoms deep, in an iron cart or ‘hodge’, by means of a rope worked by a steam engine, and that when they had got rather more than half way up the pit shaft, the rope by some means, which could not be ascertained or accounted for, got off the drum on which it was being wound and fell or flapped with great violence against the iron axle of the drum and broke, and the end to which the cart or hodge was attached flew violently back, and with its force completely drove in and carried away part of the roof of the building over the shaft, and the banksman, who was standing opposite the centre of the shaft to give the necessary signaIs as the men were being drawn up, had a narrow and most providential escape of his life.

The cart in which were the two deceased was precipitated with great violence and rapidity to the bottom of the shaft, a depth of fifty fathoms and in its descent struck violently against an empty cart (which was descending as they were being brought up).  Both the unfortunate men were found at the bottom of the shaft.  Job Dando was quite dead, but George Rolph, though severely bruised, was brought up out of the pit alive and taken to his home, but died within twenty minutes after he had arrived there; both were severely cut and bruised about the head, but none of their bones were broken – Mr Mackworth deposed that he had carefully examined the rope and found it to be in tolerable condition, and of the proper standard; there was an: iron clasp or joint in it just about the part where it had got off the drum, and he thought it possible that this joint by occasioning a greater sway in passing on to the drum, might have caused the rope to get over the arms or guards of the drum, and he could not in any other way account for the accident, he further stated that a rope with a joint in it ought never to be used for drawing men up out of a pit.  The Coroner addressed the Jury, and had aIl the witnesses belonging to the works brought into the room, and explained, at some length to them and the manager, who was present, the responsibility which attached to aIl and everyone of them in carefully and properly attending to the machinery, ropes and tackle belonging to the mine in which they were employed, as well as to the state of the mines themselves, and he hoped attention would be paid to the observation of the Government Inspector as· to the propriety of using a rope which had been joined, as this was, in drawing the men up the shaft.  At the same time it appeared in the present case that no blame could be attached to any person, and that the deceased lost their lives from the accidental breaking of the rope in the manner proved; and the Jury at once unanimously returned a verdict accordingly.