The Barnsley Bed seam of coal was a valuable commodity but also a very volatile seam. In 1845 an explosion killed 3 men at the pit followed on 5th March 1847 by a massive explosion of firedamp (methane) which killed 73 miners. Some of the victims were 10 years old! After the explosion the pit almost closed down. Alterations and repairs enabled coal production to resume in 1851. The pit was now known as The Oaks Colliery.
On 12th December at about 1.20 pm, 1866, the Oaks Colliery exploded. It exploded again the next day. This time the fatalities would eventually number 361 and the pits name would be burnt into the history books as the colliery where the greatest loss of life occurred in a English Coal Mine.
History of Coal Mining at the Oaks
History of Oaks Colliery and Barnsley Main Colliery - by kind permission of Eddie Downes author Yorkshire Collieries 1947 - 1994.
Underground Plan of Oaks Colliery 1866
Underground Plan signed by J Kenyon Blackwell Mines Inspector.
Location of Oaks Colliery
Location of shafts from grid references as seen from Google Earth Map Data. The 2 shafts are at the bottom of the line and the cupola shaft is at the top.
Ingleton Miners and The Oaks Colliery
The explosion killed 12 miners from Ingleton, North Yorkshire read here to find out more.