The Times, Tuesday, Oct 21, 1823; pg. 2; Issue 12008; col E


DREADFUL OCCURRENCE. - (Further particulars - from the Carlisle Journal.) - On
Monday last, the town of Whitehaven was thrown into the utmost agitation, by an
awful explosion of fire-damp from the William Pit (a name of disastrous import),
a coal-mine belonging to the Earl of LONSDALE, when it was known that a
considerable number of colliers were at the moment employed in the workings. It
was impossible to ascertain the extent of the calamity immediately, but the
fatal certainty soon became apparent. No less than fourteen men, sixteen boys,
and two girls, have come to a premature death by this catastrophe. That the pit
was over-charged with fire-damp in some part of the workings, is now too
evident; but it is doing no more than justice to those who have the more
immediate superintendence of these very extensive concerns to say, that no
precaution was omitted by them to guard the colliers against any sudden
accident. The workmen, it appears, were employed in removing some pillars, in a
part of the pit where the ventilation was extremely good, and where there was
not, consequently, any reason to apprehend danger from the existence of fire
damp; and indeed the air was in general supposed to be good, except in some
recesses into which the colliers had no occasion to enter. They were, besides,
every one furnished with a safety lamp, and were under strict orders from the
superintendents to keep their lamps properly secured. When the misfortune
happened, they had all nearly finished their work for the day, and by what or
whose neglect or mismanagement it was occasioned scarcely a conjecture can now
be formed. It is generally supposed that one of the workmen had been using some
improper liberties with his lamp, and had removed the cylinder when in a place
where the fire-damp was present. There were also 17 horses killed, but some of
their drivers escaped. In recording the above melancholy event, it may not be
irrelative to mention a remarkable coincidence of names and circumstances which
occurred some years since in the county of Durham. On the 25th of May, 1812, a
tremendous explosion took place in the William Pit, a coalmine at Felling
Colliery, by which 92 out of 124 lost their lives, and 32 were saved; being the
exact number of those who have perished in the William Pit at Whitehaven.