TERRIBLE BOILER EXPLOSION.
FIVE PERSONS KILLED AND TWENTY INJURED.
A terrible boiler explosion took place at the Atlas Ironworks, Bolton, belonging to Mr. Alderman THOMAS WALMSLEY, resulting in the deaths of five persons and serious injuries to about twenty others.
The works are comparatively new, having only been in operationn about five years. They are very extensive, and employ about 800 men and boys, who are divided into day and night shifts.
The explosion occurred in what is known as the forge-shed, a building some thirty yards long by ten yards wide, open at the sides, and erected upon massive iron columns. Underneath this shed were eight vertical boilers, all connected with each other by steam pipes and brick flues or culverts. They were patent egg-ended, pea-slued boilers, each about 20 feet in length by some 7 feet in diameter, and though they were usually worked at 45 lbs., they were capable of sustaining a much higher pressure, having, indeed, been tested up to 90 lbs.
To each boiler there were a couple of heating furnaces for the manufacture of rails and bar iron. In addition to the vertical, there was also a couple of horizontal boilers for supplementary steam whenever required. The other machinery underneath the shed consisted of a couple of steam hammers, a pair of shears, mortar mill, &c. The boiler which exploded was a vertical one, made by MESSRS. POLLITT, of Bolton, and was entirely new, being started for the first time on the day of the explosion.
Nothing is known as to the cause of the catastrophe. It occurred soon after dinner, namely, at half past two; but as the workmen all take their meals upon the premises, there is a constant supervision exercised. The boiler, which was erected some two or three feet from the ground and was encased in brickwork nine inches in thickness, burst with a report which was heard over the entire town, and caused the utmost consternation.
One half the roof of the shed was lifted bodily into the air, when it fell with a tremendous crash, carrying with it the pipes connecting the whole of the boilers with the machinery, as well as several of the supporting columns, iron girders, beams, &c.
One pair of furnaces, the shears, and mortar mill were completely demolished, while a good deal of injury was done to other parts of the machinery. A gap of some eight or ten yards wide was made in the boundary wall abutting on Fletcher-street, and bricks and slates were hurled in clouds over and beyond the works. The top end of the boiler, weighing about thirty hundredweight, was carried over the shed a distance of about a hundred and fifty yards, and deposited near to MESSRS. HOWARTH and CRYER's foundry, while other fragments were hurled into the foundry yard itself.
Running parallel with the forge is the London and North-Western Railway. A youth named THOMAS BARLOW, about seventeen years of age, was working near the line when he heard the explosion. He attempted to run, but ere he had gone many yards, one of the boiler plates, riven and twisted, caught him, decapitating him, and cutting off both arms and one leg. The head and dismembered limbs were afterwards found lying several yards from the trunk.
Other portions of the boiler, weighing several hundredweight, were projected right over the railway, a distance of 200 yards. The flues were ripped open, and what with the smoke and the steam that escaped from the broken pipes, it was impossible for some time to ascertain the extent of the damage. When the atmosphere had become cleared, the dead and injured were found lying in all directions. From beneath the debris, three men, named ISRAEL WAIN, ABRAHAM LEACH, and RICHARD TIPTON, as well as a boynamed LEVI KIRKMAN, the son of a policeman, were taken out dead. They had all been fearfully crushed and scalded. Their bodies were removed to the counting-house, and afterwards conveyed on stretchers to their homes, and nearly twenty persons were also found to be more or less injured.
Through the mill windows of MESSRS. HARGREAVES AND CO., cotton spinners, situated a distance of two hundred yards from the scene of the catastrophe, showers of bricks and slates were sent, and some scores of panes of glass were broken. A furnace damper, weighing about two hundredweight, was hurled several hundred yards, destroying an outbuilding near to St. Mark's Church. One brick struck a woman named BETTY WINWARD as she was standing at her door in York-street, and she sustained a fracture of the thigh.
All round the works, some hundreds of windows have either been smashed or blown out, and several wonderful escapes are recorded. The forge chimney, which is fifty yards high, and was within a few feet of the exploded boiler, was but slightly injured. The damage is roughly estimated at about £5000. None of the property is insured.
TERRIBLE BOILER EXPLOSION.