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A Dangerous Place

In the 1800s, Health & Safety meant looking after yourself and each other. Only in 1873 did the government decide to start checking if lead mines were safe places to work. They weren't.

Terrible Mining Accident at Minera

Shocking Death of Four Men

A terrible accident occurred at the United Minera mine on Wednesday night in which four men were instantly killed in the most shocking manner. About 10.30 on the night named, four men, forming part of the night shift, were being lowered by a carrier down what is known as the Meadow Shaft, when, through some defect, the main eyebolt from which the carrier was suspended broke when a descent of about 180 yards from the surface had been made. The carrier containing the four men was precipitated to the bottom of the shaft, a depth of something like 400 yards and there smashed. The men of course were instantly killed. Their names were, Enoch Jones, married; John Foulkes, single; David Davies, single and Donald Douglas, single.

Wrexham Advertiser,
9 February 1901

An inquest was held at a local pub. The mining company said that the bolt was designed to carry five tons. The cage with the men weighed less than a ton. The coroner questioned why there were no chains attached to the cage as a precautionary measure. The Inspector of Mines had passed the cage as safe, so the company had not thought there was any need for bridle chains.

Simon Hughes and John Williams in the cage at Lloyd's Shaft.
© Denbighshire Record Office

 

The coroner summed up: 'Of course, there is absolutely no blame on the company for not having the chains put there. It is quite impossible to say how this accident happened, but it showed the desirability of making the carrier doubly safe.'

The result: the jury returned a verdict of accidental death. Mr Wynne, the Company Secretary, ensured chains were added to the cage. Enoch Jones and John Foulkes were both buried at the Wern Chapel burial ground, just along the road from the Minera Lead Mines site. Donald Douglas was buried in Chester and David Davies in Minera churchyard. Four lives had been cut short and one widow and five children bereaved.

The Mortuary and Smithy at Minera Lead Mines