Parkhouse (Number Seven) was sunk in 1867 by the Clay Cross Company. The colliery employed 320 men and boys who also worked on the coal face in terrible conditions. After 95 years of service the colliery closed on October 12th 1962.
Arnold Morler MP Report November 7th 1882
On this date at 10am. An explosion of gas took place resulting in the death of forty five men and boys. The colliery was working the Black shale seam which was four feet six inches thick with two three inch thick dirt bands with a white sandstone floor with clay and stove. The system of coal getting was the long wall with stalls. Working lights were candles, naked lights were used throughout the mines except where gas was met and then safety lamps were issued. The mine was in an area where most of the collieries worked with candles on account of the comparative rare occurrence of gas and Parkhouse had the reputation of being one of the safest collieries in the district.
The pit was ventilated by a furnace eight and a half feet and monthly checks were carried out on the amount of air flow in areas of the mine and recorded, the furnace was at the foot of the shaft. The working shift was, in summer 6am.-2.45pm, and in winter 7am-3.45pm. Prior to the explosion there had been reports of small explosions at the pit without loss of life or injury. Prior to these explosions there had been an explosion at the companies Number Four Main Tupton colliery culminating in the loss of eight lives.
The barometer had fallen in the morning giving rise to a build up of (firedamp) methane which has gone undetected by either the night shift or day shift deputy. The methane gas was ignited causing an explosion which was so severe it blew the headstocks off. Those who were not killed by the explosion were suffocated by the after damp (A mixture of noxious eases containing carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide) after the explosion. The furnace was blown out and the ventilation ceased.
It is not known where the exact point of the explosion was but it is suspected that either a rift in the roof at number one flat with a build up of gas in it (methane being lighter than air) ignited by a naked light as it mixed with air. Or layering of gas in number thirty two stall on number three flat followed by a subsequent and smaller explosion in eighty five gate, the latter being the most likely there were twenty six horses in the area of the explosion and the colliery was later entered from Flaxpiece mine nearby to recover the bodies.
The subsequent report on the disaster concluded that there had been no negligence by the Clay Cross Company or its officials and in its findings it suggested, more and widespread use of safety lamps, more than one inspection for gas on each shift and better ventilation other than by a furnace
George Hewitt jun., son of the above
George Dunn jun
Edward Thomas Birkin
Derbyshire Times Report
Yesterday (Tuesday) morning about 10 a.m. an alarming explosion took place at the Parkhouse, or No. 7 Pit belonging to the Clay Cross Coal and Iron Company.
The main shaft of the colliery is situated at Danesmoor, two miles from Clay Cross, and is 185 yards deep. There was also access to the pit from another shaft (No. 8) which is near Clay Cross and about a mile and a half from the other shaft. The ventilation and other arrangements were on the best principles and this is the first explosion that has occurred at this pit, though it opened in May 1874.
The total number of hands employed was 250, and nearly 200 of them coal getters.
At a quarter past ten on Tuesday morning a dull heavy report was heard, followed by a shook as of an earthquake. A volume of smoke, dust, dirt, &c., was vomited from the pit mouth, and the head gear was completely destroyed by the force of the explosion. The noise was so great that it was heard some miles round, and the ominous sound at once brought a large crowd of eager, excited people to the scene.
H.M. Inspector of Mines, T. W. Evans, Esq., was informed by telegram, and the news was also conveyed to Mr. Stokes, the assistant Inspector.
The officials of the colliery were at once summoned to the pit, and after consultation decided to descend by the shaft nearest Clay Cross, as the Danesmoor shaft (where the explosion occurred) was impracticable.
The first exploring party consisted of Mr Croudace (manager), Mr George Dunn (head underviewer), Mr Joseph Booth, Joseph Foster, Philip Vardy, J. Dunn and several experience men. Drs. Chawner and Pegler, also descend with them. Mr George Dunn's conduct is especially deserving of commendation, as he knew that four of hi sons were in the pit, and might have been excused if he had felt unable to undertake a service od such anxiety under the circumstances.
The explorers were for some time in great danger from the foul air and flaming blasts that were flying about the workings. About two o'clock the ventilation had very much improved and about three o'clock no traces of fire remained. The first two who ascended after the explosion were Samuel Stoppard and William Spetch. The explorers were all brought to the bank before nine o'clock, uninjured though much exhausted by their labours, and breathing the gas and foul air. Another exploring party went down the pit at 11 p.m. Up to 1a.m. this morning no bodies had been brought out of the pit, but the number missing is thirty-nine most of whom are believed to have perished. Arrangements have been made to convey the bodies when recovered to the Queen's Head, to await the inquest.
Dr. D'Arcy rendered good service in sending down refreshments, clothing and other things likely to be needed by the medical men who accompanied the exploring party.