Archiver > CUMBERLAND > 2005-08 > 1124370755

From: "Dave & Amanda" <>
Subject: NAMES OF WHITEHAVEN MINERS 1816 Letter to Sir Humphrey Davy
Date: Thu, 18 Aug 2005 09:12:43 -0400

In 1815, Sir Humphrey Davy's invention of the safety lamp was first tested in Whitehaven's William Pit --- known to be the most gaseous, dangerous pit in the Kingdom.

By 1816 it was in full use in collieries around Great Britain.

When I was at the Mining library in Newcastle, I came across document after document disputing the claim that Davy was the inventor, as some attributed it to George STEPHENSON also the locomotive inventor. I definitely got the feeling it was a chicken or egg question. Regardless, the safety lamp had some flaws, and I was much more interested in this aspect.

It was all about mass production and profits for the coal owners and viewers (agents). Pitmen trying desperately to fulfill quotas often found themselves in complete darkness hagging away at the coal face --- so they took candles down at first. But if the buildup of gas was lethal, then BOOM! Death and destruction.

Then Carlisle SPEDDING of Whitehaven invented the Steel Mill, it looked sort of like an old hand mixer. When the wheel was turned and the steel cog hit against another, a spark was produced and remarkably the colour of the spark indicated if gas was present.

After that came this safety lamp --- problem was though it was a flame that was encased. If the coal miner found himself in darkness, and the flame not brilliant enough, he would unscrew the top of the safety lamp leaving the flame exposed again. This would ignite foul air, and he would be blown to pieces --- following the blast, afterdamp would circulate and suffocate the remaining workmen.

Here is a letter written by Whitehaven Colliers to Sir Humphrey Davy in 1816, when it was a new product, and lives had not been lost over it's imperfections (top should have been locked).

Some men signed their name, others marked with an X

We the undersigned miners at the Whitehaven Collieries belonging to the Earl of Lonsdale return our sincere thanks to Sir Humphrey Davy for his invaluable discovery of the safe lamps which are to us a life preserver, and being the only return in our power to make, we most humble offer this, our tribute of gratitude.

Signed by

George SHIMWELL overman
Mark COULTHARD overman
William QUAYLE overman
Matthew GOLIGHTLY overman
James TOPPING overman
Caleb HETHERINGTON overman ---later badly burned in 1823 William Pit
Henry JACKSON overman --- beautiful handwriting and looks like the writer/author of the letter.
Taylor SWAINSON - engineer
Joseph LUCAS
John WALKER - x
Peter O'HARA
John TAYLOR - x
Bartholomew COUSINS
William RUDD - x
John HOSKINS - x
James PARKER - x
William SIMOND - x
William MCMENE - x
Thomas BARRASS - x
James BELL - x
Robert GARRETT - x
William ROWE - x
Pat MORDEN - x
John MCGRAY - x
William EMBLEY - x could also be Ernsley
Morty QUIN - x ---Murphy later died in 1819 Kells Pit disaster --- where a safety lamp had been unscrewed in foul air
George BELL
Jonathan CASTLEHOW - x killed 1819 Kells Pit disaster
John BLAINEY - x
Stephen MCCOURT - x
George BLACK - x
Joseph FRECKLETON - x gave evidence at inquest into 1831 Croft Pit disaster
William CARR - x
Miles MILBURN - x
William IRVING - x
John SANDY____? - x
Christopher TATTERS - x
James QUIN - x -- possible that this is James Queen/McQueen killed with his son Arthur 1831 Croft pit Disaster
Robert CURRY - x
William TOPPING - overman --- injured and held responsible at inquest into 1839 William Pit disaster
Christopher NICHOLSON
John ___OAT?
Thomas BAILEY - x
Edward McMANN - x
James DODD - x Gave evidence at 1831 Croft Pit disaster. Well respected miner according to letters from John Bateman (agent) to Lord Lonsdale circa 1811.
Thomas THOM __ON
Michael O'NALE - x
Patrick MCCORMICK - x
Frances SHORT - x
Matthew THORNTON - x
Henry GRAHAM - x
George COULT___? -x
James MUCHBRAY - x could be Mickleray
James MCNULTY - x
James ROGERSON - x
Daniel SPELMAN - x
Barney FRAIL
James CLARK - x
Francis LUCAS
Alex GILLIAN - x Killed Kells Pit disaster 1819
William LUTHERER? - x
John HADWIN - x
Thomas COUPLAND - x
John HOLMES - x
John TATTERS - x
Richard TAYLOR - x
William MORTON
Thomas HINDSON - x

This thread: