HUNTLY, WAIKATO, NEW ZEALAND
SATURDAY 12 SEPTEMBER 1914
On the 19 April 2009 a memorial board listing all the victims of the Ralph Mine disaster was unveiled at the Huntly Cemetery. The Huntly Lions Club would like to contact with descendants of all the families involved before the centennial in 2014.
The following is taken from the Auckland WEEKLY NEWS for Thursday, 17th September 1914. Thanks to Jackie Walles for this.
DISASTER AT HUNTLY - TERRIBLE MINING EXPLOSION
FIFTY-EIGHT ENTOMBED - EIGHTEEN BODIES RECOVERED
NINETEEN MEN ESCAPE ALIVE - LITTLE HOPE FOR THE OTHERS
What will probably prove to be the second greatest mining disaster yet recorded in New Zealand took place on Saturday morning when, as a result of a fearful explosion in Ralph's mine, one of the two Huntly collieries owned by the Taupiri Coal Company Limited, fifty-eight miners were entombed. Of this number nineteen escaped alive, of whom once has since died and at least two others are lying in a serious condition, two at Hamilton Hospital and one in Huntly. The bodies of eighteen of the remaining forty have been recovered, and it is not believed that it is possible to save any of the others alive.
The workings of Ralph's mine extend for miles westward from Huntly, and go under the Waikato River. Experts who had examined it declared it to be one of the safest coal mines in the world, practically free from all forms of dangerous gas. The miners, numbering about 250, habitually worked with naked lights.
The roar of the explosion, which occurred at twenty minutes past seven in the morning, was heard and felt for miles around, and a great cloud of smoke and dust, momentarily shot with flame, hovered over the main shaft. Within an hour seven men, four of them badly burned, emerged from the main shaft, and another eleven escaped practically uninjured through the western shaft. Three injured men were dispatched immediately to the Hamilton Hospital.
Rescue parties worked heroically, but for hours they were beaten back by poisonous gases and noxious fumes. The mine was found to be on fire near the main shaft.
Here they found William Brocklebank crawling on hands and knees towards the shaft and brought him out, the only man who was near the scene of the explosion to come out alive. He had been many hours unconscious, but was not seriously injured. An hour later, six o'clock on Saturday night, search parties brought out seven bodies and, working without ceasing all Saturday night, they recovered five more.
THE NAMES OF THE MINERS WHO WERE KILLED
Following were the names of the men known to have been killed:
|IZATT||Alex||Onshovers assistant||Single||Died in Hamiton Hospital|
MEN WHO ARE MISSING AND PROBABLY DEAD
|BERRY||T||Winch driver||Single||Aged 29. Body recovered in the sump in No 7 Level|
THE MINERS WHO SUCCESSFULLY ESCAPED
Those who have escaped from the mine are as follows:
|JACKSON||J||Severley burned||Father & 2 sons died||Died Waikato Hospital|
Escaped with Slight Injury:
|BROCKLEBANK||Wm Jnr||Considerably cut & bruised|
|MOTTRAM||Body bruised and leg injured|
Escaped without Injury:
|MACDIARMID||J C Dr|
....Darkness fell and the pale faced women, cheered somewhat by the sight of Brocklebank, went away to their lonely homes. Then the men brought to the surface that which they had been hiding mercifully at the bottom of the shaft - seven corpses, blackened with fire and battered and torn by flying coal. These were the bodies of HINCHCO, ROBINSON, W BURT, SKELLERN, S JACKSON, WHORSKEY & PECKHAM Sen.
A party comprising Messrs BISHOP, WOOD, JOLLEY & PENMAN, found the last body in No.5 level in a place hitherto somewhat inaccessible on account of falls.....It is conjectured that the man was thrown some distance and his body forced through a door on the haulage way. There was some doubt as to the identity of the body but the general opinion is that it is that of J Martin, a trucker, a single man. Some consider that it is the corpse of Wm Smith, a deputy, but it is believed that Smith has been buried without identification.
|DIXON||Harold B (Prof)||Visiting British scientist|
|WEAR||Daniel||Inspector of the old workings|
WEEKLY NEWS - 1st October 1914 - p.18 - [AWN 01.10.1914]
HUNTLY MINE DISASTER - MONEY URGENTLY NEEDED
In connection with the Huntly disaster, the Huntly Relief Committee has issued a strong appeal for assistance for the widows and orphans left by the victims. A copy of the appeal has been forwarded to all local bodies and unions in the Dominion and they are asked to take such steps as they may deem fit to raise subscriptions. It is impossible, the committee states, to make up a list of all the dependents left by the victims. The following list, however, gives some idea of the appalling distress which has been occasioned by the terrible accident:-
|BLENKINSOPP||W||Widow & 4 children under 14 years|
|BROCKLEBANK||W||Widow & 1 child under 14|
|BURTON||W||Widow & 2 children under 14 years|
|DARBY||James||Widow & grown up family|
|DIXON||W||Widow & 2 children under 14 years (In Australia)|
|GOWANS||W||Widow & 1 child under 14|
|GREENER||J||Widow & grown up family|
|HINCHCO||W||Widow & 2 children|
|HOLDEN||J||Widow & 1 child under 14|
|HOPPER||F S R||Widow & 2 children under 14|
|JACKSON||S||Widow & 1 child under 14|
|KELLY||W||Widow & 1 child under 14|
|LYONS||D||Grown up family|
|MOLESWORTH||T||Widow & 1 child under 14|
|PATERSON||D||Widow & 5 children under 14 years|
|PATTERSON||W||Leaves 7 motherless children|
|PECKHAM||H||Widow & 7 children under 14 years|
|RANSOME||H||Widow & 1 grown up daughter|
|ROBINSON||W||Widow & 1 child under 14|
|ROPER||W||Widow & 4 children under 14 years (In England)|
|RUSTON||A||Widow & 1 child under 14|
|SKELLERN||J C||Four motherless children|
|SMITH||W||Widow & grown up family|
|STEELE||J||Widow & 5 children under 14 years|
|TAYLOR||E||Widow & 1 child under 14|
|WHORSKY (WHORSKLY)||John||Widow & 6 children|
Of the above there are at least four widows with young families who are not eligible for the Widows' Pension and there are three widows without children and three widows with grown up families who are not eligible.
ASSISTANCE FROM TROOPS
Before the House of Representatives rose last week the Hon James ALLEN announced that the men who had been in camp at Palmerston North had sent him a sum of £107.16s.6d. towards the assistance of those who had suffered by the Huntly disaster.
For further information see - HUNTLY MINE DISASTER.
and the - WAIKATO COALFIELDS MUSEUM.
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