1871 Seaham Colliery Disaster Memorial
The sandstone memorial comprises a cross raised above an octagonal decorated spirelet atop a panelled, tapering pedestal and base.
The bodies of those killed in the disaster were interrred together beneath the memorial.
Nicknamed 'Nicky Nack' the Seaham collieries suffered three explosions within three months of commencing coal production. The worst of these early accidents occurred in 1852 and resulted in the deaths of five men and one boy. In the wake of the explosion Mr. Dunn, the Government Inspector of the Mine, found that naked lights had been in use at the Seaham pits.
The memorial here commemorates those who were killed in Seaham's second major explosion, the most fatal in County Durham for over twenty years. The blast struck at 11.30 p.m. on Wednesday 25th October 1871. According to Hutchinson, one of the survivors, this was precisely when he and his son fired a shot.
Though four bodies were brought to the surface within a short time of the explosion, it was not possible to recover the remaining twenty two until two months later. In the meantime, to the dismay of some, coal production resumed. The inquest found that the twenty six men died 'accidentally from an explosion caused by an outburst of gas.'(1) No recommendations regarding the practice of shot-firing were made; an omission that was to have devasting repercussions 9 years later when the firing of a shot in the same pit caused an explosion which killed 164 men. (DUEA67, qv)
Incised black letters on east face of dado: THIS MONUMENT IS / ERECTED BY THE / CONTRIBUTIONS OF / THEIR FELLOW WORK / MEN AND OTHERS / IN LOVING MEMORY OF / TWENTY SIX MEN AND / BOYS WHO WERE KILLED / BY AN EXPLOSION AT / SEAHAM COLLIERY, / OCTOBER 25TH 1871, / AND WHOSE NAMES / ARE INSCRIBED HEREIN. (names and ages of dead on north, south and west faces)
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