Woodhorn Colliery was one of the five Ashington Coal Company collieries.
White porcelain statuette of the Ashington Miners’ Memorial, ASHMM 1991/50, copyright Woodhorn Charitable Trust
A repairing shift set to work in the main seam at Woodhorn Colliery on Sunday 13 August 1916. The men were installing steel girders as roof supports. However, ventilation of the area they were working on, via an air compressor and fan, had not been operating correctly over the previous 24 hours. Instead of safety lamps, the miners worked with naked flame candles, with inevitable results; there was a massive explosion, killing eleven men outright while two others died later, having never regained consciousness.
The Journal newspaper reported “The belief at first was that a belated Zeppelin had come on the scene, but it was soon known that a disaster had occurred in the mine.”
The list of casualties:
David Armstrong: deputy, 47, father of six
Thomas Armstrong: (David’s brother) deputy, 43, father of three
George Blair: stoneman, 46, father of five
Daniel Harrison: deputy, married, no children
Joseph Harrogate: putter, 29, single
Robert Hindmarsh: deputy, 46, father of three
Joseph Hodgson: deputy, 38, married, no children
Ralph Howard: deputy, 44, father of five
George R Hudson: deputy, 38, father of two
Walter Hughes: stoneman, 38, father of four. Sergeant in 7th Northumberland Fusiliers. Gassed in France. Spent several months in hospital and had only just returned to work the week before. He received military honours at his funeral.
George Marshall: deputy, 43, father of one child
John George Patterson: stone cutter, 21, single. Sunday school teacher at Hirst Primitive Methodist Church
Edward Walton: stoneman, 48, father of nine.
Incredibly, in the wake of the disaster, seven bereaved families, left destitute without a wage, were evicted from their homes.
Twelve of the men are buried at Seaton Hirst and one at Ashington.