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Cronton - Hulton Colliery Disaster


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This is the Grave,in Prescot Churchyard, of Albert Ball (30) killed in the Hulton/ Cronton Colliery disater of December 1917.

Pasture Seam. Also killed..

Samuel Foulkes 63. John Harrison 36. George Richard Jones 23. Joseph Lawton 32.James O'Neill 40. Walter Pye 42.

John W. Travis 24.





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  • 2 weeks later...

Someone is looking for this info on her great uncle Albert Ball age 30 Collier died 11 Dec 1917 at this pit. Hopefully she will join us here to see it.




Cronton Colliery/Hulton Colliery Co. LTD
The pit was sunk at Halsnead Park Cronton in 1913 and the first coal was raised in 1915 during the first world war. It close eventually in 1984 due to exhausted reserves. Hulton Colliery Co also owned Pretoria Pit at Westoughton, another famous mining disaster happened there in 1910 when 344 men were killed.

Cronton Colliery disaster, Explosion in the Pasture seam caused by shotfiring - a tricky process of detonation of explosives to break/dislodge the rock.

The following information is from a pdf of many pit disasters from 1914-1918 produced by www.cmhrc.co.uk but as we only want the info from this particular accident I'm reproducing it here and hope they dont mind.


The colliery was the property of the Hulton Colliery Company and the explosion in the
Pasture Seam occurred shortly after 8 a.m. and caused the deaths of eight men and
inured another. At the time of the accident twelve men including a fireman, were at work
in the Pasture Seam which was an entirely distinct district and had a separate
ventilation system from the rest of the mine. The seam had been opened out for about
nine months and the ventilation appeared to be adequate under normal working
conditions and the last measurement showed that 5,400 cubic feet per minute were
The Pasture Seam was reached by means of rise tunnels from the Florida Seam an
opened out in bord and pillar workings. At the time of the accident there were only three
stalls, Nos. 301, 302 and 303 and of these only the first one was being worked. The
stalls were 15 yards wide, packed solid against the coal on the dip side and had an air
road left against the coal on the rise side. There was 12 top 15 yards of solid coal
between the stalls which were driven for 25 yards.
The holing in stalls 301 and 302 was done by coal cutting machines worked by compressed
air. The explosion occurred at the face of stall 301 where two Monobel No.1 shots
were fired in the coal by an electric battery.
Beyond a few falls, very little damage was done to the workings and there was no
doubt thatt the explosion would have been more serious but for the fact that the top
portion of the intake tunnel and the level to the l eft of it was naturally wet for about 30
yards. The workings were also damp and the coal dust formed by the cutting machines
did not affect or extend the explosion.
The ventilation was soon restored after the accident and still No.310 cleared of gas
by means of compressed air and an inspection was made within three hours of the
event, It was found that two shots in the coal had been coupled and fired
simultaneously. The battery with handles attached and cable were found coupled
together. The firing cable was traced to one of the leads of an exploded detonator. The
second lead from the detonator was not connected to the second wire of the firing
cable. There was a stamp mark on the roof showing where the machine had been fixed
when both holes were drilled. The top hole was about six inches off the roof and after
the shot there was about an inch of socket remaining. The bottom hole was six inches
above the floor and twenty inches of this remained but it had been enlarged by the shot
to 3 or 4 inches in diameter. The detonator wires were still in the hole as was a portion
of the clay stemming. Lying in front of this hole was a large block of coal with the other
detonator leads lying over them, one of which was connect to the firing cable. The leads
could be replaced and put in position for the top shot hole. This caused some doubt at
the inquest but Mr. Nicholson had no doubt that theshots had been fired simultaneously.
Firedamp had been reported on several occasions in very slight quantities and the
management had issued instructions that the presence of gas was to be recorded in the
book on every occasion. Gas was reported in the ripping of the No.310 stall on every
inspection for a week up to the day of the accident but on that day, no gas was
reported. The amount of gas reported in the ripping s was slight and easily cleared
away, which was done on every occasion shots were to be fired.
After the explosion it was found that a seam, nine feet thick, existed seven and a half
feet above the Pasture Seam. this seam was not encountered during the sinkings due
to the ground being faulted. The ground between the seams consisted of clod and thin
bands of coal which sagged down considerably on the roads and at the faces of the
stalls. The top seam no doubt gave off a large amount of gas which collected din the
space between the seams.
There was a large fall at the face of stall No.302 which extended across almost the
whole width of the stall and reached the upper seam. It was suggested that this fall had
occurred just before the shots were fired and released a quantity of gas which was
carried in the air current at the critical moment.
This suggestion was strengthened by the fact that O’Neill’s body was found partly under
a fall close to the coal on the dip side
of stall 302 and was burnt only where he was not covered by the fall.
Those who lost their lves were-

Albert Ball aged 30 years, collier,
Walter Pye aged 42 years, collier,
James O’Neil aged 40 years, collier,
John Harrison aged 36 years, collier,
George Richard Jones aged 23, jigger,
John W.Travis aged 24, haulage hand,
Samuel Foulkes aged 63 years, waydrawer,
Joseph Lowton aged 32 years, fireman and
James Cummings aged 18 years, haulage hand was injured.

All the men in the workings at the time were severely burnt and subsequently died
from their injuries except for the boy Cummings. The fireman, Lawton who fired the
shots was an experienced foreman and walked out after the explosion to the cabin in
the Florida Seam.
The inquest into the deaths of the men was held by Mr. Brighouse, H.M. Coroner in
the 15th. January. The manager put forward the theory that there had been some
weighting in the roof which caused the fall at the face of stall 302 and was also
responsible for bursting off the large coal block in stall 301. The Inspector thought that
this was reasonable explanation.
There was a contravention of the Explosives in Coal Mines Order by firing two
simultaneous shots in the coal and although this was not a direct result of the explosion,
the possibility of such an occurrence would have been reduced if one shot had been
fired at a time. It was difficult to account for the firing of two shots at once unless it was
with the object of saving time.
The jury returned a verdict of ‘Death from misadventure ’ and attributed no blame to anyone.

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I worked at Cronton on occasion & note that there was a brickworks attached to the colliery.

My mate was the Head Timekeeper, named Ken Hazelden ( a lovely person), he played crown green bowls for the Cabbage Hall pub (near to Liverpool's Anfield Ground).

When he knew he was finishing he & his wife bought a bungalow in Rhyl, & they had only lived there a couple of weeks when Ken signed on to play Bowls at a club there.

After signing on he sat on a bench on the seafront ( it was a warm sunny day) whilst his wife went to get 2 icecreams & when she came back he was dead (still sitting on the bench)!

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Buried at St Mary's Prescot, on 15/12/1917 were Samuel Foulkes, Albert Ball, George Jones and John Harrison.


My uncle Bobby (Nulty) was killed down the pit at Croton in 1948. He was 15 years old and is buried in Prescot cemetery

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  • 1 year later...
  • 7 months later...

My wife's cousin was killed down Cronton in August 1972.His name was Kevin Walsh.


I was trained as a mechanical fitter and worked at Cronton from about 1966 - 1974.

I knew of Kevin Walsh and Ted Beardsley who were both killed in a gas explosion in Aug 1972. Although I had met both, my brother knew Kevin better than I as he was also an electrician the same as Kev.

I was at the pit head on the day they brought the bodies up. That day will stay with me for the rest of my life. From what I remember of Kevin he was a great lad, always cracking a joke and up for a laugh, a good looking lad and from what my brother told me a reliable friend and work colleague


Ted beardsley

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  • 1 year later...
On 05/10/2014 at 23:39, gypsygeoff said:

My wife's cousin was killed down Cronton in August 1972.His name was Kevin Walsh.

My dad and kev were best friends. This awful incident happened on my dad's 22nd birthday and he was one of the first to go into the tunnel after the explosion. He's spoke a few times about that day and what he saw and how kev was never ment to be in work on that day, how he had changed his shift. Dad helped carry kevs coffin at his funeral as well. Such a huge huge  shame x

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