Too dangerous

Michael Parker (Jan 4), after referring to the very unusual weather statistics for the Year 1838 mentions the drowning of 26 children on July 4,1838, while working in Husker Pit, Silkstone.

Karl Worrall, with support of NUM Yorkshire area members Jack Taylor and Philip Watson and assistance from the city library reference department, published Storm Over Silkstone, a fictional story of the disaster. In it, Karl Worrall wrote: "The mortal remains of the females are deposited in the graves at the feet of the males. First Grave: George Burkinshaw aged 10, Catherine Garnett, 11. Joseph Burkinshaw, 7, Hannah Webster, 13. Isaac Wright, 12, Elizabeth Carr, 13. Abraham Wright, 8, Ann Moss, 9 years.

Second Grave: James Clarkson aged, 16, Elizabeth Hollings, 15, Francis Hoyland, 13, Ellen Parker, 15. Wm. Atick, 12, Hannah Taylor, 17. Sam Horne, 10.

Third Grave: Eli Hutchinson, 9, Mary Sellers, 10. George Garnett, 9, Elizabeth Clarkson, 11. John Simpson, 9 (She lies at the feet of her brother, James Clarkson).

Fourth Grave: WmWomersley, 8, Sarah Newton, 8. James Turton, 10, Sarah Jukes 10. John Gothard, 8.

Arising from the disaster there was widespread campaigning in opposition to the employment of women and children in mines and Lord Shaftesbury told the Lords, speaking on the Mines and Collieries Bill: "It seems a long time since I introduced this Bill. Since then the nation has become aware of the dangers and evils rife in the coalfields. Even our opponents admit this, but justify it on grounds of cost and production. Almost four years in a pit was flooded and 26 children perished, a lost generation! If this Bill had been passed then, this tragedy would have been averted, with no lost generation and no loss of production."

We've moved a long way forward since the Husker disaster but there are still far too many avoidable safety hazards in workplaces.

Bill Ronksley, Secretary, Sheffield TUC

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