There were around 30 major colliery disasters in Durham and Northumberland in the period 1800-1899 claiming the lives of more than 1,500 men and boys. Gas explosions were the major danger, although some incidents were caused by collapsing mines. The six worst disasters of the period in terms of numbers killed were - 204 killed at Hartley near Blyth (1862), 164 at Seaham (1880), 102 at Wallsend (1833), 95 at Haswell 1841, 92 at Felling (1812), 76 at Burradon (1860) and 74 at Trimdon in 1882.
The worst disaster of the twentieth century occured in 1909 when 168 died at West Stanley. Pit ponies were often killed in the disasters including 181 killed in the 1880 Seaham disaster. A list of the major disasters from 1708 to 1951 is given below, but almost every colliery could produce long lists of men and boys who lost their lives in smaller, individual incidents.

The Northern Echo: Easington Pit Disaster 1951

The miners who never came home
1951 Easington Pit Disaster
It was the eerie sound every mining community dreaded. The alarm which signalled an accident underground and summoned miners from their homes to join rescue teams.
To hell and back
1951 Easington Pit Disaster
Fifty seven years ago today, more than 80 men and boys were killed in an explosion at Easington Colliery. Tommy Houghton, a member of the Rescue Brigade, talks for the first time to Marjorie McIntyre about what he saw that day.

The Northern Echo: West Stanley Pit Disaster

Black day for village
1909 West Stanley Pit Disaster
Residents were first alerted to the tragedy by a muffled bang followed by a loud roar from Burns Pit, West Stanley, at 3.45pm on February 16, 1909.

The beam in the eye of the pit
1862 Hartley Pit Disaster
The Hester Pit's backshift are at work, the foreshift on their way outbye: the first 16 men at bank, eight more in a following cage.

The Northern Echo: Hundreds of mourners join the funeral procession for some of the miners who lost their lives in the 1906 Wingate pit disaster.

PIT DISASTER TIMELINE

1708 - 69 die at Fatfield
1743 - 80 die at Bensham
1767 - 39 die at Fatfield
1773 - 23 die at Chartershaugh
1794 - 30 die at Picktree
1805 - 38 die at Oxclose Colliery, Washington
1805 - 35 die at Hebburn Colliery
1812 - 92 die at Felling Pit (May 25)
1813 - 32 die at Fatfield Hall Pit
1815 - 57 die at Newbottle Colliery Disaster, Fencehouses
1815 - 38 die at Row Pit Disaster, Harraton, Washington
1815 - 40 Men and 30 Boys Killed Heaton Colliery flood
1817 - 27 die at West Rainton Pit (December)
1819 - 35 Men die at Sheriff Hill Pit
1821 - 52 Men die at Wallsend Colliery
1823 - 59 die at Plain Pit, Rainton (November 3)
1826 - 34 die at Jarrow Colliery
1833 - 47 die at Springfield Colliery
1835 - 102 die at Wallsend Pit (June 18th )
1841 - 32 die at Willington
1844 - 95 die at Haswell (September 28th)
1845 - 39 die at Jarrow Colliery
1849 - 31 die at Hebburn
1855 - 28 die at Elemore Near Hetton(December 2)
1860 - 76 die at Burradon Disaster
1862 - 204 die Hartley Colliery collapse Near Blyth
1866 - 24 die at Pelton Disaster
1880 - 164 miners and 181 Pit Ponies Die Seaham September 8
1882 - 74 die Trimdon Grange disaster (February 16)
1882 - 35 die at Tudhoe Blast (April 18)
1886 - 28 die at Elemore (December 1)
1896 - 20 die at Brancepeth (April 13)
1899 - 6 die at Brandon Pit (August 15)
1906 - 24 die at Wingate (Oct 14)
1908 - 14 die at Washington Glebe Disaster (Feb 20)
1909 - 168 die at West Stanley (February 16)
1942 - 13 die at Murton Colliery (June 26)
1947 - 21 die at Louisa Colliery (August 22)
1951 - 81 die at Easington Explosion (May 29)

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