A LAMP found with two dead colliery men whose bodies lay undiscovered for 24 years after one of the region’s worst pit disasters has been bought by a mining enthusiast.

The flame safety lamp was found with the bodies of William Chaytor, 55, and John Rodgers, 57, in 1933, decades after the West Stanley pit disaster, which claimed the lives of 168 men and boys.

The brass and steel paraffin lamp was made by John Mills and Sons, based in Walker, Newcastle, in around 1895, and is thought to have been used by the men when an explosion tore through the pit on February 16, 1909.

It was found in the Busty Seam along with the skeletons of the fallen miners in 1933 when Robert Clipperton and Edward Burdon pulled a board out and caused a sudden fall of the roof in the vicinity of the old workings.

Mr Chaytor was identified through a brass watch and belt he wore, and Mr Rogers through a scapular he wore over his shoulder.

Former mining engineer David Glynn, 48, from Urpeth Grange, near Chester-le-Street, who has been researching the disaster, bought the lamp after learning about its history from an antique dealer.

He said: “It is such a unique piece of history. I’m honoured to have it.”

It is understood the lamps were initially kept by the Albert Jeffery, the manager of West Stanley Colliery in 1933, who passed it to his son, Douglas.

He, in turn, donated it to John Davison of The Blue Bell pub in Bishop Auckland, and it was then sold at Edkins auction in the town where it was bought by John Pedelty, an antique dealer from the area.

Mr Glynn said: “I really wanted that lamp and upon learning of my fascination and knowledge of the disaster, John finally agreed to part with it.

“As I was leaving, John said ‘Oh, by the way, on the first night that I had the lamp in the house, at 11pm my grandfather clock struck 13.’

"It’s been a few weeks now and there have been no unusual occurrences. Perhaps the original owner of the lamp, Mr Chaytor or Mr Rogers, is happy with its new home, so close to West Stanley.”

The Northern Echo: william chaytor
William Chaytor