Huskar Pit was a coal mine on the South Yorkshire Coalfield, sunk to work the Silkstone seam. It was located in Nabs Wood, outside the village of Silkstone Common, in the then West Riding of Yorkshire. It was connected to the Barnsley Canal by the Silkstone Waggonway. Huskar was the scene of a notorious pit disaster in 4 July 1838.

Memorial to the children who died as a result of the disaster

Huskar pit disaster Edit

In 1838 Huskar was connected to Moorend Colliery, and used for ventilation. It had a vertical shaft to the surface and a drift shaft (known as a "dayhole") leading to Nabs Wood. On 4 July 1838 heavy rainfall struck the area, disabling the winding engine on the vertical shaft. The workers stranded at the pit bottom were instructed to remain there until they were able to be brought up to the surface, but a number of children decided to try and escape via the dayhole to Nabs Wood. A nearby stream had burst its banks in the rain and a torrent of water entered the shaft, drowning 26 children aged 7 to 17. Some were able to escape via a passage that lead to Moorend and alert colliers on the surface.

Legacy Edit

The children's bodies were brought up from the pit and buried together in the churchyard of All Saints' Church, Silkstone. A memorial was erected bearing the names and ages of those who died,[1] which today is the logo of the village's primary school. Nationwide, the disaster shocked public opinion, and the resulting inquiry led to the 1842 Mines Act which sought to introduce some protection for child miners and meant that all girls and boys under the age of ten were prohibited from working underground.[2]

In 1988, the community of Silkstone Parish built another memorial in Nabs Wood,[3] depicting two children at work underground. In 2008, to mark the disaster's 170th anniversary, the event and subsequent inquest were turned into a play [4] by Sylvia le Breton and performed by the local Grass Roots theatre group in Silkstone church. In 2010, a commemorative stained glass window crafted by local residents was installed in one of its chapels.[5]

A book by Alan Gallop about the event's history, "Children of the Dark: Life and Death Underground in Victorian England" was published in 2003 and Peter Bond wrote and performed a song, "Act of God" about the tragedy; the song is included on the 1979 album "See Me Up, See Me Down" from Highway Records.

The Kate Rusby song "Halt the Wagons", from her 2019 album Philosophers, Poets & Kings, references the tragedy from the point of view of a grieving mother.[6]

References Edit

  1. ^ article at silkstone[dead link]
  2. ^ Huskar Mining Disaster 1838 - Emails 1 Huskar Mining Disaster: D Holland, accessed 24 July 2023
  3. ^ Dry stone walls for Huskar Pit Disaster, 1838 5 August 2008,, accessed 24 July 2023
  4. ^ Grass Roots webpage[dead link]
  5. ^ Barnsley mining disaster depicted in Silkstone window, 25 May 2010, accessed 24 July 2023
  6. ^ "Kate Rusby: Philosophers, Poets & Kings – album review". Louder Than War. 18 May 2019. Retrieved 21 May 2019.

External links Edit

53°31′47.0″N 1°33′28.1″W / 53.529722°N 1.557806°W / 53.529722; -1.557806 26 Children Died