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On the evening of Tuesday, 15 February, 1937, Clarence Dye and eleven other men were working at the coal face of the Waterloo Seam at South Normanton Colliery. Just after 9 pm the roof began to weight. Mr Dye' s statement, made at the colliery three days later, depicts in graphic detail what followed; 'I ordered the men out. All came out into the loader gate. As the weight got worse, ordered them further up the gate. When we were twenty-four yards up a gust of wind came and clouds of dust. I shouted to the men near the switch box to switch all power off. I was sent flying also by the other men. When the dust cleared I ordered men to get stretchers and telephoned the pit bottom for ponies and tubs. I ordered men out of the gate. I returned to the face with Jonathan Waltho into the left bank because that was where the explosion seemed to come from. The weight seemed to start in the left bank. We reached approximately fifteen yards from the cutter in dust and foul air. Cutter man Johnson crawled by us. There were lights against the cutter and we shouted, Can you get? Thornley and Ansell shouted, Which way is the gate? We shouted, Come down towards us, which they did'. It was not long before this help arrived. At 9.35pm Mr J.G. Mein, the colliery manager, was telephoned at home. Within five minutes he was at the colliery. He rang the Mansfield Rescue Station. The brigade turned out and simultaneously Mansfield Station alerted the Chesterfield Brigade. The Mansfield rescue team went down the pit at 10.11 pm followed, at 10.14pm, by the Chesterfield team. The team spent twenty minutes making enquiries about the direction and condition of the affected area. Truswell drew them a sketch map of the district on the team's receiver box, told them that eight men were left inbye, and that they would be in the left hand bank of the conveyer face. At 7.15 am they returned, reporting an un-passable fall some eight hundred yards inbye. However, there was a slight current of air blowing through the fall and the team went back with a canary to test for gas. The test proved negative. Mr Mein telephoned H.M.I. Felton with this information. He gave permission for explorations to be suspended so those workmen could concentrate on removing the fall on the coalface. He insisted, however, that no workman should go beyond the fall either on the face or in the tailgate. The reaction to the tragedy was overwhelming. Messages of sympathy and condolence flooded into South Normanton by letter and by telegram. Company records list 132 sympathisers who sent messages and to whom a personal or a circular reply was sent. On 5 March a parish meeting was held to establish a relief fund for the dependants of the deceased and injured. The fund was started by a donation of one hundred guineas from the South Normanton Colliery Company. The final total was just less than £850. All monies received, less necessary expenses, were paid to the dependants. The inquest on Sam Hill, Willis Lambert, John Marriott and Henry Willis had opened on 20 February, that on Everett Reeves, Frederick Pride and John Vardy, who were buried for five days, on 22 February. The eighth victim, Percy Ansell, had died from his injuries in Mansfield General Hospital. When the inquest resumed at the Council Offices, Alfreton, on Friday, 12 March, the Chesterfield coroner, Dr R.A.Macrae, sat with H.M. Divisional Inspector of Mines, Mr J.R.Felton, and a jury. The first witness, Dr S.J.Halpin, who had been called to the colliery on the night of 15 February, testified that in the case of seven of the deceased the cause of death was carbon monoxide poisoning and burns. During the enquiry the jury heard that the presence of gas in the Waterloo Seam was an unusual occurrence. There were five possible theories about the source of that naked light as a result of shot-firing; from one of the lamps; an electrical fault; friction; or from someone smoking. William Truswell' s testimony removed all doubts about the shot firing! The possibility of faulty lamps was quickly dismissed. Mr Pickering testified that two electric lamps had been found near the coal cutter and a flame lamp near to Henry Willis's body. He had had them examined at the testing station in Sheffield, where they were found to be satisfactory. There were three possible sources of an electrical spark: the power cables; the coal cutter, and the conveyer motor. William Truswell, Leslie Ottewell and Clarence Dye all testified that the current had been switched off after the explosion. Mr James Cowan, Electrical Inspector of Mines, said there was an old defect in the outbye cable but that it had been insulated by sheathing in black tape, there was a defect in the conveyer system: four set-screws had not been screwed home properly on one of the covers on the motor, leaving a gap of sixty to seventy thousandths of an inch. But, he concluded, 'after the close investigation I have made, I am satisfied that electricity played no part in this explosion!' The remaining theory was that someone had been smoking. Certainly there was evidence that smoking materials were taken underground, despite both regular and random searches. Police Constable Tansley said he had found cigarettes on the bodies of some of the men when he had examined them. The spent match led Mr Pickering to conclude that the explosion had been caused by someone smoking. When further questioned, Mr Pickering, though remaining convinced that illegal smoking was the cause, admitted that he had 'no direct evidence that the explosion was caused by the striking of a match'. There was, in fact, 'no direct evidence' to link any theoretical cause to the actual occurrence. The jury had no alternative hut to return the verdict they did. 'We cannot find the cause of ignition of the explosion.' (information from www.terryblythe.co.uk, extracted from 'The South Normanton Colliery Disaster' by T. Bradshaw, 1979) South Normanton Colliery closed in 1952.