What happened at the Trimdon Grange Mining Disaster?
For three days between 19 and 21 February 1882, the people of Trimdon Grange and Kelloe buried 74 people. Some were buried in mass graves. Others were laid to rest in a cemetery a few miles away. Most people in Trimdon Grange buried someone in their family. Many of the dead left behind young families. What caused so many people to die? Was it disease, famine, illness or murder?
You are a reporter for The Trimdon Herald. You have to write an accurate story about these deaths for your newspaper. You must study the evidence carefully, putting all the pieces together like a jigsaw. When you have finished looking at the evidence you can write the story.
- What things do all the victims have in common?
- Can you find any families?
- Who was the youngest victim?
- Who was the oldest victim?
- Discuss in pairs what you think could have caused these people to die.
1. These are some of the burial registers for Trimdon Grange in 1882.
- What clue is given here about how these people died?
- How many boys were killed?
- How many children lost their fathers?
- How would the lives of these children change now that their fathers were dead?
- How many people survived?
2. This is an extract from the Durham Advertiser showing those who were killed and those who were rescued.
- What did Ralph see when he reached the shaft?
- Why could he not get out of the mine?
- After Ralph had waited for about an hour what did he see?
- How well were these men?
- What news did these men bring?
- How did Ralph and the other men get out of the mine in the end?
- Ralph was there at the time. Does this mean that we should believe everything he has to say about the explosion?
- Can you now say why 74 men were killed?
3. This is the account of Ralph Wynn, a survivor of the Trimdon Grange disaster.
- What was the date of the explosion?
- What was the time of the explosion?
- Where was the place of the explosion?
- What types of lamps were used?
- How 'gassy' was the mine?
- How strong were the roofs of the mine?
4. This is part of the official report into the Trimdon Colliery disaster.
- What kind of lamp is the miner holding?
- How is the roof of the mine being held up?
- Can you see any special safety equipment in the mine?
- What else can you see in the photo?