My object is a bible presented to my great grandfather, "In memory of the terrible explosion at the Oaks Colliery, near Barnsley, on Wednesday the 12th December 1866, in which his father (Henry Howard), and 359 others, men and boys, lost their lives"
Henry Howard was a volunteer who went down the pit after the first explosion and was killed by the second explosion. The disaster shocked the nation and devastated the local community, a relief fund was established with countrywide donations, including Queen Victoria.
There was a desire to relieve distress in the many families affected but equally they was care to ensure that the widows' station in life did not improve.
While the suffering of miners' families was considerable there were those who believed that the distress of the mine owners as gentlemen of some standing, if not nobility, was of a higher order.
There were no records of who was working in the pit when the disaster occurred. The list of victims was compiled by union officials going around the village knocking on doors and asking who had not returned from work.