Wednesday, 27th December, 1882 workers returned to Newlands Mill
in West Bowling after their Christmas break.
following day, shortly after 8am, workers were at their morning
breakfast break when the mill's massive chimney collapsed. 54 people
were killed and many more injured. Had the chimney fallen earlier,
during the early morning shift, many more people would have been
workers had gone home for the break but those who breakfasted at
their looms were caught up in the disaster. Whole families were
lost and many of the survivors were seriously injured.
Mill was part of the vast Ripley Mills complex which spanned Parma
Street and Upper Castle Street. Over 2,000 people worked in the
mills and many were children.
Newlands Mill chimney was 255 feet high and weighed 4,000 tons.
It stood behind the boiler house which provided the steam power
to drive the spinning frames and looms.
had been extensive coal and iron mining on the site of the mill
complex and a warren of tunnels and excavations ran under the buildings.
Despite some opposition at the time the tall chimney was built directly
over the old pit shaft which had been filled in with wood and other
chimney suffered continually from structural problems and by 1882
cracks, and even a bulge, had appeared and masonry was beginning
to fall from the structure. Some repair work had been undertaken
during the Christmas break.
largely forgotten for 120 years a commemorative stone has now been
unveiled in memory of those killed in the disaster. This is part
of a general scheme to improve the environment and provide landscaping
in the St Stephen's Road area.