Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Memorial service for Huskar mine child deaths

Stones with names of victims
Image caption The names of some of the 26 children who died in the Huskar pit disaster 180 years ago

A memorial service has been held to mark the deaths of 26 children who drowned while working underground in a coal mine near Barnsley 180 years ago.

The girls and boys, aged between seven and 17, died after a storm caused a torrent of water to flood part of Huskar pit in July 1838.

It forced a change in employment law to prevent children from working in mines.

The service, led by the Bishop of Wakefield, took place at All Saints Church in Silkstone.

It is the culmination of a five-day programme of events commemorating the disaster.

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Alan Thompson, one of the organisers, said: "The disaster was tragic and we feel it's important that it's remembered by the community.

"The tragedy cannot be forgotten nor its subsequent part in changing the law on mining.

"It's important in maintaining the heritage of the area and the children's history."

Image copyright Huskar 180
Image caption A stone memorial commemorating the 26 children who died is in Nabs Wood, the site of the Huskar pit disaster

About 85 descendants attended a reception.

The children were working in the dark on 4 July when they attempted to escape the mine after mistaking the sound of a thunderstorm for an explosion.

They tried to make their way out through a ventilation shaft, but as they neared the surface a nearby ditch flooded and water poured into the hole.

Afterwards a report into the tragedy was published in the press resulting in a public outcry, which prompted an inquiry and later a change in the law.

Memorials have since been erected including a stone at Silkstone, as well as trees in Nabs Wood, which was the site of the Huskar pit disaster.