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HUNTLY, WAIKATO, NEW ZEALAND
MINE DISASTER
SATURDAY 12 SEPTEMBER 1914

On the 19 April 2009 a memorial board listing all the victims of the Ralph Mine disaster was unveiled at the Huntly Cemetery. The Huntly Lions Club would like to contact with descendants of all the families involved before the centennial in 2014.

MINERS WHO LOST THEIR LIVES IN THE RALPH MINE (HUNTLY) DISASTER
ALLEN William 18
BAKER Thomas 37
BLENKINSOP William 37
BERRY Thomas 29
BOWLER John 23
BROCKLEBANK William Snr 52
BURT Hutchinson 19
BURT William 28
BURTON William 27
CASSON Thomas 22
DARBY James 57
DIXON John -
GOWANS William 43
GREENER John 48
HINCHCO William 37
HOLDEN James 58
HOPPER Fawcett 31
IZATT Alexander 17
JACKSON Henry 24
JACKSON John 26
JACKSON Samuel 54
JONES John 49
KELLY William 36
LYONS Daniel 62
MALONEY Charles 21
MARTIN John 29
MAYLAND William Jnr 18
MOLESWORTH Theophilus 29
MUNSEY Robert 63
PATERSON David 36
PATTERSON William 44
PECKHAM Henry 45
RANSOME Hugh 39
ROBINSON John 28
ROPER William 36
RUSTON Arthur 28
SKELLERN John 36
SLAVIN William 18
SMITH William 62
STEELE John 40
TAYLOR Fred 29
THOMPSON Jacob 18
WHORSKEY John 36

MINERS WHO SURVIVED THE RALPH MINE (HUNTLY) DISASTER
BROCKLEBANK William Jnr
BROWNLIE Joseph
EARBY Thomas
FLETCHER Daniel
HEALEY Bernard
HUGHES Thomas
McGILL Patrick
McINTOSH Alexander
MITCHELL William
MOTTRAM Glen
O'BRIEN Joseph
PECKHAM Alfred
RICHARDS James
RITCHIE Joseph
STEWART Albert
TALLON John
WILKIE John
YOUNG James

The following is taken from the Auckland WEEKLY NEWS for Thursday, 17th September 1914. Thanks to Jackie Walles for this.

DISASTER AT HUNTLY - TERRIBLE MINING EXPLOSION
FIFTY-EIGHT ENTOMBED - EIGHTEEN BODIES RECOVERED
NINETEEN MEN ESCAPE ALIVE - LITTLE HOPE FOR THE OTHERS

What will probably prove to be the second greatest mining disaster yet recorded in New Zealand took place on Saturday morning when, as a result of a fearful explosion in Ralph's mine, one of the two Huntly collieries owned by the Taupiri Coal Company Limited, fifty-eight miners were entombed. Of this number nineteen escaped alive, of whom once has since died and at least two others are lying in a serious condition, two at Hamilton Hospital and one in Huntly. The bodies of eighteen of the remaining forty have been recovered, and it is not believed that it is possible to save any of the others alive.

The workings of Ralph's mine extend for miles westward from Huntly, and go under the Waikato River. Experts who had examined it declared it to be one of the safest coal mines in the world, practically free from all forms of dangerous gas. The miners, numbering about 250, habitually worked with naked lights.

The roar of the explosion, which occurred at twenty minutes past seven in the morning, was heard and felt for miles around, and a great cloud of smoke and dust, momentarily shot with flame, hovered over the main shaft. Within an hour seven men, four of them badly burned, emerged from the main shaft, and another eleven escaped practically uninjured through the western shaft. Three injured men were dispatched immediately to the Hamilton Hospital.

Rescue parties worked heroically, but for hours they were beaten back by poisonous gases and noxious fumes. The mine was found to be on fire near the main shaft.

Here they found William Brocklebank crawling on hands and knees towards the shaft and brought him out, the only man who was near the scene of the explosion to come out alive. He had been many hours unconscious, but was not seriously injured. An hour later, six o'clock on Saturday night, search parties brought out seven bodies and, working without ceasing all Saturday night, they recovered five more.

THE NAMES OF THE MINERS WHO WERE KILLED

Following were the names of the men known to have been killed:

BURT H Trucker Single
BURT William Shiftman Single
HINCHCO William Shiftman Single
HOLDEN J Shiftman Married
IZATT Alex Onshovers assistant Single Died in Hamiton Hospital
JACKSON S Shiftman Single
KELLY William Contractor Married
LYONS D Shiftman Married
MALONEY C Trucker Single
MUNSEY Robert Shiftman Married
PATTERSON D Roadsman Married
PATTERSON William Contractor Married
PECKHAM H Senio deputy Married
ROBINSON J Trucker Married
SKELLERN J C Deputy Married
SLAVIN William Trucker Single
STEELE John Roundsman Married
THOMPSON Jacob Horse-driver Single
WHORSKLY (WHORSKY) John Deputy Married

MEN WHO ARE MISSING AND PROBABLY DEAD

ALLEN W Machine Boy Single
BERRY T Winch driver Single Aged 29. Body recovered in the sump in No 7 Level
BLENKINSOPP W Shooter Married
BOWLER J Trucker Single
BROCKLEBANK W Snr Shooter Married
BURTON W Trucker Single
CASSON T Trucker Single
DARBY James Deputy Married
GOWANS William Under manager Married
GREENER J Shiftman Married
HOPPER Seymour Trucker Married
JACKSON Jos Clipper Single
JONES J W Roadman Married
MARTIN J Trucker Single
MAYLAND W Jnr Clipper Single
MITCHELL W Trucker Single
MOLESWORTH T Engine-driver Married
RANSOME H Road-cleaner Married
RUSTON Arthur Roadman Married
SMITH William Deputy Married
TAYLOR F Winch driver Married

THE MINERS WHO SUCCESSFULLY ESCAPED

Those who have escaped from the mine are as follows:

Seriously Injured:

BECKHAM Alf Severley burned
JACKSON J Severley burned Father & 2 sons died Died Waikato Hospital
O'BRIEN Joseph Burned hands

Escaped with Slight Injury:

BROCKLEBANK Wm Jnr Considerably cut & bruised
HEALEY B Bruised arm
MOTTRAM Body bruised and leg injured

Escaped without Injury:

BROWNLEE Joseph
EASBY? T
FARRAR A
FLETCHER D
McGILL Pat?
McINTOSH A
MITCHELL W A
RICHARDS J
STEWART A A
TOLLAN J
WILKIE J
YOUNG J

RESCUE PARTY

BALL A
BOND T
DUNCAN F
EDGE Rev Father
FINN Rev Father
LAMONT James
LANGFORD G S
MACDIARMID J C Dr
McGILL J
RALPH J
WEBB T
WOOD Mr (Leader)
WRIGHT Constable

....Darkness fell and the pale faced women, cheered somewhat by the sight of Brocklebank, went away to their lonely homes. Then the men brought to the surface that which they had been hiding mercifully at the bottom of the shaft - seven corpses, blackened with fire and battered and torn by flying coal. These were the bodies of HINCHCO, ROBINSON, W BURT, SKELLERN, S JACKSON, WHORSKEY & PECKHAM Sen.

A party comprising Messrs BISHOP, WOOD, JOLLEY & PENMAN, found the last body in No.5 level in a place hitherto somewhat inaccessible on account of falls.....It is conjectured that the man was thrown some distance and his body forced through a door on the haulage way. There was some doubt as to the identity of the body but the general opinion is that it is that of J Martin, a trucker, a single man. Some consider that it is the corpse of Wm Smith, a deputy, but it is believed that Smith has been buried without identification.

Incidental names:

DIXON Harold B (Prof) Visiting British scientist
HUGHES Thomas Graham Miner
McGILL John Deputy
WEAR Daniel Inspector of the old workings
YOUNG Joseph Miner

WEEKLY NEWS - 1st October 1914 - p.18 - [AWN 01.10.1914]

HUNTLY MINE DISASTER - MONEY URGENTLY NEEDED

In connection with the Huntly disaster, the Huntly Relief Committee has issued a strong appeal for assistance for the widows and orphans left by the victims. A copy of the appeal has been forwarded to all local bodies and unions in the Dominion and they are asked to take such steps as they may deem fit to raise subscriptions. It is impossible, the committee states, to make up a list of all the dependents left by the victims. The following list, however, gives some idea of the appalling distress which has been occasioned by the terrible accident:-

BLENKINSOPP W Widow & 4 children under 14 years
BROCKLEBANK W Widow & 1 child under 14
BURTON W Widow & 2 children under 14 years
DARBY James Widow & grown up family
DIXON W Widow & 2 children under 14 years (In Australia)
GOWANS W Widow & 1 child under 14
GREENER J Widow & grown up family
HINCHCO W Widow & 2 children
HOLDEN J Widow & 1 child under 14
HOPPER F S R Widow & 2 children under 14
JACKSON S Widow & 1 child under 14
JONES J W Widow
KELLY W Widow & 1 child under 14
LYONS D Grown up family
MALONEY C Widow
MOLESWORTH T Widow & 1 child under 14
PATERSON D Widow & 5 children under 14 years
PATTERSON W Leaves 7 motherless children
PECKHAM H Widow & 7 children under 14 years
RANSOME H Widow & 1 grown up daughter
ROBINSON W Widow & 1 child under 14
ROPER W Widow & 4 children under 14 years (In England)
RUSTON A Widow & 1 child under 14
SKELLERN J C Four motherless children
SMITH W Widow & grown up family
STEELE J Widow & 5 children under 14 years
TAYLOR E Widow & 1 child under 14
WHORSKY (WHORSKLY) John Widow & 6 children

Of the above there are at least four widows with young families who are not eligible for the Widows' Pension and there are three widows without children and three widows with grown up families who are not eligible.

ASSISTANCE FROM TROOPS

Before the House of Representatives rose last week the Hon James ALLEN announced that the men who had been in camp at Palmerston North had sent him a sum of 107.16s.6d. towards the assistance of those who had suffered by the Huntly disaster.


For further information see - HUNTLY MINE DISASTER.
and the - WAIKATO COALFIELDS MUSEUM.

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