The Wallsend Explosion

On the morning of Tuesday 23rd October 1821 a dreadful explosion took place.

Artist's representation

Artist's representation

"At around 8:00am the new pit shaft called New Belcher Seam, in Wallsend Colliery, on the river Tyne, blew up with a most tremendous explosion, which was heard at the distance of several miles around. It is not known with any certainty how the accident originated, but it is thought to be by the ignition of the hydrogen gas.

The report of the explosion having alarmed the people belonging to the collieries in the neighbourhood, hundreds instantly came running to the fatal spot, wishful to ascertain the extent of the calamity.

As soon as possible endeavours were made to render assistance to the sufferers, at least such of them as might have survived the accident. In the pit, out of fifty-six men, it was found only two had escaped unhurt – four men got out alive, but in a very weak state, two of whom are since dead. The rest, to the amount of fifty souls, had all perished."

This is an extract from a newspaper article written shortly after the incident.
The full report can be downloaded from the Activities & Resources section above.

Activities & Resources

Newspaper Article

The original report of the incident.

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Information Sources

Short extracts from the full report on which below activities are based.

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Mining Carts Activity

Students complete their answers to the questions based on the information sheet.

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Official Mine Accident Report

Students write an account of the explosion based on the facts they have learnt.

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Plan of Wallsend Colliery

Diagram of the workings of the Bensham Seam of Wallsend Colliery.

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Download All

Click the link below to download all of the above activities and resources.

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