Huskar Pit Disaster

The Huskar Pit Disaster (also known as the Huskar Colliery Tragedy of 1838) was a terrible event that illustrates the horror children faced working in coal mines. First off, we must understand what coal mines were like. Coal mines were deep pits. They were usually around 300 feet underground. Huskar Pit was used as ventilation for the miners. Whole families often worked in the mines together. Children worked as trappers, hurriers, and thrusters, helping to bring the coal from the rock face to the surface by carts and passageways. While women worked as hurriers, most often. Trappers sat in the dark and waited for the carts to come pulled by the hurriers. Trappers also kept the mine ventilated. Hurriers were strapped to the carts and pushed and pulled them along the passageways until they reached the surface. Thrusters pushed from behind. They kept the cart moving. These were the roles children had within coal mines.

The roles of children in coal mines are already horrific, yet on July 4, 1838, 26 children lost their lives. That day was a fairly typical day until the early afternoon. A storm blew in and brought with it rainfall and hail. In this specific coal mine, there was a steam engine which brought the coal and the workers up from the pit. The rain doused the boiler, and the engine was unable to work. The many adult workers moved down to the bottom of the pit where they were to most safe until they could be brought up. The children, both boys and girls, waited for the engine to start again. They heard a thunderclap and were afraid something had exploded in the mine. They had been down in the mines for nine hours already, so they became desperate to save themselves. They decided to take the Huskar Pit ventilation drift out. They climbed it and reached an air door. Outside the door, the rain had caused a small stream to bulge and grow to an abnormal size. The children were unaware of the increasing water. They pushed the door open and were soon washed down the drift. They drowned. 26 children died that day, eleven girls and fifteen boys. When this incident was told to Queen Victoria, she took great interest in it, and it led to the Royal Commission which investigated women and children's labor in coal mines.

They have the names of each child that died. I have included them here to help make them a little more real:

Catherine Garnett       11 years

Hannah Webster         13 years

Elizabeth Carr             13 years

Ann Moss                    9 years

Elizabeth Hollings      15 years

Ellen Parker                15 years

Hannah Taylor            17 years

Mary Sellors                10 years

Elizabeth Clarkson      11 years

Sarah Newton             8 years

Sarah Jukes                 10 years


George Birkinshaw     10 years

Joseph Birkinshaw      7 years

Isaac Wright                12 years

Abraham Wright         8 years

James Clarkson           16 years

Francis Hoyland         13 years

William Atick             12 years

Samuel Horne             10 years

Eli Hutchinson            9 years

George Garnett           9 years

John Simpson              9 years

George Lamb              8 years

William Wormersley   8 years

James Turton               10 years

John Gothard              8 years

"Huskar Colliery 1838." Mine Accidents and Disasters. Mining Accident Database. 2021.

"The Huskar Pit Disaster." The Penistone History Archive. 2018.

Associated Place(s)

Event date:

4 Jul 1838 to 1838