On 12th December 1866, with less than an hour of the morning shift remaining, a huge explosion occurred in the workings. The explosion was heard on the surface up to 3 miles away. Of the 340 miners believed to be working underground at the time, only 6 survived.
Over 100 men volunteered to take part in the rescue operation, led by Parkin Jeffcock. 27 of these men were killed in a second explosion on 13 December. The disaster left 149 widows and 374 children without fathers.