WOW! More Library Detectives

Read some of the stories from families & other visitors who have used the National Coal Mining Museum library for research. It's rewarding to know our team are helping to keep the history of coalmining alive.

We were asked if we had any information about ancestor John Macaskil who was believed to be part of the NCB rescue teams. We found John Macaskill was listed in the “Guide to the Coalfields” publication between 1949-1965, under NCB Central Rescue Stations: Doncaster & District, Wheatley Hall Road, Doncaster as Superintendent. He was also mentioned in the NCB magazine ‘Coal’s Mining Men in New year’s Honour list (Feb, 1959)

Courage and kindness to animals at Wharncliffe Silkstone Colliery. An enquirer brought his grandfather’s pocket watch into the Library, which was inscribed as having been awarded to him by the ‘Our Dumb Friends League’ in 1904. How had he earned this commendation? Research in newspaper archives found that Frederick Hible had received the award ‘in recognition of saving his pony from serious injury at the risk of his own life.’ (Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 17/3/1904).

The enquirer asked for information about their great, great grandfather Paul Lea, a Mine Inspector in Durham in 1924. We found him listed in the HM Report of the Inspectors of Mines.

We were asked if Patience Kershaw had been interviewed for the 1842 Employment Commission Report. We were able to track it down and provide an extract from the actual report.

Not a coal miner, but….Our visitor asked about his uncle who did have something to do with mining in the 1930s/40s. His name was H. E. Allen. We undertook some research and found this listing.

An important figure in mining. A group of students were looking for information on Sir William E Garforth, 1840s. We found a very informative obituary in Transactions for the Institute of Mining Engineers.

An enquirer asked about their ancestor Will Lightowler who may have been involved in the Thornhill Disaster. A look in the colliery file revealed so much information from a copy of the newspaper report to a picture of the survivors of the disaster. One of the men in the picture was Will Lightowler!

Which colliery was my brother a manager? We looked in the Guide to the Coalfields to locate dates and places where Arthur William Amos worked in management. He first appeared in the Guide in 1957, under the management section. He was Under-Manager at Crigglestone Colliery: 1957 – 1964 and New Monckton Colliery: 1965 – 1966. Then Deputy Manager at North Gawber Colliery: 1967 – 1971; Dodworth Colliery:1972 and Barrow Colliery: 1973 – 1974.

Can you help me find info on disaster at Victoria Pit? This enquiry came by email from someone living in Australia. Although, we have physical resources about the disaster in the Library, we also found something relevant for the enquirer online.

Academic authors Edith Hall and Henry Stead used an image from the 1952 January edition of Coal magazine from the Library in their book “A People’s History of Classics”. It was for a chapter on Miners’ Classics. The Library supplied the high resolution image and permission statement.

A researcher asked if we had an article titled “The Physics of particle size measurement” in the April 1952 issue. Our library assistant, David located the exact issue and was able to send the article to the enquirer.

Memories of a Mines Inspector An enquirer wished to know if we had any references to his grandfather, who was an Assistant Mines Inspector in the 1930s to 1950s. Through the annual reports of the Mines Inspectorate, we were able to trace his grandfather’s career over twenty years, and to identify the date of his retirement. The Museum’s collection of ephemera also contained the menu and speech list for his retirement dinner!

Peter Faulkener and his wife brought in a 2nd edition copy of Practical Coal Mining for Miners Vol. 1 & 2 (ed. E. Mason). This title is often offered as a donation to us, but we have many editions in the collection except for 1951! The book belonged Mr Faulkner’s Dad, who had worked in collieries including Galpwell and Hilton. Mr & Mrs Faulkener were delighted to find a home for this book – so are we!

An enquirer sent in a photograph of a medal that had been awarded to members of the Doncaster and District Mines Rescue Brigade, and wished to know why, when and how many medals had been distributed. By searching local newspapers, we discovered that the medals were awarded in 1925 to 105 members of the seven local colliery-based rescue teams who had served for three or more years. The medals were presented to the men by F. H. Wynne, the Deputy Chief Inspector of Mines.

Death of a boy in a mine. The visitor was looking for a Henry Illsley pre 1914, who died at the age of 14, run over by loaded tubs. We found him listed in Mining Deaths in Great Britain.

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