2016 marks 150 years since the worst mining disaster ever to happen in England. The Oaks disaster, which is thought to have killed 361 people, took place in Barnsley in December 1866.
Owned by Messrs Firth Barber and Co., the Oaks Colliery was situated a mile south of Barnsley. A series of explosions took place at the colliery in the afternoon of Wednesday 12th December 1866 which, according to the Barnsley Chronicle, ‘shook the whole neighbourhood as if the earth had been rent by an earthquake’. A further explosion occurred on the morning of Thursday 13th December, when volunteer rescuers were underground searching for possible survivors as well as the bodies of victims. It is thought that overall 361 people were killed as a result of the explosions at the Oaks.
Registered charity People and Mining, a group of ex-miners based in the Dearne Valley, along with the National Union of Mineworkers, are raising funds to erect a fitting memorial to those who tragically lost their lives in the Oaks Colliery Disaster. The memorial is being created by Barnsley sculptor, Graham Ibbeson.
People and Mining and the National Union of Mineworkers are appealing for donations to raise the remaining funds required to enable the memorial to be erected. People and Mining will be collecting donations before the Wigan match this Saturday at Oakwell (19/11/2016).