The recently completed Water Haigh No 1 shaft headgear in July 1912. Its was reported to be the highest in England, possibly in the world, at the time.

Joseph Forrest Whitehead was only 17 years old when he died at the Leeds General Infirmary after one of the earliest accidents at Water Haigh. It happened during the night shift on Wednesday 17 July 1912 when he was crushed between the cage and the top landing of No. 1 shaft.

According to evidence given at an inquest, held at Leeds two days later, nobody had seen him on the landing and it was only after he had fallen that the alarm was raised and the cage was lowered. An unnamed banksman said he had “no business” being on the landing.

The pit’s manager, Dennis Walter Hargreaves, said Joseph had been taken on as a lamp carrier. He had only been in the job a few months at the newly opened colliery.

Previously he’d been a labourer in one of Oulton’s stone quarries. Two of his five brothers were also working underground at Water Haigh – Wilfred, 18, was a pony driver and William, 14, was a labourer on the rope system which hauled tubs of coal to the pit bottom. He later became an active member of the miners’ union.

At the time of the accident they were all living with their parents, Fred and Minnie, in a cottage at 1 Quarry Hill close to the Old Masons Arms. An elder brother, Clifford, 19, a quarry labourer was also there, along with two younger brothers, Stanley and Harry. Another brother, Ernest, had died when he was 10 years old in 1910.

Their father worked as a labourer repairing local roads for the Hunslet Rural District Council. He came from a long line of quarry workers and had been born in Oulton in 1869. His father, William Whitehead, had been a mason but in 1873 had become the local sanitary inspector and was still working for the council when Joseph was killed. Minnie was also born in the village in 1873. Her father was Joseph Forrest, a stationary engineman.

Joseph was buried in the same plot as his brother in Oulton churchyard on the Sunday following his death. Their mother and father are also buried there. Fred was 76 when he passed away in 1945 and Minnie was 82 when she joined them in 1954.

INSUFFICIENT TIMBER USED. Yorkshire Evening Post, Tuesday 9 March 1915.

An inquest was held at Oulton, yesterday afternoon, by Mr. P. P. Maitland and a jury on the body of John William Lister (42). a miner living at 10, Compton Avenue, Dewsbury Road, Leeds, who was killed by a fall of roof whilst working in the Beeston scam of the Water Haigh Coiiiery, Oulton, on Friday night.

Willie Tranmore, Jack Lane, Hunslet, said that Lister, after getting to his working place, tested the roof with a pick. Some time afterwards, without warning. Lister was buried beneath a huge stone and a quantity of rubbish. Witness, who was “filling” at the time, was also struck by some of the debris, but he escaped unhurt, and was able to obtain assistance. Lister was quite dead when extricated. Evidence was also given showing that between the last prop and the coal fall there was a distance of over five feet. A witness stated that the accident might have been averted if Lister had used more timber. The Coroner said that Lister seemed to a careful and experienced miner, but he had been guilty of an error of judgment in not having put up sufficient support to the roof. He advised too jury to return a verdict accordingly. The jury concurred.

MINER KILLED AT WOODLESFORD. Yorkshire Evening Post, Monday 7 February 1916.

A miner named Lister Normington (52), married, of Prince Street. New Wortley, employed labourer Messrs. Henry Briggs, Water Haigh Collieries, Woodlesford, was killed instantly this morning through being knocked down by waggons attached to the locomotive in the colliery yard.

Collinson Crowther was 47 years old when he died at Leeds General Infirmary on Monday 17 March 1919 following an accident at Water Haigh. A couple of weeks earlier, as a deputy, he had been responsible for firing an explosive shot to bring down rock as part of the process known as “ripping” to advance a coal face. 

At the inquest, held before the Leeds City Coroner, one of his sons said his father had told him that as he was firing the shot he had taken cover as normal but a piece of stone had bounced off a wooden pack holding up the roof and hit him on one of his thighs causing a severe bruise. 

When his condition deteriorated he was admitted to the Infirmary on Friday 14 March but died the following Monday from a tetanus infection. A mining inspector told the inquest he was satisfed that “everything had been in order” with the work underground. The coroner recorded a verdict of “accidental death.”  

Collinson Crowther was born in 1871, the youngest child of colliery labourer Joe Crowther from Woodlesford and Sarah Collinson from Rothwell. At the time of the 1881 census Collinson was with his mother at his grandma and grandad Collinson’s house at Spibey Row on Rothwell Haigh. His father was staying with his eldest son on Leeds Road in Lofthouse Gate. 

Collinson’s grandad, William, who came from Horbury, was working as an engine cleaner in 1881, probably at Stourton engine shed, but for most of his life he’d been a miner at the Rothwell pits. 

Collinson started pit work when he was 12 or 13 years old. He married miner’s daughter Lilian Bulmer in 1890 and lived with her parents at Cross Street in Rothwell where their first son, Albert, was born. By 1901 Collinson had graduated to being a banskman on the pit top. 

Ten years later his family had grown to 8 children and they were living at what was described as the “tiled house” on Rothwell Haigh. At some point in the next few years Collinson became a deputy at the recently opened Water Haigh colliery and he moved with his family to 57 Aberford Road in Woodlesford, one of the larger houses opposite Eshald House reserved for colliery officials. 

BODY AND CYCLE IN RIVER. Yorkshire Evening Post, 19 August 1919.

Clifford Benson (17). of Church Street, Woodlesford, left home yesterday morning to go to the Water Haigh Colliery to pick coal. He was seen riding his cycle along the towing path, and was then missed until his body and cycle were recovered from the River Aire.

The supposition is that while riding his machine alongside ethe river, he slipped and fell into the water.

John Gillard was killed underground at Water Haigh on Tuesday 25 October 1921. He was 25 years old and had been working on a coal cutting machine with a man called H. Fennell. 

John, known as Jack, was in front of the machine whilst Fennell was operating the controls. Without warning there was a heavy fall of rock from the roof. It just missed Fennell but Jack Gillard was buried. Rescuers quickly dug him out but by the time they reached him he had died. 

A verdict of “accidental death” was recorded at the inquest held by C.J. Haworth at the Mechanics’ Institute in Rothwell on 27 October. At the time of his death Gillard was living at Pump Fold in Rothwell. He was born in Altofts and had started his working life on the screens above ground at one of the local pits. His father, James Henry Gillard, was a miner from Monmouth in South Wales. In 1901 he was a deputy at a pit near Altofts but by 1911 had become a pig and poultry dealer living on Lock Lane. 


Nottingham Evening Post, Thursday 6 March 1924.

That compensation was not payable to a man whose injuries precluded his taking part in sport was held Judge McCarthy at Pontefract County Court yesterday. “I am not here to award for that; what I have to decide is whether the man can earn now what he earned prior to the accident,” be told plaintiff’s solicitor. It was established that applicant., George McKean, of 60 Elland Road, Leeds, who claimed compensation for a fracture of the right leg received at Water Haigh Colliery, Woodlesford, had for eight months before the claim earned very good wages. Mr. Frankland. for Mesrrs. Henry Briggs, Son, and Co., Ltd.. said it looked as if someone bad put the man “up to” making a claim. Dr. Solly, the medical assessor, having examined McKean, the judge found there was still a slight defect, and awarded applicant 2s. 6d. week.


Of the tragic stories which unfold themselves and reveal their grim consequences within the Leeds General Infirmary, there has been none for long time touching than that of a young Leeds man years. Nine weeks ago wan miner, powerful and healthy, most the young men are who work underground. To-day lies helpless water-bed, lii> spine dislocated, and he kimtvs full well that niUHt be invalid for tho rest of bis days. The doctors fear ho may never walk again. flit young man is Richard Know tea, of Prospect Place, Ley Lane, and the tragedy «»f his life conic light through Wireless for Invalids Fund organised by 44 The Yorkshire Evening Post.” kind friend Knowlcs, who had heard of him the Infirmary, called the attention Editor his plight, ami a* soon ns invalid was transferred from ward to his own the Fund provided a wireless set (equipped with a fin© aerial), which is now one of the great joy» of bis life How great jov is, said to-day, no or.a but realises.

Sense of proportionRight to the Yorkshire evening Post reporter,And he told me that, grateful as he is still our readers for this gift, he has three still greater reasons for gratitude.One is a tiny infant lying near his bed, it is a baby girl 10 weeks old.That’s mine he said proudly, raising his head slightly to look at th

His second course for gratitude is the possession of a plucky and loyal young wife, and he is also thankful for the help and other evidence of kindness that is common in full measure from old and new friends in his hour of need.Calling upon him today, one found the invalid a good deal better than could’ve been expected. The cheery word of welcome came from a pale and pain -racked face. The bright sunshine and the promise of springHad not all be left outside the kitchen door, after all.Dick told his story readily.

I had been framing tactful questions,Fearing he might not know how little hope there is for him in the long years that lie ahead. But they were unnecessary.The doctors tell me they fear I shall never walk again, he said, quite frankly and pluckilyBut I am not giving up hope

He has been was crippled than after 14 years of interview strength is come back to him.I shan’t give up hope for years, after seeing that chap and if I can’t walk again, may be in time I shall be up to get out in a spinal chair.Dick’s Accident happened on January 7, in the Waterhead pit, at Woodlesford. He was just finishingPatient by taking a tub of cold down the road from the rear coalface. His horse was attached to the tub, and as they move forward, Knowles parties back in front of the top to study it before he am of the traces of the harness.Unluckily, he tripped and fell forward, and as the horse drag the tub on, he was crushed between his own and another job. My mate heard me scream and have me out in a minute he said that had gone numb all over my body and legs I can’t move my legs I said to my mate who was an ambulance man he said then it’s the spine Dick

Don’t say that I said but he told me to bear up.We were nearly 3 miles from the picture and my mates carry me on a stretcher it was a slow jobI went very staffed and a half buried me in all coats to keep me warm.

Six weeks skilful treatment in the infirmary to relieve the patient of the pain of a crushed kidney, and Nadine well enough to go. You still under expert treatment, and the doctor and a nurse visiting daily, and is making steady progressHe is makingHe says it is a grand to be at home to see his wife moving about to job enjoy cigaretteTo see his friends and when the wireless program opens to put on the back the headphones and listen to the music lectures and the news. Is not not too much of a reader but he would welcome a few magazines and picture papers. Happily the invalid is not in serious financial need though he feels that the amount of compensation is receiving at present mainly 23 shillings per week which is all use legally entitled to will not long be sufficientFor the needs of these little familyOsterley something more maybe dump him later.

Frank Jones, who lived on Quarry Hill, was still working at the age of 72 when he was killed by a fall of stone underground on Thursday 18 July 1946. At the inquest a deputy, John Edwin Madeley, said he’d examined the place where Frank was working shortly before the accident and found nothing to suspect that the roof was unsound.

George Storey, a horse feeder at Water Haigh, was riding his bike on his way home to Engine Street at Bowers Row when he was killed in an accident on Thursday 5 February 1953. It happened on Astley Lane where he was trapped underneath a bus after colliding with it.