HARESFINCH’S Joe Leonard, grandson of John Burns who was killed at Rushy Park pit in 1909, sent me a press cutting that is a reminder of how dangerous working in the mines was to the communities of our towns. 

The report read: “An inquest was held at the town hall on the body of a miner, named John Burns, of 86 Victoria Street, who was buried beneath a fall of coal at the Rushy Park mine, belonging to the St Helens Colliery Company. 

“Ann Burns stated the deceased was her husband.

“He was 42 and had been employed by the St Helens Colliery Company nearly all his life.

“The coroner related the circumstances to the jury, and said that the deceased had started work along with a man named John Kelly.
“All went well until 3am on Tuesday.

“The deceased and Kelly had set a bar, and Kelly went for a wedge to tighten it.

“He heard a crash and saw the deceased had been buried beneath a fall.
“When John Burns was extricated he was dead. 

“John Kelly gave evidence, corroborating the coroner’s statement, and said that at 10 minutes to one on Tuesday morning they were visited by the fireman Sam Roper.

“Roper examined the plate and said it was right – they had enough timber up.

“The bar that they were setting just before the accident was at the coal face.

"There was an upper side and a lower side where they were working, and the deceased had gone into the lower side, where there was some ‘pack’ to throw some coal into the bar.

“The coroner – Was there some timber between the end of the pack and the coal face?

“Witness – There was one prop at the corner of the coal.

“Mr Parkinson (for the Miners’ Federation) – Do you consider one prop was sufficient?

“Witness – Yes. We could not have worked if we had more timber up. 
“Roper, the fireman, said that when he examined the place they had, in his judgement, protected it properly.

“If they had wanted more timber there was plenty of it there.

“Cutting the loose end of the coal face had brought the fall down.
“Mr Matthews, HM inspector, said that this was a case where they had been driving a new place on the borders of an old working. 

“They had been trying to get a little loose coal and it had collapsed.
“It was a good thing to protect the corners of the old slips, where danger lurked. 

“The jury returned a verdict of ‘accidental death’.”