HC Deb 13 June 1910 vol 17 c1034

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to the recent disaster at Whitehaven, on whose authority Wellington Pit was sealed on 12th May?

The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Churchill)

I presume the hon. Member refers to the stopping of the intake-airway of the mine, which took place on 13th May, the return-airway being left open until several days later. The decision to close the intake-airway, by which the conflagration was being fed with air, and which further carried the poisonous gases generated by the fire through all the workings of the mine, was made by the authorities of the mine, acting on the advice of His Majesty's Inspector of Mines for the district. It was confirmed by the Chief Inspector of Mines on his arrival at Whitehaven a few hours after a conference, at which the managers of the mine, six inspectors of mines, and others were present, who unanimously advised that the stopping must be maintained. This decision was arrived at because it was clear that, in view of the extent and fierceness of the fire, any further attempt to penetrate the mine was useless; that it was impossible that any of the workmen in the workings should be alive; and that further operations were attended with imminent danger of another explosion, which would cost the lives of the would-be rescuers.


May we take it as the right hon. Gentleman's answer that the rumour to which currency has been given that the colliery owners sealed the mine to save their own property is wholly without foundation?


The sealing of the intake-airway was done on the advice and with the approval of His Majesty's Inspector of Mines.