Trapped underground after an explosion, can Ben, Harry, William, Tom and Sally find a way out of this 'Devilish Place' or will this 'Devilish Place' become their last resting place.
Worsdale Mine in Yorkshire owned by Lord Greenbarugh employed 350 men, women, boys and girls some as young as 7 years of age.
The mine only some 240 yards deep, being entirely lit by candles was not considered dangerous because it was well ventilated naturally by air being drawn into the mine through number ‘2’ shaft which had no headgear and was situated on the hill 500yards from the main number ‘1’ shaft.
The miners were lowered underground by means of a cage suspended by ropes over the headgear and powered by a horse gin.
At the time of the disaster there were approximately 150 workers underground.
It was in the afternoon, a little after midday; when a tremendous noise, saw a discharge come out of the pit shaft like a cannon; it continued for a quarter of an hour, discharging everything from the bottom of the pit; wood, stones, hay that was used as fodder for the ponies, the cage blasted into the wooden headgear and all around the pit was in a terrible state; when the discharge ceased, the atmosphere was filled with thick smoke and choking coal dust.
At the coalface Tom was already at work hewing some coal.
“Hey you get out of there” shouted Ben.
“I know what I’m doing, undercut and then cut up each side, hit the coal and it falls down” said Tom, giving a description of the work he had done so far.
“Aye, maybe so, but what about setting the chocks under the bottom to stop it falling while you cut up the sides and anyway it’s not your job to do that so come out of there” said Ben.
“Oh aye, the chocks, I forgot them” replied Tom.
“Aye, the chocks” repeated Ben, giving Tom a look of disapproval.
At the pit bottom the manager sniffed the air, his nostrils filling with the stench burnt flesh and rotten eggs, this he knew from experience was an indication that sulphur and gases were present, his breathing was laboured but otherwise he was unaffected by it, the gas though combustible if in enough quantities could cause another explosion, his main concern was the presence of the odourless carbon monoxide that could neither be tasted or smelled but if inhaled would kill him within seconds, still in complete darkness and undecided if he should light his candle he held the bird cage close to his face, though he couldn’t see the canary he knew it was still alive by the chirping and the draft from its wings as it fluttered about the bottom of the cage.
“Keep singing little bird, keep singing” he muttered.