Researchers needed to help with Barnsley mining disaster project

Volunteers are wanted to help research those killed in a mining disaster in Barnsley.

The Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership is working with Barnsley Archives and Local Studies to research the 1866 Oaks Disaster - the worst mining accident in English history.

The Oaks explosion occurred at the Oaks Colliery, near Stairfoot, in December 1866 - killing around 380 miners and rescuers.

A series of explosions caused by flammable gases ripped through the workings.

December 2016 marks the 150th anniversary of the disaster and to commemorate the tragedy a series of projects are being developed including an exhibition at Experience Barnsley and events involving schools.

There is not one definitive list of all the boys and men killed in the disaster.

Councillor Roy Miller, a member of Barnsley Council’s Cabinet, said: “There are various lists dating back to 1867 but they often contradict each other. Different spellings, double counting and the general confusion about the disaster have all played a part.

“We now need the help of volunteers to research the names we’ve compiled from different sources. These were real people, not just names in a list, and we want to tell their stories best we can.”

Volunteers who can spare time for research will receive training.

They will be using local and national resources to build up biographies of the victims.

It is suspected that new names may be discovered.

The Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership is a five-year scheme, running from June 2014, focusing on the historic buildings and landscapes of the Dearne Valley, working with the local communities to protect, preserve and enhance the area. It is supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

To find out more about the project or to volunteer call Stephen Miller on 01226 773110 or stephenmiller@barnsley.gov.uk