Silverwood Logo by John Doxey background photo Mick Carver1900 - 1994

Dedicated to the Miners of Silverwood

History of the Mine


Silverwood Mine

Hollings Lane


South Yorkshire England

Webmaster John Doxey

Main Photos Jonathan Dabs.

Additional content Mick Carver







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The Paddy Train Disaster

Thursday 3rd February 1966

A tribute to those involved



Throughout the history of mining, death and injury from accidents have been commonplace, in the early days ignorance and lack of safety measures were largely responsible. The Miners were often unaware of the dangers or if they were aware, carried on working anyway in fear of losing their job. The Mine owners cared little for safety, safety measures meant spending money which meant less profit, and without the unions the Miners had no one to argue their case for them. Around the turn of the twentieth century as the unions were formed and gained large memberships, public awareness made it necessary for Mine owners to take serious action regarding safety. In  1911 an Act of Parliament was passed which stated that Mines must have trained Rescue Teams. The safety was further improved when British Coal took over the Mines. Despite the measures introduced coal mining was still a dangerous occupation and many accidents still occurred, the paddy mail accident at Silverwood was to be a grim reminder of the dangers involved in working down the mines.

 For the victims families and friends on the day it meant a long terrifying, nerve racking wait for news of who had survived and who had not, and at the end of that wait, cruel heartbreak for the families of the men who had died. For the men who survived it left the terrible memory of seeing workmates killed or injured as well as coping with the injuries they sustained, both mentally and physically themselves. Some of the survivors were never to return underground again.

We can only imagine the lasting effect the accident had on these Miners, and their families.

In any accident underground the highly skilled Mines rescue teams have to be praised for their bravery, risking their own life's to save others in what must be one of the worst scenarios to attempt rescue work, down a mine!!!

This page is aimed at remembering the Miners involved in this Silverwood tragedy, and to record what happened on that day.



"When a woman packs a mans snap and sends him of to work the very least that she can expect

is that he will come home alive ".

William Hitchen [1966 ]


Thursday 3rd February 1966..The shift started as normal as forty Miners boarded the Paddy Train [ nicknamed the Passenger Train ] the journey to the work area was mainly a downhill run. Shortly after the passenger train departed a second train known as the Mail train which carried equipment followed. The Mail Train suddenly went out of control picking up speed, until it caught up with the train in front smashing into the rear end. Nine men died instantly, one man survived a further three day's in hospital, and 30 miners were injured.

Anne Meggitt writes:

"One of the heroes on the day was Sister Adshead, who was part of the rescue team. The following day all the national papers carried her picture on their front pages one caption I remember seeing was "The Angel with the dirty face", of course she must have been down the pit before to minister medical aid ,but this was an incident where people saw her as an heroine, most of the country must have been very surprised that a Woman would actually go down a pit. At the time I was living in London, my Dad worked on the pit top so I knew he was ok, very few people had home phones , So I was detached in a way from the full impact it had on the community until I came home some 3 months later, and I could feel the sorrow ,the broken spirit, that took many a year to pick back up."


Actually and I think even Sister Adshead would agree with this the real credit goes to a Silverwood miner and those who assisted him

Jim Bailey was the on duty first aid man that day and had actually treated and patched up as he says the wounded, before Sister Adshead had even got into the pit. He had also taken care of the dead miners. As a first aid man down a mine Jim would have been quite experienced in the rapid treatment of injured miners, but this accident was on a scale he had not encountered before which makes you realize the strength of character and presence of mind he and others displayed on the day.


Robert [bob] Brocklesby  was one of those miners first on the scene, and with a heavy heart he helped to remove some of the dead miners from the wreckage.

Thomas Towey  who was originally from Co. Mayo began working at Silverwood during the Second World War. He was also involved in the 1966 accident and although he is pictured walking out of the mine at the time he subsequently spent months at Firbeck recuperating. He returned to Silverwood where he worked until his retirement.

Mick Carver writes
It’s hard to believe that next year [ 2006 ] will be the 40th anniversary of the Silverwood disaster, People always remember what they were doing when President Kennedy was assassinated, and I suppose it’s the same for any tragedy that is close to us. My wife remembers Thrybergh school being closed , and I can remember coming home from school ( I left school that Easter) and my grandfather (Hitchen) had walked over from Wingfield to see if my dad was ok , not many people were on the phone in those days. When we told him that my dad was ok but that Mr Coulson had been killed he burst out crying and we couldn’t console him. When ever I hear of similar disasters around the world I often think about what he said when we had calmed him down. He said "When a woman packs a mans snap and sends him of to work the very least that she can expect is that he will come home alive ". Mick Carver


A young Danny Cassidy was working on the day, he recalls receiving a phone call from the scene and instructed to take all the first aid equipment he could find immediately. When he reached the vicinity of the accident he was told to take the equipment to the men involved with the rescue, but Overman Arthur Mullins prevented him from doing so with the words " Leave it theer Danny, tha too young to see what's happened dahn theer lad"


Dave Edwards was also present , and the memory of the horror  he witnessed is still today [ 2007 ] vivid in his mind.


Possibly the luckiest man on the day was Jack Winter.

Janet Kato writes:-
Jack Winter (b) 1910 (my father) He worked for fifty one and a half years all at Silverwood. He was also involved in the 1966 Colliery disaster and some of those killed were his fishing mates. From what I was told he only escaped because he was called back to the main office (he was a shot firer) other wise he would have been on that train.
I lived at that time in Balby Doncaster and was 3 months of having my second child. My mother was on her way to see when I hear of the accident and when she arrived at our house I told her what had happened and she went straight back calling in at Dalton Lane where her brother Harry told her that dad was alright. I had to stay in Doncaster because I had a doctors appointment and made my way back to Rotherham later in the afternoon. My parents rented a house after their marriage at 50 Cambridge Street, Clifton, Rotherham, later buying it.


In a recent telephone conversation with Stan Crowther [ ex local M. P. and twice Lord Mayor of Rotherham,] Stan reflected that he was a reporter at the time of the accident and was given the job of producing the story for a local tabloid. He has never forgot that day and was greatly affected by the loss of the men, and the grief that surrounded him. He was so moved he wrote a song titled "The Silverwood Disaster" shortly after, as a tribute and at this moment [ 2007 ] he is hoping to have that song recorded by a local artist.

I am told that all the Miners of Silverwood attended the funerals to pay tribute to their Mates.


Roly J. Orton one of the deceased became the first man to be buried at the then new East Herringthorpe Cemetery, and his headstone states "Killed in pit accident at Silverwood" a sad but lasting reminder of the day.

The shock and grief was felt throughout the area and also in Mining communities around the British Isles as we were all reminded once again of the true price of coal. Some of the miners were so shocked that they left their employment at Silverwood shortly after this incident.  Men like Frank Harvey of Dalton who was a train driver at Silverwood pit 1955 to approx 1967, Frank was on the next shift following the tragedy, he moved to Suffolk with his family around 1968. In later years Frank was reluctant to discuss the accident as the memory was so painful.


The families of the lost Miners were then left to cope with their grief, and for those of you who think people get over these things, the answer is no you don't get over it, you learn to live with it and that my friends is the hard part, for you never forget.

John Doxey

The Miners involved

The miners who died

J. B. Sansome.
J. Green.
J. Hanton.
Reginald. Kelsall.
J. W. Coulson.
Roly. H. Orton. age 49
Arthur Shaw. From Maltby South Yorkshire
A. Wraith.
G. Smith.
Jack. Nettleship

The miners who survived

Arthur "Pop "Linney
Albert "Ketch " Kelsall
Albert Green
Enoch Green
Frank Carver
George "Juddy" Steer

Thomas Towey




A Personal Recollection

By John Lindley BSc

As a background to the accident, the train carrying the main day shift to the coal face area of the colliery set off from the pit bottom area at about 6.10 am followed by another train at about 6.15 am as there were a great number of men that had to be transported. On the day of the accident a materials train carrying supplies needed at the faces set off about 3 or 4 minutes after the second train had gone in bye. All the trains were hauled by a 100HP Hunslet Diesel Locomotive.
My involvement
I had worked at Silverwood Colliery since 1966, first as an apprentice fitter as I could not get a job at my neighbouring collieries, Denaby & Cadeby. After doing extensive schooling , first at Mexbrough technical college and then at Rotherham College, both through the National Coal Board as it was then known.

 I achieved a Higher National Certificate or HNC as it was known. The training officer Bill Foster came to see me and said did I want to go on a management training course. I asked for details and decided that I did.
The course was for two years and it meant spending time away from home at various locations throughout the country. Part of the training was to spend time with various Group Engineers, who were responsible for about 8 collieries in the area set up.
At the time of the Silverwood accident I was with Mr. L. T. Woods who incidentally had previously been the mechanical Engineer at Silverwood 1957 – 1959. The Group Engineers Office was at the Providence offices at Denaby and was part of the old Kilner glassworks establishment.
Each morning it was part of my job to ring around the collieries in Mr. Woods group and collect all the previous days mechanical delays. On the morning of the accident Mr Woods received a phone telling him of the accident. So with no more to do we went to the colliery, about 5 miles from the Providence office.
As we arrived at the colliery there were many ambulances there and lots of activity. After obtaining details of what had happened Mr Woods said we should go underground and view the accident site as the Mines Inspectorate would be involved. As the Paddy mail train was hauled by Diesel Locomotive it was imperative that an exact report was essential as all the equipment was mechanical.
We had to walk to the accident site as the ‘crash’ was about 1.5 miles from the pit bottom in the Braithwell return roadway. As in return airways it was hot so progress was somewhat limited, although the roadway was in good condition.
When we arrived at the site we discovered that all the casualties had been removed. We took sketches of the site as did the colliery surveyors. We then arranged for the Locomotives and the damaged carriages to be took to the underground Locomotive garage, which was in the pit bottom area.
We then examined both locomotives which were 100HP Hunslet types and arranged for a representative to come from the locomotive company which was at Hunslet at Leeds.
After spending many hours checking the Locomotives and finding nothing wrong with the breaking system we decided to have the Locomotives brake tested. The Locomotives had by law to have there brakes tested once a week on a designated test area which was marked out at a place were the brakes were applied, the stopping distance was then measured and compared with the NEW Locomotive details and if need be the brakes were adjusted. In this case the brakes proved to be in order. By the time we had set up the tests the mechanical inspector of mines was on site an did in fact witnessed the tests. As you can imagine an extensive report had to be carried out and discussed with all the appropriate colliery staff and the mines inspectorate.

One of the main conclusions was that a material train must not follow a man riding train. So all the colliery transport rules had to be re written. There were many other minor conclusions and these are set out in the main report on the accident
From my point of view it was an experience that I will not forget ,and it made an impression on me that safety was of paramount importance not only in coal mines but in everyday life.
 © John Lindley BSc


The above article is copyright and placed here courtesy of John Lindley BSc


"The Silverwood Disaster" A tribute song by Stan Crowther


The name "Paddy Train" was firstly applied to surface passenger trains that carried Irish miners to the coal fields of England in the early part of the last century, when trains were introduced underground to transport men to and from the coal face the term Paddy train was applied  by the miners.





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