In Memory of

Arthur Netherwood, 1859-1875
John Buckley Netherwood, 1877-1893

This site commemorates the brief lives of two Netherwoods who died in West Yorkshire coal mines.

Arthur Netherwood was a sixteen-year-old horse driver at Swaithe Main Colliery, Worsbrough, on December 6, 1875, when he was killed in an explosion. One hundred forty-five other mine employees died with him.

Arthur was born March 5, 1859 at Wigfield Farm, Worsbrough, to Charles and Theresa (Goldthorpe) Netherwood. Charles was himself killed March 14, 1871 while working as a hanger-on at Rockley Mine, Barnsley, when a cage descended on him as he crossed a shaft; he was 43. The 1871 census taken just a few weeks after shows Theresa as head of the household in Berry Row, Worsbrough Dale, with children Charles, 20; Theresa, 17; Lucy, 15, Esther, 12; Edward, 5; Elizabeth, 2, and Albert, 1.

Donations for relief of miners' families came in from ordinary people all over the country. Records of the Swaithe Main Colliery Explosion Relief Fund show that Theresa received 2 shillings 6 pence per week following Arthur's death until September 2, 1876 when a final payment of 6 was paid.

A monument to the 146 men and boys was erected at St. Thomas's church in Worsbrough Dale. A commemorative plate was also made, on which Arthur's name appears at the lower right.

John Buckley Netherwood was born August 25, 1877 to Mary Ann Netherwood, a single woman and power loom weaver of Thornhill Edge near Dewsbury. Shortly before John's second birthday his mother died of tuberculosis, aged 23. He was brought up by his grandfather, Samuel "Sammy" Netherwood, boot and shoe maker of Thornhill Edge, and his second wife Frances.

When Sammy died in October 1890 John continued living in the family home in the High Street with Frances, her daughter and granddaughters, where he was the following April. He was then 13 and working as a woollen piecener. The next month, however, on May 14, Frances also died. Her will divided everything except an "oil likeness" of herself, which she left to a daughter, equally among her five children and John, "grandson of my late husband Samuel."

At some point, John left the mills for work in the mines, perhaps through the influence of Joe Pickles, a son-in-law of Frances and a coal miner. He was at his job as a rope-minder in Combs Pit, Thornhill, on July 4, 1893 when fumes from an explosion and fire killed him and 138 others. He was buried in the churchyard of St. Michael and All Angels, Thornhill, where his mother, grandfather and step-grandmother are also buried. He was 15 years old.

More on the Combs Pit disaster including contemporary photos and documents can be found at NowThen Dewsbury.

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© 2005 Judith Werner