Photos of Wigan
Photos of Wigan

Wigan Album

Maypole Pit Disaster Aug 18th 1908


Memorial card Maypole pit disaster.
Photo: Keith Beckett
Views: 556
Item #: 32593
A memorial card remembering the men and boys who lost their lives in the Maypole colliery disaster in 1908.

Comment by: Helen of Troy on 10th July 2020 at 13:29

Very moving...all those men & boys..gone.
My Grt Grandfather was killed in the Blundells pit disaster leaving his wife Ann Bradshaw with 3 boys to bring up on her own, she never remarried .

Comment by: wigginlad on 10th July 2020 at 14:52

Keith, as a teenager in the 1960s I often went to the old Maypole Colliery site. It was on one visit that I learned of this awful tragedy and the fact that some of the miners were never recovered. I was also told that many, many years after the incident miners tobacco tins and matches were found on a fence covered by bushes, these would be left when they went down the mine as back then there were no lockers or pithead baths. Very Sad and one of many disasters around the Wigan coal fields.

Comment by: Irene Roberts on 10th July 2020 at 16:45

I went to the memorial service at St. John's, Abram in August 2008, 100 years after the tragedy. I live nearby. My own Dad was born in 1908, the year of the tragedy, (he was in his forties when I was born), and he worked down The Maypole in 1920 at twelve years old. My grandson Oliver, (Bob's great-grandson), will be twelve on his next birthday and when I look at him it is hard to believe a child of his age would once have been sent down the pit. A brilliant statue in memory of Wigan's miners and pit-brow lasses has recently been erected in Wigan.

Comment by: Edna on 10th July 2020 at 23:05

Looking closer at the names on the memorial card, these people were not just work colleagues but neighbors as well.Some living in the same street.M Cafferty and E Cafferty from the same family.No.8 Morris St. Scholes.That was tragic.

Comment by: John on 11th July 2020 at 00:04

There were a lot of Irishmen among them including brothers Tom and Hugh Killoran originally from Co. Sligo. My godmother was Hugh's daughter. I believe 25 of the dead were parishioners of St. Pat's.

Comment by: David Hurst on 11th July 2020 at 08:42

I attended Abram School in the 1950s. Our Headmaster, Mr Bridge had a bungalow built on Park Lane which led up to the old Maypole site. When digging in his garden he found some clay pipes which, sadly were “ never collected” due to the terrible disaster. The local press wrote an article about this and me and one of my classmates (Enid) were photographed by the Lancashire Evening Post holding the pipes.

Comment by: Albert.S. on 11th July 2020 at 11:00

Irene. Is it possible for someone on Wigan World Album, to take a photograph of the newly erected statue that you have mentioned in your comment.
I did make a donation towards the statue.

Comment by: Irene Roberts on 11th July 2020 at 15:32

I will see if Ron Hunt can do it, Albert. xx

Comment by: James Hanson on 12th July 2020 at 17:41

"Seventy six men were killed in Wigan's biggest mining disaster" said Geoffrey Shyrane in his book about wigan. Another false comment.

Comment by: Eric R. on 13th July 2020 at 08:53

I have an original of this card given to me by my maternal grandfather when he related this disaster to me when I was about ten years old. What I have always remembered about what he said, was that at the time of the explosion he was with a group of Bickershaw Colliery miners who had met up in Talbot Road, Plank Lane, when they felt a tremor and heard a muffled explosion, followed by a black cloud rising high in the air from the direction of the Maypole. The men obviously realised what had happened, and they made a grab for whatever picks and shovels they could get their hands on, and they ran across the fields from Plank Lane to the Maypole. I have no recollection of what part the Bickershaw Colliery men were able to play in the aftermath, but what they did was an indication of how the miners of the time stuck together. I know that whenever he visited Abram, he had to look at the memorial in St John's Churchyard. Just a quick story, there must be dozens of them in local family memories about this event.

Comment by: Keith Beckett on 13th July 2020 at 12:29

Eric R
The photo is scanned from an original card, it has a silver outer border and an inner black border line. The front has a grey inset, with a white third border and flowers together with the words 'In Memoriam'.
It was kept by my maternal grandmother who was born in Abram and had a relative who was a victim of the disaster. I remember also seeing a serviette from one of the funeral services. It had the names of the victims surrounded by religious artwork. I last saw it around 20 years ago but being made from thin paper I guess it was lost, or accidentally destroyed, when my late mother's house was cleared.

Comment by: RON HUNT on 13th July 2020 at 12:34

Keith I have one of the memorial serviettes it is framed and in pretty good condition

Comment by: Eric R. on 13th July 2020 at 14:04


Sounds to be original from here. I will have a look into what I have and see if there is anything else relative to the Maypole Disaster. I am not surprised to learn about the serviette, I hope that you will locate it.

I have a recollection of families from the Co. Mayo visiting the St John's
Churchyard Memorial in recent times. I believe that they were hosted by local families in Abram. If so, no doubt there will be lots of interesting items hidden away in drawers. I havn't seen anything from Mary SAYERS for quite some time, I am pretty certain that she would have something interesting on this subject.

Comment by: Eric R. on 13th July 2020 at 14:28

There you are Keith, - Ron has one. I would very much like to see a photo of the serviette if possible. This could start something really interesting.

Reference David's comment of 11th., - I understand that the original village of Abram was located off Park Lane. Were there any miners cottages standing near Mr Bridges garden in 1908? I remember Mr Bridge very well, when Mr Almond was Headmaster at St Johns in the early '50's. (See my comment and photo under the Schools section from a couple of years ago.) What you say about the clay pipes sounds right, hiding places did exist for obvious reasons.

Comment by: John on 13th July 2020 at 20:30

In 2004 the then mayor of Wigan, Councillor Wilf Brogan, planted a commemorative tree in the churchyard at Charlestown Co. Mayo to remember the Maypole disaster. Then in 2008, to mark the centenary, the mayor of Wigan at the time, Rona Winkworth, visited the heritage centre at Swinford Co. Mayo where there is a room dedicated to the Maypole disaster,

Comment by: John Walsh's Mate on 14th July 2020 at 21:39

James, it's Geoffrey Shryhane, not Shyrane.
But, you're right, he's a numpty. He made most of it up as he went along.

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