The Tommy Armstrong Society

West Stanley Pit Disaster

West Stanley Pit Disaster

 

THE WEST STANLEY EXPLOSION
In Memory of 168 Men and Boys who lost their Lives
16th February 1909


Two Hundred men and boys left home, but little did they know
That some of them were doomed to die that day, when down below:
With cheerful heart and willing hand, each one did freely toil
For to earn his daily bread, so far beneath the soil.
That morn before they went to work, the husband he would say:
“Good Morning,” to his partner, before he went away.
He then would kiss his little ones– so affectionate and kind-
He little thought forever he was leaving them behind

Chorus— May God protect the widows and raise up each drooping head
And may the little orphans never have to cry for bread
We hope our fellow-workmen that has only gone before,
Has reached the place of happiness, to rest for evermore.


The pit commenced that morning as on the days before;
Some were paid a datal wage and others by the score;
The rapper went-the pit hung on, the wheels went swift around
Bringing cages up with coals, from those men underground.
Shortly before four o’clock there came an awful sound;
Another sound came up the shaft– which spoke both fierce and loud,
It was quickly followed by a dark and dismal cloud.

Chorus-

The smoke and flames came up the shaft, the news was quickly spread-
That Burn’s Pit had fired, and that all down must be dead.
The workmen at the Colliery came forth, so bold and brave,
And offered to go down the pit and try some lives to save;
To managers, and deputies, and other workmen too,
Who came from other collieries, there’s every credit due;
In the midst of afterdamp and danger they did strive,
To get in-bye to see if there was still some left alive.

Chorus-

To see the homes in Stanley, was a most heart-rendering sight,
So many windows in each row were dressed in robes of white;
To show respect for them that’s gone, was all that they could do.
In one house three sons lay dead, likewise the father too;
Homes that were with comfort blest, where happiness did reign-
The comforters have left them and will not return again.
Widows, and their children too, were weeping night and day
For the ones they loved so dear, that had been called away.

Chorus-

One Hundred and Thirty-one was put beneath the clay
When thousands came to Stanley, for to see them laid away;
In both Churchyards, by willing hands, deep trenches there were made,
Where Life exists. And Memory’s good we never shall forget:
When people came from every part, and at West Stanley met
To see the sight and hear the bands which did so softly play
“The Dead March”, until everyone was laid beneath