Wednesday, November 8, 2023

William Bird 1859-1911, Rescuer of The Whitwick Colliery Disaster

One of my Bird Family ancestors, William Bird, was one of the rescuers to one of the "most terrible disasters known in the history of coal-mining in Leicestershire." - The Guardian, 1898

William Bird
b. Abt.1859 d. April 1911

married for ten years on December 24th, 1892 to 

Eliza Tindell (Stepmother)
b. October 1862 d. December 6th, 1902
(3rd  great-grandparents)

Places lived:
Lount, Leicestershire, England
Thringstone, Leicestershire, England
Swannington, Leicestershire, England 
Ashby de la Zouch, Leicestershire, England 

On the morning of April 19th, 1898, a fire broke out at the Whitwick Colliery, near Ashby-de-la-Zouch.

"Leicestershire’s worst mining disaster occurred in No.5 pit at Whitwick Colliery. This was a dry dusty pit that had been worked for sixty years. The disaster was the result of a “gob” fire during the night shift. Forty-two men were underground, including a boy of thirteen. Many were related to each other or close neighbours. Most of the miners were trapped at workings beyond the fire. There were only seven survivors. The victims died of suffocation as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning. Attempts were made to recover the bodies but twelve remain underground. The tragedy left twenty-seven widows and eighty-four children under the age of thirteen." - Whitwick Historical Group

Photos from The Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester & Rutland

The Guardian, London, Greater London, England, Wed, Apr 20, 1898, Page 8

My ancestor, William Bird, photographed in 1898 along with the other rescuers who were given a medal and certificate for their bravery. Source

This year was the 125th anniversary of the Whitwick Colliery Disaster. Memorials have been placed to commemorate the lives lost that day as well as several news articles. The legacy of my 3rd great-grandfather lives on. 

Kiki Nakita

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