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Mine Exploration Forum

Author Novel, but fatal, use of a straw hat
Peter Burgess

Joined: 01/07/2008
Location: Merstham. Or is it Godstone ...... ?

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Novel, but fatal, use of a straw hat
Posted: 03/05/2020 11:38:38
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I am using this time of "house arrest" to trawl the internet for archives relating to the various places of interest to me. In 1890, there was an appalling accident in the silica quarries at Penwyllt, which gets a passing reference in a newspaper article the following year. The comments about thawing frozen dynamite (unrelated to the Penwyllt incident) are what caught my attention.

South Wales Daily News, 3rd June 1891

The Manufacture and Use of Explosives

Those who wish for full information on this important subject should study the 15th annual report for 1890, recently issued, of her Majesty’s Inspectors of Explosives; but to those who have neither leisure nor the inclination to devote much time to the highly interesting Blue-book, the following brief observations, dealing with the mass of matter contained in the report, should be of use. The inspectors (Colonel B.S. Majendie, chief inspector, and Colonel A. Ford, and Lieutenant-Colonel J.P. Cundill, inspectors of explosives) present what must be looked upon – considering the risk attending the manufacture and use of explosives – as a satisfactory document.

There has been no falling off in the high standard previously attained in a large number of factories and magazines. There were 123 factories, employing 9,820 persons, in 1890, against 108 factories, employing 9,484 persons, in 1885. The past year, on the whole, was one of the most satisfactory years of the past decade as regards accidents. The total number of accidents in 1890 was 132, resulting in the death of 44 persons and in injury to 85 persons. The average for the last ten years (1881-1890) was 137.8, 41.4, and 102.5 respectively. The accidents during 1890 were rather below the average for the decade as regards their number, as well as the total of the persons injured, but they were above it with respect to fatality. No accident of any kind occurred in the conveyance of explosives.

The chapter on “use and miscellaneous” shows, however, a heavy bill of mortality and injury. Under this heading, the death of 36 persons and injury to 68 persons is recorded, and number of accidents being 65. Some of the accidents caused by the use of explosives are very remarkable, and in many instances show much culpable negligence. The accidents in the use of gunpowder last year show a slight decrease in the number, but an increase in fatality, compared with 1889. The number of deaths was 21, against 14 in 1869, and the number of persons injured 18, against 38. The average for the 10 years (1881-1890) amounts to 16.9 and 34.7 respectively. The accidents in the use of gunpowder involving the largest loss of life occurred in charging a hole in the Penwyllt Silica Stone Quarries, Ystalyfera. Beyond this, nothing is known of the circumstances, the three men engaged being all killed.

The number of accidents occurring in the use of dynamite and other nitro-glycerine compounds last year was 24, causing 12 deaths, and injury to 30 persons. The most serious accident, involving a loss of three lives and injury to six other men, was that at the Vivian Pit, Abertillery, Monmouthshire, which was probably owing to an unexploded cartridge having remained in one of the holes of which nine had been charged and supposed to be fired.

Accidents due to unexploded portions of a charge are perhaps necessarily more frequent in the case of nitro-glycerine compounds that with gunpowder, owing to the fact that any weakness or deficiency in the detonator may give rise to an incomplete explosion, while in some cases there is the further risk from exuded nitro-glycerine.

One of the most fruitful sources of accidents is that arising from improperly thawing nitro-glycerine preparations when frozen. Accidents caused by thawing were more numerous in 1890 that in the preceding year, their number having been five, causing five deaths and injuring seven persons. It is deplorable to read the circumstances of such accidents, notwithstanding that the inspectors are using their best efforts to induce men to treat frozen nitro-glycerine preparations more intelligently. What can be expected when men, instead of proper pans provided for the purpose, are thawing dynamite by steaming it in an old straw hat placed over hot water, as was done in the case of the fatal accident at Colwill Quarry, Egg, Buckland, Devonshire? The two men engaged were killed, having been struck in numerous places by the fragments of the iron pot which contained the water. This case does not differ from many others of a similar nature.

IP: 91.125.156.144 Edited: 03/05/2020 11:46:57 by Peter Burgess
royfellows

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Joined: 13/06/2007
Location: Great Wyrley near Walsall

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Novel, but fatal, use of a straw hat
Posted: 03/05/2020 12:28:01
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Thanks for sharing this interesting information.


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Down and beyond

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Novel, but fatal, use of a straw hat
Posted: 04/05/2020 08:46:22
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Thankyou for sharing I found very interesting IP: 82.132.229.121
derrick man

Joined: 02/01/2014

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Novel, but fatal, use of a straw hat
Posted: 04/05/2020 12:39:56
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Peter Burgess wrote:

I am using this time of "house arrest" to trawl the internet for archives relating to the various places of interest to me. In 1890, there was an appalling accident in the silica quarries at Penwyllt, which gets a passing reference in a newspaper article the following year. The comments about thawing frozen dynamite (unrelated to the Penwyllt incident) are what caught my attention.

South Wales Daily News, 3rd June 1891

The Manufacture and Use of Explosives

Those who wish for full information on this important subject should study the 15th annual report for 1890, recently issued, of her Majesty’s Inspectors of Explosives; but to those who have neither leisure nor the inclination to devote much time to the highly interesting Blue-book, the following brief observations, dealing with the mass of matter contained in the report, should be of use. The inspectors (Colonel B.S. Majendie, chief inspector, and Colonel A. Ford, and Lieutenant-Colonel J.P. Cundill, inspectors of explosives) present what must be looked upon – considering the risk attending the manufacture and use of explosives – as a satisfactory document.

There has been no falling off in the high standard previously attained in a large number of factories and magazines. There were 123 factories, employing 9,820 persons, in 1890, against 108 factories, employing 9,484 persons, in 1885. The past year, on the whole, was one of the most satisfactory years of the past decade as regards accidents. The total number of accidents in 1890 was 132, resulting in the death of 44 persons and in injury to 85 persons. The average for the last ten years (1881-1890) was 137.8, 41.4, and 102.5 respectively. The accidents during 1890 were rather below the average for the decade as regards their number, as well as the total of the persons injured, but they were above it with respect to fatality. No accident of any kind occurred in the conveyance of explosives.

The chapter on “use and miscellaneous” shows, however, a heavy bill of mortality and injury. Under this heading, the death of 36 persons and injury to 68 persons is recorded, and number of accidents being 65. Some of the accidents caused by the use of explosives are very remarkable, and in many instances show much culpable negligence. The accidents in the use of gunpowder last year show a slight decrease in the number, but an increase in fatality, compared with 1889. The number of deaths was 21, against 14 in 1869, and the number of persons injured 18, against 38. The average for the 10 years (1881-1890) amounts to 16.9 and 34.7 respectively. The accidents in the use of gunpowder involving the largest loss of life occurred in charging a hole in the Penwyllt Silica Stone Quarries, Ystalyfera. Beyond this, nothing is known of the circumstances, the three men engaged being all killed.

The number of accidents occurring in the use of dynamite and other nitro-glycerine compounds last year was 24, causing 12 deaths, and injury to 30 persons. The most serious accident, involving a loss of three lives and injury to six other men, was that at the Vivian Pit, Abertillery, Monmouthshire, which was probably owing to an unexploded cartridge having remained in one of the holes of which nine had been charged and supposed to be fired.

Accidents due to unexploded portions of a charge are perhaps necessarily more frequent in the case of nitro-glycerine compounds that with gunpowder, owing to the fact that any weakness or deficiency in the detonator may give rise to an incomplete explosion, while in some cases there is the further risk from exuded nitro-glycerine.

One of the most fruitful sources of accidents is that arising from improperly thawing nitro-glycerine preparations when frozen. Accidents caused by thawing were more numerous in 1890 that in the preceding year, their number having been five, causing five deaths and injuring seven persons. It is deplorable to read the circumstances of such accidents, notwithstanding that the inspectors are using their best efforts to induce men to treat frozen nitro-glycerine preparations more intelligently. What can be expected when men, instead of proper pans provided for the purpose, are thawing dynamite by steaming it in an old straw hat placed over hot water, as was done in the case of the fatal accident at Colwill Quarry, Egg, Buckland, Devonshire? The two men engaged were killed, having been struck in numerous places by the fragments of the iron pot which contained the water. This case does not differ from many others of a similar nature.



The thing which I should be surprised about, although somehow I’m not, is that this seems to have been a common practice?
IP: 81.96.123.121
TwllMawr

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Joined: 28/11/2014
Location: Snowdonia

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Novel, but fatal, use of a straw hat
Posted: 04/05/2020 14:07:05
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Thanks. Very interesting.

Also on Peter's theme on misusing explosives...

Diphwys-Casson-Fatality...
https://www.aditnow.co.uk/documents/Diffwys-Slate-Mine/Diphwys-Casson-Fatality-21-3-1886.pdf


A book I found worth the effort is "Explosives. History with a bang" by G I Brown. For gunpowder for example, it reveals interesting details on its development and use. Brief examples being the varied granule shapes used for different dynamics, glazing to resist moisture and the gunpowder engine. The later thankfully perhaps, never caught on.

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