Victims of the Oaks Colliery Disaster 1847 (Paperback)
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The Centenary of the First World War and discovering more about the fates of two great uncles inspired the author of this book, Jane Ainsworth, to initiate several projects in Barnsley. It also led to the publication of her first two books by Helion & Company. Great Sacrifice: the Old Boys of Barnsley Holgate Grammar School in the First World War (March 2016) and Keeping Their Beacons Alight: the Potter Family of Barnsley and their Service to our Country (November 2017) have received acclaim for their tenacity in revealing detailed stories about the individuals and families.
This new book has developed as a result of Jane's deep interest in her coal mining ancestors - both paternal great grandparents, Charles Ernest Hardy and Edwin Hall Bailey, worked in collieries in the Barnsley area as did their descendants. At the end of 2017, Jane transcribed a ledger containing the minutes of the Colliers’ Relief Fund Committee for the 1847 Oaks Colliery Explosion for Barnsley Archives. This stimulated her empathy and curiosity about the lives of the people referred to in the minutes - widows, orphans and a few survivors of the disaster – as well as the 73 victims. She was determined to research all of the individuals in as much detail as possible, despite the challenge of limited early records, to flesh out their stories and to pay tribute to the families of mineworkers whose lives at that time were considered of little value to the colliery owners and managers. Once again, Jane has created ‘a memorial book like no other’ as a contribution to Barnsley’s mining heritage.
"However, Jane Ainsworth has been able in several cases to go further, we learn of those resorting to crime,Family & Community Historical Research Society Newsletter, June 2022
remarriages and cohabitations, all of which add up to a backcloth illuminating the lives of the poor, and as a resource, this
book extends beyond that of family reconstitution, providing the potential base for additional research into mining
communities, and removing the seemingly endless slog of poring through the records. As such, it should be a well-thumbed
work for community historians, especially those investigating the lives of miners and their families."
“Delighted to see this largely forgotten Barnsley tragedy from 175 years ago thoroughly researched and described by Jane. Overshadowed by the later Oaks Disaster of 1866, the loss of life in this earlier disaster was still very large and devastated so many local families. Jane’s skills as a researcher, historian and author shine through once again as she explores the events of 1847 and the families involved.”Paul Stebbing, Archives and Local Studies Manager Barnsley MBC
'About the Author' feature in:Who Do You Think You Are