• Coal Mining Collection - Mr Bence

  • £45.00

  • Description

    46 x 26cm signed print

    The post mortem examination results declared that there were no injuries to the body, no broken bones or signs of poison, all the organs were healthy and that the only cause of death could be starvation.

    On Tuesday 2nd of April 1907 Danial Mark Bence got lost in Whitburn Colliery and starved to death.  At 7.30am the 45 year old back overman set out to visit two gangs of men working in two locations of the Bensham seam separated by abandoned workings around a mile and a half from the shaft bottom.  Bence was keen to find a short cut between the two groups of workers and the fore-overman agreed to show him a way leading him through the workings to the first set of men.  They parted company at some ventilation doors between the two districts, Bence assuring the fore-overman that after he had visited the other group he could find his way back.  After visiting both sets of men he made his way outbye and was last seen alive by a pony driver around 9.15am, no comments were made by either men.

    At 1.30pm he had not returned to the shaft bottom, there had been no incidents that could have held him up so there was no reason for him to be late.

    A search was immediately organised by some deputies and an overman.  By 7pm they were joined by 50 other officials, deputies and stone men searching through the abandoned workings.  They all agreed that Bence had taken a wrong turn, got lost and had been buried under a roof fall.  A meeting was held and it was decided to close the pit for the rest of the week or until the missing man was located.

    Danial Mark Bence's body was found on May 7th in old workings between the two locations he had set out to visit.  There had been a fall in the two foot high area in which he was discovered and although untouched, the stones were too large for him to move.  He lay on his back against the side of the coal, hands clasped across his chest, his stick and leather cap with a pencil stuck in one of the ventilation holes lay at his side and he had removed one of his boots.  His pocket watch and note book were found underneath the body, there was nothing written in the book.  His lamp had been dismantled and all parts set out systematically on the floor.  The wick pricker was bent back and there was a small amount of  oil in the oil pot, evidence that he'd drank the oil.  Bence, known to be a cautious man had miscalculated the maze of workings through which he had tried to find a short cut and in doing so lost his light then became trapped by the fall of stone and starved to death.  

    If his oil lamp, his only means of light, had been fitted with an internal re-lighting device he would have probably survived.  

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