Amble and District
     Local History



The Amble and District Mining Memorial

Acklington Broomhill Hauxley Longframlington
Newburgh Newton Radcliffe Shilbottle
Togston Whittle Other Collieries  


COPELAND Christopher Robertson 1899
COWELL Michael 1859
O’NEILL John 1904
THOMPSON Thomas 1868


Christopher Robertson Copeland 

Died 6 December 1899 

Aged 31 years, of Dovecote Street, Amble.
 Buried East Cemetery, Amble, 8 December. (Grave Plot O83)

   Born in Shetland and married with two children.

Morpeth Herald, 9 December 1899
     “On Wednesday, a miner named Christopher Robertson Copeland, 31 years of age, employed at Togston Colliery, near Acklington, came to a terrible death by falling down the colliery shaft. His body was picked up at the bottom disfigured beyond recognisability. Some workmen engaged at the bottom of the shaft had also a narrow escape from injury by some falling timber, which had been dislodged by the deceased in his precipitated descent down the shaft. The deceased was married, and the sad accident has caused a painful sensation in the neighbourhood.”


Michael Cowell  

 Died 1 December 1859

Aged 20 years, of Togston.
 Buried St James’, Shilbottle, 3 December “killed by lightning.”

    Two years earlier, Michael’s younger brother, William, had been killed at Newton-on-the-Moor Colliery.
At the 1851 census, Michael, born at Newton on the Moor, is a coal miner, living with his widowed mother, Ann, and two brothers, at Newton on the Moor.

Newcastle Courant, 9 December 1859
    “On Friday, the 2nd, an inquest was held at the house of Mr Cowens, at Togstone, in the parish of Warkworth, before Mr Hardy, coroner, on the body of Michel Cowell, aged 20 years, pitman, who was killed by lightning on the day previous, under the following circumstances:-Robert Aynsley, overman, at Togston Colliery, deposed that on the morning preceding, about three o’clock he went to the pit bank, and shortly afterwards deceased and his brother Bartholomew came to the engine furnace to warm themselves before going down the pit. The morning was very stormy, blowing heavily, and fire flying. In connection with the furnace is a brick and stone chimney, about 58 feet high, about 30 feet from the furnace, where all three were standing. Shortly afterwards witness went towards the air furnace, about eight yards distant, and when returning, was struck down by lightning, but heard no sound and, was close to the furnace. When witness recovered, he saw the deceased lying dead upon his back, with his feet beneath the furnace bars, and his brother lying on the opposite side of the furnace. Witness took hold of deceased and found he was quite dead. He then spoke to the brother, who was scorched about the left cheek, and had one of his wrists injured from the shock. Witness heard no thunder, nor saw any lightning after the first shock, which was a few minutes before he was knocked down; he was stunned by the same shock that struck the deceased. The body of the deceased was taken home and examined, but there were no marks except one on the right chest and temple, which were burnt. The brother is recovering. The furnace chimney was struck by the lightning at the same time as the deceased and about 13 feet destroyed, and rent below-a large piece forced out of the side-the windows on the east side of the engine completely broken, excepting two panes, and the feed pipe in the boiler broken right through. The electric fluid appears to have struck the chimney, following down and breaking the feed pipe,-had been conducted onto the furnace by the damper, and forced open both doors. Verdict-“Struck by lightning.” The jury gave the fees allowed by the coroner to the mother of the deceased, who is a widow with two sons and two daughters, one of whom is an invalid.”


John O’Neill  

 Died 30 May 1904

Tramp, aged 40 years.
 Buried Alnwick Cemetery, 1 June.
Shields Daily Gazette, 1 June 1904
    “An inquest was held before Mr Charles Percy, Coroner for North Northumberland, yesterday, at the Alnwick Workhouse, touching the death of a tramp named John O’Neill, who was conveyed to that institution on Monday suffering from fearful injuries by scalding. It was stated in evidence that deceased, a man of 40 years of age, had been in the habit of using the sludge hole in old Togston colliery to sleep in at nights. At an early hour on Monday morning the engine driver at the pit, unaware of the man’s presence, turned on the hot water as is customary, and heard a fearful cry from O’Neill, who was literally in a boiled condition. He was removed to Alnwick, where every attention was paid to him by Dr R. B. Robson at the workhouse, but he succumbed two hours after. The jury, after hearing the evidence, returned a verdict of accidental death.”

Morpeth Herald, 4 June 1904
    “At Alnwick Workhouse on Tuesday, Mr Chas. Percy, coroner for North Northumberland, held an inquest on the body of John O’Neil, described as a tramp, who died at the Workhouse the preceding day under circumstances of a most painful character.
John Bell, private constable under the Broomhill Colliery, deposed that he saw the deceased on the night of the 29th May, about twenty minutes to nine o’clock. He spoke to deceased near to Togston Barns, who asked him where there was a farmhouse at which he could sleep. He told deceased, who went away to Togston Barns. From information received, he went the next morning to Togston Old Colliery at 4.30. He there found deceased about fifty yards away from the sludge hole. He was moaning. Witness found the man to be scalded all over. The man said his name was John O’Neil, and he had gone into the sludge hole to be out of the way of the police. The steam came rushing over him and scalded him. Witness gave the man “first aid,” then took him into the house and sent for a doctor and the police. O’Neil was taken to the Workhouse at Alnwick as soon as possible. O’Neil further told him that he belonged to Ireland, and had no relatives near. Witness had known the deceased as a tramp for about three months. He was about forty years of age.
    Joseph Matthews deposed that he was a fireman at Broomhill Colliery, and on Monday morning he was at Togston Old Colliery. He sludged the boiler at 4.10 a.m., and the steam and hot water went into the sludge hole. When he set it away he heard a voice shouting in agony near the end of the boiler, and below in the sludge conduit. He immediately shut off the sludge, and then saw the deceased coming out of the hole. He was badly scalded.
    Dr R. B. Robson, medical officer at the Alnwick workhouse, stated that he saw deceased at 11.30 a.m. on Monday. He found him scalded all over, and in a fearful condition. He died from his injuries about one o’clock the same day.
The jury found that deceased died from scalds accidentally received.”


Thomas Thompson  

 Died 6 January 1868

Sinker, of Togston, aged 19 years.
 Buried, St Lawrence, Warkworth, 9 January 1868.

    At the 1861 census, Thomas, born at Longframlington, is a miner, one of 4 children, living with his parents, John, a miner and Isabella, at Ashington Colliery.
Morpeth Herald, 11 January 1868
    “On Monday evening, one of those dreadful accidents which shows us the uncertainty of life occurred at Togston colliery, near Warkworth. A father and son, named respectively John and Thomas Thompson, went to work at a sinking shaft now in operation at the above place. It is the shaft now used as the working shaft, and which they were sinking to a lower seam at night, after the regular work of the day was over. Before drawing the water out of the sump (which is seven fathoms deep, there being about ten feet of water in at the time), they, along with another man, proceeded to repair a cistern, from which the water runs into the standage, where stands the pumps. The young man, Thomas Thompson, was stepping across the trap door, which he had newly raised, when he fell to the bottom. Assistance was quickly at hand, but all in vain, as it was nearly two hours before he was got out of the water, and life was found to be extinct.
The inquest on the body of Thomas Thompson, a sinker at South Togston Colliery, 18 years of age, was adjourned to the 22nd inst.”
Morpeth Herald, 25 January 1868
   “The adjourned inquest on the body of Thos. Thompson, aged 18 years, who was killed at Togstone Colliery, in the parish of Warkworth, on the 6th instant, was resumed on Wednesday, at the colliery office, before Mr J. J. Hardy, coroner. The deceased was assisting at the sinking of the colliery, when, on the day in question, he accidentally fell into the “sump”, and was drowned, two hours elapsing before the water was drawn off. Verdict, “Accidentally killed.””