Killed in a Coal Pit – Tragedy at Golden Valley, Bitton 1882

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The CookFamily, Killed in a Coal Pit

On Sunday 26 March 1882, smoke was seen billowing from the top of the New Pit, in Golden Valley, Bitton. Abraham Cook, 55, the bailiff, insisted on going down the pit, against the better judgement of Mr Aaron Brain, the manager, who wanted him to wait until the next day. “I will soon put it right,” Abraham insisted, “I will go down to the end of the working. So he descended, with his son, also called Abraham, 24, and another man, Alfred Walter, 23, of Redfield who was desperately unlucky to be called upon as he was standing nearby. The men at the top of the pit heard rapping signals as the three went down, but then stopped. Elijah Edwards and John Willmot descended to investigate but were beaten back by the fumes. Mr Brain ordered water to be turned into the pit to free the ventilation and the next search party consisting of William Jones, Henry Isaacs and Aaron Isaacs found the three men dead. They had penetrated 200 yards but had then been forced to retreat. The younger Cook and Walter had been overcome before they reached the shaft and the elder Cook was at the bottom of the pit.

The two Cooks are buried together in Warmley churchyard in the same grave as the elder Cook’s father, three generations of the family, all called Abraham.

This is a short excerpt from my book “Killed in a Coalpit” which describes the lives and many deaths of the Kingswood miners.

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