I hope to be lucky enough in mid 2017 to visit the village of Winster where many many of my fathers ancestors once lived. The Boam family have a long history in Winster and many of them were Lead Miners.
In starting some pre-trip research I discovered the story of Benjamin Boam who died in an explosion at the nearby Mill Close Lead Mine .
I hope to photograph his headstone myself in the Winster Churchyard but in the mean time I found the wonderful work of Michael Greatorex who has photographed many if not all the gravestones there including that of Benjamin which you can see here
Benjamin was born in 1864 in Winster. I have yet to find his baptism record but he was the second son and 5th child of Thomas Boam and Mary Wilson. Thomas was also a Lead Miner, as was his father also named Thomas.
Benjamins 2 younger siblings, Lucy and Harriet both had died in childhood, so Benjamin was the youngest child of Thomas and Mary at the time of his death.
I created a simple layout for this sad story which is directly taken from a newspaper account of the day.
Benjamin Boam was the 2nd son, and 5th child of Thomas Boam and his wife Mary Wilson. He was the younger brother of my GG Grandmother Mary Jane Boam. Benjamin was a Lead miner, like is father, and his grandfather and many many of the men in the village of Winster, Derbyshire where he was born. He was employed at the Mill Close Mine, in nearby Darley, where a shaft had been sunk in 1860 and was one of numerous men who worked below ground in shifts around the clock.
On November 3 1887 the mine would take the lives of 5 of the men of Winster including that of Benjamin Boam
HIGH PEAK NEWS SATURDAY 5TH NOVEMBER 1887
Shocking Accident at Mill Close Lead Mine Five Men Killed
From what can be ascertained it appears that a shift was commenced at midnight on Wednesday. There would be twenty-one or twenty-two men on duty. Before they began work the mine had been officially examined by the deputy, William Webster. He found a quantity of gas in the heading, and duly reported the occurrence to the company who took the particular route in which the explosion happened. The men were in charge of Job Stone, and the company was known as Stones's. They were warned of the presence of gas on going down. It seems they were engaged on the top level, or 84 yards from the surface. The distance they had to travel underground was between 500 and 600 yards before reaching the face of the rock. Upon a portion of the road they would be able to use naked lights, but were compelled to have safety lamps whilst at their work. There were for getters and two waggoners working in the stall or heading, and, unfortunately, all the six were within measurable distance of the force of the explosion. Had it happened a few minutes earlier or later the waggoners would have been away from the spot conveying the ore to the exit from the mine. There was nothing perceptible of the approaching danger when the men began their usual occupation. Several shots of dynamite charges had been fired. This powerful explosive is regularly used at the mine to blow down the rock, with which the ore is mixed. The heading is about six yards high, and a charge of dynamite
is inserted into a hole which is drilled for it. The charge is fired with "touch", and the men retire out of danger, as they consider. They would move away to a distance of about 40 yards. The shot went off in the usual manner, and was immediately followed by a terrific explosion of gas. The force of the concussion was felt all over the mine, the head trees, forks, and scores of tons of rock being removed. The fall of bind killed the men, debris covering them.
The shock was not felt on the surface, and it was not until one of the men, Marsden, who is injured, made his way
in the dark to the bottom of the shaft, that the disaster was known. He was the only one spared to tell of the sad accident which befell his comrades. The men engaged in the heading were Robert Marsden, Birchover; Job Stone, Elton; George Stone, Elton; George Allen, Winster; Benjamin Boam, Winster; and George Needham, Wensley. Boam and Needham were the waggoners. They, as we have previously said, were unfortunately along with the other group when the gas was ignited. The lights were all blown out with the force of the explosion, but Marsden, though injured, made his way in the darkness to the bottom of the shaft. He signalled
to be drawn out, and then the intelligence became known. He displayed conspicuous bravery by going down the shaft again along with a stoker named George Boam. These two men were thefirst to venture down the mine. They were stated to have felt the effects of the after-damp, but not to any serious extent. The explosion took place a few minutes before three o'clock. It was some time before any of the bodies were discovered. Lights were procured and a search party was quickly formed, under the leadership of John Heathcote. He arrived on the premises about five o'clock, and, being one of the deputies, organised the relief party. Messengers were
despatched as quickly as possible to Mr. Joseph Greatorex, of Winster, the agent, who was speedily at the mine. A verbal message was also sent to Mr. A.M. Alsop, of Wirksworth, the manager. When Mr. Greatorex arrived he took charge of the search party, and went down, finding the deputy there. It was discovered that the men were almost entirely buried in the debris. The bodies were fearfully crushed. After the bind had been removed the remains were brought out. The first person to be conveyed up the shaft was Job Stone, who could be seen under the refuse, but was quite dead. In the meantime Dr. Stubbs, of Darley Bridge, and Dr. Cantrell, of Winster, were summoned, but their services were of no avail except in the case of Marsden, who was bruised about the head. He was taken to the Warren Carr Farm, and, after attention, conveyed home. The men were sent up as speedily as possible, and taken to the office. There they were stripped and laid on stretchers. The bodies presented a shocking spectacle, being fearfully crushed. It took until seven o'clock to recover all the deceased miners.