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Jeremiah Westwood c. 1857-1887 Bulli Colliery, Woonona, NSW

PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 6:24 am
by Dennis
Dr Robert Carr has written again to ask me to post a link about Jeremiah Westwood, son of Thomas Westwood and True Holloway, we were discussing Jeremiah back in March. He wrote on 14 March 2012 to me:

"I am searching for records relating to Jeremiah Westwood, who was my grandfather's grandfather. Jeremiah tragically perished in 1887 in Bulli, on the south coast on NSW Australia in a mine explosion.

I am an historian at the University of Wollongong, and it was by coincidence I recently discovered this information.

My research will hopefully lead to a memorial at the site of the mine disaster, and for Jeremiah who, as far as I know, remains entombed at the former mine site along with some of the other 80+ miners who perished.

Jeremiah married Mary Ann Carter at Cradley Heath in 1874 as your online post shows, and then migrated to Australia.

According to my grandfather’s notes, Mary Ann and Jeremiah arrived in Australia in 1878. Two years later, they had their first child together. After Jeremiah died, Mary Ann remarried in 1889 to George Davidson.

Jeremiah and Mary had 4 children together, and Mary had another 3 (at least) with Davidson."

Dr Robert A. Carr, PhD, BA (Hons), Cert. TM (EU) Researcher, Dept of History and Politics University of Wollongong, Australia
Ph: +612/02 4221 5183

This is the new link: ... iable.html

Re: Jeremiah Westwood c. 1857-1887 Bulli Colliery, Woonona,

PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 6:45 am
by MarkCDodd
I see that the shot could have been fired by Westwood or one other miner whose name is not mentioned?

I assume this conclusion was made as they could trace the propagation of the fire and explosion.

So I think the evidence that it was Westwood or the other miner who fired the shot would be compelling.

If there are any other circumstances, such as Westwood complying with company directives or being ordered to perform unsafe actions as mitigating factors is not clear.

Re: Jeremiah Westwood c. 1857-1887 Bulli Colliery, Woonona,

PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 6:53 am
by MarkCDodd
Reading Newspaper articles of the time....

The miners knew of firedamp (explosive gas, usually methane) in the mine but were afraid to mention it to the owners under threat of dismissal!

Apparently the owners did not ventilate the mine as required if the presence of firedamp was found.

Reading another article, Mr Nicholson, who was the secretary of the Miner's Association, had been informed by Westwood of a large "blower" (vent of escaping gas) just before the explosion. He admitted that he recognized the utmost danger a large amount of gas from a blower presented but had not taken any action to secure the safety of the miners!

It appears that Westwood was blamed as everybody heard his shot just prior to the explosion. There was no other evidence of where the explosion started and it could have been the "hill end" where other miners were working and a fair distance from Westwood and where he had reported the blower. Evidence was given that several miners, including Westwood, had been using naked flames for several days in the No 2 header where Westwood was working at the time of the explosion. There was no warning not to and it was considered safe. The mines management pointed out that a Gas Danger board had been places at the entrance of Header 1 and Header 2 but no adherence to these danger boards was requested or enforced.

Re: Jeremiah Westwood c. 1857-1887 Bulli Colliery, Woonona,

PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 7:55 am
by MarkCDodd
The coroner's jury returned the following verdict, which seems to point to the company and not an individual miner as the cause for the disaster, "The jury is of the opinion that deceased men came by their death in the Bulli coal mine, on 23rd March, by a gas explosion, which was brought about by a disregard of the Bulli Colliery special rules and the Coalfields Regulation Act, in allowing men to work where gas existed."

So the sum it up, West wood reported a large amount of leaking gas at "Hill End" and the supervisor did nothing to warn other miners or remove them from harm. Although a Gas Warning sign has been erected at Head 1 and 2, many miners had been using naked flames in those areas for a considerable time without incident. The severity of the explosion was much larger due to the large amount of coal dust in the atmosphere. This would not have been a problem with sufficient ventilation. There was no evidence that the explosion started at Head 2 or that the shot fired by Westwood ignited the low levels of gas in that area. It was more likely that without the warning that should have been issued, other miners used naked flames in areas where the gas from the blower reported by Westwood has settled.

He was a scapegoat of the highest order.

Re: Jeremiah Westwood c. 1857-1887 Bulli Colliery, Woonona,

PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 1:09 pm
by Robert Carr
Hey Mark,

Thanks for the details. That is a reasonable conclusion.