On the 21st December 1910 there was an explosion and a roof collapse at the Hulton Colliery, also known as the Pretoria Pit. 333 miners of the 900 on that shift were killed.

In the list of those who died from the Westhoughton District were:

  • 105. Walter Magnall (31) 87, Park Rd. Married, 3 children (22,18 & 12).
  • 106. Abel Magnall 23, Manchester Rd. Married, 2 children (2 & 3 months).

(No age is given for Abel)
N.B. It is interesting to note that Walter is shown as being 31 years of age and having three children, the oldest of whom is 22 years old! Also, according to my database of research so far, it is likely that Walter and Abel were Mangnalls rather than Magnalls though they could have changed their surname or errors occurred in the recording of the information.

Further information about the disaster, a list of those who died and pictures of two of the memorials can be found at http://www.bolton.org.uk/pretoriapit.html. A picture of “Government Inspectors at Pretoria Pit following the 1910 disaster” can be found at http://www.boltonmuseums.org.uk/other.htm

The Royal Humane Society awarded medals to several workers who attempted to rescue their fellow miners. The Society publishes an index of persons who have been awarded medals and the following can be found on the Internet:

The wording is not available online but it reads as follows:

Silver medal to Alfred Tonge Pit Manager Pretoria Pit, Over Hulton, Bolton and bronze medal to 25 men including Ben Magnall. The citation reads:
At 7.50 am on the 21st December 1910 a disastrous explosion took place at the Pretoria Pit, Over Hulton, near Bolton, by which some three hundred miners unfortunately lost their lives. Mr Tonge the manager with a number of men acquainted with the mine descended in the hope of being able to save some of those who were below. From the moment they reached the pit bottom they were in an atmosphere of noxious gases liable to ignite at any moment, rendering the work not only difficult, but exceedingly dangerous. For several hours they continued their exertions, no effort being spared by any of the men in their self imposed task of saving or attempting to save their less fortunate fellow workmen.

(Thanks to Derek Allen for this information)

[Last updated 17 Dec 2000]