Last week we investigated of the most sad and most active locations I think we have done to date – Nabs Woods also the site of the Husker Pit Disaster.
Just before 6am on Wednesday 4th July 1838, 620 men, women and children set out from their homes to go to work in their local coal colliery located outside the village of Silkstone Common, in the then West Riding of Yorkshire. What they didn’t know at this time was that they was going to face one of the biggest disasters that the colliery had ever faced and that it would change their working lives forever and how they earned a living.
Around 2pm that day a violent storm hit the UK which consisted of thunder, lightening, hail and a lot of rain, which lasted until the late afternoon. The large hailstones, described as large pieces of ice, covered the ground and did considerable damage to crops in many fields as well as flooding shops and houses.
The engine and boiler yard at the Huskar Pit was inundated with the storm water. The fire in the furnace of the steam-raising boiler was extinguished. With the loss in steam pressure, the winding engine at the pit shaft, which was used to bring the coal and miners to the surface, was put out of action.
A message was sent down the mine by the banksman who was in charge at the pit top, to instruct the miners and the children to put out all lights and wait at the pit bottom. Unaware of the storm and the situation at the pit top, forty children made the fateful decision to make their way out of the workings by a day-hole or drift, which came to the surface in Nabs Wood.
At the bottom of the drift was one of the air doors, used to control the flow of air through the workings and , which the children went through. They were not to know that a small stream near the entrance to the drift had swollen till it was a raging torrent. As the children made their way up the slope, the stream on the surface had already overflowed and had poured down the drift to the air door in front of them, where it was dammed up by the door and eventually, as they approached, burst through, sweeping them down to the door behind them, where they were trapped and drowned.
News eventually came to the colliery from the shocked survivors who had reached the surface, and told of harrowing events in the dark sloping passages- One story tells how a brothers and sisters cried out for one another and the youngest were swept off their feet, in a struggle to survive.
When the rescuers reached the door, among them fathers with missing children, they found the bodies altogether. One by one they were carried to the surface and through the wood to a barn at the side of the road. It is said that George Teasdale, employee of Mr. Clarke, and a man called Buckley washed their faces. Later that day the victims were taken by horse and cart to their homes.
Sadly, 26 children lost their life that day aged between 7 and 17. Inquests into their deaths was done and the unanimous verdict of the inquest was accidental death by drowning.
After the news of the disaster news spread, it was prohibited for women and girls from working down the mines and also an age limit for boys of ten years. This ban meant that families with young girls and women moved to other industrial towns such as Huddersfield and Glossop in search of work in service or the woolen and linen mills.
In 1988, the community of Silkstone Parish built another memorial in Nabs Wood, Silkstone Common depicting two children at work underground.
The Children that died in the disaster are said to haunt the woodland around the area, and have been reported being seen visually.
People have reported hearing disembodied laughter in the area, with things being seen hiding behind the trees, as if playing hide and seek.
I can honestly say as soon as we stepped out the car on the layby which sits next to the woods we heard walking. We ventured down the steps leading to the memorial and continued to hear walking. As we reached the memorial we expected to see people but nobody at all was there.
The walking continued, even at times by our sides and the sound of something being gathered or rustled next to us on the floor.
It seemed very playful and it did seem as if children was running and playing in the woods – but I can assure everyone – nobody was in them woods. We called out – we went to check and walked the paths to double check and nobody was there with us. It wasn’t really a windy night and it is possible some sounds could have been wildlife but for the heavier sounds and constant breaking of twigs next to us we can 100% say that was not.
We started a live investigation on facebook and I called out and asked that if children was around us to come over to us and play with the flashing balls we had placed on the monument. This triggered a automatic response and indeed the flashing balls did start to trigger off.
Phone signal was not the best at times but viewers could hear exactly what we was hearing and at one point we hear a loud tap which seemed to come from the bench behind us and when I asked for it again, a loud tap on the bench was heard again.
We decided to head to the Day hole, where the actual children had tried to surface. As we walked up from the memorial, phone signal did drop out and the sound of walking stop so Aimee called out and said if the children are still with us come and skip with us and immediately walking sounds could be heard again.
We reached the Day hole, we didn’t get a lot from this area but we did feel as if we was being watched. We decided to head down back to the memorial and as soon as we got to the fork in the path the walking started again but this time it didn’t seem playful it seemed as if we was being surrounded.
We started a Facebook Live again and viewers again heard what we was saying was occurring. We started a ITC device which started to produce swearing at this point such as ”PISS OFF”, there was even some Yorkshire slang being produced which was quite interesting
It most certainly felt we wasn’t welcome in the area at this point, I am not sure if this could have been workers of the colliery protecting the children or the site or if it was a general guardian of the woods itself. The woods itself are ancient woodlands.
One of the most emotional places I have been too, maybe for myself than others as many of my family worked down the pit and I remember my grandad retelling me some stories of how he witness some die. The pits was not safe for adults let alone children and the thought of them struggling to survive down there- its just so sad.
The location itself was one of our most physically active locations to this date and with it even being heard on camera.
On leaving we left sweets at the memorial site.
Here is the links below to watch what we captured….