Oaks Colliery Disaster Memorial

Overview

Heritage Category:
Listed Building
Grade:
II
List Entry Number:
1151149
Date first listed:
06-Feb-1965
Date of most recent amendment:
12-Mar-2021
Statutory Address:
Doncaster Road, Kendray, Barnsley, South Yorkshire, S70 3RD

Map

© Crown Copyright and database right 2021. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2021. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1151149.pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 05-Dec-2021 at 10:38:58.

Location

Statutory Address:
Doncaster Road, Kendray, Barnsley, South Yorkshire, S70 3RD

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District:
Barnsley (Metropolitan Authority)
Parish:
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:
SE3618905715

Summary

Memorial erected in 1913, by the architects’ practice Wade and Turner, stonemason Peter Dalby, the sculpture being a copy of an original by Marius Jean Antonin Mercie, and iron railings by C Downing. Commissioned by Samuel Joshua Cooper.

Reasons for Designation

The Oaks Colliery Disaster Memorial, erected in 1913 to commemorate the 1866 Disaster, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest: * an impressive memorial incorporating a bronze group replica of sculptor M J A Mercie’s Gloria Victis (Glory to the Vanquished) symbolising glory in defeat standing in front of a tall, ashlar obelisk, both raised on a high, extended pedestal; * the memorial uses high-quality materials and a high degree of craftsmanship in its design, creating a prominent landmark.

Historic interest: * the Oaks Colliery Disaster in 1866 was England’s worst-ever mining disaster and the memorial specifically commemorates the heroism of 30 volunteer rescuers, many of whom died in further explosions, naming three men, two of whom together brought up the last survivor;

* after early attempts to commission a memorial did not progress, it was privately funded by Samuel Joshua Cooper, a local businessman, benefactor and art collector who founded the Cooper Gallery for the people of Barnsley.

History

The mining disaster which occurred at the Oaks Colliery in December 1866 remains to this day England’s worst colliery disaster. The disaster began with a large explosion on 12 December when 340 men and boys were working underground, destroying both pit cages. Twenty to 30 survivors were found at the bottom of No 1 Pit shaft of whom, ultimately only six survived. The next morning more than 100 rescuers were at the mine when signs indicated another possible explosion. All but 28 of those underground escaped before a second violent explosion was thought to have killed all those rescuers still in the mine. A third explosion later in the day left the mine extensively on fire. Early on the third day the signal bell to No 1 shaft was rung from below ground and then a water bottle sent down on a rope was removed. Temporary headgear was rigged up and two volunteers, T W Embleton and J E Mammatt, were lowered into the shaft. At considerable personal risk they managed to bring the sole surviving rescuer, Samuel Brown, back to the surface. As many as 14 more explosions were heard and the mine shafts were sealed to put out the fires raging below.

It was thought possible that Barnsley could erect a memorial in Locke Park in honour of the rescuers. However, it appears nothing came of these early aspirations and it was not until 1913 that this memorial was commissioned, privately funded by Samuel Joshua Cooper, a local businessman, benefactor and art collector who founded the Cooper Gallery in Barnsley. The monument commemorates 30 rescuers, the majority of whom died. Three in particular are named on the inscription: Parkin Jeffcock, a mining engineer who led the rescue and died underground during a further explosion, and Embleton and Mammatt, who had each made numerous rescue attempts and together had brought up the last survivor.

The memorial was designed by the architect’s practice Wade and Turner, the stonemason was Peter Dalby, and Cooper chose the sculpture used. The bronze group is a replica of Marius Jean Antonin Mercie’s Gloria Victis (Glory to the Vanquished). It represents Athene, Olympian goddess of various virtues including wisdom, war and heroic endeavour, bearing a wounded or dying naked soldier, holding a broken sword, a sign of defeat. The symbolic message that there could be glory in defeat typically relates to conflict, the context of Mercie’s Gloria Victus, made in honour of the French soldiers who had fallen in the Franco-Prussian War.

The memorial was installed by the end of 1913, but not unveiled until February 1914, probably because Cooper had died in July the previous year. The unveiling was by Mr C J Tyas JP, who had been a key member of the committee managing the disaster relief fund from the beginning. The ceremony was attended by many residents and local dignitaries, including Embleton and Mammatt’s sons.

Athene’s cuirass was regilded and patinated by Sheffield Hallam University sculpture workshops when the statue was repaired after an attempted theft, being replaced on the plinth on 22 October 1998.

Details

Memorial erected 1913, by the architects’ practice Wade and Turner, stonemason Peter Dalby, the sculpture a copy of an original by Marius Jean Antonin Mercie, and iron railings by C Downing. Commissioned by Samuel Joshua Cooper.

MATERIALS: Bolton Wood stone and bronze.

DESCRIPTION: not inspected, information from other sources. The memorial takes the form of a high, extended pedestal of two abutting squares with moulded entablatures and deep plinths, with a tall, ashlar obelisk on the rear square and a bronze group on the front square. The pedestal is mounted on a two-stepped podium and surrounded by a rectangular railing enclosure.

The obelisk has a moulded base and a bronze finial.

The bronze group is of Athene as a classical winged female figure, shown in forward movement with billowing robes and wearing a gilded cuirass. Over her left shoulder she bears a wounded or dying naked soldier holding a broken sword. An owl, symbol of wisdom and a common attribute of Athene, stands at her feet on the circular bronze base.

The ashlar frieze of the pedestal is inscribed GLORIA VICTIS. Beneath is an inset rectangular, bronze panel with a moulded ashlar frame. It has an inscription of raised lettering, reading: OAKS EXPLOSION 1866 / THIS MONUMENT WAS ERECTED / ANNO DOMINI 1913 / BY SAMUEL JOSHUA COOPER / AS A TRIBUTE TO THE MEMORY OF / PARKIN JEFFCOCK AND / OTHER HEROES OF THE RESCUE / PARTIES WHO LOST THEIR LIVES / OWING TO FURTHER EXPLOSIONS / ON DECEMBER 13TH 1866 / ALSO TO COMMEMORATE / THE SIGNAL BRAVERY OF / JOHN EDWARD MAMMATT AND / THOMAS WILLIAM EMBLETON / IN DESCENDING THE PIT AND / RESCUING THE SOLE SURVIVOR / ON DECEMBER 14TH 1866.

The pedestal stands on a two-step stone podium. It is enclosed by iron railings set on a low, coursed stone wall with chamfered coping stones.

Legacy

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
333712
Legacy System:
LBS

Sources

Books and journals
White, D, Norman, E, Public Sculpture of Sheffield and South Yorkshire, Public Sculpture of Britain Volume Eighteen, PMSA National Recording Project, (2015), 61-62.

Legal

This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 08 Sep 2004
Reference: IOE01/12996/26
Rights: Copyright IoE Mrs Jean Bickerstaffe. Source Historic England Archive
Archive image, may not represent current condition of site.
To view this image please use Firefox, Chrome, Safari, or Edge.

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].