Leeds nostalgia: Eye-witness report of 1947 pit explosion

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Seventy years ago this week, the first reports were coming into the YEP news offices of an explosion at Bransley Main Colliery.

By noon, eighteen men had already been admitted to hospital, with more on the way. From the scant information they had at the time, it was understood the explosion occurred on the Kent seam, which had not long since been opened.

G Hewitt, from Bridge Street, Worsborough, a collier, who was working in the next face to the explosions, said: “Suddenly we heard an explosion and it knocked us but we did not fall over. It was due to a strong blast of air. There was no fire where we were but we knew there was something wrong owing to the change in air current.

“I ran along the pit and opened one of the doors leading to the section where the explosion occurred.

“We saw two or three lads in rather a bad state, with their hands up to their faces. They were badly burned. I and my mates helped to get them to the pit bottom as soon as we we could. It took us about 10 minutes as there was a lot of dust about and we could not see.

“I came with them to the hospital. More men were still down the pit, but I think about 30 were working in the section where the explosion occurred and 20 of them have been brought to the hospital. Some of them are very badly burned.”

Also this week, Leeds people were experiencing freak weather conditions, with hail as big as peas. The Air Ministry said the unseasonal weather would be coming to an end soon.

And the Government abandoned a 240,000 housing target for local authorities, telling them “do your best” instead. Still, 218,783 houses had already been built at that time.