Accidents & Rescues.
An Amazing Escape in 1837.
"As two men were descending a coal pit in Bilson Colliery, Forest of Dean, an unforeseen accident in the steam engine caused the flywheel to break, which entirely disengaged from the machinery, the barrel, or drum-shaft, on which a large flat rope worked. This taking place the two poor men began to descend at a fearful rate, and in few seconds reached the bottom of the shaft or pit, a depth of 510 feet! Mr Aaron Gould, who has the sole management of the colliery, was on the ground immediately after the accident happened, and being informed that two men were dashed to pieces, started off to the next pit (Prospect) to descend and ascertain what had become of them. To his astonishment, he saw them just landing from the cart or skip, apparently unhurt.
It is impossible to describe the feeling of surprise, gratitude, and thankfulness that flashed across his mind at so remarkable a deliverance. On making inquiry, he found that Kear had escaped entirely unhurt and, Morgan with only slight contusion of the knee. It appears their preservation may be partly attributed to a plan adopted by Mr Gould a few years ago, of having a circular platform, nearly equal to the diameter of the shaft attached to the end of the rope, which works regularly up and down, with the coal carts on it, and is kept in direction by the guidance rods.
On this platform, without a cart the men descended and owing to the elasticity of the compressed air, the shock at the bottom was comparatively light: the poor men having the presence of mind rolled instantly into the gateway and escaped being crushed to death by the large quantity of rope and other material which followed in quick succession."