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British Industrial History

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William John Laverick Watkin

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William John Laverick Watkin (1839-1877)

Mining Engineer, Pemberton Colliery, near Wigan.

1878 Obituary [1]

WILLIAM JOHN LAVERICK WATKIN was born at Brampton in Cumberland on 7th January 1839, and received his education there.

After being apprenticed to Mr. John Wales, then viewer of the Hetton collieries in the county of Durham, he became in 1860 assistant viewer at the Eston ironstone mines of Messrs. Bolckow and Vaughan, near Middlesbrough.

In 1862 he became resident viewer of the Shildon, Byers Green, West Auckland, Whitelee, and Woodifield Collieries in Durham; whence in 1865 he went to take charge of the Pemberton Colliery near Wigan, belonging to Messrs. J. Blundell and Son. At this colliery, which was visited by the Members of the Institution at the summer meeting in 1872, a pair of large new pits 640 yards deep had been sunk under his superintendence; and the entire arrangements of this large establishment had just been brought to a successful completion, when on Thursday 11th October 1877 an explosion of firedamp occurred in the 9 ft. seam, and Mr. Watkin with three others at once descended the pit for the purpose of endeavouring to rescue the survivors. In this attempt they were overpowered by the afterdamp, and before assistance could reach them Mr. Watkin and two of the others had ceased to live.

At the inquest the following verdict was returned by the jury:- "That the three deceased accidentally came to their deaths by suffocation in the 9 ft. seam of the King pit belonging to Messrs. Blundell and Son on Thursday the 11th inst., whilst nobly and heroically endeavouring to save the lives of men in their charge at that time endangered by an explosion of gas."

Mr. Watkin, who was thirty-eight years of ago at the time of his death, became a Member of the Institution in 1867.

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