PMSA National Recording Project - South Yorkshire

Barnsley Metropolitan Borough

We are carrying out research on the pieces on these pages.
If you have further information or revisions to the material above please contact me, Dave Ball, by e-mail or telephone: 0114 225 6213 with the details.
We would also like to hear from you with details of any sculptures or monuments which we may have missed.
We are very grateful for any additional information which you may be able to give us.


First Page Previous Page Parent Page Next Page Last Page

ArtistMaker: MERCI…, Marius Jean Antoinin (sculptor)
TitleOfWork: Oaks Colliery Disaster Rescuers' Memorial
DescriptionOfPhoto: View of owl
DateOfCreation: 1913
Dimensions:
Medium: bronze
Location: Opposite Kendray Hospital on the crest of the hill. (SE436406)
AtoZReference: p.24 1C
Postcode: S70
Street: Doncaster Road
TownOrVillage: Barnsley
AreaInTown: Kendray
MetropolitanBorough: Barnsley
Photographer: Dave Ball
ImageCopyright: Sheffield Hallam University
AccessionNumber: b020h
Location: At the top of a small hill on Doncaster Road, Barnsley. The monument is located opposite one of the entrances to Kendray Hospital

Description: A stone obelisk, composed of 5 blocks of ashlar sandstone, mounted on a double pedestal whose rear half is slightly wider than at the front. In front of the obelisk, on a small plinth, is a bronze winged female figure in classical garb and wearing a stained bronze breastplate. She carries a wounded or dying, naked man over her right shoulder as she strides forward. The man holds a broken sword in his right hand. An owl stands by the left foot of the woman. There is a bronze plaque on the front of the pedestal.
Grade II listed.

Inscription: On a bronze plaque on the front face of the pedestal:
"OAKS EXPLOSION / - / 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"
Above this on the pedestal, carved in the stone: GLORIA VICTIS.

Commission: The monument was commissioned by Samuel Joshua Cooper (who also donated the Cooper Art Gallery to Barnsley) to commemorate the rescuers, 27 of whom died, at the Oaks Colliery Disaster of 12th December 1866 in which a total of 361 people were killed.
The architects were the local firm, Wade and Turner, responsible for a number of significant buildings in the town at this time.
'The bronze Group "Gloria Victis", as chosen by the late Mr. Cooper' [1] seems to have been selected by him for the monument. The sculptor was the French sculptor M.J.A. Merciť, who exhibited a 2m high plaster version of this composition at the Salon of 1874. Its great success there led to a large number of smaller bronze versions being cast and sold.
The stonework is by Dalby and the original iron railings, with a lamp pillar at the two road corners, were by C. Downing; although these have been replaced at a later date.
The monument was installed by the end of 1913 and not unveiled until 4th February 1914, although unfortunately Samuel Cooper had died the previous year on July 11th, aged 82 [3].
The unveiling was by Mr J Tyas JP, who had been chairman of the the committee which managed the fund for the relief of sufferers from the explosion. T.W. Embleton and the son of J.E. Mammett were present at the opening ceremony, as were several others involved in the rescue attempts. The event was given extensive press coverage. [1]

Comment: A large explosion occurred at Oaks Colliery on Wednesday 12th December 1866 when 340 men and boys were working underground. Both pit cages were destroyed. When a new cage could be installed only 20/30 survivors were found at the bottom of No 1 pit shaft, many of these badly injured. Ultimately only six of those who were underground at the time of the explosion survived. Those parts of the pit that were accessible resembled the aftermath of a battle with corpses everywhere.
The next morning, while over 100 rescuers were still in the mine, signs indicating another possible explosion were observed. All but 28 of those underground managed to escape before there was indeed a second, extremely violent, blast which was thought to have killed all of those rescuers still in the mine. After a third explosion, later in the day, it became clear that the mine was extensively on fire. Early on the Friday morning the signal bell in No. 1 shaft was rang from below and a water bottle sent down by rope was removed. Temporary headgear was rigged up and two volunteers, T.W.Embleton and J.E.Mammatt, were lowered into the shaft. They managed to bring back to the surface, an considerable personal risk, the sole surviving rescuer, Samuel Brown, who had an amazing escape.
14 more explosions were heard and the mine shafts were all stopped up to put out the fires raging below. The Colliery was eventually re-opened using new shafts and openings. [4]
T.W.Embleton, a young man, at the time of the accident, became a senior mining engineer and died in 1921. [3]
Ardsley Churchyard/cemetery contains a mass grave for the dead from the accident.

The statue was damaged???? stolen???? in ?????

References: [1] "Barnsley Independent. February 7th 1914
[2] "Listed Buildings: Barnsley MBC" Dept. of the Environment, 1986.
[3] "Occurances and Events of Interest in Barnsley and District, 1229 - 1922"
[4] History of the disaster taken from Philip Clifford: http://freespace.virgin.net/kathryn.c/The_Oaks,_Barnsley,_1866.htm [last visited 10th July, 2002]




work in sheffield other locations documents links
search homepage

Photographer Dave Ball (unless indicated otherwise above)
Images copyright Sheffield Hallam University
For permission to use any image from these pages please contact us
This page maintained by Dave Ball
Slide Collection, Learning & IT Services
Last updated July 18, 2005