The sun is sinking fast, mother, behind yon far blue hills,
The signal bell has ceased, mother, the breeze of evening chills:
They call me to the pit , mother, the nightly toil to share:
One kiss before we part, mother, for danger lingers there.
My father’s voice I hear, mother, as o’er his grave I tread,
He bade me cherish thee, mother, and share with thee, my bread,
And when I see thee smile, mother, my labour light shall be:
And should his fate be mine, mother, then heaven will comfort thee.
Nay, dry thy tearful eye, mother, I must not see thee weep;
The angels from on high, mother, o’er me their watch will keep.
Then oh! Farewell awhile, mother, my fervent prayer shall be,
Amidst those dangers dire, mother, that heaven may comfort thee.
This is a traditional song about Yorkshire, collected in Yorkshire.
This song was sourced by Steve Gardham and the tune is by Ray Padgett. Written by G.P.Codden, it was said to be very popular in the North of England. It was printed and presented to The Auditory, at a lecture given by Dr. G. Dunn, in his native town of Barnsley, in Aid of Fund for the Surviving Sufferers by the Explosion which occurred at Warren Vale Colliery, on the morning of December 20th 1851.
Notes above are from the broadside which also contains the lyrics.
Warren Vale Colliery, Rawmarsh, suffered an explosion in 1851 which took 52 lives.
The explosion at Warren Vale was due to ‘fire damp’ or methane, which is a highly inflammable hydrocarbon gas. In Victorian times candles were still used to illuminate mines, though there were some Davy lamps. At the inquest it was revealed that the fire at the bottom of the shaft had been allowed to die down overnight. This was to provide a through draught in the pit and suck out bad air. It seems a rather crude and dangerous practice, but this was the method of the time.
Someone responsible for touring the mine with a Davy lamp before work commenced, hadn’t on this occasion. Although many miners testified it was a ‘safe’ pit, a roof fall released gas, which, ignited by the miner’s candles, caused an explosion.