the deplorable accident which happened at Wilmslow
on the Evening of Saturday, the 5th August, 1871 :-
they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?
" I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall likewise perish. - Luke xiii. 4. 5.
R. LANGTON, PRINTER, WILMSLOW.
The Macclesfield Courier and Herald had the following headline. "A Gas Manager and Five Others Buried Alive at Wilmslow ". Most of the following information is taken from that source.
The six who were killed are named in the above inscription. Frederick RICHARDS was the engineer in charge of the works. Moments earlier he had been above ground talking to his wife and young daughter, they were still looking on. Four were workmen, two of them brothers. John MOTTRAM was an old man who had entered the trench out of curiosity, to have a closer look at the workings.
Two men survived. Oswald HAMILTON was buried up to his shoulders, and John GREEN up to his neck. After being extracted John GREEN lead attempts to rescue the others. A large number of volunteers helped, but a very large amount of unstable material had to be moved. The accident had happened at 7:30 on a Saturday evening, but it was 4 the following morning before the first of the bodies was recovered.
An inquest was held the following Tuesday at the "Ring of Bells", nearby. Jurors heard that the foundations were being dug in fine soft sand which required that the trench sides be well supported, and this had been done. Perhaps metal bars being driven into the ground nearby had turned the sand into quicksand. A large mound of clay alongside the trench would have added to the pressure on the trench walls. (The trench was to be lined with puddled clay and filled with water.) It was decided that the matter had been an accident, not caused by negligence.
More information about those who died can be found on Maggie Blanck's web page on the Worth family.