In 1949 three men from Wheatley Hill were killed at Thornley Colliery when the pit flooded.......the following are the newspaper reports (info from the Durham Mining Museum) and photographs of the men. Photographs were sent to me by Allan Fulcher who received them from Jenny Parker (nee Brain)
The Times, May 7th 1949
Three men are feared to have been drowned by an inrush of water in the Hutton Seam of Thornley Collier, County Durham, this afternoon. About 40 men were at work at the time and all were got to safety except four men who were trapped by the water.
One of these, Robert Holder, of School Square, Thornley, was got out alive. The body of another, Walter Rudkin (34), of Eighth Street, Wheatley Hill, was recovered, but at a late hour the other two had not been found. They were Matthew Purvis (43), of Second Street, Wheatley Hill, and William Kelly (37) of Wheatley Terrace, Wheatley Hill.
As soon as the accident became known colliery rescue brigades from Houghton-le-Spring, Crook and Newcastle were summond and descended the mine.
A statement issued by Mr. James Nimmo, Deputy Production Director, Northern Division, N.C.B., says that an inrush of water occurred in a narrow heading near the old Cassop Vale shaft. This heading must have holed into old workings. No indication can be given of how long it will be before work can be resumed at the colliery.
The Times, May 9th 1949
The body of William Kelly, aged 37, of Wheatley Terrace, Wheatley Hill, was recovered today. This is the second victim to be found of Friday's accident when three men were trapped by an inrush of water. The body of the third man, Matthew Purvis, aged 43, of Second Street, Wheatley Hill, was recovered to-night.
Strange as it may sound the night before this accident happened my wife's grandmother Elizabeth Ryan had a dream of pit boots floating in water and men drowning at the pit and advised her lads, Jimmy and Stan who worked at the pit, not to go in. They did not go into work even though they were in the early shift.