Cornish Times, 1 January 1870

Shocking and Fatal Accident Near Tavistock

Two men killed and others seriously injured

Drakewalls Mine, Thursday

A sad accident occurred at these mines on Wednesday, by which two men were killed on the spot, and two others more or less seriously injured.  The disaster, which occurred between 10 and 11 o'clock, happened in the eastern part of the mine, between the Tye and 40-fathom levels.  There happened, fortunately enough, to be only nine men working in the eastern part of the mine at the time.  Seven of these men were "stopeing" and two were "trimming"; one set of miners having but just changed and gone home.  At this moment a mass of earth turned in upon them from the level side, and the most deplorable results followed.  Two of the men were killed upon the spot, and two others seriously injured. The two trimmers were out of danger, and so escaped from the misfortune which had befallen their fellow-workmen.  They heard the crash, however, also the cries of the wounded, and immediately went to the assistance of the latter.  Individual aid, however, was found to be useless in such a crisis.  A large mass of earth, and stone, and debris had fallen; and under this lay the unfortunate men.  One of the trimmers did what he could, while the other ascended to the surface for assistance.  In a few moments, at once in fact, a score or two men descended the mine.  The dead and injured miners were immediately extricated, and sent up in such appliances as could be improvised in the haste of the emergency.  Meanwhile, three doctors were brought, and these gentlemen, after having ascertained the conditions of the sufferers, and having rendered every assistance that was possible under the circumstances, gave orders for the immediate removal of the men to their homes, the bodies of the dead also being conveyed thither.  For this purpose stretchers were provided, and it is needless to say that the procession was a most saddening one.  The intelligence of what had occurred spread in all directions, and very soon the excitement in the neighbourhood of the mine became very intense, and the agony of those who had relatives below was most affecting.  The agents of the mine were present, and rendered whatever assistance the painful emergency called forth.

The following are the names of the unfortunate men killed and injured:-


John Adams, 33 years of age, widower, two young children, Metherell, killed on the spot

Henry Coombe, 20 years of age, single man, of Luckett, killed on the spot


John Rapson, 40 or 50 years of age, married, family, of Luckett, broken leg; followed by amputation in presence of four or five doctors

James Allen, 18 years of age, scalp wound

Joseph Allen, brother of James Allen; William Adams, brother of John Adams; and John Rapson, junr., son of John Rapson, sen., escaped uninjured, though, strangely enough, the whole of the men, with two exceptions already referred to, were all working together.  We regret to say that poor Rapson, who sustained a compound fracture of one of his legs, died on Wednesday night.  It is satisfactory to know, however, that James Allen is progressing under medical treatment towards recovery.  No cause is to be assigned for the accident.