The Oaks Disaster

The Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership are coordinating a number of projects related to the 1866 Oaks Disaster and the 150th anniversary in December 2016.



Just after 1 o’clock on the afternoon of the 12 December 1866 a low rumble was heard across Barnsley that pointed to only one thing. It was just minutes later that four words spread through the town like wildfire, ‘the Oaks has fired‘.

The Oaks Disaster was a series of large underground explosions at the Oaks Colliery, Barnsley, starting on 12 December 1866. It was the worst mining disaster in Victorian Britain and remains the worst in English history.

The Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership worked with a team of dedicated volunteers to find out more. Collectively they spent over 3000 hours uncovering the life stories of those killed, discovering if and where they are buried and aiming to get as close as possible to a definitive list.

This research forms part of a number of outcomes the DVLP are leading on:

  • Exhibition at Experience Barnsley in December 2016.
  • Improvements to the remaining buildings at Barnsley Main, which sit on the site of the Oaks Colliery.
  • Commemorative events for the 150th anniversary.

If you are interested in finding out more you can follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, sign up to our newsletter or contact us on DVLP@barnsley.gov.uk and 01226 772139.

Latest News from the Dearne Valley