South Yorkshire Times August 23, 1947
Goldthorpe Man Who “Came Back”
Life of Amazing Escapes
£400 Offer by American Film Producers
12 years ago a man walked into Clifton Colliery offices, Pendlebury, Lancs and asked to see the place where he was “killed” 60 years earlier. The man was Mr Joseph Jackson, of 42 Co-operative Street, Goldthorpe, who “came back from the dead” after the Clifton Hall colliery disaster, when once in eight men lost their lives on June 18, 1885. Mr Jackson now 81, is the only man left alive of the 240 who were down the pit that day.
After the Explosion
To a “South Yorkshire Times” reporter Mr Jackson this week described his ordeal after the explosion.
“I was about a mile from the shaft bottom,” he said, “when the explosion occurred, and I was bowled over, injuring my head and knocking my lamp out. For about 15 minutes I could neither see nor hear anything, and then with one of my mates I started to crawl to the shaft. Both of us were covered with blood and we had to crawl over the bodies of men and horses. Then we saw the light and discovered it was the clamp under manager trying to rescue a lad. We helped him and when we reached the pit bottom there was another explosion.
“Then I collapsed, but I was taken to the pit top and carried away on a stretcher. In the papers that afternoon I was reported dead. My father to matters that he had seen my “body” but would not believe it was me. I was covered with coal dust and blood at the time.”
Mr Jackson still has a lamp which he brought out of the pit that day.
When Women Worked Below
The son of a Welsh miner, Mr Jackson started work down the pit at the age of eight. Women were down the pit at that time. When he was 11 a law came into operation which said that boys under 12 could not work down the pit. This gave Mr Jackson the opportunity to have a year at school, the only schooling he had in his life, for he went back down the pit in his 12th birthday.
Mr Jackson’s mate, Mr Martin Stanley, who was with him when the Clifton Hall explosion occurred, died at his home at Pendleton, near Manchester a few weeks ago. He was 79. This left Mr Jackson the sole survivor of the disaster. When he received notification of Mr Stanley’s death he went over to Pendleton “to make sure” it was true, for they were great friends. “They always make a fulsome me when I go over to Clifton Hall,” says Mr Jackson.
At 81, Mr Jackson estimated number of escapes from death numbers between 50 and 60. He has had a charmed life and despite his years is still in excellent health. “I never riding buses much. Give me my bike for keeping healthy.”
Mr Jackson has had remarkable escapes in his mining career. “When I was 13, I was buried for 12 hours under fall of rock at Botany Bay colliery, Clifton,” he said. “I ducked between two rows of tubs when I heard the noise. When they dug me out I was crying and ran like mad.”
At Cleworth part Tyldesley, some years later, he was dragged out unconscious after trying to rescue a fireman or being overcome by fumes. His brother also tried to rescue the man and they were subsequently rewarded with a sum of money for their heroism.
Saw His Father Killed
While working St George’s Pit Tyldesley he saw his father killed.
Mr Jackson ended his mining career at Barnburgh colliery where he was ambulance man. He and the late Mr Stanley were offered £400 each to go to America and take part in a film in which they would have recreated the drama of their escape at Clifton Hall colliery. Mr Stanley refused and Mr Jackson would not go alone.
For 17 years Mr Jackson was a member of Bolton on Dearne Fire Brigade and was capped for most of that time. He has received a long service medal has been a member of the national reserve.
A falling girder missed him by inches during the fire at Goldthorpe hippodrome in 1914.
Mr Jackson has two sons and two daughters. His sons Robert and Fred are both married and work at Barnburgh colliery. One of his daughters keeps house for him.
He is a member of Sarragena Lodge (Goldthorpe) of the R.A.O.B.he has won many prizes as a racing cyclist. Mr Jackson smokes but finds the price of tobacco too much for him. When Mr Dalton announces last budget he had to cut his tobacco consumption from 5 to 2 ounces per week.
Asked what he thought of life today Mr Jackson said simply, “I have enjoyed life and I still do.”