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Thread: Mersey tunnel collapse 1928

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    Newbie jon b's Avatar
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    Default Mersey tunnel collapse 1928

    Hi all, this will be first post so it may need to be moved, if so apologies.

    I just thought I should pass on a family story involving the death of my great uncle during the building of the first Mersey tunnel.

    His name was James Herbert Brown and he was killed on 29.11.1928 at the age of just 18.

    He was employed as a labourer on the site and was in the tunnel during blasting for the ventilation shafts. before blasting the workers were warned to retreat to particular point that was deemed safe which he did, unfortunately what the engineers were not aware of was a large void (that was supposed to have been created by attempts to undermine the outer wall of Liverpool castle during a conflict ) above this area, that collapsed as a result of the nearby blast, sadly dropping numerous tons of rock onto my relative.

    As a result of this tragedy and perhaps his young age his colleagues requested that they be allowed to attend his funeral but the directors refused this, as a mark of respect the whole workforce took the day off without pay and attended his funeral. I remember my grandad telling me it was a sight to behold as scores of men escorted his coffin down Smithdown Road to Toxteth cemetary.

    Sadly there was never any memorial to the workers who were killed during the construction of the tunnel but at the Birkenhead end there is a large frieze dedicated to one of the directors who died( not on site !) whilst it was being built, I guess that shows the difference in classes at that time in history.


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    My dad was named after James and started to cause a fuss about the lack of a memorial and was victorius when a plaque naming all those who lost their lives was erected on the ventilation shaft at Mann island during the tunnels jubilee celebrations.

    My great uncle has at times been wrongly called Bert Jones in some books, but no one of this name died that I can ascertain.

    Hope this is of some interest.

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    Creator & Administrator Kev's Avatar
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    Thank you for your post, fascinating. A warm welcome by the way.

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    Senior Member marky's Avatar
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    There is also a plaque, with 9 names, for those who died during the construction of the Kingsway tunnel. The plaque is on the tunnel vent by Seacombe ferry terminal.

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    Senior Member Waterways's Avatar
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    The worst I came across in this contempt for people being killed in construction, was at Kariba Dam in Zimbabwe. There was an old newspaper cutting giving the names of the men that died, mainly Italian as an Italian company built it. Their full names were there and the local blacks who died were in a sentence, "and 20 local men" - I can't recall the number so just put 20 in. It was if they didn't matter and were nameless.
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    Re-member Ged's Avatar
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    Great first post and story Jon b, and welcome to Yo.
    www.inacityliving.piczo.com/

    Updated weekly with old and new pics.

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    Senior Member marky's Avatar
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    Memorial details:

    JOSEPH BONNER 26th July 1926 Aged 26
    JOHN JOSEPH McNULTY 17th September 1928 Aged 29
    JAMES HERBERT BROWN 29th November 1928 Aged 18
    JOHN WILLIAM BLAKELEY 7th July 1929 Aged 34
    JOHN McNICHOLAS 13th September 1929 Aged 55
    HENRY FRANCIS GARRETT DE MOUL 28th September 1929 Aged 25
    JOSEPH COLLEGE 11th December 1929 Aged 62
    JAMES MICHAEL WILMOTT 27th December 1929 Aged 42
    JOHN CARBERRY 24th March 1930 Aged 26
    ALBERT WHITE 27th November 1930 Aged 42
    ALFRED PITMAN DUKE 16th July 1931 Aged 45
    HENRY DENTITH 15th September 1931 Aged 24
    PATRICK JOSEPH DURR 29th September 1931 Aged 33
    THOMAS ARTHUR BECKINGHAM 16th May 1933 Aged 57
    JOHN CARR 14th July 1933 Aged 23
    JAMES GREEN 14th November 1933 Aged 22
    DONALD LESTER 15th September 1934 Aged 24


    THIS MEMORIAL WAS ERECTED AS PART OF
    THE QUEENSWAY TUNNEL DIAMOND JUBILEE CELEBRATIONS
    IN REMEMBRANCE OF THOSE WHO DIED DURING
    ITS CONSTRUCTION.
    WORK ON THE TUNNEL WAS COMMENCED
    ON 16TH DECEMBER 1925 AT THIS SITE
    BY
    HER ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCESS MARY
    AND THIS GREAT FEAT OF ENGINEERING
    WAS OPENED AT OLD HAYMARKET ON
    18TH JULY 1934
    BY
    HIS MAJESTY KING GEORGE V

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    Default Memorial

    If you go over the road from where Gerrard gardens used to be but not as far as Norton Street just over from the sand castle (TGWU centre) There is a small area off the road that is designated to the monument erected by the building workers union.The statue is of a hod carrier who died during the building of the tenements Gerrard Gardens. The cast for the sculpture is taken from the original frieze that was over the arched entrance to the Gardens. I attended the unveiling on a damp Sunday morning in Liverpool. The depiction of the hoddie who died was put on the frieze by the designer as a mark of respect, and the memorial is dedicated to Liverpool building workers who have died in the trade.
    Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
    Time held me green and dying
    Though I sang in my chains like the sea.

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    Senior Member The Gardens's Avatar
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    Some great posts, and it would good to hear from any other members who relatives may have worked on the tunnels.

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    Default Building Workers

    Members as in Trade Unionists?
    Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
    Time held me green and dying
    Though I sang in my chains like the sea.

    Dylan Thomas

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    Senior Member The Gardens's Avatar
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    Yo members, or Trade Unionists. These deaths and injuries were largely unreported, with only 'good news' stories released to the media. I would be interested to hear from anyone whose familiy where affected by the tunnels construction. This includes families whose communities were broken up by the building of the tunnels.

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    Senior Member merseywail's Avatar
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    Sorry to be pedantic, but the Queensway tunnel was the first ROAD tunnel. The first mersey tunnel was the mersey railway tunnel opened in 1886. Don't know how many died building that tunnel. I know some died from silicosis due to the Beamont boring machine, causing dust, that the men breathed in. Anyone know of any casualties during building of the loop & link in the 70's
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    Newbie desi bannon's Avatar
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    My grand father was Patrick Joseph Durr - he was from Elphin in Roscommon in Ireland - he left to fight in the Great war and settled in Liverpool to raise a family. He died in the tunnel, the local Paper at the time said he was Patrick Dare, he left behind a wife and three kids. Their tragedy did'nt end there, my gran died in childbirth and Mum and her brother and sister were orphaned and split up as kids. They did'nt reunite as a family until the early 1960's - Mum and her brother Tom have passed on but Aunt Mona still lives in St Helens. Granddad is buried without a headstone to mark his grave, such was the poverty then


    Quote Originally Posted by marky View Post
    Memorial details:

    JOSEPH BONNER 26th July 1926 Aged 26
    JOHN JOSEPH McNULTY 17th September 1928 Aged 29
    JAMES HERBERT BROWN 29th November 1928 Aged 18
    JOHN WILLIAM BLAKELEY 7th July 1929 Aged 34
    JOHN McNICHOLAS 13th September 1929 Aged 55
    HENRY FRANCIS GARRETT DE MOUL 28th September 1929 Aged 25
    JOSEPH COLLEGE 11th December 1929 Aged 62
    JAMES MICHAEL WILMOTT 27th December 1929 Aged 42
    JOHN CARBERRY 24th March 1930 Aged 26
    ALBERT WHITE 27th November 1930 Aged 42
    ALFRED PITMAN DUKE 16th July 1931 Aged 45
    HENRY DENTITH 15th September 1931 Aged 24
    PATRICK JOSEPH DURR 29th September 1931 Aged 33
    THOMAS ARTHUR BECKINGHAM 16th May 1933 Aged 57
    JOHN CARR 14th July 1933 Aged 23
    JAMES GREEN 14th November 1933 Aged 22
    DONALD LESTER 15th September 1934 Aged 24


    THIS MEMORIAL WAS ERECTED AS PART OF
    THE QUEENSWAY TUNNEL DIAMOND JUBILEE CELEBRATIONS
    IN REMEMBRANCE OF THOSE WHO DIED DURING
    ITS CONSTRUCTION.
    WORK ON THE TUNNEL WAS COMMENCED
    ON 16TH DECEMBER 1925 AT THIS SITE
    BY
    HER ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCESS MARY
    AND THIS GREAT FEAT OF ENGINEERING
    WAS OPENED AT OLD HAYMARKET ON
    18TH JULY 1934
    BY
    HIS MAJESTY KING GEORGE V

  13. #13
    Senior Member wsteve55's Avatar
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    Welcome to Yo,Desi. A sad event.

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    Keeping It Real !!!!!!!!! ItsaZappathing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by desi bannon View Post
    My grand father was Patrick Joseph Durr - he was from Elphin in Roscommon in Ireland - he left to fight in the Great war and settled in Liverpool to raise a family. He died in the tunnel, the local Paper at the time said he was Patrick Dare, he left behind a wife and three kids. Their tragedy did'nt end there, my gran died in childbirth and Mum and her brother and sister were orphaned and split up as kids. They did'nt reunite as a family until the early 1960's - Mum and her brother Tom have passed on but Aunt Mona still lives in St Helens. Granddad is buried without a headstone to mark his grave, such was the poverty then
    Hi Desi,
    welcome from me. Good story but so sad too.

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    Senior Member wsteve55's Avatar
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    Desi,wondered where you got that list of names? There's a memorial plaque on the tunnel ventilator building,near the Pier Head,and I could take a pic' if you wanted?

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    Senior Member brian daley's Avatar
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    Some real sad story's on this thread, telling reminder of how great a cost the Tunnel was built at,
    BrianD

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    Pablo42 pablo42's Avatar
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    Good stories guys.

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    Senior Member wsteve55's Avatar
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    Hi Desi, took a few (not very good) pic's of the memorial stone,but with the height,reflection,and a parking attendant heading my way,it was a bit of a rush! Nice to see fresh flowers, had recently been placed there!

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    Newbie desi bannon's Avatar
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    Many thanks for taking the time and energy to post these photographs, it is very much appreciated and very kind of you to do so. As you say it is nice to see that people still remember those young men who tragically lost their lives trying to earn a crust for their families, often times they had survived the great war, poverty and other tribulations only to sadly fall in the tunnel

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    Default Mersey tunnel death 1930?

    I have just made contact with a distant cousin in Australia and his grandfather so the story goes died during the construction of the mersey tunnel. Things get a bit confusing as there are many tunnels.

    His Grandfathers name was Michael Mitchell year of death 1930, he was meant to be buried in Tranmere Cheshire on the 14th of June 1930.

    Michael was Irish, cuts it down a bit!!!! can anybody help.

    regards Eddie.

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    Re-member Ged's Avatar
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    His name is not shown on the memorial above Eddie. Is there a memorial at the Birkenhead end? Did he die because of the construction or during it of natural causes etc?
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    Senior Member ChrisGeorge's Avatar
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    The following was on Rootsweb. I will contact the lady to make sure she knows her father is listed on the monument:

    Hi everyone,

    I am trying to locate ancestors or family of my father, Henry Francis Garrett De Moul. He was born in Ireland in 1904/1905 and as a child came with his mother to live in Liverpool. He was an only child and was known at that time as Harry St. Leger - his mother's second husband's name. His mother married for a third time to a Beardmore. My father was in the Irish Guards as a young man and married my mother in 1925. He was crushed by falling rock when employed building the Mersey Tunnel in 1929. He was buried in Liverpool Catholic Cemetery, Yew Tree, West Derby, which I believe is now closed. His mother was buried with him a few years later. I have been searching off and on for the last 15 years and cannot even find the name De Moul.

    Any help or suggestions would be appreciated.


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    Senior Member marky's Avatar
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    Kingsway Tunnel Memorial, Seacombe.


    http://s229.photobucket.com/albums/e...Seacombe_V.jpg

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    Thanks Marky. I wasn't even aware of anyone being killed on such a more modern way of tunnelling with the 'mole' machine.
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    Senior Member John Doh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marky View Post
    Kingsway Tunnel Memorial, Seacombe.


    http://s229.photobucket.com/albums/e...Seacombe_V.jpg
    There is already a reference on Yo to another, earlier accident that resulted in the death of 18-year old James Herbert Brown on 29/11/28, caused when rock fell during blasting under the site of the old Liverpool Castle, here:

    http://www.yoliverpool.com/forum/sho...-collapse-1928

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    i dont know Ged but can see why u ask. seeing as he is not mentioned on any memorial is it likley that he died of cause sunrelated to construction? or have names been missed form the memorial.

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    It is poss that Michael didn't die during construction (ta Ged) if this was the case how could i find out if he did die in the liverpool are as all we have is a family story. if he did die during construction then what construction was in process during 1930 and is there a memorial.

    Quote Originally Posted by eddiegibb View Post
    I have just made contact with a distant cousin in Australia and his grandfather so the story goes died during the construction of the mersey tunnel. Things get a bit confusing as there are many tunnels.

    His Grandfathers name was Michael Mitchell year of death 1930, he was meant to be buried in Tranmere Cheshire on the 14th of June 1930.

    Michael was Irish, cuts it down a bit!!!! can anybody help.

    regards Eddie.

  28. #28
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    Default McGing and the Queensway Tunnel

    Good morning
    I was just wondering where I could find more information on the tunnel collapse. My Grandfather John McGing was a labourer and died in General Hospital in 1932 from the complications of injuries received during the collapse of the tunnel. I have tried Google but all that pulls up is the Wikipedia insert. I was wondering if there was anything more detailed including records of workers etc

    Many thanks

  29. #29
    Came fourth...now what? Oudeis's Avatar
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    There is this of general tunnel interest...

    http://www.tunnelusers.org.uk/history.htm

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    Just wondering, any ideas on where would I start to try to get my Grandads name on the plaque? He was involved in the collapse of 1928 and then spent the next four years suffering before dying of his injuries in 1932. There are stories of him bending the bedposts when the pain in his legs got too much. My nan lost a baby girl(third one) just after his death as well and couldnt afford to pay for the funeral, got turned away by the Catholic church for having no money so had to beg another church to bury the baby. My nan then had the job of raising five boys on her own. Apparantly before the accident my grandad used to go to the pub and if he was 'skint' would turn his glass upside down and someone would have to fight him!!! God it scares you to think this was only 80 years ago. My grandad is buried in public grave at Ford Cemetery, I think General Hospital, Bootle may have buried him if nan had to beg the church to bury the baby. I dont mind paying to get his name added to the plaque but I am guessing I need permission first

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