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Thread: Mersey tunnel collapse 1928

  1. #1
    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.

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    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.

    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.

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