The author spent much of his childhood living in the pit village and community of Seaham Colliery. The pit yard at the bottom of the street was his playground during the day and at night he fell asleep with the sounds of the busy colliery ringing in his ears. He knew about the tragic 1880 Seaham Colliery Disaster that killed 164 men and boys – everyone did – but during the research for this book he was totally unprepared to learn about the unbearable pain and heartache suffered by the pit community.
This book chronicles the grief and hardship of the widows and children of the victims that perished in the horrific explosion. It tells of the miners who refused to work whilst the bodies of their comrades were entombed in the Maudlin seam and who went on strike to uphold that long established principle followed by Durham coalminers. Some miners were sent to Durham jail for intimidation of strike-breakers in the colliery village and some, the “sacrificed men,” were denied re-employment by the coal owner and had no option but to emigrate and make a new life in America. It was exactly one year to the day after the explosion that the last body was recovered from the mine. Descendants of the miners killed in the explosion will learn for the first time of the terror and horrific injuries caused by the fiery blast that ripped through the Hutton and Maudlin seams. This is the story of “One Year of Hell” in the history of Seaham.