[From 'Investigation of Mine Air, 1905]



On the 13th May I did not notice any unpleasant symptoms while in the mine, but after having been on the surface for a little time I had a decided headache across the forehead. On the following day we did not go down below the 100 level, and felt no inconvenience whatever in any shape or form. On the fifteenth there was certainly a feeling that the air as we descended was less good than on the previous day ; but this in no way interfered with my work, such as testing the air from platform to platform below the 115 ; nor was my power of deciding that it was unsafe to descend to the corpse itself in any way impaired. I cannot recall any symptoms undoubtedly due to carbon monoxide, until I reached the 115 level, after having climbed rapidly up the ladders, when Captain Kewley gave the alarm that he was feeling ill. The poison took effect most suddenly ; probably its action was accelerated by the exertion of climbing rapidly. I felt decidedly queer when I reached the level, and thought a drop of brandy might revive me : I took out my little brandy flask, but already my fingers seemed incapable of doing the work properly, and someone unscrewed the stopper for me ; I took a small sip and sat down. Everything then seemed in a whirl, and the atmosphere seemed to be a dense white fog. This must have been, as far as I can judge, a little before I p.m., for we went down precisely at noon, and allowing full time for the descent and testing the air from platform to platform below the 115, I do not think an hour had elapsed after leaving the surface before we were taken ill.

Sitting next to me was Mr Williams, and within a few feet were Captain Reddicliffe and Henry Clague ; the men who had remained all the time at 115 level, or at all events had not descended as low as we did, had started to climb to the surface, but of their starting I have no recollection. A curious fact is that we all sat without moving or trying to escape : the foot of the ladder was close by, yet none of us made any effort to go to it and ascend even a single rung. We none of us tried to walk a dozen steps, which would have led us to the other side of the shaft partition, where we all knew that there was a current of better air. We simply sat on and on; Mr Williams remained motionless like a statue ; Captain Reddicliffe, on the other hand, was shouting and groaning nearly all the time, while Clague was moving his arms. Of all this I was perfectly conscious, though rooted to my scat. By my side was one of the pipes conveying compressed air, in which a hole had been punched some days before. I was perfectly conscious that fresh air was a good thing for me, and I frequently leant over and put my mouth to the hole and inhaled a good breath. How soon I realised that we were in what is commonly called " a tight place " I cannot say ; but eventually, from long force of habit, I presume, I took out my notebook. At what o'clock I first began to write I do not know, for the few words written on the first page have no hour put to them. They were simply a few words of good-bye to my family, badly scribbled. The next page is headed " 2 p.m.," and I perfectly well recollect taking out my watch from time to time. As a rule I do not take a watch underground, but I carried it on this occasion in order to be sure that I left the rat long enough when testing with it. In fact, my note on the day of our misadventure was: "5th ladder. Rat two minutes at man,5~ meaning by the side of the corpse. My notes at 2 p.m. were as follows: " 2 p.m., good-bye, we are all dying, your Clement, I fear we are dying, good-bye, all my darlings all, no help coming, good-bye we are dying, 12 good-bye, good-bye we are dying, no help comes, good-bye, good-bye."

Then later, partly scribbled over some " good-byes," I find, " We saw body at 130 and then all became affected by the bad air, we have got to the 115 and can go no further, the box does not come in spite of our ringing for help. It does not come, does not come. I wish the box would: z~come. Captain R. is shouting, my legs are bad, and I feel very

my knees are 1 ~p

The so-called "ringing" was signalling the surface by striking the air-pipe with a hammer or bar of iron. We had agreed upon signals before we went down. There is writ over other writing, as if I did not see exactly where I placed my pencil and then: " I feel as if I were dreaming, no real pain, good-bye, goodbye, I feel as if I were sleeping." " 2.15, we are all done. No I ' or scarcely any, we are done, we are done, good bye my darling,3.j~ Here it is rather interesting to note the " good " instead of "good." -Before very long the fresh men who had climbed down to rescue us seem to have arrived, and explained that the " box " was caught in the shaft. Judging by my notes I did not realise thoroughly that we should be rescued. Among them occur the words, " No pain, it 1*8 merely like a dream, no pain ; no pain, for the benefit of others I say no pain at all, no pain, no pain." I frequently wrote the same sentence over and over again. My last note on reaching the surface tells of that resistance to authority which likewise appears to be a symptom of the poisoning.

These notes afford ample confirmation of the effect produced by carbonic oxide poisoning of causing reiteration. I wrote the same words over and over again unnecessarily. The condition I was in was rather curious. I had absorbed enough of the poison to paralyse me to a certain extent and dull my feelings, but at the same time my reason had not left me.

The general sensation was like a bad dream, and yet I was able to reason properly and write intelligibly, though in a disjointed fashion.

I have been asked whether some of my notes may not have been written automatically or unconsciously. If there had merely been a good-bye to my wife and children I might have been doubtful on the subject, as I find that in my note-book I used some wording identical with that of a letter addressed to my wife which I had written as a matter of prudence before leaving Laxey on the morning of my first descent. After my visit to the mine on the previous afternoon, I knew there was some risk to be encountered, and I simply penned the letter for use in case things should go wrong. Fortunately, the letter was not wanted. Wholly apart from my farewells, it seems to me from my notes that I was recording things correctly, and that my brain was reasoning properly ; I do not think I ever lost consciousness in the mine.

Mr Williams, on the other hand, and Captain Reddicliffe, though not absolutely unconscious, did not recognise the lapse of time, for they thought that only about ten minutes passed between my calling out " All up at once " and their arrival at the surface. In reality, nearly two hours had gone by.

That the numbness of the fingers recorded in my notes was no fancy is proved by the fact that I burnt my wrist and hand with my candle while sitting underground, and had no notion that I had done so until a friend in the evening called my attention to a big blister. I dare say, this was five hours or more after the burn.

I think there certainly was a feeling of exhilaration on reaching the top of the shaft; I was quite able to walk and was in full possession of my senses, for I at once asked Dr Miller to take a little of my blood, so that it might be tested spectroscopically. He tied a bandage round my arm, and when one of my veins was well swollen he inserted a hypodermic syringe, but no blood could be drawn. He then tried Mr Williams in the same way, but again without success. That the puncture was deep is proved by the scar which is still apparent. About an hour after I came up I sent off a telegram to my wife, which I reproduce in order to show that the effects of the carbon monoxide in producing unnecessary repetitions had not Worn off: "Am perfectly right, do not believe any report to the contrary ; I repeat I am perfectly right.-Clement. Address, Peveril, Douglas." 1

Though feeling quite able to walk to Laxey, a distance of about four miles, I took the advice of Dr Miller, and went down with some others in a trap. One of the miners who was with us was vomiting from time to time, and by and by I felt a desire to be sick also, and put my finger down my throat with the idea of assisting nature, but without effect. Soon after this I became unconscious for a few minutes ; it was not a true fainting, but something of the nature of epileptiform seizure, as I am told that I was a little convulsed, though I never had anything in the nature of a fit before. Dr Haldane has pointed out that seizures of this description are not uncommon after carbonic oxide poisoning.2 On getting to the hotel at Laxey I lay down on the sofa with a headache, and Mr Williams suffered from headache and vomiting.

On arriving at Llandudno three days after the accident, I happened to pass our family doctor, and he told me afterwards that he at once noticed that the colour of my face was strange.

A few days after I got back from the island the first time, about the 21st or 22nd of May, I noticed my heart ; it could scarcely be called palpitation, as I understand palpitations to be, for there did not seem to be any increased rapidity of its action, but I was conscious of its beating as a rule, I am not. This passed off, and then on Ist and 2nd of June I noticed it very decidedly again, so much so that I went to my doctor He sounded me, and said the heart was all right ' though there was on sound which was not very distinct. This consciousness of having a heart still returns from time to time, though only to a slight extent On the 19th May I suffered much from headache, not regularly, but intermittently. The headache lasted for several days, and the feeling in the legs was very apparent; it was an aching in the legs from the knee to the ankles. A coldness from the knees to the soles of the feet was also noticeable ; it came on occasionally for a considerable time. The headaches continued at intervals for some time, and lasted certainly for some months after the accident ; indeed, I cannot say that they have disappeared altogether. Whether these headaches are ,-till a consequence of the poisoning or not, I am unable to say. I have, at the risk of being wearisome, given the above account of the mental phenomena ac companying partial poisoning by carbonic oxide, because it is possible that they may be of assistance to those who are investigating the subject from a scientific point of view. C. L. N. F.


On the evening of the l0th May, I descended the Snaefell Mine, accompanied by Captain Kewley and four miners. The Captain and some of the men, who had been down several times during the day. .suffered from fatigue and the effects of the poisonous gases, so they descended no lower than the 74-fathoms level ; but Frederick Christian, who had a brother among the victims accompanied me to the platform immediately above the 100-fathom~ level. At this point a stiffened corpse blocked the manhole, and we could proceed no farther.

While descending, I had suffered no discomfort except from a burning sensation in the throat and chest, and a perceptible increase in the temperature of the air in the mine as we proceeded.

We then commenced the ascent to return to the surface. This I found to be a very different task from descending, as almost immediately I experienced my strength fail ; more particularly did my legs totter ; my head also began to ache. We climbed very 'slowly y, and at the 60 fathoms level we came up with our comrades, who had ascended so far and were quite exhausted. After burning about 1;' Ibs. of potassium chlorate and remaining in the gas produced thereby for a while, we continued our ascent. I felt as though a great weight had rolled off me, but the headache continued.

After a short interval at the surface, I descended with a party of men to recover some of the bodies. The lowermost point reached on this occasion was the third platform below the 60-fathoms level. We were down from two to three hours. My headache increased, and a muscular pain began in the region of the heart ; this soon became very severe, but I felt no weakness in my legs, worth speaking of, when climbing up.

As I walked up the mountain side to the " Bungalow," between one and two o'clock in the morning, I felt completely exhausted, and each time I struck my foot against any object in the dark, it seemed as though a knife pierced my forehead ; there was also severe pain at the back of the head. For the few hours I was in bed I lay wide awake ; by morning the headache was better, but I could not bear to touch the left side over the heart ; so bad was the pain that I felt it would be quite impossible for me to descend the mine on the Tuesday. At 7.30 a.m., however, I did descend, and the pain over the heart had completely disappeared before I again reached the surface about 9.30 a.m., and it has not since recurred.

In a quarter of an hour's time I descended again with a fresh party, and felt much stronger than I had done on my first descent the same morning. As time went on, I felt my strength give way ; I was also becoming stupid and sleepy, and at intervals I lost consciousness for short periods, but tried to attend to my work. The men asked me to give the signal to have the " box " raised, but I was unaware of it till Captain Kitto, who had kindly come down the mine to assist, roused me and said, " You are not well, go and sit down." To this I replied that I was all right and could go on. I recollect giving the signal, but nothing more till I found myself sitting in a level with Captain Kitto and Mr Wynne-Finch giving me some brandy. I was informed that I had fallen down insensible by the manhole. After remaining there a short time I could barely stand ; my legs were powerless ; with the aid of men pulling at a rope put around me, and others supporting me behind, I began to ascend, but my legs refused to act. Mr WynneFinch asked me if I would not go into the " box I said 11 box," and right glad was I to find myself in it.

I was quite conscious when I got to the surface, and able to walk without assistance to the mine office. I did not suffer much from headache on this day, and a good night's sleep at Laxey quite cured it.

On Wednesday morning, along with my colleague, Mr Jones, and a party of miners, I descended the mine, feeling quite fresh, and intending not to return till the last body had been recovered. When one of the men, who was on the platform immediately above the 130-fathoms level ' called out that his candle was extinguished, I went down to him and put my candle below the platform, when it immediately went out. We climbed up to the 115-fathoms level, and, though the atmosphere immediately below the platform was deadly, that just above it must have been comparatively free from carbonic oxide, as I felt no inconvenience whatever in climbing to the 115-fathoms platform to communicate with the surface by means of the " box." Having all in readiness for bottling the gas, I descended to the same platform, having a rope lashed round me at the arm-pits. William Christian and Robert Cubbon, two strong and willing young men, were on the same platform with me, while my colleague, Mr Jones, and some other men held the rope 0. the platform above. With my legs through the manhole and my head well above it, I succeeded in filling two bottles with the gas and corking them ; then I discerned a strong disagreeable smell rising from below. I am told that I took a third bottle and put it down through the manhole; I have no recollection whatever of doing this, though it must have been the case I as I found the bottle, along with my cap, at the 130-fathoms level~ five weeks after, close to where Kelly's body had lain. MY next sensation was indescribably pleasurable, and one which I wished to last for ever, for, as it passed away, and I recovered consciousness, I ungratefully said to Dr Miller, " Why did not you let me die?" I then inquired where I was and what the time was. A feeling of sickness followed, which the doctor told me was partly at least due to his treatment of me in bringing me round. I -then became somewhat hysterical, but was soon able to get off the sofa on which I had been placed. The characteristic band of headache across the forehead, and the pain at the back of the head, troubled me through the rest of the day, but, thanks to the careful treatment I received from Dr Miller, and the kind nursing of Mrs Hall at Laxey,

I got a good sleep and felt quite well by morning.

On Thursday, along with others, I descended under the guidance of my chief, Dr Le Neve Foster, and suffered no inconvenience in any way.

On Friday, the air was so good up to the greatest depth reached by us (though Dr Foster's mice and candle tests indicated that the air was still bad below), that it was, as Dr Foster remarked in ascending, quite a pleasant climb.

On Saturday, I experienced no unusual sensation, nor did I detect any smell similar to that of Wednesday; in fact, I had no suspicion there was anything whatever wrong, till Dr Foster called out, " Kewley is bad, all up at once to put him in the 'box."'

I recollect turning round to start climbing, but I have not the faintest idea how I managed to climb up the ladders for 80 feet to the 115 fathoms level, and only know from the testimony of others that I did so. John Kelly tells me that he took hold of me at the top, i.e., just at the 115-fathoms level, to help me. There, I am told, they seated me. How long I remained in a completely unconscious state I know not; but some time before I was removed I felt at intervals a great weight on my head ; possibly these sensations occurred at the various times when one of the rescue party poured a hatful of water on to my head. I imagined I was dead, then I thought I was in a horrid dream. I could see a black object pass up and down before my eyes, as one sees an object move between the closed eyes and the light ; this I was afterwards told must have been Captain Reddicliffe's arms; he sat close by me, and moved his arms up and down. I had a sense of something revolving inside my head from left to right. Then I could hear the signals being given to communicate with the surface. Giving the signals had been part of my duty all through the sad days of the week: among other signals, three strokes on the compressed-air pipe were meant to tell those at the surface to raise the " box" ; six strokes told them that all was right. I was able to count the number of strokes given, and when they passed three I knew there was something wrong, and I wanted to say so ; I was struggling inwardly to speak, but could not.

When I recovered consciousness, I was being carried in a horizontal position to be put into the "box," which was only a few yards distant, to be sent to the surface. I could speak and could fully understand what was being told me. I was conscious all the way up the shaft, and I know I shook hands very heartily at the top of the shaft with some of the men who had been repeatedly down the mine with me during the week, but I could not bear to have anyone order or contradict me: I would have my own way. I insisted, not with very good grace, I fear, on walking by myself to the office, and Dr Miller, who thought I ought to allow myself to be carried, at last said to me, " Walk, then, you pugnacious little fellow!" When I sat down at the office, I became unconscious again for fifteen or twenty minutes ; the first thing I recognised afterwards was Henry Clague, one of the miners, who was moving his limbs convulsively while sitting in a chair in front of me. This must have roused me. I asked if that man was Clague, and if the place we were at was the Snaefell Mine office.

From this time I was fully conscious, and although I felt excruciating pain in the head, I was able to go down to Laxey ; the pain continued all the evening, but it had quite left me by Sunday morning.

My face wore a deep red blotchy appearance for some time, and my


friends on the mainland remarked upon it repeatedly, even as late as the 23rd of May. I also suffered from weakness.

In my case, any ill defects which I could attribute directly to carbonic oxide poisoning passed quickly away, and I am not aware that the experiences of the week have done me any permanent harm.

G. J. W.


On Wednesday, the 12th May, at 8 a.m., Mr Williams and I descended the mine. Between that hour and 11 a.m. five dead bodies were. recovered. After sending the fifth body to the surface, Mr Williams decided to take some samples of the bad air in the shaft. For this purpose he descended to the platform just above the 130-fathoms level, and, being aware of the risk he was running, he took the precaution of having a rope lashed round him, the tail-end of which was held by me and some miners standing on the platform above. Mr Williams had three bottles with him, and emptied the water from two of them, and recorked his bottles. To all appearances, he was not suffering from the effects of gas up to this moment. He then took the third bottle, and while he was in the act of emptying the water from it he collapsed and fell suddenly, as if he had been shot. As the rope was already round his body, I lost no time in dragging him up, with the aid of some of the miners. While he was being dragged up the first three ladders he was groaning very much, but before he was on the platform at the top of the fourth ladder he had ceased groaning. We had some difficulty in getting him to the top of this ladder, as we felt our own strength going. When we examined him we found that he was not breathing at all, and his eyes were wide open. We poured some brandy into his mouth, but he did not swallow it. We then dragged him up one more ladder to the level. He then appeared to be quite dead. The " box " was already in this level ; but we did not send him up at once, as packing him into the " box " and sending him to the surface would have taken a considerable time, and we thought it more prudent to make an effort to revive him on the spot. We carried him to a compressed-air pipe in which a hole had been punched, and I sat down under him and kept his mouth at the hole whilst two of the men were working his arms backwards and forwards. As nearly as I can guess, about ten minutes elapsed before he began breathing again. Brandy was given to him several times, and when his heart began to beat he was put into the " box," though still quite unconscious, and sent to the surface. When I tried to get up to carry Mr Williams to the box," I discovered that my legs were in a semi-paralysed state, and I had to sit down again by the compressed-air pipe for about half an hour.

After this rest I started climbing, and reached the top of the second ladder all right, and then all of a sudden I collapsed. I thought that my heart was stopping, but I soon recovered. The same thing happened three times before I reached the surface, when I vomited and suffered from a very bad headache. I felt the effect of the poisoning in my legs for some weeks, besides suffering from palpitation of the heart on several occasions afterwards, though never troubled by any heart affection previously. O. R. J.


The effect upon me of the air of Snaefell Mine was peculiar ; physically, I am fairly strong, but in going underground the first time, and before reaching the 115-fathoms level, I felt slight pain and weakness in my knees, and the back of my throat, and my tongue and lips became parched. My eyes felt as if they were too large for their sockets ; there was also a throbbing in my temples and a burning sensation about my heart and throughout my body, but there was no pain worth mentioning, with the exception of that in my knees. This, no doubt, was aggravated by climbing the ladders, as there has scarcely been any of this treadmill work with us at Foxdale for many years past. However, on reaching the 115-fathoms level, and as soon as we had commenced to recover the bodies, I felt better, and able to go about and do anything ; but on starting to climb up the ladders to the surface the peculiar sensation returned, and I feel sure if it had not been for some brandy, a flask of which I had the precaution to take with me, I certainly would have failed on my way up. On reaching terra firma I felt very ill and wanted to vomit. When we got down to Laxey Dr Miller gave me a dose of something which did me good, but through the night I had severe palpitation of the heart, a thing I have never felt in my life before or since. On the Wednesday my experience underground was something similar, but I did not feel so ill on reaching the surface. The day following, Thursday, the pain in my knees was so great that I could not stand properly, and for fully a week I had great pain when walking, and still (10th June) feel slight effects of the poisoning. W. H. K.


On Tuesday, ?day I Ith, 1897, at 11.45 a.m. I went down the Snaefell ,shaft, forming one of a party led by Captain Kitto, of the Foxdale Mine.

I spent three hours below ground at the 100-fathom level, and while at work there felt no symptoms of discomfort with the exception of a slight nausea due to the gases exhaled by the dead bodies.

On starting to return to the surface I found that my legs had partially lost strength and had become heavy and numbed. My arms were not appreciably affected, and the only other symptom I noticed was an unusual shortness of breath. This was, no doubt, due to the fact that the exertion of climbing rendered the badness of the air more distinctly appreciable to the lungs. With the aid of my arms I climbed very slowly and with considerable difficulty to the surface.

On Wednesday, May 12th, I went down shortly after 3 p.m. The party consisted of men from Foxdale Mine led by Captain Kitto. Our object was to find and if possible recover the one remaining body. The air was known to be bad below the 115-fathom level, and my portion of the work consisted in punching holes in the compressed-air pipes to freshen the atmosphere as we went down. This necessitated my descending first with a rope attached to my body to avoid accidents.

While I was striking the punch I noticed once or twice a violent quickening of the heart's action, which, however, passed off again after a few moments in each case. At about 5.15 p.m. I had just climbed back from the open portion of the shaft on to one of the platforms, after making a hole in the air-pipe. The platform in question was, I believe, the fourth below the 115-fathom level. At this point a sudden giddiness seized me,lasting a few seconds only and then passing off. A minute or so later, the same sensation recurred more strongly, together with a pain in the head and an unpleasant feeling of pressure on the chest, almost amounting to pain. As the giddiness continued, and I felt my legs growing weaker, I decided at once to climb to the 115-fathom level, fearing that if I waited longer I might have to be lifted up with ropes. It was necessary to reach this latter point, as it was the lowest point, at which the "box" was accessible, the hoisting compartment of the shaft being boarded off from the ladder road except at the different levels. After I had removed the rope from my body I began at once to climb. As I felt the effects of the gas rapidly increasing, I climbed as fast as possible, so as to get to the level above before I was overpowered.

Before I had climbed the first ladder my eyesight began to be impaired, and, though there were men stationed at each landing, I could not see them. On calling out to them as I passed, however, I was able to hear and understand their answers in each case. The position of the ladders rendered it possible for me to climb without the use of my eyesight. The last ladder I was only able to get up with a great effort, and I am not sure whether I climbed or was pulled through the manhole at the top.

On reaching the 115-fathom platform, I lost all physical power, and both my breathing and the action of my heart became much affected. Paroxysms of rapid breathing set in, during which respiration was very laboured.

During the periods of apparent inaction of the lungs between the fits of hurried breathing, I experienced no particular pain or discomfort, feeling only extremely weak. I could still hear and understand all that was said to me, as well as speak intelligibly myself, but had entirely lost physical power, besides being unable to see or recognise faces even when quite close to me and in a tolerably good light. My eyes at this point could only discriminate between light and darkness, and seemed to have entirely lost the power of focussing objects. After I had been lifted into the " box " I remember explaining to the man how to strap me in, etc. I was quite conscious during the time that I was being drawn to the surface, and can remember all that occurred on the way up, including the catching of the box on the timber about half way. On reaching the surface I could see nothing distinctly, though my eyes were conscious of the brightness of the light. I attempted to walk from the shaft top, but had not sufficient strength, and was consequently carried to Captain Kewley's house, where I was immediately attended by Dr Miller, of Laxey.

Paroxysms of difficulty in respiration continued at intervals for between two and three hours from the time that it began in the mine.

I do not think I was ever quite unconscious, but for ah hour or so after I came up I could not see properly. About two hours after I reached the surface I was sick, which relieved me considerably.

The sense of weakness was greatest just before the sickness mentioned above, and for about ten minutes at this time I experienced a sensation of complete collapse. I can only describe this by saying that all vital functions appeared to have stopped. After the sickness a severe frontal headache came on, which lasted for nearly four hours, and then wore off gradually.

At about nine o'clock I was lifted into a trap and taken down to Laxey, still having no power to move.

By the following morning the physical effects of the gas had quite passed off, though for several days afterwards I noticed a certain amount of weakness in my legs.

I may add, in reference to my mental condition during the time that I was under the influence of the gas, that, while my head was tolerably clear, there was undoubtedly a certain incompleteness in the action of my memory. The persistence of one or two ideas seems to have been very marked. I repeated five or six times to Captain Kitto my desire that the men should not be allowed to attempt to go any lower that day. This request was dictated by my sense of the suddenness with which the effects of the gas had overtaken me. On each occasion I was assured that nothing more would be attempted that day, and under ordinary conditions one such assurance would certainly have been sufficient for me. This, I think, shows that the action of my brain and my memory were somewhat impaired.

I am informed by a friend of mine who was present at the time that during the few minutes before my sickness, to which I have previously alluded, I appeared to be quite unconscious. He tells me that at this time he spoke to me more than once without receiving any sign of recognition on my part, while all sign of respiration appeared to have ceased. From my own recollection, however, I am sure that I was not entirely unconscious, as I distinctly remember a consciousness of the sensation of complete collapse mentioned above. H. W. F.


1 Word illegible.

2 The.Peveril Hotel, Douglas.

3 On the Causes of Death in Colliery Explosions and Underground Fires, London, 1896 (C. 8112), p. 18



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