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Parkin Jeffcock

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Parkin Jeffcock (1829-1866)

Instead of attending Oriel College, Oxford and then entering holy orders as had been expected, he entered the College for Civil Engineers, Putney, which under the presidency of the Duke of Cambridge and the principalship of the Rev. B.M. Cowrie, was doing good work for that profession.[1]

1855 Mining Engineer of Stuart Terrace, Greenhill, Derby


1867 Obituary [2]

Parkin Jeffcock was born on 27th October 1829 at Cowley Manor near Sheffield; and in 1850 was articled to Mr. George Hunter at Belmont near Durham, to learn the profession of colliery viewer, and afterwards to Mr. J. T. Woodhouse at Moira in Leicestershire, with whom he subsequently entered into partnership at Derby in 1857 as a mining engineer. In this capacity he was professionally concerned with many important collieries in the midland counties and in the South Yorkshire coalfield, with which he thereby became intimately acquainted.

His death occurred on 13th December 1866 in the explosion at the Oaks Colliery near Barnsley, one of the collieries under his charge. A great explosion having taken place at this colliery on the previous day, causing very serious loss of life, Mr. Jeffcock had descended with others for the purpose of endeavouring to recover the bodies of the dead, and to arrange for restoring the ventilation of the mine; but a second and third explosion following shortly after their descent, they themselves lost their lives in the attempt. The fiery nature of the Barnsley Thick coal, in which the workings of the Oaks Colliery were situated, and the dangers attending its working even with the strictest use of safety lamps, were described in a paper on the coal and iron mining of South Yorkshire, contributed by Mr. Jeffcock to this Institution, (see Proceedings Inst. M. E. 1862 page 79). He was elected a Member of the Institution in 1855.


1868 Obituary [3]

Parkin Jeffcock, the second child and eldest son of John and Catherine Jeffcock, was born at Cowley Manor, near Sheffield, on the 27th of October, 1829.

In 1841 he entered the Grange School, near Sunderland, where he was noted rather for diligence and application to his studies than for any superior degree of talent.

Intended originally for holy orders, scruples as to his fitness for that responsible office overcame him within a few days of his going up to Oriel College, Oxford, for his matriculation, and in the autumn of 1848 he entered the then existing College of Civil Engineers at Putney, under the principalship of the Rev. M. Cowie. During the two years he remained there, he received prizes of books for proficiency in French and German, and for an outline drawing of the college stationary engine.

In the autumn of 1850 he was articled to Mr. George Hunter, of Belmont Hall, near Durham, a north country colliery viewer of great experience. Here he had ample opportunities of seeing the general working of coal mines according to the north-country system, and of examining in detail the various special contrivances which critical circumstances and emergencies call into requisition.

On Mr. Hunter’s sudden death in 1851, he again was articled to Mr. J. T. Woodhouse, of Overseal, with whom, on the 1st of January, 1857, he became associated in partnership.

Mr. Jeffcock was remarkable for his great application and industry. He opened out the whole of the works at the Whamcliffe Silkstone Colliery; carried out the alterations in the Shipley, Denby, Swanwick, Maria Granville, and other fiery collieries, and was largely occupied in shaft-sinking, in the construction of branch colliery railways, and in the erection of steam engines and machinery incidental to colliery operations.

He was an early riser, and the amount of work, both professional and on public and charitable accounts, which he got through was immense. A deeply religious man, he was by preference and conviction a member of the Church of England; and died churchwarden of the parish of Duffield, near Derby, in which he took real interest. His Sundays specially were spent in Christian work - the most noticeable being a class of boys, which he held at the Sunday school in the afternoon; and a Bible lecture in the evening, for young colliers and others, for whose benefit he devoted some hours of his day of rest, for nearly fifteen years continuously. His alms giving was profuse. Beyond all praise was the modest, unobtrusive, but untiring devotion of his few leisure hours to the sick poor. After a day of incessant fatigue he would, instead of going home, proceed to the cottage of a sick or dying person to minister comfort.

Six feet in height, he was a good rider, and a good shot. His personal endurance and bravery, however, were seen to the truest advantage when linked with his Christian philanthropy in those harrowing scenes which from time to time cast a gloom over the life of a Mining Engineer. For instance, at the accidents at Stavely, Swanwick, and Clay Cross Colliery, where he was nearly drowned, he freely exposed himself in his attempts to recover the living pent up in the recesses and the dead.

It was while engaged on such a work that he lost his life at the Oaks Colliery, Barnsley, on the morning of the 13th of December, 1866. An explosion on the previous day had killed three hundred men; and it was while with an exploring party, and after he had been in the pit ten hours continuously, that a second explosion occurred, destroying him and the band of thirty explorers still in the ruins. His body was recovered on the 5th of October, 1867, and he was buried at Ecclesfield, new Sheffield, two days afterwards.

Mr. Jeffcock was elected a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers on the 18th of May, 1858. He was also a Member of the Society of Mechanical Engineers, a Member of the Society of Engineers, and a Fellow of the Geological Society.


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