Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Evans and McBryde

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of St Helens

1872 'TERRIBLE AND FATAL BOILER EXPLOSION. A dreadful boiler explosion occurred at the large alkali and chemical works of Messrs. Evans and M'Bryde, at St. Helen’s, on Sunday week, by which several workmen were killed and several others severely injured. The whole of the town was shaken the concussion. The boiler which exploded was the centre one of a range of five, and had just been thoroughly repaired. The cause of the accident has been ascertained to have resulted from the carelessness of the men who had made the repairs. Each of the five boilers has an upright escape pipe, with a safety valve, and they are all connected by a horizontal steam pipe passing through the escape pipe, by which any of the boilers could be disconnected during repairs, to prevent the drip of water upon the men employed in the boiler in question. A wooden plug had been driven into the escape pipe from the inside of the boiler, and it had been unfortunately left in, when the repairs were completed. On Sunday morning, the 18th instant, the boiler was set to work. It was calculated to bear a pressure of 150 lbs., and in the afternoon, having been under fire nearly nine hours, it burst with terrific force, shattering everything in its immediate vicinity. The four adjoining boilers were torn from their place, and two of them torn to pieces. The shed and roof were totally demolished; one large portion of the bursting boiler was blown a distance of nearly 400 yards into adjoining field; a large cistern, about 20 feet long, 12 feet wide, and four feet deep, was blown high into the air, and carried a distance of about 150 yards in another direction, and fell upon the polishing-room of the Union Plate-glass Company’s works. Other huge pieces of timber and iron also fell upon these works, the damage being immense to the glass and machinery, so much so as to prevent the resumption of work for several days of hundreds of the workpeople. The damage at Messrs. Evans’s is very considerable. Altogether it is probable £7,000 or £8,000 will not cover the loss.'[1]

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. Kentish Gazette - Tuesday 27 February 1872