Commemorative Project To Recount Tragic 1878 Colliery Disaster

A deeply moving project in homage to a terrible local colliery disaster is set to feature at Haydock Library 140 years later, as part of the award-winning Cultural Hubs, arts-in-libraries programme.

‘Weep Mothers Weep’ recounts the tragic disaster that occurred at the Wood Pit in Haydock on 7 June 1878, which took the lives of 204 men and boys.

Students on the FdA Theatre & Performance course at University Centre St Helens have responded to research into the disaster by creating a performance which incorporates monologues, music and movement.

The performance features stories from the colliery manager, the local priest, the miners themselves, and the wives and mothers of those whose lives were lost. It’s a story of loss and grieving, but ultimately a story of hope as the whole community pulls together to offer support to the families.

Councillor Sue Murphy, Cabinet Member for Leisure Services and Libraries said: “This performance marks the start of our library service’s commemoration of the Wood Pit disaster, in which so many local people sadly lost their lives. It’s a tribute to the lost, their families and the community that united around them in their time of need. I’d like to thank the students at the University Centre for their work bringing this story to light, and sharing it in such an imaginative way through our library.”

An unattributed poem written at the time of the disaster goes:

“Weep Mothers, weep o’er the loss of your dear ones.

“The Fathers and Children who are strewn amongst the dead.

“The Explosion has fill’d the whole district with sadness.

“For homes that are lonely, and hearts that have bled.”

There are three performances on Tuesday 16 January, Haydock Library at 4pm, 5pm and 6pm. A special commemorative service will take place at Haydock Library on the 140th anniversary of the disaster in June.

Tickets are free and can be booked online at, or call into any St Helens library.

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