Coppice Colliery – Brereton
Flooded 15th February 1908, with the loss of 3 lives.
At the time of the disaster Jim Gater was a fireman employed by the Earl of Shrewsbury’s, Brereton Collieries, and was the senior official underground at the Coppice Pit. In escaping from the inrush of water and in almost complete darkness Jim Gater further endangered his life by stopping to assist an 18-year-old workmate Danny Ball to also make his escape from the rapidly rising water. Together the pair made their way through neck high water and rushing torrents to safety. Part way through the escape Jim Gater also attempted to rescue another young man but the young man panicked and lost his hold and was swept away.
On reaching a safe area he sent Danny Ball to the pit bottom and safety, whilst himself although wet through and exhausted, made his way back inbye to warn the rest of the miners and to ensure that everyone else came out of the mine and to the surface in safety. In addition to the young man two miners working close to the point were the water broke were also swept away. It was very surprising that given the vast volume of water that so swiftly broke into the mine, the death role was not much greater.
Jim Gater on arriving at the surface went home, changed into dry clothing, and then quickly returned to the pit to help in the recovery work.
For his courageous efforts the Royal Humane Society awarded him the Silver Medal for bravery and a purse of silver. James was a Shropshire born man who had come to work at the Brereton Pits in the late 1880’s and was to spend the rest of his working life at the Brereton Collieries. He died at Rugeley in 1929 aged 66 years.