Village News

Christmas Lights

A terrible explosion occurred on Tuesday morning at the works of the National Explosives Company, near Hayle

Date: 1904-01-05



  A terrible explosion occurred on Tuesday morning at the works of the National Explosives Company, near Hayle, Cornwall.

  The works consist of a number of detached buildings, covering a large area of ground, about two and a-half miles from Hayle. The work carried on there is the manufacture of nitro-glycerine for blasting, and about 600 hands are employed. The explosion occurred about a quarter to 11 o'clock, and caused the greatest alarm, not only at Hayle, but at St. Ives, which is four miles distant, and as far away as Penzance, eight miles distant. The effect at the latter place is described as like that of an earthquake. At Hayle great damage was done to property, and the air was filled with dense clouds of smoke and dust. It was ascertained that the explosion had occurred in the nitro-glycerine mixing department and that four men were killed. The men were working in buildings used for the mixing of the material. Two of these buildings, sixty yards apart, were blown to atoms, and the remains of the men were scattered in all directions.

  The explosion occurred in one of two huts in the danger area—it is impossible to say in which. In one of these, used for washing and filtering the nitro-glycerine, three men were employed and in the other, which was the precipitating house, there was one man only. The two buildings were connected by a conduit, which consisted of a leaden pipe sheathed in wood, which carried the material from the washing-house to the precipitating tanks. After the explosion, the material of which the houses had been constructed was strewn in fragments over an area of 400 yards, and with it were bits of clothing and portions of the bodies of the four men who had been in the buildings.

  The shock was severely felt in all the adjoining houses, and large numbers of the employees were flung about, cut, bruised, and otherwise injured and many of them on emerging from their huts presented a very disfigured appearance. Most of the injuries, however, were of a superficial character.

  The names of the killed are: Andrew Curnow, about forty-five, married: William Cliff, twenty, single: William Luzmore, twenty-eight, married, one child Simon Jory, twenty-seven, single. A ffth man, a Swede named Oscar Sjholm, was very severely injured an it is doubtful if he will recover.

  An extraordinary feature of the disaster is the damage done, at St. Ives. The great cloud of smoke was very plainly seen from the village, and the shock was even more severe than in the town of Hayle itself. Shop fronts and house windows fell into the streets, and the roads were covered with shattered glass, some of it plate-glass three-eighths of an inch thick. One woman who was carrying a baby was thrown off her feet, but not injured. In another place a portion of a house fell away, and an old woman either from fright or shock became unconscious, and remained so for some time. The fine old stained-glass window at the eastern end of the parish church was quite ruined. Windows were also broken at Penzance.