Bicentenary of mill fire tragedy.
14th February 2018 is the bicentenary of a terrible tragedy which happened in Thomas Atkinson’s cotton mill at Colne Bridge on the same day in 1818.
A young boy, Jim Thornton, aged 10 years, had been sent down to a dark basement for some cotton fibres. Weary with tiredness, he accidentally set fire to some of the cotton with the candle he was carrying. Seventeen girls between the ages of nine and eighteen died in the resulting inferno [three from the same family]. The last person to get out alive was Jim Thornton himself, who rolled down the burning steps to reach the outer door.
The blaze was so fierce that two of the bodies were never recovered.
Three years later a memorial to the tragedy was erected in Kirkheaton churchyard where it still can be seen.
In Feb 2018 a series of events are due to take place to commemorate this disaster. There is a planned documentary by Kirklees Local Television and possibly the BBC Inside Out programme. There will also be some sort of memorial service at Kirkheaton Parish Church, and the installation of a memorial plaque at the Beaumont Arms.
More information will be provided nearer the time for the locally based activities.
For a fuller version of the story written by Richard Heath click here