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Review of '344 A Story of the Pretoria Pit Disaster' by Andrea Jane Finney

Below is a review of a book published in 2011 about the Pretoria Pit Disaster which appeared in Wigan Heritage Service’s Bulletin "PAST FORWARD" Issue No 56 for December-March 2011. The book appears to have been published by the author. Details are given as: andreafinney@aol.com.

REVIEW: “344 A Story of the Pretoria Pit Disaster” by Andrea Jane Finney


The author got the inspiration to write the book following her research into her family tree. Her Great-Great-Grandmother, Elizabeth Gore, lost her son William Gore in the disaster. According to the official list of casualties of the disaster, Elizabeth lived at 105, Branker Street, Chequerbent, together with her husband and 7 children, one married, three under 14 years of age. William was 42 when he was killed. The title of the book represents the 344 men and boys who lost their lives.

Whilst the book is regarded as a work of fiction, it is largely based on fact. The fiction is mainly in the author’s descriptions of the events surrounding the disaster as she imagined them to be. The second part of the book is essentially based on contemporary reports in the Bolton Evening News.

The author’s main emphasis is to stress the poverty and hardship experienced within the mining communities following the disaster, and the little attention that was paid to this fact. An interesting and personal account well-worth reading.

David Holding's book, 'Bleak Christmas' covers this subject matter but from a very different angle:

This work charts the events of the Lancashire Pretoria Pit disaster in December, 1910 and reflects on the devastation it left to many of the local communities whose main source of employment was coal. The main sources analysed are the Home Office Report into the disaster and the Report of the Inquest. The findings of these detailed legal reports are presented in a format that will supplement existing material on the event. The book will also provide a reference source for both local historians and the general interested reader.


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