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Bleak Christmas: The Pretoria Pit Disaster of 1910

This work charts the events of the Lancashire Pretoria Pit disaster in December 1910. It reflects on the devastation it left to many local communities whose main source of employment was coal. The main sources analysed are the Home Office Report on the disaster and the Report of the Inquest. The findings are presented in a format that will supplement existing material on the event.


The book will also provide a reference source both for local historians and the general reader.


Dr David Holding studied history at Manchester University before entering the teaching profession in the 1970s. He taught in both state and independent sectors. During this time, he continued historical research culminating in both a Master's degree and a Doctorate. Having previously studied law, David gained a Master of Law degree in Medical Law, which enabled him to transfer to teaching legal courses at university. Since retiring, David has concentrated his research and writing on various aspects of local history, legal trials, forensic science and medico-legal topics.


Why This Title?

"The title of the DVD was Black Christmas but for the book, I've changed it to Bleak Christmas. Bleak is better because it is usually a happy time but it wasn't. You had coffins coming left right and centre-right over Christmas, so it was a bleak Christmas. And butchers were giving away food it was so bad. How do you celebrate where there are 344 men and boys killed?"


The Author's Thoughts

"There are some people who believe that disasters and other tragedies are too emotive and personal to be the subject of debate, scrutiny and analysis. And, as such, they are best consigned to history. I find it very difficult to share this belief. I firmly believe that it is only by revisiting past events that one is able to fully understand the lessons of history and move forward with confidence. We owe it to future generations to preserve the legacy that history offers us and to bear testimony to those who have gone before. It is to the memory of those men and youths who lost their lives in the Pretoria disaster that this film is dedicated." (David Holding, speaking as Historical Advisor in a Steve Looker/Reel Visions film.)


How The Author's Research Began

"My involvement with this particular event evolved from research I carried out into several past and more recent disasters and the government response to these as a legal project. Living within the area covered by the Wigan Coalfield, I was fortunate to have the benefit of many former miners and colliery managers who provided me with valuable information. In particular, I spoke at length to a former electrician who actually worked at the Pretoria Pit until its closure in 1934. Whilst there are numerous books, articles and press reports covering this subject, 'Bleak Christmas' provides an alternative approach to the topic. Having literally ploughed through the entire Inquest and Home Office Reports of the disaster, this encouraged me to produce this book in a format which whilst accurately reflecting the findings in these two substantial reports, it is also presented in a format that captures the event in a sequential manner. The reader is taken on a journey through the various stages of the event to capture the enormity of the disaster. The work culminates with an overview of the devastating social and economic input the disaster had on the local communities involved. My overall aim in this work has been to provide readers with a readable yet balanced appraisal of the disaster, with sufficient evidence for them to arrive at their own conclusions regarding the disaster. My work does not diminish or undermine the views held by residents of the communities involved, who have to live with the memory of this devastating tragedy."


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Bleak Christmas: The Pretoria Pit Disaster of 1910

SKU: bleakchristmas
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