Joseph Artis EM

b. 07/06/1870 St Andrews, Suffolk.  d. 1940 Leeds, Yorkshire.

DATE OF EM ACTION: 19/11/1910 Water Haigh Colliery, Oulton, Leeds, Yorkshire.

Joseph was the eldest of seven children born to Zachariah, a domestic gardener and Mary Ann Artis. Joseph began working on the railways as a navvy, and was still living with his parents aged 30 in 1901. He moved north to Yorkshire where he gained employment down the pits. In 1918, he married Florence Watson in Hunslet. After leaving the mines, he began a public works contractor before retiring. He died in Leeds in 1940, aged 70.



On the 19th November, 1910, a shaft was being sunk at the Water Haigh Colliery at Oulton, near Leeds. A depth of 255 yards had been reached and the shaft had been lined to a depth of 240 yards with brickwork, the end of which rested on a stout oak crib. Below this and suspended from the crib.were iron rings securing the unbricked sides of the shaft. On the day of the accident ten men were at work on or about a scaffold near the bottom of the shaft, when a mass of shale fell out of the seam, the timbering collapsed, and the rings broke away. The chargeman, James Cannon, noticed shale falling, and with great presence of mind and promptitude shouted to all to make for the centre; he also signalled for means of ascent to be lowered. He and five others jumped into the centre and escaped; the other four were caught, either by earth or by rings of timber, one being killed on the spot, two trapped and seriously injured, and the fourth seriously injured but not trapped. Cannon went to the surface with the uninjured men and at once came back with Artis and others, to take up the work of rescue. The rescue operations were protracted, the woodwork of the stout oak crib having to be sawn through before the men who were trapped could be liberated, and, as shale and other material kept falling down the shaft, the lives of all the rescuers were in danger. The further task of extricating the dead man had to be abandoned until the pit had been made more safe. Cannon was engaged in the work of rescue for six hours and Silkstone for about half an hour. Artis, after assisting for two hours, was struck by a piece of shale and had to return to the surface. Asquith and Pickersgill were also in the pit for a long time and risked their lives, the former being hurt by debris.