Mill Explosion - June 15th 1860

About half past 8 o'clock on Friday evening June 15th, a fearful boiler explosion took place in Winthorpe, about 3 miles from Newark, by which a highly respectable gentleman of the town, Mr. George Ingledew, millwright and engineer, and one of his workmen named Richard Gregory, have lost their lives. For about 6 weeks past the boiler and engine connected with Mr. Leaver's corn mill had been undergoing a thorough repair, the engineering and machine work being done by Mr. Ingledew. The boiler had been repaired in the front by Messrs Welch and Glasson, of Newark. It had been the intention of Mr. Leaver and the gentlemen who had repaired the boiler to have it tested with cold water by hydraulic power before it was put to work again, and Mr. Ingledew was afraid some joints which had been made would not stand the test of cold water until they had been hardened by the steam and hot water in the regular way of working. He therefore recommended that the test should be delayed for a short time. Accordingly the steam was got up on Friday afternoon last, and the engine was started under the direction of the deceased man Gregory. Towards evening, Mr. Ingledew arrived, and a dressing machine was set to work, with the steam up to pressure of 45lbs, at which the safety valve rose, and let off steam. It went down to 40, but was got up again to 45, when the valve rose a second time. Apparently for the purpose of getting additional power, Mr. Ingledew directed his man to put the valve down, and the moment he did so a terrific explosion took place, the pressure being too powerful for the boiler, which had been in use many years. Gregory was fearfully scalded and fell with his head across the manual on the top of the boiler. Mr. Ingledew was also scalded in a similar manner, but both of them crept out of the boiler house through the coal hole. The force of the explosion forced off the roof, and scattered bricks, tiles and iron plates an immense distance. The mill was not injured being in a separate building. The flue of the boiler had completely collapsed from end to end. The shape of the flue was oval (which is a very objectable shape), and the power of the boiler about 9 or 10 horse.

The sufferers were conveyed to Newark, Mr. Ingledew to his home and Gregory to the hospital. The former died about half past one o'clock the same night, and the latter expired shortly before 9 o'clock on Saturday morning.

The inquest was opened on view of the bodies on Saturday evening, when the Jury returned a verdict of accidentally killed, and expressed their opinion that Mr. Ingledew acted injudiciously in ordering his men to put the valve down.

Extracts from ‘The Times' June 22nd 1860.



On Friday evening about nine o'clock on the 15th, June news reached Newark of the accident at the boiler and engine house adjoining Mr. George H. Gamble's steam and windmill at Winthorpe as a result of which Mr. George Ingledew, a highly respected millwright and engineer of the town and one of his workmen, Richard Gregory, were frightfully scalded, indeed, it is astonishing they were not killed on the spot. In the explosion the flue had collapsed and both ends of the boiler were burst open. The roof and a large portion of the brickwork were blown into the air and large plates of iron thrown a considerable distance. The mill itself being a separate building on the north side of the boiler and engine house was unharmed. The unfortunate men were taken to Newark, Mr. Ingledew to his own home and Gregory to the hospital. Mr. Ingledew kept up his spirits wonderfully and even walked upstairs to bed. He died about half past one on Saturday morning, Gregory about a quarter before nine the same morning leaving a wife and nine children, some of them very young. The inquest opened on Saturday. In the course of the day several of the jurors visited the scene of the disaster and a photograph taken by Mr. Frost (Samuel Frost, watchmaker & photographer, Kirkgate) which materially assisted the jury in forming a correct idea of the position in which the building and machinery stood. Verdicts of Accidental Death were recorded on both men.

The reporting of this accident is impressive for the sensitivity and compassion with which personal aspects are handled while a the same time the technical problems which the accident posed for engineers of the time are dealt with in considerable detail. The inquest is notable for the use made of the photograph as evidence - surely for the first time in Newark and rarely elsewhere as early as this.

At the time of the accident George Ingledew had been engaged for six weeks on an extensive overhaul of the engine .and machinery at Winthorpe Mill. The nature of the work he was undertaking illustrates the wide range of skills required of the millwright at this period. His death was of considerable significance for the millwrighting trades of Newark coming as it did so closely on that of Thomas English. (Died 8th May 1859) It virtually brought to a close work by independent millwrights in the town. At the sale of the Ingledew property and equipment, much of the equipment and patterns were bought by J. & W. Midworth for the extension of the millwrighting side of their Wellington Foundry work - more easily understood when the extent to which brass fittings were employed in mill machinery is appreciated. The Midworths employed Thomas Cook, the Ingledew foreman who had been with the firm for 35 years, together with several workmen. Other workmen joined Thomas Ingledew and Edward Ingledew who had formed a partnership to continue millwrighting based on the English (William English, Millwright) workshop in Pelham Street. The King Street works of George Ingledew seem to have remained unsold for some time.

Within a year therefore two important millwrighting businesses, started in the 1820s had ceased to exist. Millwrighting continued in Newark but increasingly as an aspect of engineering rather than as a craft in its own right.

Pat Finn. August 2007.

Extracts of The Newark Advertiser 20th June 1860.

Courtesy of The Resource Centre. August 2007. 


The Village Scrapbooks and the Newark Advertiser both state that Mr. George H. Gamble was the owner of Winthorpe Mill and not Mr. Leavers as reported by the 'Times.'


Further readings can be found in  

         Winthorpe - The Village Baker in Volume 4.

         Winthorpe Millers in Volume 4.

         Winthorpe - Southfields Estate in Volume 4.