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Workers at the Powder Mill, Hill & Raven are on this photograph
Ashton Reporter
28 August 1909
A Third Victim

Shortly before eight o’clock on Tuesday morning Percy Southern, who was injured in the explosion at the Fernilee Gunpowder Works on August 12th, died at the Devonshire Hospital, Buxton, as a result of the injuries he received. This makes the third victim of the terrible calamity, the other two being Joseph Hill and George Raven. Southern was not as badly hurt as the other two, and last week hopes were entertained of his ultimate recovery. The injuries, however, combined with the fearful shock, proved fatal in spite of the best medical skill and the most careful nursing.

Percy Southern was about twenty years of age, very popular, and highly respected. He was a teacher at the Whaley Bridge Wesleyan Sunday School, and only the Sunday before the accident occurred read the lesson from the school desk. He was formerly the registrar in the school, and a popular member of the Wesleyan Circuit Club. Deceased was the son of Mr J.W. Southern, a foreman at the Powder Mill. The greatest sympathy is expressed with the family in their great trouble. The third death in connection with the explosion has made a very deep impression on all concerned with the works. This is said to be the most serious accident there has been at the works, which have been in existence three-quarters of a century or more.
Ashton Reporter
4 September 1909

many people at the ceremony

The funeral of the late Mr Percy Southern, of Whaley Bridge, the third victim of the Fernilee gunpowder explosion, took place on Friday afternoon at the Fernilee Wesleyan Burial Ground. As in the case of the two previous funerals, the greatest respect and sympathy were shown, the blinds at all the cottages being drawn, and the tradesmens’ shutters half closed.

The obsequies were impressively conducted by the Rev. J. Bonsall, Wesleyan minister, of Chapel-en-le-Frith, there being a large congregation in the chapel.

There were also present a large number of employees of the Chilworth Gunpowder Co., including the following officials: Messrs J. Ashby, J.T. Mellor, A. Shaw, D. Sherwood, R.D. James, G. Macbean, G. Vaughan and J. Roberts. Deceased was a member of the Whaley Bridge Ambulance Division, which was represented by eleven members of the corps under Sup. S. Bagshaw. The Whaley Bridge Wesleyan Sunday School was represented by Messrs E. Ashby, R. Fergie and A.H. Burgess (superintendents), the “Rock” Division of the Sons of Temperance by Bro. A. Weate, G.W.P., and J.W. Lomas P.G.W.P., the Whaley Bridge Cricket Club by Mr Harold Collier (secretary) and the Whaley Bridge Post Office (deceased being the firm’s private postman) by Mr W. Scholes. Mr Gosselin-Grimshaw, of Errwood Hall, Mr T. Shuker and Mrs John Lowe attended.

The bearers were Corporal H. Allen, Privates J. Lomas, W. Lamb and R. Clayton of the Ambulance Brigade, and Messrs H. Morten junr., F. Wharmby, W. Harrop and O. Goddard of the Wesleyan Sunday School.

The mourners were:- Mr and Mrs J.W. Southern (father and mother), Mrs S. Jodrell and Miss E. Southern (sisters), Messrs Joseph and Ernest Southern (brothers), Miss Neate (fiancée), Mr and Mrs G. Jones, Buxton (uncle and aunt), Mr S. Goddard (uncle), Mr T. Goddard (cousin), Mrs Jos Southern (sister-in-law), Mr S. Jodrell (brother-in-law), Mrs J. Jodrell, Mrs R. Goddard, Mrs Morris, Mrs Chas Bagshaw, Mrs Hill, Mr Fred Brookes, Miss E. Corrigan, Miss J. Corrigan, Mr M. Heary, Mr J. Barnes and Mr James Southern.
There were many floral tributes, including the following:- From Father, Mother, Ernest, Eliza, Polly, Stephen, Mary, Jos and Hester “In affectionate remembrance of our dear Percy;” Uncle Sam and Family, Aunt Eliza and Uncle George, Elsie; from his companions, F. Brookes, F. Wharmby, W. Harrop, F. Collier, A. Morten and H. Morten, his Cousins at Buxton, Officers and teachers of the Whaley Bridge Wesleyan Sunday School, the Chilworth Gunpowder Co., Mr E. Kraftmeir (managing director), Mr Cox (manager of the works) and Mrs Cox, Mrs Gosselin-Grimshaw and Mrs Preston, Mr and Mrs Preston, Mr and Mrs Rowley (Fernilee), Mr J. and Mrs Corrigan and Family, Mr & Mrs Herbert Burgess, Mr and Mrs Allan Heather and Family, the Post Office staff at Whaley Bridge, the Servants at Fernilee Hall, the Staff at the Fernilee Mills, artificial wreath under glass globe, Mr G.W. Little, Park House, Whaley Bridge Ambulance Division, Whaley Bridge Cricket Club, 2nd eleven, Mr T. Redfern, May and Will Neate, Mr and Mrs F. Jowle, Mr and Mrs Mellor, Mr and Mrs W. Jodrell, Lizzie, Frank and Clement Morris.

The superintendents of the Wesleyan Sunday School conducted a short service at the house, and at the graveside Bugler Haughty sounded the “Last Post”, the scene being most impressive and moving many to tears, as they thought of the many good qualities of the young man who had been laid in an untimely grave.

Messrs Collier Bros., who had charge of the previous two funerals, conducted this one also.


A special service in memory of the late Mr Percy Southern was held at Fernilee on Sunday afternoon. A procession was formed at Whaley Bridge comprising members of the “Rock” Division of the Sons of Temperance, the employees of the Chilworth Gunpowder Co., the scholars of the Whaley Bridge Wesleyan Sunday School and the Whaley Bridge Ambulance Brigade. The procession was headed by the Whaley Bridge Public Band playing hymn tunes. There was a great crowd of people at Fernilee, and it was quite impossible to accommodate them in the Wesleyan Chapel. The service was accordingly held in the burial ground adjoining at which it was estimated there were 700 people present. Many other stood on the road and it is stated there must have been at least a thousand people there, the most numerous congregation there has ever been at Fernilee. The preacher was Mr E.E. Daish, of Whaley Bridge, who made touching reference to the sad calamity and the deceased young man’s useful life. Hymns of an appropriate character were sung, and Mr Shuker ably presided at the organ. Miss Wainwright sang a solo very sweetly. The service was of a most impressive character.
Ruins of the mills
The ruins of the mills before the reservoir was built
Ruins of the Chilworth Powder Mills
The ruins of the Chilworth Powder Mills, now resting beneath the waters of Fernilee reservoir
Many years later....

An old and esteemed resident of Fernilee passed away on Tuesday morning in the person of Mrs. Raven, widow of Mr. J. Raven. Aged 71, Mrs. Raven had been in poor health for some time. She was particularly well known in the hamlet where she had a small shop and made teas. Her maiden name was Lomas and she spent all her long working life in this district. Mrs. Raven was associated with the Wesleyan Chapel in Fernilee. She leaves a son and daughter. One of her sons was killed in an explosion at Fernilee Gunpowder Mills. The funeral takes place to-morrow (Saturday) at Fernilee Wesleyan Chapel.


The funeral took place on Saturday at Fernilee Wesleyan burial ground of the late Mrs. Raven of Fernilee, whose death has been noticed. Rev. A.C. Baker, superintendent minister, officiated. Mourners were: Mr. and Mrs. J. Raven (son and daughter-in-law), Mr. and Mrs. H. Southern (daughter and son-in-law), Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Nadin (sister and brother-in-law), Mrs. Deacan, Mrs. Bleakley, Miss M. Raven, Master J. Raven (grandchildren, Mrs. Collier, Mrs. J. Horsfield, Mr. Horsfield, Mr. and Mrs. Jas. Boothby, Mr. and Mrs. J. Lomas, Mr. and Mrs. West, Mrs. Powell. Bearers were Messrs. J. Lomas, W. Nadin, J. Horsfield, J. Salt. There were floral tributes from: Jim and Sophia; Maggie and Harry; sister Lizzie and family; all the grandchildren; sister Hannah Mary and nephews and nieces; Lily, Mary, Osmond and Allan; sister Annie, Jim and Florrie; Hannah, Jim and family; brother Jim, Mary and family; all at Goyt Vale; Cissie, Allan and family; all at Folds Farm; Jack, Martha and children; Mrs. Lupton and Annie; society of Fernilee Wesleyan Chapel; Mr. and Mrs F. Bagshaw, George and Fred; Mr. and Mrs. Jodrell and Vera; Mr. and Mrs. Hill; niece and nephew (Mary and Fred); David and Annie (nephew and niece); Jim and Jessie. – Messrs. Collier Bros. satisfactorily carried out the funeral arrangements.
This silver cup was donated to the Whaley Bridge branch of the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade by the Chilworth Gunpowder Mill owned by the Williamson family of Fernilee.
It was presented annually to the Brigade’s most outstanding member.

Explosions in The Goyt Valley

Proposed Relief for Sufferers