Remembering the Oaks Disaster

"Capital B Media were able to use their contacts and expertise to ensure our stories were told far and wide, and we were delighted with the coverage generated. It was fantastic that all the work put into remembering the Oaks Disaster, by so many people, was recognised so widely.”
Richard King, Development Manager, DVLP

  • the brief

    The Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership (DVLP) is a five-year scheme, running until June 2019. It focuses on the historic buildings and landscapes of the Dearne Valley, working with the local communities to protect, preserve and enhance the area.

    In December 1866, explosions ripped through the Oaks Colliery in Barnsley, killing almost 400 people and becoming the biggest mining disaster in English history. The DVLP wanted help to raise awareness of the 150th anniversary of the catastrophe and their work to remember those killed. The work was to involve numerous partners, including Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, Barnsley Main Heritage Group and Christ Church Ardsley.

  • the action

    The first stage of the campaign, delivered in April 2016, focused around research facilitated by the DVLP that found more people died in the disaster than first thought. Read the press release here.

    The second stage highlighted the human stories from the disaster and included revealing details of the youngest volunteer rescuer, who was just 17 at the time. Read the press release here.

    The final stage of the campaign focused on the 150th anniversary, in December 2016. Our PR activity involved harnessing the support of writer and broadcaster Ian McMillan to spread the word about the commemorative activities, and focused on an official event hosted by the DVLP. The press releases linked to this stage of the campaign can be read herehere and here.

  • the outcome

    The news that more people died than first thought reached far and wide, resulting in full-page features in the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? magazine and the Sheffield Star, coverage in The Yorkshire Post and broadcasts by Dearne FM and  ITV Calendar News

    The December campaign drew live broadcasts from BBC Look North, ITV Calendar News and BBC Radio Sheffield across breakfast, lunchtime and teatime shows, and the DVLPs event was over-subscribed. The commemorations were covered extensively in local and regional press, including a full-page feature in The Yorkshire Post, and national coverage with The Mirror.