Vernard William SenescallPrint Page Print this page

A window, erected in 1967 by volunteers under Reverend L.A. Pearson, commemorates Vernard Senescall who was accidentally killed by an outburst of carbon dioxide gas in the Metropolitan Colliery on the 2nd December 1954.

The Helenburgh disaster, caused by exploding gas deep in the mine, was the first since 1925, when two miners were killed. Those killed at Helensburgh were: Lionel Jennings, 32, single, of Postman's Track, and Vernard Senescall, about 40, married, of Undola Rd. A third miner, Harold Warren, of Bulgoa Rd., was badly gassed as he attempted to haul the two men to safety. Senescall was the father of four children. Both Jennings and Senescall were employed on the cutting machine. They were working about two miles in and more than 1500 feet beneath the surface when the explosion occurred.

It is believed that a trapped pocket of gas exploded when the cutting machine dislodged stone and released the air. Miners believe that both Jennings and Senescall were killed almost immediately by the combined effects of the deadly gas and the force of the explosion. Jennings was hurled almost 15 feet from the face cutting and was found lying in a pool of water. It is believed that black damp, the name for the gas which caused the explosion, was prevalent at the mine a number of years ago and for a period the mine was closed because of the danger. Miners interviewed after the tragedy, although visibly shocked, claimed that the danger of gas was an ever present one.
Illawarra Daily Mercury (Wollongong, NSW), 3 December 1954.


Address:Parkes Street, Uniting Church, Helensburgh, 2508
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -34.189167
Long: 150.984722
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Window
Monument Theme:People
Actual Event Start Date:02-December-1954
Actual Event End Date:02-December-1954


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Saturday 30th September, 1967
Source: H, MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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