Express plea unites cousins

Albert Knowles and George Shepherd, Walton
Albert Knowles and George Shepherd, Walton

TWO cousins have been reunited thanks to an article about their grandfather who died in a mining accident nearly 90 years ago.

The Express ran an appeal from Sharron Meffen, who wanted readers to solve the mystery surrounding the death of her coalminer granddad George Knowles.

Mr Knowles died on June 27, 1924, aged 41, from internal injuries after a roof collapsed at Sharlston West Colliery.

But Mrs Meffen struggled to find any further details about the pit accident as reports from the time went missing.

Albert Knowles was in his Walton home when he read the article, which included a picture of George Knowles – who was also his grandfather.

Albert’s father, also named Albert, was only 16 and working in the same pit when his father died. He and Mrs Meffen’s mother Marjorie Bilton were siblings.

Albert, 67, said: “I saw it in the paper and recognised the picture straight away as I have the same one. I said ‘that is my grandfather’. I then managed to get in touch with Sharron. I knew she existed, but have not met her. It is fantastic and she is over the moon.”

Mrs Meffen, 54, who now lives in Derby, said: “It has helped give me closure. I just wanted to find out more about how my grandfather died and never thought it would end up with me gaining a cousin.”

The pair have also been given a newspaper cutting from the time which detailed the inquest, recording an accidental death verdict.

The article was held by George Shepherd, 66, of Pontefract, who kept it as his father John Thomas Shepherd was a witness to the accident.

The 1920’s clipping said: “Knowles had just drawn a prop, and was preparing to draw another, when there was a fall of roof, and the unfortunate man shouted out ‘I am done’. The stone caught him whilst he was in a bending position.”