Report no. 621 30 December 1892
Report of a Preliminary Enquiry, Board of Trade Office, Hull, 21 January 1893
The explosion occurred at about 11.30am on the 30th December 1892 at the Wesleyan Reform Chapel, Addingham, near Leeds. Minister: Mr James Pettinger. No one was injured.
The part of the casting forming the shell of the boiler was blown into small pieces.
The school-room beneath the chapel, in which the boiler was situated, received considerable damage, several rafters overhead were broken, and the whole of the windows and two doors destroyed.
Cause of the Explosion
The pipe connections on the boiler appear to have been choked with ice, and there being no safety-valve fitted, the pressure accumulated in the boiler until it ruptured.
The boiler appears to have been used for the purpose of circulating hot water through the heating apparatus in the chapel, and was in use about three days in the week, usually from Thursday mid-day until Sunday evening. Previous to the explosion occurring, it had been out of use about four days, during which period of time a severe frost had prevailed in the district. On December 30th, the day of the explosion, the boiler was in charge of the chapel keeper, a man who was also employed as a gardener, and who as such, is said to have had considerable experience with various systems of heating apparatus.
He stated that previous to lighting the fire in the boiler he examined a thermometer which as hung in the chapel near the heating apparatus, and it was said to have registered 40˚ Faht., he then went to the cistern which supplied the boiler which supplier the boiler with water, which was also in the chapel, but at the end, opposite to where the thermometer was hung. He found ice in the cistern, about ¼ in thick, which he cleared away, and he then procured some boiling water from a neighbouring house, and poured it into the cistern. He then examined the boiler which was in the school-room beneath the chapel, and he stated that he observed a slight drip of water from the joint of the return branch on the boiler, and from this he concluded that the pipes were free from ice. He lighted the fire in the boiler at about 10.30 a.m., and then left the building. At about 11.30a.m. he was returning to put more fuel on the fire when the explosion occurred.
It was further stated in the evidence that the pipe from the cistern to the boiler was choked with ice, until after the explosion had happened, when it was seen to clear itself and rapidly empty the cistern. . .
The boiler appears . . . to have been sealed up with ice, and the pressure appears to have accumulated in it after the fire was lighted until it burst. . .
Observations of the Engineer Surveyor in Chief
The above report refers to the explosion of a boiler which was used for heating a chapel, and the circumstances attending it appear to be almost identical with those of several somewhat similar cases which occurred during the recent frosty weather.
Such explosions would not occur if the fire was kept alight during frost, and I do not think there would be any difficulty in getting that done if the danger of allowing the water in the boiler or pipes to freezes was clearly understood by the attendants.
Heating boilers of the low-pressure type should however be fitted either with an open-ended relief pipe . . . wholly or partially enclosed within the chimney or with a efficient and sufficient safety-valve suitably loaded. . .
The explosion of heating boilers has been rather frequent during the late frost, and it is to be hoped that those interested will in future be more careful as to safety-fittings; keeping the fires going during frosty weather is one of the best ways to prevent such casualties unless all the water is run out of the boiler and pipes after the fire is out.
(Transcribed from the Board of Trade Boiler Explosion Reports held at Southampton Local Studies and Maritime Library)