Painting by Gilbert Daykin, 1886-1939. "Choke Damp", 1937-1938. Oil on canvas; 75.5x63cm in frame 88x76x7.5cm. A miner lies on a rail track, overcome by choke damp - the excess of carbon dioxide and nitrogen (otherwise called black damp in the 19th century as it extinguished flame safety lamps). Other miners, lamps lit, come to his aid. Possibly from an incident at Warsop Main. When electric lamps were used they gave no warning; miners could work too long in a dangerous atmosphere. The danger could be removed with effective ventilation, present in deep mines; in shallow mines, it was a greater danger than fire damp. Effects of choke damp, if not death, included asthma and premature ageing.
Daykin worked as a miner at a pit near Sheffield and he produced a number of vivid artworks showing what the physical work of a coal miner was like down the pit. Sadly he was killed in 1939 in a mine shaft accident. Eleven artworks by Daykin were gifted by his family to the Science Museum in 1978.