Conisbrough Sledge Tragedy – Boy Flung Under Trolley Bus (pictures)

March 1947

South Yorkshire Times March 8, 1947

Conisbrough Sledge Tragedy
Boy Flung Under Trolley Bus
Mate’s Lucky Escape
“Warning To Others” Says Coroner

A nine-year-old Conisbrough boy was fatally injured, but his seven-year-old Mexborough playmate had a remarkable escape in a sledging tragedy at Conisbrough, on Saturday. Their Sledge, emerging from Elm Green Lane into Station Road, crashed into a trolley bus. Both boys were thrown under the bus, but the younger boy fortunately fell between the wheels.

The boys were Dennis Barrowcliffe (9), 17, Wellgate, Conisbrough, who died in Montagu Hospital, Mexborough, on Sunday, and Malcolm Greasby (7), Manor farm, Church Street, Mexborough, who had been on a visit to see his grandmother at Conisbrough.

Bus Skidded

The emergency signals were given in the bus immediately the accident occurred, but, owing to the icy conditions on the road, the vehicle skidded 57 feet

Recording a verdict of “Accidental death” at the inquest on Barrowcliffe at Mexborough on Wednesday, the Doncaster district coroner (Mr W. H. Carlile) remarked that this was an unfortunate case, the first that had come to his notice in the district during the spell of suitable sledging weather. “I am rather surprised there had not been more fatalities,” said the coroner, “because, from my own observations, boys and girls will use sledges in places where they cross roads where traffic is constantly passing.”

He knew the police had done all they could to prevent dangerous places being used for this purpose, but, of course, young people would not be warned. As soon as the police turned their backs they were taking advantage of the absence of the police. Perhaps this would be a warning to others.

“Came Down Too Fast.”

Joseph Barrowcliffe, Platelayer, Manor Road, Swinton, father of the dead boy, said that Dennis had good sight and hearing.

Malcolm Greasby said that after he had been at his grandmothers a short while he went out to play. He knew Dennis and saw him in Wellgate. Dennis had a sledge with him and witness went with him to Elm Green Lane. At the top of the hill Dennis got on the front of the sledge and another small boy, whose name he did not know, also got on the sledge.

They went to the bottom of the hill and when they returned witness asked if he could have a ride.“Dennis was lying on the sledge,” said Malcolm, “and I laid on his back on top of him.”

The Coroner: Then what happened?

Malcolm: we came down too fast.

Greasby said they went down the hill very fast and crossed the main road where the trackless buses ran. “I saw a trackless coming from the church towards Mexborough. Dennis did not make any remark, and I tried to stop the sledge by putting my hand on the floor. The trackless run across Dennis’s right leg, and I went through underneath the trackless,” Malcolm said. The trolley vehicle continued running and pulled up further down the road. Witness was not hurt, but Dennis was under the back wheel. Witness did not go to him and then went to tell Dennis’s mother.

Greasby said that the trackless was travelling very slowly.

The Coroner: Did Dennis try to stop the sledge? – No.

Mrs Kathleen Littlewood, 19, Fullerton Avenue, Conisbrough, a passenger in the trolley vehicle, stated that as the vehicle approached Elm Green Lane she saw a sledge coming down the hill, with two small boys on it. It appeared to be travelling very fast. The bus was travelling very slowly, and she said: “Oh, my God, there are two children on a sledge and they will be under the bus.”

She told the conductor’s and the driver pulled up. “I was about to get out of the bus when my own child screamed,” Mrs Littlewood explained, “but I did see a boy’s leg sticking out. The sledge was thrown clear.”

The conductors, Winifred Higgins, 82, Doncaster Road, Denaby, an employee of the Mexborough and Swinton traction company. Limited said that when the bus reached the junction of Elm Green Lane and Station Road she was taking fares at the front of the bus. She heard a passenger say: “my God, he’s under with a sledge.” She rang the emergency bell right away, and leaned out of the bus and saw the sledge at the bottom of Elm Green Lane. There was a child’s legs between the offender and the back wheel of the bus. She went to telephone for a doctor, but when she returned she was told that the boy had been released and taken to the hospital by car.

Road Covered with Ice.

Harold Firth, 30, William Street, Swinton, driver of the trolley bus, stated that he was travelling at 2 miles an hour owing to the icy state of the road. The road was covered with ice. He knew nothing until he received the emergency signal to stop. He applied the brakes, but owing to the condition of the road bus skidded for some distance. There was a steep down gradient there.

The conductor shouted that there was a child under the bus, and witness got out and saw a child’s leg sticking from under the bus. It was not necessary to move the bus to get the boy out. The boy was conscious and said “Oh, my leg.”

Firth told the Coroner that the place was used by boys and girls for sledging.

The Coroner: it is a very dangerous place in which to use a sledge? – It is.

Witness agreed that children came straight out into the main road.

PC F.T. Harrison, Conisbrough, said that from the point of impact there was a skid mark 57 feet long to the rear wheel of the bus. The road was very narrow at the point, and both Station Road and Elm Green Lane were ice covered.

“During the present weather.” PC Harrison said, “they have been using Elm Green Lane for sledging. On numerous occasions I have warned them to keep away, and all the other policemen in the section have done likewise, but as soon as we have gone they have resumed. The road has been sanded before and since the accident by the local authority; the authority have sanded it on more than one occasion, but the snow had covered it over.”

Dr F. R. M. Lynch, house surgeon, Montague Hospital, stated that Barrowcliffe was received from Fullerton hospital. A blood transfusion was given, but an operation could not be undertaken as the patient could not be resuscitated sufficiently to be taken to the operating theatre. The cause of death was shock due to multiple injuries.