The Terrible Accident at Cadeby Colliery – Inquest and Verdict

March 1895

Mexborough and Swinton Times March 1, 1895

The Terrible Accident at Cadeby Colliery
Inquest and Verdict

On Friday afternoon, at half past three, an inquest was held at the Castle inn, Conisborough before Mr. F. Nicholson, on the body of Jack Oldfield, Aged 15, pony driver, who was killed at Cadeby Main on Thursday.

There was also in attendance Mr.W. Wilson, H.M. Government inspector, and Mr. H. A. Witty, manager at Cadeby Main. The following were the jurymen:- Messrs. Wm. Smith (foreman), Charley Yates, Matthewe Cope, Thomas Oxley, George and Wm. Goodlad, Robert Ackroyd, George Hilston, John Wilkinson, George Richardson, George Ellis, Fred Webster, and Francis Keys.

The jury having been sworn, they were taken to view the body, which was lying in an adjacent building, and in a frightfully mutilated state. The head was all but severed from the body.

The plans of the place of the accident having been examined and explained, the first witness called was George Taylor. He said he was the landlord of the Castle Inn, Conisborough. He identified the body as that of Jack Oldfield. Diseased was 15 years of age, and worked at Cadeby Main Colliery as a pony driver. He was an orphan lad, and lived with an acquaintance of Mr Taylors.

Ernest Eroggatt, 50, Clifton Street, the next witness, said he was a door trapper at Cadeby Main. On Thursday morning, the 21st February, about 8 o’clock, he was down the pit together with diseased. He working at the same place, and at that time was talking to him. He (witness) was standing on the side of the rails over which the corves ran. It was an incline, and was usually used for empty corves or tubs. As they were standing together, he (witness) heard the sound of some approaching wagons. He opened the doors as it was his duty to do, and went in there adjacent refuge hole out of the way. By this time he could see the wagon or corves coming in.
The Coroner: Did you say anything to deceased now?

Witness: I said, “Stand in the refuge hole, Jack, until the tubs have passed.” This was before he opened the door. Witness got safely out of the way. Direct the witness got inside the refuge hole he shouted to deceased again, but got no answer. Witness would be about a yard from the refuge whole. Witness opened the door with a piece of rope.

Mr. Wilson: Were you above or below the refuge? Witness: below the refuge whole. Witness did not know where deceased was. He was occupied in the work of opening the door.
The Coroner: Had he ever been in your working place before? Witness: I don’t know, sir I have only just begun working here.

In answer to the further questions, witness said that the refuge hole was quite plain to be seen from where diseased was. It would hold about 10 people.

Witness: it is a very good read at this point and no obstruction blocks the way.
The Coroner: Was he deaf ? Witness: no, sir.

The Coroner: When did you know there was an accident?

Witness: I came out of the refuge hole and shouted “Jack” getting no answer, witness look more closely, and saw that they corves had tiffed over, and the boy Oldfield was beneath them.
The Coroner: How far were they from where you were standing when they overturned?

Witness: 10 yards. Diseased legs and body were underneath some timber, and he was quite dead. That was five minutes after the first warning. The wagons were without a caretaker.
The Foreman: When you opened the door, had it blocked the refuge whole?

Witness: No, it blocked half of it

The Foreman: Where was the lad standing,? Witness: He would not have had to stoop down to get into the hole.

The Coroner: Now I put to you an important question, “Was there plenty of time for the disease to get into the hole between your warning him and the wagons passing?
Witness; Yes, sir, quite enough. At that point the roadway is about 7 feet wide, enough room for the tubs to pass.

The Coroner: Is there room for both you boys to have stood in the roadway while the wagons pass without being run down?

Witness: if we stood close to the side. Continuing, witness said they would have been standing talking about three minutes. Deceased usually worked 10 yards from witness, but on this occasion he was waiting for some tubs to get on with his work. If he had not stood talking with witness he would have been out of the way. It was not deceased’s regular work. About a yard from me, and on the same side of the rails. As the wagons approached they seemed all at once to increase in speed.

Arthur Sykes, pony driver, Conisborough, said that the train of wagons in question consisted of two empties and one full of timber. They must have come down without a rope; he did not see them start, but he heard them coming. The coupling broke loose. It was witness’s duty to take the empties to where the “crab” was situated. In answer to a question he said the tubs, that is the empties and the timber train, were to be coupled together. When they got to the “crab” after pushing these tops or covers up, there was two empty tub standing at the top of the incline. He went down after the accident happened.

The Foreman: Is there anything to prevent tubs start in before their proper time?. Witness: I don’t know of anything.

Edward Tate, of new Conisborough said he had been assisting the “run rider” to push the tubs up the incline. He saw them start down the incline. The timber train was linked onto the other. He could not account for their getting unlinked. There was stop blocks to prevent them from is starting. Witness on this occasion took the box from underneath the tube and guided them down over the crossing as was necessary. When he saw the top start he shouted out the run rider to get out of the way.

It was Humphrey’s duty to examine the links of the corvess with his lamp before starting. This witness had seen him do on this occasion. After the accident Humphreys came running to witness in a disordered state, shouting “I have killed little Jack.”

Since then Humphreys had been fearfully uncontrollable, raving, shouting incoherently, and it had been necessary to strap him down, as he tried to do violence to himself.
He (witness) went down after this and found the boy by doubled up beneath the tubs. He was simply a “red sponge” his head hanging by the merest thread.

The Coroner: Did you see Humphreys interfere with the linking of the trains? Witness: no sir. There was no one else there but witness, Humphreys, Sykes, and Froggatt

The Foreman: Do you know if there is a link broken the train? Witness: no, sir.

The foreman said he thought it probable that the train had been become unlinked, owing to the timber in the last wagon protruding over to the edge of the tub and pushing the link out of its place, he had known many such cases.

The Coroner, addressing the jury, said that it appeared that no one actually saw how the tubs became unlinked, but there was a probability that they did so in the manner suggested by the foreman of the jury. He remarked that Humphreys was unable to give evidence, and in his opinion there was no one to blame, he therefore asked the jury to return a verdict of accidental death

A verdict of accidental death was accordingly returned.