Third Fall Sealed Miner’s Fate – Foiled Rescuers – Vain Bid To Clear Debris

September 1959

South Yorkshire Times September 12, 1959

Third Fall Sealed Miner’s Fate

Foiled Rescuers

Vain Three Hours Bid To Clear Debris

While workmen were trying to release a collier after a fall of coal in the Barnsley seam at Denaby Main Colliery, another fall occurred before the rescue could be affected and yet a third fall which took three hours to clear, it was revealed at a Conisbrough inquest on Friday, into the death of Joseph Henry Straw on September 2nd.

No Warning

A jury returned a verdict of Accidental Death” due to a fracture dislocation of the spine, on Mr. Straw, a married man, 45 years of age, of 20, Adwick Street, Denaby. Evidence of identification was given by Frank Chadfield, of 54, Warmsworth Street, Denaby, brother-in-law.

Contractor, David Venables, of 56 Clayfield Road, Mexborough, said Straw was packing in the waste in No. 6 Stalls when the roof collapsed —”without any warning.” Witness told the Coroner (Mr. W H. Carlile) that during snap time -10.20 a.m- he saw Straw take a steel prop to his working place. “He reared it r up at one, corner and appeared to be so looking for a lid, when the roof fall a occurred.” he said.

Venables went on to say that there appeared to be no faults in the root and added. ‘I have never known a waste break like that, without any warning.” In answer to a question, from Mr. William Gibson, .N.U.M. secretary at Denaby Main, witness said the Deputy had instructed them to set additional timber where they were working.

Mr. Gibson, “Could you say what supports were set in waste where Straw was working?”

“I didn’t inspect it, but I only saw three props.”

In answer to a question from N A.C.O.D.S. representative, Mr. E. Lockett., witness said he didn’t think there was sufficient timber in the waste.

Careful Workman

Another contractor, Kenneth Booth, of 7, Wood View, Denaby disagreed with the first witness. “I should say that the waste was adequately supported, but I never ventured in the waste to inspect it. Joe was a careful workman and a capable collier. If he had thought it unsafe he would have done something about it, There were plenty of materials to set props,” he said

Edwin Hackett, deputy, of 7, Leslie Avenue, Conisbrough, said he had inspected the scene of the accident on two occasions previous to the fall. “I examined the supports and they were in good condition. I considered the place where Straw was working as safe. I did not give any instructions about setting additional props because I did sot think there were any required,” he said,

Witness said he was aware of a slip in this particular part of the roof, “but it was very faint and not dangerous.”

In answer to Mr. Cartile, witness said he could not have done any more—knowing of the slip—which would have prevented the fall. “It was well timbered and well supported,” Hackett claimed.

“If you knew of the slip.'” Asked the Coroner, “was this liable to happen?” Hackett replied, “No this is the first time there has been a fall in this part. The slip was very faint and it was well supported. Had there been more supports it would have been more difficult for Straw to work.”

Hackett described the number and type of props set in No. 6 stall and. in answer to questions put by Mr. Gibson, claiming there were insufficient supports, Hackett said that 14 props were set in three rows, five’, steel props, on each pack corner and three in the middle, four wood props and five steel props as a back row.

Mr. Gibson suggested to Hackett there should have been four rows  of timber, to which Hackett replied , that there were four rows, but only three rows were supporting the roof,

No Negligence

Mr. Carlile said it was clear to him there had been no negligence on anyone’s part. “As far as I can judge all safety rules were complied with. These men were experienced men,” he said.

Union representatives and the Coroner all expressed sympathy to the widow and family. Mr. Gibson also thanked, on behalf of the family, the workmen .who attempted to rescue Mr. Straw after the fall.