Body in Tunnel – Ganger’s Gruesome Find – Interruption at Inquest

May 1937

Mexborough and Swinton Times, May 7, 1937.

Body in Tunnel
Ganger’s Gruesome Find at Conisborough
Interruption at Inquest

After the Doncaster district coroner (Mr W. H. Carlile) had addressed the jury in an inquest at the Conisborough Council offices on Friday on John Henry Workman (45), 32, Kenneth Street, Rotherham, a brother of the dead man intervened and asked why he had not been called to give evidence.

He was allowed by the coroner to give evidence, but the jury said they wish to hear no more after he had made certain statements.

Stumbled Over Body.

The coroner said about 7-15 on Tuesday morning, George Grindle, a railway employee, had occasion to pass through the Conisborough railway tunnel, which was about 240 yards long. He entered at the Conisborough end and when about 80 yards from the opposite end he stumbled over the body of a man on the down main lines. He notified the station master at Conisborough. Dr John MacArthur, Denaby, was called in, and expressed the opinion that death had taken place about 12 hours before, the body was partly decapitated,

Description of the man was circulated, and it was later found that the body was that of John Henry Workman (45), 32, Kenneth Street, Rotherham.

He was employed as a salesman by a firm of brush manufacturers, and he had left his lodgings in good health and spirits. On Monday evening he was seen in the Cadeby colliery yard, and he was asked by the watchmen to leave. He then told the watchmen he was going home to Sprotborough

Henry Workman, 5, Doncaster Road, Dalton, identified the body as that of his father, who, he said, was a brush salesman; he had previously been a miner at Denaby. He had last seen his father last October or November at 6 Watkin Road, Rotherham, where he then lived. He was then in good health as far as he (witness) knew.

Mrs Elizabeth Skippen, 32, Kenneth Street, Rotherham, said that Workman had been living at her house for about five weeks – before that she thought he had been living with one of his sisters. She last saw him alive on Sunday night at about 1030. He was then laughing and joking with her sons. He had never made any complaints to her or seemed at all depressed.

Witness got up at 5 o’clock to get her boys off to work and went back to bed at about 6.30. She noticed that Workman’s bedroom door was closed. She got up again at 1030 and found that Workman had gone to work. He usually got up on his own and after getting his own breakfast went off to work at 9 o’clock. She saw that he had had his breakfast as usual on Monday morning, but he did not return, as he usually did at 6 o’clock when he did not return they looked in his room and found that he had left his clothes behind. In addition they found his show case which he always took with him. They informed the police on Wednesday night, and were later told that Workman’s body had been found at Conisborough.

The manager of the Rotherham branch of the brush manufacturers had visited her house several times during the past few days. He told her that Workman had not given in the sales money on Saturday night as he was supposed to do.

Private and Dangerous.

Joseph Grainger, Gate Cottage, Cadeby colliery, a watchman, said that at about 9 o’clock on Monday evening he had seen a man, whom he later discovered was Workman, trespassing in the colliery yard. Witness stopped him and asked him where he was going. He replied, “to Sprotborough.” He asked him if he lived there, and the man replied, “Yes”. Witness told the man not to use the road through the sidings as it was private and dangerous, and directed him on to the proper road. Witness followed him for about 100 yards and watched him off the premises. Workman then seemed perfectly normal.

Evidence of the discovery of the body was given by George Grindle, 14, Warren Road, Conisborough, a sub-ganger in the employ of the L.N.E. railway company. He said about 7-15 on Tuesday morning he walked through Conisborough tunnel, which was about 240 yards long. He entered at the West (Conisborough) end, and when about 80 yards from the Doncaster end he stumbled over the body of a man which was in the four foot way on the down line. Witness went to the signal box and the signalman wired through to Conisborough station.

In answer to inspector P. Glavy (representing the L.N.E.R.) witness said that the path through the tunnel was not public. He agreed with the inspector that 57 trains passed through the tunnel between 9 PM on Monday and 3 AM on Tuesday; of these 10 were in the tunnel together.

Dr John MacArthur, Denaby said that he was summoned to the tunnel on Tuesday morning at 8-30 by the Conisborough station master. The body was badly damaged – the left arm was torn away from the body, and there was a compound fracture of the right arm, and also a commuted fracture of the skull.

PC F. T. Harrison, Conisborough, said that he had interviewed the manager of the Rotherham branch of the brush manufacturing company. In the latter told him that Workman should have handed over to the firm £8 on Saturday last and that he had failed to do so. Witness went through workmen’s pockets after the accident and found nothing in them that would help with identification. The only contents of his pockets were a fountain pen, a cigarette case and a door key.

The coroner said that the man was apparently his normal self on Sunday evening when he went to bed. On Saturday he should have handed over the money that he had belonging to the firm and he had failed to do so. He was last seen alive by the Cadeby colliery watchman, who showed him off the colliery premises. There was little evidence to show the state of the man’s mind, but one would gather that he knew he had done wrong and it looks as if he went into the tunnel to do away with himself.

An Interruption.

At this point a witness at the back of the court stood up and asked why he, Workman’s only brother, had not been called to give evidence.

The coroner: We have called the man’s son, his nearest relative, but if you have anything important to say you may give evidence.

The man then took the oath and said he was Leonard Workman, six Glebe cottage, Dalton, a bricklayer’s labourer. His brother, he said, was two years ago in touch with the young lady at Conisborough and suggested that his brother gone to the woman again, and “they took vengeance on him.”

Inspector Wolfe: Are you suggesting the young woman entice him into the tunnel to kill him?

Witness added that the woman, and her husband, and another relative came from Thornton economy, and his brother made a practice of coming to see her. He thought there might be more in the case and they were aware of.

The Coroner asked the jury if they wish to hear any more of this witness is evident, and on their replied in the negative, Workman was asked to stand down.

After a short retirement, the jury returned a verdict of “Found Dead, there being insufficient evidence to show how he got in the tunnel.”