Cadeby Disaster Victim – Springthorpe, James (Senior)

July 1912

Mexborough & Swinton Times, March 29 th 1913.

The Last Victim

Cadeby´s Dead Reaches Ninety.

Deputy Suddenly Expires.

Effects Of Gas-Poisoning.

The circumstances surrounding the death of James Springthorpe ( 45 ), of 143, Tickhill Street, Denaby, who was found dead in his bed on Tuesday morning, were fully investigated by Mr. Frank Allen ( Coroner for the district ), in the Institute, Denaby Main, on Wednesday evening. Mr. W.H.G. Raley ( Barnsley ) watched the case for the widow, and Mr. Henry M. Hudspeth ( Mines Inspector ) was also present.

Died In Bed.

At the outset, the Coroner stated that it appeared that sometime between mid- night on Monday and eight o´clock on Tuesday morning Mr. Springthorpe died in his bed. He went to bed about midnight and slept in an attic, the only other occupant of which was a man named Atkins. When Atkins went to bed deceased was alright, but when he called him about eight o´clock next morning he received no answer. He then went to the bedside and found him dead. He informed Mrs. Springthorpe, and Dr. McArthur was sent for. The trouble with the deceased had, apparently, been heart disease and asthma. Everybody knew that Springthorpe was in the second explosion which occurred at the Cadeby mine on July 9 th last, and it would be necessary for the jury to listen to the evidence and find whether his death was due or in any way attributed to or connected with that explosion.

Memories Of The Explosion.

The first witness called was Mrs. Eliza Springthorpe ( widow ). Before July 9 th last, she said, her husband´s health was good. She could not remember when he last was attended by a doctor, but it was for diarrhoea.

On Tuesday, July 9 th , deceased went to work about 4-45 in the morning. He did not then know about the accident, and would not have known about it until he got to the pit. Witness next saw her husband when he was brought home at about 1-30 p.m. in a motor-car. He was then in a very bad state, suffering from internal injuries. Dr, McArthur attended him that evening. Deceased told her that he had been in the explosion at the Cadeby mine.

Since that day her husband had not been well ; he had kept having spasms ever since. The spasms continued all the time since the 9 th of July. He was able to start work again on the 15 th January, and had been able to work regularly because his duties were light.

He had been afternoon deputy in the South district – the same district as before. He last went to work on Sunday night. His last spasm was on Friday between 2 and 2-30 a.m. She did not call a doctor then. She had spoken to the doctor about a fortnight ago, but he did not see her husband then. On Monday night deceased went to bed about twelve, apparently in his usual health. He slept in an upper room, in which a friend named Joe Atkins, who had come over for the night, occupied a separate bed. It was not her husband´s usual sleeping place ; he was only occupying the room for that night.

On Tuesday morning Atkins came downstairs and told witness her husband was `funny´ and she went upstairs and discovered he was dead. She sent for Dr.

McArthur, who arrived between 8 and 8.30.

By Mr. Raley : Her husband never suffered from asthma before 9 th July, nor had he suffered from shortness of breath.

He was a man who took plenty of exercise for his age ?

He was.

Did he ever, before 9 th July, complain of, or to you knowledge suffer from these spasms ?


What did Dr. McArthur tell you he was suffering from ?

Bruises and gas poisoning in the stomach.

Can you say how long after the explosion he had his first spasm ?

The following Sunday.

About a fortnight before his death you saw the doctor, what did he tell you ?

He said the valves round the heart were weak and filled with impure blood, and until they were filled with pure blood he would have these spasms.

Mr. H.S. Witty ( agent at the pit at the time of the explosion ) gave evidence to the effect that deceased as deputy, went down with a rescue party between 5 and 6 a.m. He saw him at the top of the pit when he was brought up about twelve noon. He believed he was in a somewhat collapsed condition. The second explosion occurred about 11 o´clock.

Medical Evidence.

Dr. John McArthur deposed that on July 9 th he saw deceased about six o´clock at his house. He was suffering from burns on his face, arms, body and hips, and had bruises all over his body. He was suffering from shock and gas poisoning. He also complained of a burning sensation in his mouth and throat. Witness saw deceased next day and attended him for the next three months, treating him for gas poisoning and the effects of gas poisoning in his blood. Springthorpe visited his surgery afterwards, and he certified him fit for work on January 14 th 1913.

During the three months he came to the surgery, he complained of shortness of breath and weak action of the heart, known as cardiac asthma. He had known deceased for three years. About a month before the explosion he treated him for diarrhoea. Apart from that his health then was very good.

Witness last saw him alive on February 10 th , and he was called in on January 14 th . Death was due to heart failure, he could suggest no other cause.

By Mr. Raley : During the three months he attended the surgery, he was suffering from cardiac asthma.

Do you suggest that cardiac asthma was the effect of gas poisoning in the blood ?

I do.

Therefore, had this explosion never occurred, he would not have had cardiac asthma ?

He would not.

So that death, in your opinion, was really a direct sequel to that explosion ?


Questioned by Mr. Hudspeth, witness said the form of poisoning from which deceased was suffering was carbon monoxide. His skin was scorched, but he could not say whether this was caused by heat or a direct contact with a flame.

This concluded the evidence.

In his summing up, the Coroner said he had not considered it necessary to enter into the details of the Cadeby mine explosion, except so far as to have

Mr. Witty present to bear out the statement that the explosion occurred.

The details were not necessary to the inquiry, and further they were too well known to need amplification.

What the jury had to consider was the cause of death.

They had heard that before the explosion the deceased was a healthy man, and had only been attended by Dr. McArthur for diarrhoea. They then heard that he was taken home after the explosion and attended for three months for cardiac asthma, and the doctor said that was due to inhaling carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide was a gas very frequently found in a mine after an explosion. A characteristic of the gas was that it gave a pinky tinge to the flesh ; the doctor was convinced he was suffering from carbon monoxide, and it was hardly likely that he had made a mistake on such a point, particularly when, not only the external appearances of the man give that impression, but also the internal condition was consistent with the effects of the explosion. Cardiac asthma was a direct sequel to the explosion.

They had to consider, then, whether the doctor was speaking the truth – there could be no doubt about that, because Dr. McArthur´s opinion would carry weight before any jury in that district. Having decided whether death was due to cardiac asthma, it would also be their right – and, indeed their duty – to say what may have been the cause of the cardiac asthma. If they were not satisfied that the cardiac asthma was the result of the explosion, they would be at liberty to say death was due to cardiac asthma without attributing it to any specific cause.

They in the Court were not concerned with the consequences which might follow the verdict. They had to give a verdict, and beyond that they had no further jurisdiction.

After a few minutes deliberation in private the jury returned a unanimous verdict, as follows :-

” Death was due to heart failure, following cardiac asthma, the result of breathing carbon monoxide in the Cadeby Main mine in the explosion of 9th July 1912.”