Cadeby Miners Collapse – Fatal Return to Work

March 1935

South Yorkshire Times March 15, 1935

Death in Pit
Fatal Return to Work
Cadeby Miners Collapse

A Conisborough miner’s death on the day he resumed work after nine months period of unemployment was investigated by the Doncaster District coroner (Mr. W. H. Carlile), assisted by a jury, at Conisborough on Friday.

The Coroner explained that the man, John Millward (56), Park Road, Conisborough, left home at about 8:50 pm the previous Tuesday to go to work at Cadeby. He then appeared in good health. Carlile had been off work for several months on account of short time working pit. Before returning to work he was medically examined on March 4th and found apparently fit. He went into 232 stall at the Cadeby pit and during the course of the shift he made no complaint until a few minutes before he died, he then said there was something coming in this throat, his mate told him to sit down. He did so and then collapsed almost immediately.

Lawrence Millward miner, 11, Barnsley Avenue, Conisborough, son of the dead man, said he last saw him alive on Monday, March 4, at his home. He was quite happy then. He had just come from the doctors at Mexborough and he made no complaint about his health. He had been off work for about nine months. Three or four years ago he seemed to have a sort of seizure on his way home and could hardly get home, but he had not been ill since being off work.

Annie Barber, Millward’s housekeeper, said she had been with him for six years. He had ‘flu about two years ago and that was the only illness she remembered. When he worked on Tuesday to go to work he seemed quite cheerful and had made no complaint recently about his health.

William Wilkinson, 11, Annerley Street Denaby, a miner employed at Cadeby Main, said he was working with Millward on the night shift on Tuesday in 232 stall. The shift started about 11 o’clock and Millward seemed all right then. After they have filled eight tubs he first complained, saying there was something coming into his throat, witness told him to go to the end of the airway and they had only gone a few feet were Millward said it was going off a bit but almost immediately he collapsed. He did not speak again. Witness then sent for the deputy and he came straight away and said Millward was dead, he was taken out of the pit on a stretcher. Witness was near Millward throughout the shift. There was nothing unusual about the work they were doing.

Thos. Wallace 49 |Gardens Lane, Conisborough, deputy at Cadeby, said he visited 232 stall at 1130 and 3 am. He was fetched about 4 30 to the stall. Millward was dead. There was no suggestions of any accident or fall having occurred.

Fatty Heart
Dr. D. T. Clark said he had carried out post-mortem examination and found no marks of violence or external injury. Internally there were no abnormalities, except there was fatty muscle tissue in the heart. There were adhesions at the apex of the right lung due to old pleurisy.

Coroner: Was his heart in a very bad state?-Yes.
Was in such a condition that he might have dropped down dead at any time?-I could not definitely say that.

Witness continued that the heart was in a back condition for a man of Millward’s build because of this fatty deposit.

The Coroner: what was his general condition apart from that?- Quite good.

Was it a condition which, if you had examined him previously, you would have noticed? – No.

Witness added that the cause of death was fatty degeneration of the heart. Mr J. Madin (Y.M.A) asked witness whether, if he had been the medical referee, he would have certified this man fit for work? – Yes I think so.

Hard luck
Mr Madin said that in the medical report this man showed him on Tuesday he would have taken a lease on his life. He also commented on the fact that he had not been notified that the post-mortem examination was to be held as he had been in all previous cases, he thought it was only fair that he should be notified. The coroner said he quite agreed and he would see that this did not happen again. He asked Mr Madden if he was quite satisfied in the case. Mr Madden said that he was, and agreed that he had not made enquiries as to whether there was to be a post-mortem examination. The jury returned a verdict of death from natural causes, and expressed sympathy with Millward relatives.

Mr. W. Criddle, manager of the pit, expressing sympathy on behalf of the Colliery company, said it was a matter of deep regret that this poor man should have died so soon after going back to work. It was a tribute to the main man’s character and ability that he should have been one of the first man sent for to come back to work.

Mr Madden expressed his sympathy on behalf of Y.M.A branch.