Careless Pony Driver – Valuable Pony Destryoed

March 1886

Mexborough and Swinton Times March 12, 1886

A Careless Pony Driver.

James Venables, pony drivers, employed at Denaby Main colliery, was charged with a breach of special rule 24 at Denaby Main on the 25th February, by disobeying the lawful commands of the deputy.

Defendant pleaded not guilty.

Mr. Hickmott, in support of the case, said in consequence of the defendant’s negligences a valuable pony had been killed. The defendant was employed as a pony driver and his duty was when he got to the top of the Montagu level in the Denaby pit, where there was an incline of 1 in 18, to wait for the corporal to spragg the wheels in order that the corves could be taken down the incline with safety. On the morning in question, although the defendant had had direct instructions from the underviewer, he would not wait for the man but started off with four corves and the pony without the wheels having been spragged. A lad named Cliff whistled to the defendant to get out of the way or he would be killed. The result was that the corves overpowered the pony and ultimately jammed the poor animal between the posts. The corves were going at such a pace that the whole of them ran over the legs of the pony. One of its legs were broken and it had to be killed.

A lad who was with the defendant told him that he must not start down the incline unless the wheels were spragged. The defendant said he would not wait, and went off, and the consequence was that he nearly killed himself, and the pony was destroyed.

Mr. Soar, the underviewer at the pit, said he had instructed the defendant not to go down the incline from the top of the Monatgu level without Winfield, his day man, locking the wheels. The defendant had worked in the pit for a long time, and knew the regulations; he earned from 2s. to 2s. 3d. per day.

Defendant denied that he had received instructions from the witness.

Samuel Winfield, a dataller employed at the colliery, stated that during the two months that defendant had been under his charge he had always waited at the top of the Monatgu level for witness to spragg his wheels. The occasion in question was the first time that he had gone without this having been done. On the day in question there had been a fall of ‘muck’ in 57 gate, and it was the duty of the defendant to wait until he came back. In consequence of something he heard he went down the incline and found the pony there. It was jammed between the posts, and its hind leg was broken. It was probable that if the defendant had gone down the incline without the corves having been spragged the corves would overpower the pony, and defendant knew that.

In cross examination by the defendant witness stated that he always put lockers in the wheels, and it was part of his duty to so so.

The defendant: How could you put lockers in when you were away. You know what would be the consequence of the men were waiting

Walter Cliff stated that on the 25th February at seven o’clock he was in the Monatgu level and saw the defendant with four full corves and a pony. Witness saw that defendant was about to start and told him that he ought to wait until Winfield returned to put the lockers in. Witness told defendant that Winfield had gone to 57 gate to shift some ‘muck’ which had fallen. Defendant said he should not wait, and started off. Witness tried to put the lockers in when the defendant started, but could not. He told defendant that he could not get the lockers in and that he was to stop, but he refused to do so. The corves began to move quickly and witness whistled to defendant to get out of the road or he would get hurt. The corves went at a very rapid rate of speed, and the defendant left the pony, which had begun to gallop. The corves overpowered the pony and knocked it against the posts. Since the occurrence defendant had seen witness and said if witness did not try to get him off, he (the defendant) would try to get him into the bother.

Mr. W. H. Chambers, the manager of the colliery, said the pony was worth £15. Defendant did not bear a particularly good character; he was very stupid, and he had received complaints previously concerning his conduct.

P.c. Kendall was called and stated that he had known the lad for about five years, and had never seen him in trouble. Defendant behaved himself well out of doors.

Mrs. Venables, defendant’s mother, said the defendant had worked at Denaby for eleven years, and that was his first offence.

The Chairman (to defendant): This is a very serious offence that you are charged with. You not only might have killed other people but would have done material damage to the pit. You have been the means of killing a pony as it is. We shall send you to the House of Correction for 21 days.