Conisborough Child Burnt to Death

February 1906

Mexborough and Swinton Times February 24, 1906

Conisborough Child Burnt to Death
The Fiery Flannelette
Coroner on the Waste of Young Lives

On Wednesday morning, in the reading room, Kilner’s Glassworks, Conisborough, Mr F.U.Nicholson, coroner, held an enquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Olive Mary Richardson (16) daughter of Robert Richardson, glass worker, 32 Glass House Row, Conisborough, who died on the night of the 18s inst. , from the effects of Burns receive the same morning. She was wearing a flannelette nightgown, when she accidentally got on fire, her clothes being practically burnt away to nothing before her screams brought her sleeping parents downstairs to her rescue.

Robert Richardson, father of deceased, a glass stoker, employed at Kilnhurst Glassworks of the first witness called. He said on Sunday morning about 8:15 he and his wife were in bed asleep, and the child went downstairs unknown to them.

She was wearing a flannelette nightgown stop witness was awakened by his wife, who said she had heard the child scream. He went downstairs and met her. She was badly burnt, her night dress and under clothes being burned of her. The child had lit the fire; but witness and never known her do it before. She had been playing battledore and shuttlecock. Dr Forster was sent for, but she died at 10:30 the same night. Witness had no fire guard.

The Coroner: Well, try and get one. Have you any more children?

Witness: Yes, two.

The Coroner: Well, don’t let them wear flannelette.

Elizabeth Richardson, wife of the last witness, also gave evidence, said she never knew the child was downstairs until she heard her scream. Witness followed her husband and saw him putting out the burning stuff around the child’s neck. All the rest had been burnt away. It was a first time the child had gone down and lit the fire.

When witness asked her daughter how she got five she said it came out to her when she was going to the cupboard to put away her battledore and shuttlecock.

The Coroner: Take my advice and get a fire guard, and don’t have any more flannelette for babies running about. Fire guards are cheap enough.

The Coroner addressing the jury, said it was a singular coincidence that the last time he came to Conisborough he held an inquest over a child burnt to death but five doors from the scene of the present fatality. All that time he warned parents against the dangers of robing little children in flannelette and allowing them to play near fires without God, but warning seem to be useless. It was a great pity that young life should be wasted in this way.

In the present instance the child’s death was accidental, and it must be obvious to all parents that if fire caught a flannelette garment it meant almost certain death to the wearer.

A verdict of “Accidental death” was returned.