Coroner’s Criticism – ‘Not Sufficient Care’ Taken in Denaby Pit Incident

June 1955

South Yorkshire Times, June 11th, 1955

Coroner’s Criticism
‘Not Sufficient Care’ Taken in Denaby Pit Incident

At a Mexborough inquest on Tuesday on a man who died following an accident at Denaby Main Colliery, the Doncaster District Coroner (Mr. W. H. Carlile) said he thought further instructions should be given to ensure that safety regulations at the pit were more strictly observed.

In ‘Black and White.’
The inquest was on George William Longley (54), of 18, Ivanhoe Road, Conisbrough, who died in Mexborough Montagu Hospital on Saturday following a roof fall at the pit last Wednesday.

Mr. Carlile said: ‘I think these facts as disclosed do not show there has been sufficient care exercised in the carrying out of the work. Things have been done which should not have been done.’
The Coroner said that for one deputy without anything in writing was wrong and left a ‘great deal for the imagination.’ Something should be in ‘black and white’ so that it could be seen. Books were provided for this job, he said, adding: ‘Something must be done to exercise greater safety and more care.’

Mrs. Elsie Longley said she had been married 33 years and her husband had worked mostly at Denaby Main Colliery. He had been off work for 12 weeks through stomach trouble. This was his first shift on resuming work. Her husband was unconscious on Wednesday when she saw him in hospital, but on Thursday and Friday he was conscious and spoke to her. He died early on Saturday morning.

Faults In Roof.
Walter Pratt, a collier of 11, Leslie Avenue, Conanby, said he and Longley were on the morning shift and at about 5.45 a.m. they were told by the deputy to go to the D5 face in the Parkgate seam and complete a pack. Longley examined the place, he said, adding that the roof was supported by one clog. There were further faults towards the fault about five yards from the first clog. The roof was rough with faults in it.

Witness said he had about four feet of the pack to build up and when the deputy passed him later he asked him to give Longley a hand with the clog. Although the pack was nearly a foot from the roof and still incomplete he went and assisted Longley.

Asked by the Coroner if he thought it was foolish to remove the clog until the pack was finished, and that he was running a risk by not having the other support complete, witness replied: ‘In the Army you obey orders and I was obeying an order.’ He added that Longley said that they had been told to do that job. He also suggested that they were short of timber.

When the fall occurred it knocked him back and he must have been momentarily knocked out. He then saw Longley lying with a stone on top of him. He spoke to him.

In reply to a question from the jury, witness agreed it was unusual for a man like Longley to inspect the working place although he added that the deputy might have done this examination before they arrived.

In reply to another question Pratt said he did not like the idea of working there without the pack being completed. He said there was not room to use a Sylvester and chain to remove the support and he did not think the pack had anything to do with the accident.

Deputy’s Evidence.
George Peverley of 14, Denaby Avenue, Conisbrough, said he was the Deputy who had told Longley and Pratt what work they had to do. He had told them to complete the pack and draw forward one clog, mentioning specifically that they should first complete the pack. He said he examined the place where they were working about 8.30 a.m. with his yardstick. There was no break in the rock-roof apart from a fault. He said that the bars had been withdrawn which was not normal when the pack had not been built up. He said an outgoing deputy had reported to him that the bars had been withdrawn.
Coroner: If you knew these bars had been withdrawn why did you let these men go into that work knowing there was some danger?

Witness: They should not have gone to where the bars were withdrawn. They could do the job without going there.

He agreed that it was not right for the bars to be withdrawn. There was sufficient room to use the Sylvester and chain which would have made the two men clear of the danger of the fall.
Peversley said that after the accident he made an examination and found that a chock had been released and the fall had occurred straight over the top of the chock. The pack was in the same conditions as when he had examined it previously. The moving of the chock caused the accident and the pack did not play any part in the accident.
Coroner: It is perfectly clear that the chock should not have been removed at the time it was.

He said that if this went on there would be no end of people killed.

Witness said that rules required that bars be in that area and he was told by word of mouth that the bars had been withdrawn. It was usual for this to be written down.
Peverley agreed that if the same situation arose again he would see that the bars were in position.
Dr. E. Travers, pathologist, said Longley had a crushed right shoulder with multiply fractures. Death was due to shock due to multiple fractures consistent with the fall.
The jury returned a verdict of ‘Accidental Death.’