Cup Tie Tragedy – Denaby Boy Killed by Parked Bus (pictures)

November 1935

Mexborough and Swinton Times November 18, 1935

Cup Tie Tragedy
Denaby Boy Killed by Parked Bus
A Slip on a Slope

Img_0643 boys

How a boy was killed, and another seriously injured when a bus parked on an incline outside the Denaby United Football ground, travelled downhill without driver, was told at an inquest held at Conisborough on Tuesday by the Doncaster District Coroner (Mr W.H.Carlile.)

Evidence was given that the bus was standing on the incline in front of the Miners Welfare Institute and facing downhill. A stone had been placed in front of one of the back wheels and the handbrake had been applied. The driver started the engine, then got out of his cabin to see if water was needed in the radiator.

While he was doing so, the bus moved forward and the two boys were knocked down. The accident occurred on Saturday, after the Cup tie when a dense crowd of spectators were leaving the football ground.

George Duke (11), 83 Loversall Street, Denaby was killed instantly, and James Stewart (16), 89 Tickhill Street, Denaby, is detained in the Fullerton Hospital.

Mr A.S.Furniss (Rotherham) appeared on behalf of the Denaby Welfare Committee, Mr T.J.Lewis (Scunthorpe) for the driver of the bus, and Mr J Dunk for the relatives of the boy who was killed.

The father, Henry Duke, gave evidence of identification.

The Mishap

Richard Hayes, miner, 44 Warmsworth Street, Denaby, said that he attended the football match, and on leaving the ground by the Welfare Road exit, stood talking to a man close to the rear of the bus, which was standing in front of the Welfare Institute, about 6 yards from the football ground exit, and facing downhill. There were several boys playing near the bus. The engine was running. He saw the bus begin to move slowly forward, and turn to the right. Two of the boys nearest to the bus were knocked down, and they had no chance to get away because of the crowds around them. Witness shouted, and the bus stopped almost as soon as he did so. The bus travelled 6 yards altogether before being stopped.

George Edward Hulse, miner, 46 Maltby Street, Denaby, who also attended the football match, and left by the same exit, give similar evidence. He saw a boy leaning against one of the front mudguards of the bus, with his back to the bus. When the bus moved forward the boy was knocked down. He then saw another boy underneath the bus.

Replying to Mr Dunn, witnessed denied having told a Mr Banks that he saw the driver standing near the bus, and having said that he was not going to implicate the driver.

Norman Stocks, miner, 3 Warmsworth Street, Denaby, said that the bus was moving when he first saw it. He saw a man swinging on the side door, attempting to stop it. He saw one of the boys struck in the back by one of the front mudguards, and he clutched at a bigger boy, with the result that they both fell down. The bus was travelling by gravity, no one was in the driver’s seat.

The Coroner said that there were a number of other witnesses who, would give similar evidence, and if the jury agreed he proposed not to call them. The injured boy Stewart had made a statement and his evidence was similar.

Parking Difficulties

Police Sgt Schofield said that there were no other vehicles standing outside the Institute, and it was not a recognised parking ground. While he was taking measurements after the accident, the driver pointed out to him a stone at the rear of the bus, directly in line with the nearside rear wheel. The brakes on the bus were tested, and both the foot brake and the handbrake were in perfect order.

The stone was produced as evidence, and Mr Furniss remarked that it would be useless for holding a bus weighing over five tons without a brake. In answer to Mr Furniss, witness said that there was a proper enclosed parking ground adjoining the football field, and he would not have expected a bus to be parked outside the Institute.

Mr Dunk: Had the handbrake been properly applied do you think there would have been any possibility of the bus moving forwards?

Witness: I think that is a question for an expert witness.

Drivers Story

The driver, Robert V.C.Thompson, Reedness Road, Swine fleet, employed by his father, said that he brought a party of Goole supporters to the Cup tie. At the parking enclosure in front of the football ground he was told that he would be unable to get his bus inside, and was advised to park it outside the Institute. He first brought the bus on the level ground at the side of the Institute, but children tried to climb onto the roof, and on the advice of a policeman he moved it onto the slope in front of the Institute.

Asked by the Coroner why he did not place the bus across the incline instead of facing down it, witness said it would cause considerable inconvenience when he wished to get away.

The Coroner: But it would have been safer, and safety is the main thing to be considered.

Witness said he placed a stone in front of the nearside rear wheel, put the handbrake full on and left the bus.

He returned to the vehicle two hours later, got into the cab, and started the engine he then got out again to see if there was water in the radiator, and while he was at the side the bus began to move. Through the doorway he tried to push on the Handbrake further but could not do so, and then the bus stopped.

He did not alter the position of the handbrake when he entered the cabin, and the bus had stayed there all right for two hours. He did not notice whether the stone he had left in front of the rear wheel was still there. The bus was 3 ½ years old. He had tested the brakes on the day previous to the accident, and they had been relined only a fortnight ago.

Asked if he could explain how the bus came to move, witness said his only conclusion was that the crowd moving around the bus had caused it to start, or that someone had removed the stone. A number of children were round the front of the vehicle trying to get a rosette attached to the radiator.

“Might have been Scores Killed”

Mr Furniss: Was it safe in any degree to start the engine and to leave the bus? There might have been scores killed.

Inspector Wolfe pointed out that witness said that he pushed the brake as far as it could, and it would not move any further. But if the brake was properly applied, how could the bus have moved at all? Was not the real solution that the brake was only partially pushed on, and that the driver pushed it further and so stopped the bus?

The driver replied “No,” when asked by Mr Lewis if he would have expected to find his bus where he parked it if he had left it on this incline, with a slope of one in nine, with the brake only partially pushed on. Mr Lewis pointed out that the driver would not have moved the bus to the position he did move it, had it not been for the advice of a police officer.

PC Nutter said that when the driver complained that children were climbing onto the roof of the bus, he advised him to park it in front of the Institute, then he was called away, and he did not see the driver move the bus, nor had he any idea of the position in which it had been left.

Dr J McArthur said that death was instantaneous and due to laceration of the brain.

The Coroner said that if the bus had been in that position without good brakes, the position would have been much more serious for the driver. The jury might still think that he was guilty of some negligence in leaving it in that position facing down an incline.

The jury returned a verdict of “accidental death,” there being no evidence to show why the bus started moving.

The jury expressed sympathy with the parents, and Mr Lewis, on behalf of the bus driver, also offered condolences.

The Denaby United Football Club have received the following letter from Mr G Smith, secretary of the Goole Town Football Club:

“Would you kindly express the deepest sympathy of the Gould Town officials with the parents of the boy who met with an unfortunate end on Saturday, also to wish the injured boy a speedy recovery.

It is with regret that we look back to find such a fine afternoon’s sport marred by such a tragedy. I am sure that in extending our sympathies we shall in common with you be expressing the sentiments of all.”