Denaby Boy’s Death After Pit Accident

June 1941

Mexborough & Swinton Times  June 7

Heart Injured

Denaby Boy’s Death After Pit Accident

The death of a 14 years old Denaby boy two weeks after he had been injured by a fall in Cadeby Main Colliery, was described to the Doncaster District Coroner (Mr. W. H. Carlile), who recorded a verdict of “Accidental Death”, on William Davies, of 24, Loversall Street, Denaby, a haulage engine driver, at an inquest on Tuesday.

Messrs. D. Cowburn and J. Bryars represented the Colliery Company, and Mr. J. Madin represented the Cadeby Main branch of the Yorkshire Mineworkers Association, and Mr. H. Storey, H.M. Inspector of Mines attended.

John Davies, of 24, Loversall Street, Denaby, a collier, father, said on May 15th they were both working on the afternoon shift and his son was in good health.  The boy was driving a haulage engine about 25 yards from the coal face where witness was working.  Witness examined the place, and everything was in order.  About 7 p.m. when witness went towards the engine he heard his son shout “Oh, dad”.  Then he was buried by a fall.  Witness cleared his son’s head and then released him, with assistance.  The lad was in a crouching position with his knees under the engine and his neck was pressed against a feed pipe.  He was unconscious when released and was bruised on the back, arm and ribs.  He was removed from the pit and taken to Dr. Clarke’s surgery at Denaby, and the doctor examined him in the ambulance.  His son expressed the desire to go home rather than to hospital.

The Coroner:  How long had he been working there?

Witness:  Five weeks.

The lad stayed in bed and was seen by a compensation doctor, who thought he was progressing favourably except for shock.  Witness took him to the compensation doctor about 300 yards away, and helped him to walk there.

Coroner:  Did you feel he would be able to go down there?

Witness:  He was all right going there, but I had difficulty in getting him home.

Witness added, that his son had complained of pains in his stomach while at home.

Coroner:  Don’t you think it was rather foolish to let him walk down after he had been ill?

Witness:  I should not have let him go if he had not said he was well enough.

Witness said the boy improved until Thursday afternoon.  On Thursday night he was in intense pain.  Dr. Clarke saw him again on Friday morning.

Reginald William Barker, of 70, Ravenfield Street, Denaby, deputy on the shift in question, said he had visited the place where Davies was working at about 4 p.m., and found everything was satisfactory.  Examining the place after the accident he found the side had rolled over behind the engine.  The fall was about a yard long and high and about a foot thick.   Witness could find nothing to account for the fall although it might have been caused by a “bump”.

Mr. Madin suggested that the places where boys worked with their backs to the side should be boxed off, and witness said perhaps that would improve things.

Doctor’s Evidence

Dr. D. J. Clarke said he examined the boy in the Ambulance and at his surgery, and found he was suffering from shock, abrasions of chest and back, and sprain of the right wrist.  His pulse was regular but weak.  He spoke to the father, and the boy said he wished to go home, and witness did not object.  Witness saw the lad the next afternoon and examined him again, and told his father that he was very ill, and that he had found he had a heart leakage.  He had visited the lad for a cold two months previously and at the time did not find any evidence of heart weakness.  He told the parents he was to be kept in bed, and they said he would need to go to see the compensation doctor, and witness said he would give them a note and Dr Hargreaves would visit him.  Witness saw the boy every other day and saw him the day before his visit to the compensation doctor, and the lad seemed a little better.  His mother said he must see the compensation doctor the following day, and witness said the lad was not in a fit state to go.

Witness said if the boy had not gone to Dr. Hargreaves the doctor would have visited him.  Witness had to speak very severely to the boy’s parents about letting him get up as the cure for his trouble was really complete rest.  The parents did not, in his opinion, realise the seriousness of the illness because the boy was not complaining of pain.

The doctor agreed that it would have been better if they had allowed the lad to go to hospital.  He said he had emphasised the seriousness of the condition after his second visit to the boy.

Witness saw the boy on Thursday, May 9th, and learned he had been out.  The lad had become worse, and his lungs had become infected.  Witness saw him again on Friday morning and he was pulseless, but in the afternoon he seemed a little better, but in the evening he had died.

Coroner: If he had been kept in bed do you think he would have recovered?

Witness:  If it was due to rheumatic cause then I should say he might have got better, but if it was due to injury it is doubtful.

Dr. P. Milligan, pathologist, of Doncaster, said he made a post-mortem on June 1st, and found abrasions on the back and chest, haemorrhage in the heart and lungs, and a recent soft patch in the heart muscles.  There was no evidence of old heart or valvular disease.  There was dropsical fluid in the heart and lungs, congestion of the kidneys, and terminal pneumonia.  The cause of death was due to contusion of the heart.  This condition was due to injury of the chest.

The doctor agreed that it was foolish to have allowed the boy to walk about, but there was no hope for him, and an older subject would probably have died sooner.

The Coroner expressed sympathy with the lad’s parents, and Mr. D. Cowburn also expressed sympathy, pointing out it was usual for a lad to work for about four or five weeks in the pit bottom before sending him into the pit, but as he was under the supervision of his father the officials thought in this case there would be no harm done.  Mr. Madin said many miners were rather timid about not visiting the compensation doctor, because they feared their money would be stopped if they did not do so, and he hoped it would be widely publicised that if they were unfit the doctor would visit them.