Denaby Miner Killed – Deputy´s Warning – A Dangerous Coal Face

July 1923

Mexborough & Swinton Times, July 21

Denaby Miner Killed

Deputy´s Warning

A Dangerous Coal Face

Mr. Frank Allen held an inquest at the Fullerton Hospital, last Friday into the death of Arthur Martin, a miner of 83, Doncaster Road, Denaby Main, who was fatally injured the previous Monday, being crushed by a fall of coal. There were present at the inquiry Mr. H. S. Scott, H. M. Inspector of Mines, Mr. W. Still, manager of Denaby Main colliery, and Mr. S. Spruce, under-manager, together with Mr. Arthur Roberts, on behalf of the men.

The Coroner explained that Martin was warned by the deputy to “sprag” the face of coal upon which he was working. He had either failed to carry out the deputy´s instructions or had been killed while preparing to carry them out.

Ernest Martin, son of deceased, of Barnburgh street, Denaby Main, said he saw his father on Sunday evening. He was then in the best of health. He saw his father before he died but could not recognise him. His father had worked down the pit since he was nine years of age.

Michael Egan , collier, 41, Firbeck street, was working at No. 25 stall in the East District, and was in company with deceased. He saw the deputy on Monday morning about 10.45, and heard him give Martin instructions to fix a long sprag the purpose of which was to hold the top coal. One sprag was set, but he saw no more set. The accident happened about five minutes after the deputy left. Witness heard the crash and Martin´s cry for help. Martin´s head was partly buried, but his body was untouched. He helped to extricate deceased, whose face was badly injured.

Edward Charles Bettridge, deputy, of 11, Cliff street, Mexborough, said he visited Martin about ten o´clock on Monday morning. Martin at the time was unbarring a piece of coal. The deputy advised him to set a long “sprag”, then hold it and get it down. There was sufficient timber close to the deceased, about ten yards away. Five minutes after he left him, the accident happened and he (the deputy) returned. In the lump of coal which had fallen there was enough to fill two tubs. The “face” of the coal was unsafe but a long “sprag” would have prevented any accidents. There was no evidence that an attempt had been made to set a second “sprag”.

Miss Stead, matron of the Fullerton Hospital, said Martin was admitted on Monday afternoon with scalp wound, a cut through the nose, and grazes on the back. He was not suffering from shock or fracture. The scalp wound was deep. Meningitis was occasioned by the accident, and was the cause of death.

The coroner pointed out that Martin had died as a result of accident, the possibility of which was foreseen. He might have been preparing to set the prop, but for such an experienced worker the accident was all the more curious. Miners should rely on their own judgement in such a case. He thought it remarkable that a miner of such experience should not have recognised the necessity for the utmost precaution in working such a dangerous face of coal.

The manager said they had experienced a most regrettable number of fatal accidents during the year. He and his officials had visited the men underground and urged the necessity of carrying out the timbering rules to the letter.

Mr. W. Still expressed his sympathy with the relatives on behalf of the management and Mr. Arthur Roberts spoke on behalf of the men.

A verdict of “accidental death” was returned.

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