Mexborough & Swinton Times, August 6, 1926
Denaby Pony Driver’s Death.
Iron and Wooden Lockers.
Youth’s Sad Indiscretion.
Witnesses disagreed about ‘lockers’ at an inquest of Josiah Webb (18), pony driver of Cusworth Street, New Conisborough, held on Friday at the Denaby Main Hotel. A contractor who was working near the scene of the accident said that only one iron locker was available in that district, but an iron locker which was given to them when going to work.
The Coroner (Mr. F. Allen) explained that in January 15th Webb was taking a run of six full tubs down an incline, the gradient of which was about one in thirty. He placed a wooden locker in a wheel of the last tub. Webb was riding on the chain between the pony and the first tub, which was an authorised proceeding at the time. Unfortunately the locker broke and the tubs became uncoupled, and ran away about 70 yards, and collided with another train at the bottom, standing in a pass-by. Webb, who was severely crushed, was taken to the Fullerton Hospital for six months, and then was taken home, where he died a month later.
A Wooden Locker.
Harry Farmer, contractor, of Balby Street, Denaby, said the tubs in Webb’s charge had gone about eight yards when he heard the locker break. Witness knew it was customary for runs of 12 tubs to have an iron and a wooden locker in a wheel. This one of six tubs had only a wooden locker.
Witness said that after the accident there was a general order to pony drivers forbidding them to ride on tube. Before the accident, he added, there was a scarcity of iron lockers, but now there were plenty.
Answering Mr. H. S. Scott (H.M. Inspector of Mines), witness said he was present when the tubs began their journey, and knew that only one locker was used.
Answering Mr. H. Hulley (manager of Cadeby Colliery) witness said there was only one iron locker in the place at the time of the runaway.
Mr. Hulley: Supposing the corporal says there were more, what would you say?
Mr. Hulley: I don’t think you are justified in saying that.
Mr. Scott: Do you consider a wooden locker to be safe?
Witness: Certainly not, after this.
Mr. Scott: Why did you not say something to the lad when you saw him going off with only a wooden locker?
Witness: I should have been saying it for a long time past.
John Wade, corporal, Pitt Street, Mexborough, said that there would be about 20 drivers, and each one was given an iron locker on going into the workings.
The Coroner: Is it common for the boys to forget the iron lockers after tubs have been brought down? – Yes.
Then they walk back up the incline, and bring the tubes down with only a wooden locker? – Yes.
Answering: Hulley witness said he saw Webb with an iron locker on the day of the accident. There was no shortage of them.
Dr. Ford said that Webb was admitted to the hospital on January 15th last, and he was suffering from a fractured thigh and injures to the abdomen. Death was due to sceptic absorption.
The Coroner, summing up, said that a pony driver should always have an iron locker with him. The witness, Farmer, appeared to have a bit of prejudice and to be anxious to suggest that there was a shortage of iron lockers. He had given his evidence with much warmth. The corporal, however, said emphatically that there were plenty of iron lockers. If the jury believed Farmer’s evidence, it would be a serious matter for those responsible. The evidence showed to him that there had been an accident resulting from the indiscretion on the part of the lad, who did not realise the danger. The jury would note from the evidence that the riding on tubs had since been forbidden, and the manager told him there was a previous order against this.
The jury, returning a verdict of ‘Accidental death,’ said that they accepted the corporal’s evidence, and that the accident arose through not putting in an iron locker.