Denaby Miner’s Death – A Fatal Error of judgement

June 1911

Mexborough & Swinton Times, June 24th 1911

Denaby Miner’s Death

A Fatal Error of judgement

Mr J Kenyon Parker held an inquest at Denaby Institute on Tuesday body of Albert Robert Harvey (32), miner, single man, lodging at 26 Braithwell St, who was killed by fall of roof at Cadeby Colliery on Saturday morning.

Evidence of identification was given by Nellie Dance deceased’s landlady.

Thomas Smith, of 44 Garden Lane, said he was employed at Cadeby as a miner, and on Saturday was working with deceased in number six stall, No 1, North, when the accident happened. Witness was filling coal, and deceased was fixing a gob pack. Witness last saw him about 10.20 in the morning, when they had a conversation about the pack.

He had left him about 10 minutes when he heard a fall. Returning, he shouted for deceased, but got no answer. They discovered, when assistance came, that he was buried in the middle of the pack hole, with bags and dirt. When they extricated him, 20 minutes later, he was dead. His back was broken, for they had been a big fall, probably more than 10 tons. The deceased was an experienced and a very careful man. In fixing the pack, witness had advised him to set it from the outside, and not to get inside. Deceased, instead, went inside to fix the far side.

Arthur Sykes, a deputy, of 30, Tickhill Square, Denaby, who saw the deceased extricated from the far end of the gob pack, said he was on his knees, and witness was surprised to find him there. Deceased ought not to have been inside the pack, because the timber been drawn out. He ought to have stood where the timber was standing. The fall would then not have caught him, unless some of the props had been knocked out, and he believed in this instance one was displaced. From what he knew of the deceased, he was a very careful man, and a good workman. Witness could not account for the fall unless the deceased had disarranged the pack in building the new one.

The Inspector: Don’t you consider this accident a very severe warning to other men engaged in similar work? – Witness: I do.

Answering Mr Witty, the witness also said there was a plentiful supply of “packers” in the neighbourhood of the pack, if the deceased had run short.

The foreman of the jury: Don’t you think you would have deserve summoning for being when he was? – I do.

The Coroner, in summing up, said it seemed to him fairly clear as to what happened. The question of compensation did not affect the jury. It was no concern of theirs really whether the death give rise to a claim for compensation or not. But even looking at it from that point of view, wilful and serious misconduct was not necessary to a claim in the case of fatal accident, as that had been. Their duty would be satisfied by bringing in a simple verdict of “Accidentally killed.”

It was an accident in the wider acceptance of the term, though he believed, on the evidence that had been put before them, it was a class of accident should not have occurred. There was no doubt that the deceased made a serious head error of judgement- to call it perhaps by a light term — in going on the top of the pack and exposing himself to danger for the purpose of gaining a little time in getting his work finished a little more easily. There was no doubt, if he had been found in that position by a deputy, more would have been heard of the matter. At the same time, it would not do any good to anybody for them to say in their verdict that it was a sort of accident which ought not to have occurred. No doubt they were all agreed it was accidentally killed, and that he was doing something he ought not to have been doing.

A verdict of “Accidentally killed,” was returned. Mr Poole, H.M.Inspector of Mines was present, and M.H.S. Witty (manager) represented the Colliery company.

The funeral took place on Wednesday afternoon at the Denaby Cemetery. A large number of sympathisers lined the streets en route to the cemetery. The St John ambulance band attended with the conductor, Mr M Soar. They rendered the “Dead March” in “Saul” from the house to the cemetery, and at the graveside the diseased man’s favourite hymn, “Jesus, lover of my soul.”

The coffin which was a vote with brass mountings, bore the inscription – “Robert Albert Harvey, died July 17, 1911, aged 32,” and was drawn to the grave by the members of the Ambulance Brigade.