Fatal accident to 14 year old at Denaby Main Colliery

June 1887

Mexborough and Swinton Times June 24, 1887

The Fatal accident at Denaby Main Colliery

The Inquest

Mr Dottie Whiteman, coroner, held an inquest at the Reresby Arms, Denaby Main, on Friday morning, touching the death of John Henry Sheldon, aged 14, a pony driver, employed in the pit, living at 17 Cliff View, Denaby Main, who died on Wednesday evening from the effects of injuries received on the morning of that day while pursuing his employment.

Mr FN Wardell, her Majesty’s Inspector of mines, and Mr WH Chambers, manager of the colliery, were present. The foreman of the jury or Mr Cranidge

the first witness called was the father of deceased, Thomas Sheldon, and he identified the body. He had no reason to believe otherwise and the deceased came to his death by accident.

John Higgins said he was a corporal, and this boy was a driver under him. His duties on Wednesday were to drive the pony, take empties onto the pass by, and bring full ones out. The last time his home was at 12:45; he was starting with four full corves with a pony.

The next witness heard was that the pony was going a little faster than usual, and he fastened the other tubs up and followed the deceased down the incline which was something like one in 18. When he got up the cause, he found deceased in the second car. The first call was off the line. He was alive, and witness got him out, and the only words he used was that he was in pain. He did not say that he slipped off fell. The pony stood still, but you are some distance away. It appeared as if the lad had been under the first corve, and knocked the hook off. The hook was uncoupled. There was nothing to stop the pony. It was deceased’s duty to walk in front of the pony. Witness saw nothing explanation of how it happened. The pony was steady enough but it was a bit “nesh”; sometimes it went too fast and other times he would not go at all.

By Mr Wardell: Deceased was in his right place. The pony was uncoupled from the first tub. It is a little bit steeper where the accident happened. At the top they ought to put lockers in. It was witnesses’ business to do that and he put in the whole four lockers. He was quite sure there was not a locker short. There were others who saw the lockers in. He put the lockers in when the tubs were in motion; he had never missed. Deceased should take them out at the bottom of the incline. The pony could not stop the corve with the lockers in. Deceased lamp was behind deceased, behind the last corve.

Mr Wardell: As a matter of fact it was found 9 yards away.

By Mr Wardell: the road is 9 feet, and there is plenty of room of each side. There was a refuge holeclose by. Witness stood at the top of the incline. The corves went a bit faster than usual and that was why he went down; he found the lockers all right.

By the coroner: he died at 4 o’clock the same afternoon, and he got him out of the pit 20 minutes past one up through the cupola.

Mr Bradford (a juror): If he was not dead it was enough to kill him.

Mr Chambers: It is always warm.

The coroner: Why do you think so?

Mr Bradford: Because it is always said to have a bad effect.

Witness:: The cupola was the same as it generally was. He could not say that you have done him any harm. There was some steam..

Mr Wardell: Of course it is bound to be warm.

Mr Chambers: It is only used when we are drying coal; the other shaft his used for shifts.

The Coroner: There was no one with him?

Mr Wardell: No nearer than this Cpl.

The Coroner: (to witness): Did this boy understand his duties and was the road good?

Witness: Yes

The Coroner: It has not been a bad road that caused him to fall?

Witness: No sir; it was a good road.

Mr Wardell: When their sleepers which he could have slipped over?

Witness: No sir; the “smoke” is that set and is level with the sleepers.

Mr Wardell: The ponies were connected with the Corve by chair, not lingered? – Yes sir.

The coroner: Have you not formed an opinion, and a bad one or a good one as to how the lads came down? – No sir.

Mr Wardell: don’t you think if the pony was going a little faster it would run against deceased and knocking down? – Yes, that is the only thing I can see.

The Coroner: Very well, isn’t that a reason?

Mr Chambers said very frequently the lads put their lights before the horses to go faster and very often by this means they went faster than they ought to do. There was then more chance of falling down, and less time to get out of the way stop

Mr Wardell said he could see no other reason except that the deceased was knocked down.

The Coroner: Yes that is all I can see. I don’t see anything else for it gentlemen.

A juryman: Don’t you think it would be wisdom to draw an injured man up the other shaft.

Mr Chambers considered that the cupola shaft was perfectly fit to draw anyone up by.

The coroner (to the Inspector): You don’t object to men been drawn up the shaft?

Mr Wardell: No; but if it was a serious accident and there was a chance of doing a man any good he might be drawn up the other shaft. The life of a man is of more importance than the getting of coal.

Mr Chambers said one of the under viewers so deceased before it was taken up and he did not thinking badly hurt; that was why was not taken up the other shaft.

The Coroner said it was merely a question when it would do him any harm. If men came up the cupola 800 daily he could not see that it would.

Mr Chambers said they frequently came up, and he himself, use no other shaft.

The Coroner: Well then, I don’t see how it could have injured him.

A Juryman: If a man was sick and faint it would do him some harm.

Mr Chambers said it was not all at all oppressive coming up; it was more so going down.

The witness, in answer to a question, said deceased did not appear to be affected by going up the shaft. He asked for a drink when he got to the top.

The Coroner asked whether the pony was tractable.

Mr Chambers: Yes; I have made enquiries and is working satisfactory. We never get any ponies except on trial. If there are at all stupid, archaic when they are put to work in the pit we change. That is a condition for which we by them.

The Coroner: Can you make any more of it than an accident gentlemen?

The jury then came to the conclusion that “the deceased was accented killed by being run over by corves in the Denaby Main Pit on 15 June.”