Mexborough and Swinton Times May 26, 1906
Mexborough Youth’s Sad End
Inquest at Denaby
An inquiry was held on Wednesday afternoon May 24th , by Mr. D. Wightman, at the Reresby Arms Hotel, into the circumstances attending the death of Walter Garner, who was killed at Denaby Main Colliery, on Thursday May 18th 1906.
Mr. Walker, H.M. Inspector of Mines attended, and Mr. Samuel Spruce was the foreman of the jury.
George Garner, said he was the father of the deceased and resided at Mexborough Common. The deceased was fourteen years of age, and had worked at Denaby Main Colliery as a pony-driver. He had commenced work at the pit about five weeks before Christmas, and had not worked anywhere previously. Witness had previously been a miner, but had experienced a great deal of bad health recently, with the result that he had depended upon his two sons for maintenance. The eldest son was about seventeen years of age.
John Bradford gave evidence to the effect that he was a coalminer, working at Denaby Main Colliery, and deceased had been a pony-driver for about two months. The accident had happened about noon on Wednesday May 17th. He had seen the deceased about two minutes before the accident, and had left him with his pony and two tubs. The tubs would weigh ten hundredweights, the horse had refused to go, so that the deceased had gone to it and whipped it. There was a gradient at one point of 1 in 8 or 9, when the pony had started, he could not get back because there was no room. His proper place was behind the pony, but he had to go in front of the pony. There had been three lockers on the tubs, but they had lost control of the tubs. He (witness) thought deceased must have fallen, but could not say what had caused him to fall. He had got under the first tub and stopped it with his body. Witness procured assistance, and in about two minutes they had him at liberty. The lad lived until the next day.
Mr. Walker : Was it on the level, where he had to go round and whip the pony ? No, it was on the gradient.
Are three locker the usual number ? Yes sir.
Was it a quiet horse ? It jibbed about a bit, sir.
In response to further questions witness said, the width of the road was 8 ft. 6 inches at the top, and 5 ft. 6 inches lower down. When he was found he was quite clear of a prop. There was no room for him to get out of the way so that the tubs could pass him. He (deceased) knew the road perfectly well, and was very careful. He thought there was no blame attached to anyone ; it was a pure accident.
George Garner said that a few days prior to the accident the lad had said to him that he wished to be shifted. The same work was being done on the opposite shift by a man.
Mr. Walker pointed out that in some cases the work could be done better by a boy than a man.
The Coroner : He complained to the officials at the pit ?
Mr. Milnes, (a deputy) once told him that he was hardly big enough for the job. Deceased had complained on Tuesday evening.
In answer to an inquiry from the Coroner, Bradford said, he thought it was a proper job for a boy.
William Wright, chargeman at Denaby Main Colliery, said he had known the deceased well, and knew the place where he was injured. He had seen him last, before the accident, at half past five in the morning, when he had his lamp tried at the pit-bottom. He went to the scene of the accident as soon as he heard of it. After the lad had been taken out from under the tub, he had said he was trying to get past his horse and his tubs, when he got caught between the prop and the first tub. He had not loosened the prop. He had two feet width to get back in. He thought he must have slipped when he was in front of the tub. The roof was fairly good in that part of the road, and he agreed with the Coroner that the roof would be safer with a prop and the pony-driver would be safer without it.
Answering to Mr. Walker, witness said, that in that spot there would be a space of about six or seven inches between the tub and the prop.
George Garner said the lad had told him if it had not been for the prop, the accident would never have happened.
A Juryman : Had he a right to go in front of the tubs, should he have kept behind ? Yes, his proper place was behind.
The Coroner said he would leave the matter to the jury. He could help them no further. It´s no use blaming the lad ; he had paid a heavy enough penalty.
The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental Death.”