Mexborough and Swinton Times July 24, 1915
Killed in the Denaby Mine
Deputies Warning Disregarded
The great necessity for strict obedience and proper regard to orders that exist in the mine was once again strikingly exemplified at an inquest held at Denaby on Monday. The deceased was Pryce Jones (50), a widower, of Queen Street, New Conisborough, who as a result of injuries received by a fall of stone in the night shift on Friday in the Denaby (Deep Drift) pit, expired on his way to the Fullerton hospital.
Mr Frank Allen, was the coroner and amongst others interested in the case who were present were Mr Danby, H. M. Inspector of mines; Mr H. W. Smith, manager of the Denaby pit; Mr Phillips, agent for the Denaby and Cadeby Main colliery company; and Mr D. Scherer at, who watched the case on behalf of the Yorkshire miners Association.
A Distinct Warning.
Joseph Mason, of 47, Bolton Road, Denaby (deputy in charge), said that deceased, on the night shift of the 16th, was engaged in “ripping” work in No 211 “gate.” Witness visited the gate at 12 o’clock, and again at four. On the second visit he ordered Jones to remove a lump of stone. Jones’s reply, “That stone will stand for years.” Witness said that it did not matter whether it would stand for 10 years or 10 minutes; it was dangerous, and he had to remove it. Deceased finally said that he would do so, and he appeared to be preparing to do so when witness left the gate. Witness was summoned back to the gate at 5.15 o’clock. The stone, which would weigh about a ton, and which was about 7’6” in length, 3 feet in width, and 1’6” in thickness, had fallen on Jones, who was then removed to the hospital.
In answer to questions, witness said that he could not say whether Jones had a practical collier are not, although he had heard him say that he was. He knew he was well able to do “ripping” work.
“Never Mind the Stone go along with the Ripping.”
John Cocksedge, 21, Beech Hill, a dataller at the colliery, was working in the same gate as deceased when the accident occurred. He corroborated the evidence of the former witness, and said that on the last visit paid to the gate by the deputy. Mason told them “to be sure and get that stone down before they started filling.”
Jones waited until the deputy had departed, and then said to the witness, never mind the stone, Jack, let’s start filling to make up.” Witness said to deceased, “We have been told what to do, and it will be better to be ruled by the deputy.” Jones, however, took no notice and recommenced working under the stone, and told witness to begin at the other end. He said, “Go one filling now. I am all right; this will never tumble down.” 10 minutes, had barely elapsed when the stone fell.
Deceased was filling just unto it, and was hit in the back. WITNESS immediately summoned assistance, and the unfortunate man was extricated and taken out of the pit. Witness added that Jones was in charge at this particular part, and all the other men were under his orders. Witness begged of him to get the stone down, but he was adamant. It was witnesses opinion that if deceased had carried out the deputy’s orders there would have been no accident.
The charge nurse at the Fullerton hospital. Nurse Steele, said that deceased was admitted to the hospital at 6 40 on Sunday morning. He was dead when admitted. His left leg was fractured above the knee, the right arm was fractured, and his spine was injured. There were also probable internal injuries.
The Great Necessity.
The Coroner said that they had a clear case of wilful defiance of the deputies orders, a defiance that had resulted fatally. They found elsewhere were boys and men in the mine neglected orders, without loss of life, but in this case they had an accident which was foreseen by the deputy, who after seeing that the stone was in dangerous position, ordered its removal. The deceased, it appeared, fully understood the instructions of the deputy and made a pretence of complying with them until the deputy had departed. The only thing was that the accident might serve the purpose of warning and instructing other men in the pit. He was on the opinion that and very large percentage, about 50% of the accidents in the pit, were the result of wilful neglect and misconduct of men working there. “Familiarity breeds contempt” said the coroner “and the constant use of a fiend makes a man confident, but time always comes.”
The lesson that a man should derive from the accident was that when a man in authority pointed out that something should be done it was any man’s duty to carry out and instructions unless, of course, that the official made an obvious mistake. In that case the workmen should use his own judgement. But in the case of a man who absolutely took no lead of a warning of a very grave danger, then there could be only one result.
The jury, without retiring to consider the matter, returned a verdict of “Accidental death, brought on by the disregard of the warning of an official.”