Mystery Mishap – Miners Head Crushed at Cadeby – Injured by Tub

August 1936

Mexborough & Swinton Times, August 7, 1936

Mystery Mishap
Miners Head Crushed at Cadeby
Injured by Tub

The mystery of how James Higgins (20), miner, of 143, Doncaster, Denaby, came to be lying unconscious in 72 stall of East low side of the Barnsley seam at Cadeby colliery on Tuesday morning, and was found to be suffering from a fracture of the base of the skulll from which he died upon being taken out of the pit, remained unsolved at the inquest, conducted by the Doncaster district coroner, Mr W. H. Carlyle, at Conisborough, yesterday. There was no witness of the accident, but Mr C. W. Scott, H. M. Inspector of mines, suggested that Higgins, who was pushing a tub of coal up a gradient, had misjudged his distance, stopped at the top, gone in front, and that he stumbled and the tub ran forward and crushed him against a prop.

Filling Tubs.

The coroner said that Higgins left home at 5:10 am on Tuesday to go to his work at Cadeby Main Colliery. At about 9 am he was working with Samuel Hughes in 73 stall East low side of the Barnsley seam. They were filling tubs at the coalface. Hughes set off with his tub, leaving Higgins filling his. He stopped and shouted to Higgins, who was then following, to come long. Hughes then pushed his tub a further distance along and turned to look for Higgins. He could not see his light, and wondering what had happened he went back and found Higgins lying unconscious on his side at the coalface. He sent for the deputy and artificial respiration was applied without success. Higgins was taken out of the pit and found to be dead. There appeared to be no witness of what had actually occurred.

The wife, Doris Higgins, gave evidence of identification, and said that when her husband left to go to work he was in good health.

Samuel Hughes, 12 Balby Street, Denaby, miner, said that he was working with Higgins that morning. Alfred Bolton was working about 30 yards away. When he had filled his tub he set off with it. There was a bit of gradient, and he had to push it along. As he set off Higgins was just topping up his tub. Witness got about 30 yards away. And then shouted “come along Jim.” Witness heard him coming along and saw his light. The first time witness shouted, Higgins replied, “all right, Sam, I’m coming.” When witness shouted a second time there was no reply, and he could not see a light then. His tub was lockered up, and he went back, and found Higgins lying on the coalface with his leg across the front of the tub. His body was between the face and the tub. There was no fall of coal, but there had been at the beginning of the shift.

No Explanation

Invited by the coroner as to what in his opinion has happened, witness said that he could offer no explanation.

In reply to Mr Scott, witness said that after the accident, the tub was lockered.

Alfred Bolton, miner, 41, at Edlington Street, Denaby, said that the last he heard of Higgins was when he set off with his tub. He heard Hughes shout the first time, and the next thing he heard was Hughes saying “come on, Jim, speak to me,” witness ran down arrived practically as soon as Hughes.

He found him with his left leg doubled under the bunkers and his right leg on their side of the tub. He was lying on his back. Witness could see no reason why he should go to the front.

Mr Scott: Suppose Higgins had stopped this tub only two railss from the top of the steep, and when Hughes shouted he had gone in front and eased the tub back on the locker and stopped it. Perhaps he stumbled them, and the tub eased forward and trapped his head against the rocks? That is quite possible.

Another reason for him to be in front would be that he would have another locker to put in. Do you think this quite possible? – Yes, in fact it is the only impulse explanation of the accident. He probably pushed the tub back, and slipped, and it came forward and hit him.

The tub would not move without a locker? – No.

It was lockered after the accident? – Yes.

Wilford Martin, 64, Ravenfield Street, Denaby, deputy, said that he thought that when Higgins came to where it was steeper he stopped to put a lock around. “I think he misjudged where he stopped and stumbled, and got between the tub and the pup in some way,” he added.

Heads Squeezed

Dr. Thomas Ford said that he had seen Higgins shortly after he was taken out of the pit and he had a fracture of the base of the skull. He thought the explanation that he had been squeezed between the tub and the prop was likely. He had no doubt that he had been squeezed because of the haemorrhage. Death was due to the fracture of the base of the school. The coroner said that the suggestion that the inspector had put forward that Higgins had stumbled and had been squeezed between the tub and the prop had been borne out by the medical evidence. There appeared to be no one to blame.

The jury returned a verdict of “accidental death,” expressing their sympathy with the widow. Mr W. Criddle, manager of the colliery and Mr J. Madin representing the local branch of Y. M. A., associated themselves.