Scene with a Traction Engine – Boy Killed.

July 1891

Mexborough & Swinton Times – Friday 31 July 1891

Scene with a Traction Engine.

Boy Killed.

On Monday there was a scene on the Wath Road, which is fortunately an exceptional occurance. A child got killed just at the boundary of Mexborough and Swinton, the spot when the distressing circumstance happened being what is locally known as Little Brittain. It is a very populous part, the residence chiefly of miners and their families, and it is also a very busy part of the township, there being considerable vehicular traffic from the direction of Wath and Bolton.

On the day in question there was not more than the customary number of horses and carts on the road, but being a beautiful summer night the children were playing about in crowds at the street corners. Indeed, it is a common spectacle at this time of the year, when the weather is so fine and out-of-doors such an attraction, to see scores of youngsters of both of various ages, roaming and playing about the highways without any idea of danger and with evidently as much pleasure as though in the bolds when no harm could overtake them. It is natural in their youth and innocence and high spirits that they should be those free from anxiety and worry, but it is all the more troublesome to those whose business necessitates the constant use of the roads, and it gives the mothers and fathers very grave concern often as to their children’s safety.

About 5:45 on Monday night the road from Mr. Scorah’s corner and beyond Horace Villas was like a playground; all the children in the neighbourhood seemed to have turned out and many a driver had to slacken speed and proceed very cautiously and to shout out warningly in order to avoid disaster.

The snorting of a traction engine and the rumbling of its ponderous wheels was heard, and this was the signal for a sudden collection of the children, who were anxious to watch its slow progress towards the Roman Terrace hill. The engine had attached to it a thrashing machine, and both were proceeding from Mr. Sutton’s farm at the low end of Mexborough to the farm belonging to Mr. Mawson on the high ground near the bridle road leading to the village of Adwick-on-Dearne. The children literally swarmed around the engine and machine and the men in charge were carefully on the watch to gaud against an accident. But the mishap occurred nevertheless.

The thrashing machine was attached firmly to the traction engine by means of a pair of shafts, and these were only a short distance from the ground. Several children were foolish enough to run in between the engine and machine in order to get a “ride” on the shafts and, as the engine was proceeding but slowly and the shafts were low down the little ones could easily reach them. But they clambered about so carelessly and got into one another’s way so recklessly that spectators were in a state of trepidation lest any of the children should fall and get run over.

Mrs. Freeman, who was near her shop, looking after her own little children, saw what was going on and she called out to the youths who were those in mischief, the poor lad who afterwards got killed being one to whom she particularly referred.

In a few minutes alter the morning the terrible news was brought that the boy had been crushed to death. It seems that when the traction engine had reached Mr. Barber’s shop, the little fellow tumbled while trying to get on the shaft referred to and the result was that one of the wheels of the thrashing machine passed over him. A number of men and women were standing on the side of the road and were eyewitnesses of the shocking sight.

The women screamed and the men ran to the spot, and the rest of the children quickly got away from the fatal wheels. The driver of the engine at once stopped the engine to ascertain what had happened. The boy was picked up tenderly and carried to a cottage close by and Dr. English, who lives near, was promptly sent for. But the unfortunate lad was beyond aid. The wheel had passed over his head, tearing the scalp half-off and breaking open the school. Death must have been instantaneous.

There was no more “play” that night. Young as well as old were made very thoughtful and serious. The news of the fatality quickly spread, and a large crowd of people assembled around the cottage door and for some time alter groups were standing in front of the houses discussing the distressing news. The deceased is spoken of as having been a bright and intelligent end happy little fellow, but who required a lot of looking after “because of his venturesomeness.” It is said that his mother had repeatedly warned him to be careful, and that she had been particularly watchful over him, because of a presentiment of coming evil.

It may be mere rumour, but it is stated that the mother had a dream only the previous night that the lad would get killed. About a year ago she was in great distress for, on awaking one morning, she found her babe dead in bad. This was a great trial to her, and for some time afterwards she was quite ill because of the grief it occasioned. The neighbours knew of this, and on Monday were very much concerned about the poor woman. They broke the news to her as cautiously am possible, but we all know how easily the mind anticipates the worst and was so in the case of Mrs. Pinder, concerning her eldest child, Harry, who was about four years of age. She swooned away and was was so bad that anxiety was great at lest the blow should prove too much for her. The unhappy mother fainted away many times and her condition was most distressing. The father and the grandmother were also quite prostrated with grief.

The greatest possible sympathy is felt for the parents, not only in the neighbourhood of Beaconsfield terrace, but throughout the town.

The traction engine belongs to Mr. Whitfield, of Conisborough. As moon as the fatality occurred a messenger proceeded to the Swinton police station to apprise the sergeant of what had happened. Being the day when the police are away at Rotherham, on account of the petty sessional business, there was nom. delay before an officer arrives; but one subsequently came and made full inquiries as to the cause of the accident. The matter was reported to the Coroner soon as possible, and arrangements were made for the inquest.