Shocking Fatality at the Conisborough Glassworks

August 1892

South Yorkshire Times and Mexborough & Swinton Times – Friday 19 August 1892

Shocking Fatality at the Conisborough Glassworks.

Killed By A Hoist.

A Foolish Practice.

A sad occurrence happened at the works of Messrs. Kilner Bros. on Tuesday afternoon.

Contrary to regulations, a young woman, named Sarah Harriet Morton, aged 16, at the glassbottle manufactory, got upon the hoist which is in use for the lifting of bottles to different storeys and after being raised to the top she got flung to the bottom by the accidental snapping of a bolt attached to a cage. She so fearfully mangled that death occurred after the lapse of only five minutes.

The inquest was held at the Fox Inn on Wednesday night, before Mr. F. Nicholson, district coroner. Mr. J. E. Ashworth, of Sheffield, an inspector under the Factory Acts, was also present, after viewing the scene of the accident.

The following were the jury : —Messrs. John Booth (foreman), Wm. Procter. Richard Crowcroft, George Ellis. John Greathead, Wm. Payne, Wm. Bird, Hy. Marshall, Richard Fern. Geo. Richardson. Arthur Moody, and Wm. John Goodlad.

The jury having visited the late residence of and viewed the body, the first witness called was Joseph Morton, glass founder, the father, who identified the body as that of his daughter.

He said he last saw her alive after dinner time on the previous day. After the accident he saw Mr. Gibbs, surgeon, and asked him to go to his daughter, but she was then dead. Hannah Morris, aged 18, said she was engaged at Messrs. Kilner’s works. She was employed in the warehouse and had to wheel bottles. The deceased had had to do similar work. On Tuesday, about twenty minutest to four, witness was with the deceased where the hoist was. That was on the ground floor. The hoist was used for the purpose of carrying bottles. The deceased asked her to draw her up by the hoist, and she got on for that purpose. Witness told her to call out when she wanted to get off. She was standing on the hoist. She had a bottle of herb beer in her hand. Witness went on drawing and deceased made no exclamation. Not hearing anything witness let go of the rope and, as she going away from the hoist, it fell down from the top with the deceased on it. The deceased never spoke, and was removed by one of the men.

By the Inspector: I was on the ground floor, but did not see the face of the deceased. There was an empty crate on the cage.

A Juryman : You know you had no right to take hold of the rope at all ? – I do not know, but I’m very sorry I did it.

The deceased had no right to get on? – No.

You were doing it in play were you not? – No, she was wanting to go up instead of going up the stairs. You had not been there long enough to understand the danger ? – I only went there on Saturday to work.

Thos. Battey, warehouseman, at the works, said on the afternoon of the previous day he was on the first floor were the hoist was worked. He saw the girl go up the hoist. He did not know who was working it. He saw the hoist suddenly drop to the ground with the deceased on it. It came down very rapidly. The reason of this was that the hook by which the cage was suspended had broken. The hoist was need for currying bottles up. The girls generally worked the hoist. After the accident he went to the spot where the cage was, and he found the girl in it. She was not dead. She was knelt down, doubled up in the cage. He took her out. She was quite insensible, and never spoke. She died in his arms in about five minutes. There were many others their when the young woman died, but no one else was there when he got there.

By the Coroner : There is a printed notice or written notice against the use of the hoist by any girl, boy, or workman,” and threatening them with instant dismissal if they disobeyed the rule.

A juryman: The hoist is safe, but not when used by someone who does not understand it.

Police-sergeant Ambler said he understood the girl had been warned on the morning of her death.

A Juryman: There are remarks going about as to certain parties being to blame.

The Coroner : But you hear about the warnings, and about the notices. I saying that exonerate’s them from blame.

Gad Kilner, the manager, and son of one the partners, stated that he saw the girl almost immediately after the accident and he arranged for the doctor to be sent for. But he found the girl dead. She was then outside. A police sergeant was also sent for. The hoist was for no other purpose but to carry bottles up and down from one storey to another. The deceased had no business to ride on the hoist, which was strictly against the rules. There was not a printed notice, but there was a written one, and the cutting from a newspaper giving particulars of a serious accident arising from riding in a hoist.

A Juryman remarked that there was ample provision for the employees by means of steps, and that there was no need for the use of the hoist for such a purpose.

The Witness, continuing, said the foreman (Arthur Mullins) had told him that he had warned the girl about riding on the hoist. In answer to the Coroner he said the hoist had been worked by girls; some of them had nothing else to do.

A Juryman : Anyone could work it ?

Witness: Yes, they have only to take hold of a rope and pull.

The Coroner: Is it strong enough to carry a woman ?

A Juryman: Yes, it is strong enough to carry a ton.

The Coroner: What was the real cause of the cage coming down ?

A Juryman: The force of the cage going to the top snapped the bolt.

P.s. Ambler said he understood that persons had been discharged because of riding on the hoist ? The Witness said it was so.

A Juryman it was very easy to see how the accident had occurred.

The Inspector: What was the object in forbidding the girls riding on the hoist?

Witness : We would not allow them to go on ; we would not trust them.

The Inspector : The danger is in the working and not in the riding isn’t it?

Witness: The hoist would bear them well enough, but we would not allow them to do it.

The Inspector: Had you any doubt as to the strength of the hoist?

Witness: No. not in the least. The main reason why we do not allow them to use it was because of their carelessness and to avoid accidents.

P.s. Ambler said there was no indication as to when the cage was to stop excepting by a shout.

The Inspector remarked that it was a very common practice for works to have hoists in which people went up.

A Juryman : Could not anyone draw themselves up in this at the works?

Witness: Yes, but it dangerous.

A Juryman : I have heard of someone riding up this morning.

P.s. Ambler: They could not ride up this morning, because it is broken.

The Juryman said that was the place to put such questions; it was no use to have talking outside.

The Coroner said he could not see that it had been anything but an accident. He was satisfied of that after Mr. Kilner’s evidence. In this opinion the jury entirely concurred, and a verdict to this effect was accordingly returned.

The funeral of the deceased took place yesterday, at Conisborough Church, amid many manifestations of respect.

Mr. G. Appleyard was the undertaker.