Stone Looked Safe But Fell and Killed Mineworker

December 1951

South Yorkshire Times, December 15, 1951

Stone Looked Safe

But Fell and Killed Cadeby Mineworker

A suggestion that a more discriminate system of shot-firing in collieries might eliminate overhanging ledges of rock that cause danger was made at Conisbrough on Monday, by a Chief Mines Inspector, at the inquest on a man killed by a fall of overhanging stone.

Survived Barnburgh Crash

The dead man was John Richard Humphries (48), stone contractor of 7, Rookery Road, Swinton. A verdict of “Accidental Death” was returned by the jury.

Humphries was fatally injured last Wednesday, while working in the Beamshaw seam at Cadeby Main Colliery. He had only been employed at the pit for about three months, and had escaped from the Barnburgh Main Colliery entombment in 1942.

Humphries was working with five other men on Wednesday, clearing a pile of dirt caused by shot-firing on the previous shift,

Clarence Jackson Roberts, of Wentworth Road, Piccadilly, Swinton, said he was about five feet from Humphries but could not see him easily. He heard a fall of stone, turned and saw a large stone pinning Humphries. He and other men lifted the stone while someone else pulled Humphries away. The stone, weighing about 15 cwt, had struck Humphries back and shoulders, and he died soon after be’ TI’ released,

Could Not Pull It Down

Clarence Botwood, of Balby St., Denaby, said a deputy had inspected the workings at 8.0 a.m., and again at about 12 p.m. and had passed them as safe. There was an overhanging stone jutting out of the wall, which Humphries had tried to pull down using a “plucking rod”—a rod specially made for the purpose about 5 ft 6in long. He had been unable to get a proper grip on the stone, which looked safe, so two props had been placed underneath it instead.

Betwood said, as did Roberts, that he had been quite satisfied with the look of the stone and believed it to be quite safe.

The deputy, was George Hill, of 5. Fitzwilliam Avenue, Conanby, said when he saw the stone it was partly covered by fallen rubble from the shot-firing, and looked quite normal. On the second occasion about three-quarters of the dirt had been moved, and the stone could be seen to be jutting out. He saw that there was no grip on the stone for a plucking rod to pull it down and the stone had been supported with two props instead. Eventually it would have been brought down by shot-firing. Its appearance when he made his second inspection did not suggest that it might be dangerous and he had tested it with both stick and pick.

After the stone had fallen he discovered a “slip” behind the stone, which was only then revealed. The slip was not apparent before, and he was confident that ordinary testing could not have revealed it.

Doctor D.T.Clerk of Conisbrough said the cause of death was a fractured vertebrae.

Inspectors Suggestion

Mr G Miller, Chief Inspector of Mines, a more discriminate system of shot firing and hosts fighting shots would mean that overhanging stone could be borne out in the first place. It would be a case of trial and error first, he said, but the system was quite a simple one

Mr J Madin, and Cadeby MW.M.secretary, also suggested that perhaps additional tests or precautions could be arranged to prevent  further accidents of the kind.

The Doncaster District Coroner, (Mr. W. H Carlisle), said that there had been no apparent negligence. “There might be certain technical things that might be done in the future to try and prevent similar