South Yorkshire Times, February 3, 1939
Highgate Youth Killed At Hickleton
Damaged Tub Brings Down Roof
Should Not Have Been Coupled To Run
An opinion that all tubs damaged in the pit should be “manhandled” to the shaft bottom instead of being connected to runs was expressed by the Doncaster District Coroner, at an inquest at Thurnscoe on Friday.
The inquest was on Arthur Denton, haulage hand at Hickleton Main Colliery, of 20, William Street, Highgate, who was killed on the eve of his 18th birthday, when a bulging tub on a run he was taking down the seam caught a prop which dislodged a girder and brought down a fall of stone on top of him. ” It is my duty at these inquests,” said the Coroner, ” to impress on the witnesses that they must be careful, and that every precaution must be taken. I hope that by so doing we may reduce the number of accidents that occur in the mines.”
Tubs in Smash.
The Coroner said that Denton left home at 5-15 a.m. on Tuesday. During the shift that morning some tubs were involved in a smash and one of them became very much bulged. It was taken off the run and it was intended to take it down by hand. But one of the haulage hands who saw it standing there coupled it on to a run which was standing at the junction. Denton took the run down and the bulging tub caused a fall which killed him.
The youth’s step-father, Frederick Arnold Batrim, unemployed miner, gave evidence of identification, and Dr. F. J. Boyle, Thurnscoe, said he found that Denton had sustained multiple injuries, including fractures of the skull over the left eye and at the back of the head. There was a fracture of the left leg above the ankle and of the right leg above the knee, and there was a compound fracture of two fingers of the right hand. Death would be almost instantaneous and was due to laceration of the brain caused by contaminated fractures of the skull.
Heard a Crash.
Kenneth Fisher, 85, Hope Avenue, Goldthorpe, a haulage hand who was working with Denton near the pit bottom of the Parkgate seam, said that seeing a tub standing on the rails he coupled it to a run of twelve empties from the junction and sent them down the slit. The last tub was bulging badly, having been involved in a smash about 90 yards away. He said he had not been given any instructions about not coupling it on to a run although the corporal was standing only about a yard away when he coupled it on. Witness told Denton to take the run down the slit and to send the bulging tub into old east plane out of the way. A few seconds later he heard a crash and went down with a man named Horton to investigate. They found Denton in a sitting position with his legs and arm underneath a stone weighing about 1 ½ cwts. and there were other smaller stones on the ground. They lifted him clear and sent for assistance.
Questioned by the Coroner, witness said he was about 20 yards away from where the fall occurred. He noticed that a leg had been brought down, but the bulging tub had gone straight through and was still on the rails 30 yards further on. He had thought that the tub would be able to get past the leg, but this one must have been extra bulged. The leg was two feet from the rail and the normal tub came 3ins. or 4ins. over the rail. Witness said he thought it was a safe thing to put this bulging tub on the run; he had sent a lot of bulging tubs down like that.
In a Hurry.
Fisher: I realise now it was a silly thing to do. At the time I thought there would be plenty of clear; nee. I did not ask the corporal whether I should put the tub on the run or not; I was in a hurry to get empties down to the drift trying to make up for the loss of time caused by the previous smash.
Witness told Mr. W. Brown (mines inspector) that he did not notice whether Denton had a lamp or not. He said he had brought the lamp out, getting it from the nail where Denton always hung it. He had never known Dentin go down the slit without a lamp.
Another haulage hand, Frederick Swift, 59 Chapel Street, Thurnscoe, said that when Fisher coupled on the bulging tub the corporal, Russell, was three or four yards away preparing to go down the slit with the run Denton was taking.
The Coroner: Do you think Russell could fail to notice that this tub was being coupled on to the run?— No, He should have noticed that.
Witness added that Denton followed the run down the slit just behind the last empty and the accident occurred 24 yards from the tub junction. The crash occurred just as the last tub—the one that bulged—passed the prop and he had no doubt but that the bulging tub caught the prop and caused the fall. Witness said he thought that the leg which was knocked out was leaning slightly towards the rails.
Very Near Tubs.
In answer to the colliery manager, Mr. J. Dearden, witness said Denton was walking very near to the tubs. He was watching the locker and was going to pull it out. He agreed with the manager that it was a bad practice to take lockers out of the tubs when they were moving.
Witness told Mr. W. M. Starkey, secretary of the Y.M.A. branch, that it was the practice for Fisher to put the lockers in at the top and for himself to take them out at the bottom. It was not the practice to knock lockers out as Denton intended doing on this occasion. They had a bulged tub to leave on the way; otherwise he would not have tried to get the locker out while the tubs were moving. He agreed that it would have been better to have man-handled the tub down instead of coupling it on the run.
George Hamlet Russell, 55, Barnsley Road, Highgate, the corporal, said that after the smash he and a man named Horton took the bulged tub up to the shunt. There he uncoupled it and put it behind some other empties which were in the slit. He told Fisher to couple the empties together, but he did not notice Fisher couple on the tub that was bulging. Witness said he intended with the help of Horton to take the bulging tub down by hand.
Witness: I did not tell Fisher not to couple the bulging tub on the run, because I did not think it was necessary.
Coroner: You had taken particular charge of this tub and yet you put it there without telling the man not to couple it on. Why did you not give instructions for it not to be coupled up?—Witness: I had seen Denton put two lockers in it.
“Careful up to a Point.”
Coroner: You are the man in charge here and it is your duty to give instructions. You realised at the time that this was a dangerous article to be coupled on to a run of tubs and yet you placed it there and did not tell the boy not to couple it on. If you knew it was dangerous you ought to have kept charge of it. If you had given instructions that the tub should not be coupled on this accident would not have happened The strange thing is that you saw it was dangerous and yet let it go. You had been careful enough up to a point but then you just failed at the critical moment.
John William Horton, 61, Westfield Crescent, Thurnscoe, said that he and Russell brought the tub up after the smash and put it in the shunt. The deputy, Percy Smith, 111, ‘Deightonby Street, Thurnscoe, said that the rail girder had been dislodged when the prop was knocked out by the tub. The tub was very badly bulged, particularly at the front, and at the worst point it protruded about 6ins. beyond the normal. He thought the tub should have been taken down by hand: it would have been if he had been there.
The Coroner said that the human element entered into the cause of this accident. The corporal had taken care to take charge of the tub and at the last minute failed to give Instructions that the tub should not be coupled on. “it is a pity,” he said, ”that he should have done so but we must take into account the human element.”