Mexborough and Swinton Times May 28, 1928
Power Station Tragedy.
Shocking Accident At Goldthorpe.
The mystery of a young wireman’s death was inquired into by Mr. W. H. Carlile at Goldthorpe on Monday. The inquest was on Frederick Yates (28), of 58, Blenheim Road, Barnsley, who was found dead in the transformer house at the Goldthorpe Colliery on Saturday morning. There were present at the inquest Mr. J. W. Williamson and Mr. Hodgkinson, representing the Yorkshire Electric Power Company; Mr. F. Potter, of Messrs. Bury and Walkers, Barnsley, representing the family of deceased, and Mr. D. B. Barnett, HM. Inspector.
Joseph Hepworth, who gave evidence of identification, said that Yates was his nephew, and was to have been married next week.
Lewis Loukes, 7, Rowland Villas, Barnsley, district engineer employed by the Yorkshire Electric Power Company, said that on Saturday morning he, with Yates and another wireman , went to the sub-station at the Goldthorpe Colliery to clear away material and tools that were not wanted. Everything was finished by about 10 o’clock, and he then went into the colliery winding engine room.
Witness telephoned to one of the company’s offices, and went out to give final instructions to the men. He thought he heard the telephone ring; and went back to the engine room, but while he was there he saw the reflection of a flash through the door, accompanied with a sizzling noise. Witness ran to the sub-station, saw that the switch was in order, and then rushed into the transformer chamber. There he saw Yates in a crouching position near a conductor which would be about five feet from the ground. He shouted, “He is dead,” and with the help of the men got Yates’s body into the colliery engine room. There was no assistance they could give the man, for 11,000 volts must have passed through his body and killed him instantly.
In answer to the Coroner, witness said he was surprised that the man could have got into the transformer chamber, because witness was the only one with a key. However, on investigation, witness found a key in the door, which had been filed down, and would fit any lock on any sub-station. Yates was terribly burnt on the head, hands, and feet. If the man had caught the conductor with his head that would not account for the burns on the hands. If he had touched it with his hands, he would not have burnt his head. Witness had never known that Yates had a key that would fit the door. Yates knew that only witness was allowed to go into the transformer chamber. There was a mark on the floor of the chamber which showed that the current passed through the man’s body into the floor by his right foot.
Witness added that he had found a broom by the man’s body, which showed that he had taken it into the chamber. Perhaps he had been cleaning it out. He had not been authorised to do so.
In answer to Mr. Barnett, witness said he did not think Yates had touched the conductor with his head and fallen on to the transformer.
Answering Mr. Potter, witness said that the current would not switch a man round. He would collapse instantly.
Wm. Cliff, fitter, 68, Doncaster Road, Goldthorpe, gave evidence of Yates asking him for a broom on Saturday morning. Witness told him to go to the fan house, and did not hear of Yates again until after the accident.
The Coroner said it was clear how the accident happened. They had seen the place and the various things in it that were dangerous. They had heard the evidence of Mr. Loukes, and he did not think that any part of the evidence needed explanation. No doubt the man had got into the chamber with a key that he should not have had. Perhaps he was doing a little extra work.
The jury retired for a short while, and the foreman came back and asked for a further witness. This was Percy Hurst, 11, Chappell Street, Monk Bretton, a wireman employed by the company. Hurst stated that he went to the Goldthorpe sub-station with the district engineer and Yates, and helped to clear away the materials and tools. He did not see the flash, but heard the sizzling, and went with Mr. Loukes to the transformer station and assisted in getting Yates out.
In answer to the Coroner, witness admitted that he had known for a couple of years or so that Yates had a key that would unlock the door of a high power station. He had warned the man not to go into such stations unless the engineer was present. He had never reported the fact that Yates had a key.
Mr. Potter said that deceased’s mother had told him that on the Friday night Yates had said that Hurst had given him the key to lock up. Questioned, Hurst admitted that he, too, had had a key which had been filed down to fit the locks of any sub-station.
Mr. Loukes stated that he had been to Hurst’s house on Saturday afternoon and Hurst had surrendered a skeleton key. Mr. Willison also stated that on hearing there had been a skeleton key he had instituted enquiries, and after officials had been twice to Hurst’s house. Hurst admitted he had a similar key and surrendered it. A verdict’ of “Accidental ‘death” was returned.
On behalf of the, company, Mr. Willison expressed regret at the accident. Mr. Potter, for the relatives, thanked Mr. Willison, and said it was tragic that the young man had just got a home together and was about to be married.