7 March 1903

Two Colliers Crushed to Death – “Born to come to such and End”

An inquest was held at the Half Way House, Bardsley, on Tuesday forenoon, by Mr J F PRICE, district coroner, on the body of Robert WADDICOR, collier at Woodpark Colliery, Bardsley, residing at Whiteacre-road, Hurst, who was crushed to death by a fall of the roof whilst working in the mine on Friday morning. There were present at the inquiry Messrs GERRARD (HM Inspector of Mines), Jesse BUTLER (miners’ agent), W W MILLINGTON (manager of the colliery), P THOMPSON (surface manager), E BRADBURY (under manager).

Betsy WADDICOR, wife of deceased, residing at 157 Whiteacre-road, said deceased was 52 years of age. She last saw him alive on Friday at 5.45 when he left home, apparently in the best of health, to go to work where he began to work soon after the stoppage of the Astley Pit, Dukinfield, about 18 months ago. He had worked in the pit ever since he was 12 years of age, and he never made any complaint as to any danger to which he was subjected.

John Henry WILLIAMS, 38 Jermyn-street, Ashton, collier, said he had worked along with the deceased for about 18 months. They began work at seven o’clock on Friday morning about 400 yards from the bottom of the shaft, in the wagon road. Witness was about 2½ yards from the deceased, and they were both working at the face of the coal. The night foreman had been round to make his inspection.

About 9.20am deceased was engaged in coaling, and was getting the tops off when witness suddenly heard a fall, and deceased called out “Oh, Jack, I’m done for.” Witness ran to him and found him lying flat on his stomach with two large stones lying on his back. He moved one stone, and then ran for assistance, and they removed the other stone. It took two or three minutes to extricate deceased, and when taken out of his position he was quite dead.

The stones had fallen from the roof. Witness could not account for the fall, and he could not see anything to account for it. There was no slip, and the roof was well propped, each of the props being within the regulation distance, about five feet. There were 10 props altogether across the coal face. Before commencing work witness sounded the roof, and it seemed all right. He could see nothing afterwards to account for the fall, and he heard no warning at all.

On Saturday morning when he went down the pit along with the inspector, he noticed a slip at the coal face. He did not think anything could have been done at the time to prevent it. The props would have had to been very close together. Some of them were only 4 feet 6 inches apart. – By the Foreman (Mr KERFOOT): Deceased was a practical man. – By a Juryman: Deceased’s life could not have been saved, as he was dead when the stones were removed. It was necessary to go for assistance.

By Mr GERRARD: It did not give deceased the least warning. The position in which he lay, and the fact that his pick had been thrown aside showed that he had been caught by the roof whilst in the endeavour to run away. It took three of them to remove the last stone. Deceased had been an under manager at a pit, and he had had considerable experience.

The Inspector commented upon the large number of deaths occurring as the result of falling roofs, and produced rules framed for the protection of the men. He referred to the long experience of the deceased, and said he knew him very well, having gone along with him on many occasions in years gone by to investigate similar occurrences to that which caused his death. – A Juryman said the deceased was not a man to throw a chance away.

The Coroner said it appeared to be an error of judgment. – The Inspector concurred with this, saying that he knew the deceased well. The manager of the pit had very kindly agreed to reduce the distance separating props. It was apparent that deceased had seen the slip for he had pulled the coal off for 5½ yards. A verdict of accidental death was returned, the jury being unanimously of opinion that no one was to blame.

An inquest was subsequently held on the body of Edwin TAYLOR, collier at Woodpark Colliery, residing at 27 Oldham-road, Waterloo, who was crushed to death by a fall of roof whilst at work in the mine on Monday morning.

Thos. PHILLIPS, miner, residing at Wakefield Cottages, Bardsley, said he had worked with deceased at the colliery for about two and a half years. They commenced work together about 6.30 on Monday morning, at the west side of the colliery, and were getting coal. Where they were working was about 60 yards from the spot where Robert WADDICOR was killed on Friday.

The fireman came round in the morning and examined the workings, but did not give any instructions. About twelve o’clock witness tested the roof by tapping it, and in consequence he remarked to TAYLOR that he thought it was “giving a little.” Deceased at once tapped the roof over his place, and shortly afterwards witness heard a fall. He did not hear deceased call out, so he ran to the spot and saw that deceased was completely buried by a large fall of stone from the roof.

There would be between four and five tons of stone and dirt. Witness called for help and got him out, and he was then quite dead. The roof had fallen apparently as the result of a slip over the centre of the wagon road, and the stone had broken off at the end of a prop. The props were set at a distance of about four feet from each other. Witness could not see how the fall could have been prevented. At the moment when the roof fell deceased was in the act of getting coal.

By the Foreman: Deceased had not time to get out of the road before the roof fell upon him. The roof fell from the coal face. – By Mr GERRARD: Witness and deceased were working about four feet apart. – By Mr BUTLER: Deceased had been working at the coal face for about two years, and had always been attentive. He had “coaled” and “wagoned” on and off. Witness had had no cause to complain.

Alice TAYLOR, wife of the deceased, said she last saw her husband alive on Monday morning when he left home at 5.50 to go to his work, being then in his usual health. He was brought home dead about 1.30pm the same day. He had worked in the pit all his life, and formerly worked at Limehurst Colliery. He was 31 years of age. He was upset about WADDICOR being killed on the Friday previously, and said he was born to come such an end, and that it would be his luck.

Mr GERRARD accounted for the accident in the same way as WADDICOR. The foreman described it as a singular coincidence. The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental death.”

FARMERS’ ASSOCIATION ANNUAL DINNER. - At the Ashton County Police Court on Wednesday, Thos. BARROW applied for an hour’s extension of time at the Dog and Partridge, Bardsley, on the occasion of the Farmers’ Association annual dinner on March 10th. – The application was granted.

YOUTHFUL GAMBLERS. – A charge of gaming at Waterloo on February 12th, was preferred against youths named Ernest PARKER, William PARKER, ROBINSON, BRIERLEY and BUCKLEY. – Sergeant LEEMING deposed to seeing defendants card playing in Back Buckley-street, on the Sunday in question. – Ernest PARKER, who had been up three times before, was fined 5s 6d and costs, and the others were fined 5s for costs.

WRESTLING AT OLDHAM. – On Saturday, at the Oldham Borough Grounds, E BEASLEY and Emmanuel SIMPSON (alias Mann Bouf), formerly of Bardsley, but now of Oldham, met to wrestle the best of three falls, Lancashire style, at catch weight, for £15 aside. After twelve minutes BEASLEY obtained the first throw by pulling his opponent backwards, and forcing him out to his back. After a short rest, they were at it again, and the wrestling was rather rough. After 19½ minutes BEASLEY got the second throw with the “hand and muscle.”

A LOCAL BUTCHER AND HIS VISIT TO BELLE VUE. – Lees SLATER, butcher, of Waterloo, was charged at the Manchester City Police Court, on Wednesday, with being drunk and disorderly in Hyde-road, West Gorton. – Two officers told the Bench that on the previous day the defendant was very drunk and disorderly, and was refused admission to the Belle Vue Gardens because he was drunk. – SLATER denied this, but one of the officers went further, and stated that defendant was so drunk that he was obstinate, and would get into Belle Vue if it cost him a ----- £1. – He now expressed his sorrow, but said the constables had exaggerated the case. – The Bench fined him 10s and costs, or 14 days.

After His “Bacca” at Stalybridge

On Wednesday afternoon, at Stalybridge Police Court, Joseph OWEN, a demented-looking individual, was placed in the dock on a charge of deserting from the Ashton Workhouse and taking with him clothing (which he now wore) the property of the Ashton Poor Law Union. – Prisoner: Guilty; I went to see if I could get some “bacca,” and would have gone back if I had got some. I have seen others get over the wall beside me. – The Clerk: Did you desert? – Prisoner: Yes, but I did not get over the wall; I went through the gate.

Mr SHORE, workhouse master, said prisoner was one of those men who caused a great deal of trouble to the workhouse authorities. Severe restrictions were enforced through the smallpox epidemic, and his (Mr SHORE’s) instructions were that if any inmate left the house without authority he should take legal proceedings. OWEN was in the habit of absconding, and after securing the names and addresses of inmates of the hospital he would visit them and procure tobacco, sweets, &c, then return and tell the men in the day room what he had done!

Prisoner: I had not been to anyone’s house. – Inspector BAMFORTH: Not this time, perhaps.” – Prisoner: No. Not this time. – (Laughter.) – Mr SHORE added that prisoner was a bad character. Alderman SIMPSON elicited from the master that it was easy for an inmate to abscond if he was so disposed.

Constable George LAWTON stated that at 5pm on Monday he was in Melbourne-street, when he saw the prisoner going towards Grosvenor-square. The officer spoke to Mr CROSSDALE (guardian), and learned that the man had no right to be out of the workhouse. Mr CROSSDALE questioned OWEN who admitted having “got over the wall for some bacca.”

Prisoner, who was very voluble and had repeatedly to be checked in the course of the hearing, now told the justices that his brother had said he could do no good with him, and that the workhouse was the best place for him. When I was working “they” would put onion leaves and other things in my tea, and played other tricks upon me. – Alderman SIMPSN: That has nothing to do with the offence with which you are charged.

Prisoner: I had no “bacca” and if I had got some I would have gone back. – Alderman SIMPSON: Don’t you know it is contrary to the regulations to leave the workhouse without leave? You might have gone where there is smallpox and taken the disease back. – Prisoner: I will not do it any more if you let me go back.

It was stated there existed already a series of convictions against prisoner (chiefly in Ashton), and he was sentenced to one month with hard labour. He was reminded by the chairman that if he repeated the offence he would in all probability be more severely dealt with.

Where they Tame Lions

At the Dukinfield Police Court on Thursday, before Messrs W E WOOD and J PICKUP, a man who gave his name as Patrick HEAHY, spectacle hawker, Oldham, was in the dock charged with being drunk and disorderly in Birch-lane on Wednesday. He pleaded guilty.

Superintendent CROGHAN said although the prisoner had pleaded guilty, he would like the Bench to hear some evidence. The prisoner was brought to the police station on Wednesday, close to one o’clock. He was violent, and refused to allow two constables to search him. He was searched, however, and subsequently complained of his elbows being hurt, and asked for a doctor to be called in. Thinking it possible he might have been injured in the struggle, inasmuch as he was very violent and necessitated two men to hold him, Dr PARK was called in.

He gave it as his opinion that the man’s elbow was somewhat hurt. He asked the doctor’s opinion as to how long since he considered the injury had been inflicted, and he replied it was at least 24 hours. The prisoner alleged it was the police that did it, but the doctor said that was impossible. There was no blame attached to the police, and if the prisoner was injured at all whilst in the hands of the police it was due to his own unreasonable violence whilst being searched and placed in the cells.

Constable KENNY was the called and stated that at 12.30 noon on Wednesday he was in Birch-lane and saw prisoner in the street opposite the New Inn. There were a number of people standing about, and the prisoner was wanting to fight. He was drunk, and witness spoke to him about his conduct, and then he threatened what he would do at him and refused to leave the road. Witness took him into custody and the he became very violent, but with assistance he was got to the police office.

Robert WARHAM, manager at the New Inn, said he saw the prisoner in the house, offering a pair of spectacles for sale. He had had some drink and was not fit to be served. He wanted to fight one of the men in the house and behaved like a madman.

In reply to the Bench prisoner, who now seemed calm and subdued, said he was a spectacle maker by trade, and at present resided in Oldham. When he got to the police station they closed the door, and one of the officers pulling off his overcoat said, “We tame lions here.”

Then the sergeant and another punced and knocked him about something cruel. The superintendent came and stopped them. He could not remember all was done; he was not very drunk, but they aroused his passion by their treatment.

Mr WOOD: That is a very serious statement to make against the police. – Prisoner: It is true, sir. My arm is hurt through the police officers twisting it, and the sergeant punced me in the ear (pointing out an injury).

Superintendent CROGHAN: There was no more violence used than necessary. – Prisoner: You were not there to see what was done until the last minute. Three of them were in the cell, and you made them go out. – Superintendent CROGHAN: It took three men to put you in the cell.

Constable KENNY said prisoner told them that four men could not put him in. – Mr WOOD: If you seriously charge the police. – Prisoner: I am not charging them at all. – Mr WOOD: If you think unnecessary violence has been used upon you I am prepared to adjourn the case to have you examined by a doctor and the whole matter inquired into.

Prisoner: I don’t want to say any more about it. – Mr WOOD: When a man is violent
the others cannot very well be gentle. When a man is under the influence of drink he is perhaps more violent than he otherwise would be, and assaults the police. Have you anything more to say? Prisoner: No, sir. – Mr WOOD: Do you know anything about him?

Superintendent CROGHAN: He is in possession of a pedlar’s certificate from the Metropolitan police which will expire next month. I communicated by telephone with the Oldham police, and he is not known at the address he gave. His wife is here.

Mr WOOD: We are quite satisfied you (prisoner) are guilty of being drunk and somewhat violent, and you may have suffered more at the hands of the police than otherwise you would have done had you not been so rough. We can hardly believe the police deliberately knocked you about in that way. – Prisoner: They did knock me about.

Mr WOOD: Perhaps they were obliged to, but I take it the magistrates are always anxious that the police should not unnecessarily knock any prisoner about because they know if there were anything of the sort done they would certainly make full enquiry of it. If you persist in saying they willfully knocked you about we will decide the case now, but fully inquire into it. We are satisfied you are guilty of having been drunk and disorderly, and fine you 2s 6d and costs, hoping it will be a warning to you. – Prisoner’s wife came forward and paid the money.

Our readers will learn with regret, and perhaps with no degree of surprise, that the Cockbrook Mill, belonging to Reyners Limited will be closed. The information is all the more to be regretted when it is remembered that only recently Mr HALLAM’s mill, in Delamere-street, was partly destroyed by fire, and very soon the Portland-street Mill will close its doors.

The Cockbrook Mill is an old concern and, as one of the heads said yesterday, “it has no chance with modern factories,” hence the decision to close. Several syndicates have already inspected the premises with a idea of using the mill for ring spinning instead of mule spinning; other prospective buyers have suggested the pulling down of the structure and rebuilding on the same site, whilst, still further, others have thought of taking over the mill as a going concern.

It is, in the event of the latter course not being resorted to, extremely likely that Reyners Limited will strip the mill of its best machinery and convey this to their larger concern, the Albion Mills,

There has been a desire expressed on the part of both the Ashton and Stalybridge Corporations to widen the road at the point near Cockbrook Mill, and should the premises be taken possession of by other employers this would form a valuable asset.

The mill is one of the oldest in the country, documents relating to it being in existence under the date of 1826. In this connection it might be of interest to state that Mr F REYNER, father of Councillor F REYNER, JP, was born in the year 1801, and came to this district from London as an infant.

Cockbrook Mill has been partially destroyed by fire on two occasions, and each time the premises have been enlarged and re-built. Fully 100 hands will be affected by the closing of the mill, which contains 20 pairs of mules and covers an area of 22,000 square yards.

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