Mexborough and Swinton Times January 27, 1928
Gale Mishap at Houghton Main Colliery.
That his death was due indirectly to the gale was the supposition, formed at an inquest at Wesleyan schools, Darfield, on Monday, on William Campbell Smith (45), by product worker, West Street, Darfield, who was killed on the by-product plant at Houghton Main Colliery on Friday.
Smith met a shocking death, through being trapped between a pulley connected with a conveyor and an iron girder. His head was practically severed from his body. He had lost a leg through wounds received in the war, during which period he served with the London Scottish regiment.
The inquest was conducted by Mr. C. J. Haworth, the District Coroner, and there were present T. C. C. Plumbe, H.M. Inspector of factories; Mr. S. E. Buckley, representing the Houghton Main Colliery Co.; and Mr T. W. Illisley, representing the Houghton Main Branch of the Yorkshire Mine Workers’ Association. A jury had been empanelled.
Evidence of identification was given by the widow and by the deceased’s brother.
Wilfred Perrin, a conveyor attendant of 11 Dearne Street, Great Houghton, explained that he and Smith were attending a conveyor on which coke was being raised. About 11.50 a.m., the work was proceeding as usual when witness heard a shout and, turning round quickly, he saw that smith had been caught.
” The wheel on the conveyor,” said witness, had caught Smith under the chin and was tearing his head off. The conveyor wheel had jammed his head against an upright iron girder.” Witness stopped the conveyor as quickly as possible, and looking at Smith again the saw that his head was hanging off. Witness explained that the top belt of the conveyor would be about on a level with Smith’s face and the lower belt on a level with his chest. At the time he saw Smith he was simply watching the conveyor.
The Coroner : How do you account for his getting into that position?
Witness: There was a very high wind blowing at the time, sir, and I think he stumbled and the wind caught him of his balance. He had fallen between the girder and the wheel and he had no chance to pull his head out before he got trapped.
Tito coroner : There was no means of his getting fast in the ordinary way of working?
Witness: No, air, not unless he slipped or something like that.
The coroner : Had it occurred to you that a man was in any real danger in working this conveyor? – No, sir.
Witness explained U10; Smith had an artificial leg.
The Coroner : An artificial leg would make it difficult for him to get about would it not?
Witnee6 : No, sir. He could get about as well as any other man,
Lawrence Woodcock, coke screen driver; 103 Birkwood Avenue. Darfield Road, Cudworth., said when he heard Smith shout he threw the machinery out of action immediately.
Asked by the Coroner if he could account for the accident. Woodcock said. “I think the wind caused it.” Witness added top that be did not think the fact that Smith had an artificial leg had anything to do-with the accident.
In reply to the Coroner. Mr. C. C. Plumb said it was not a very-obvious danger, but the place might be screened a bit more. There were very few accidents under similar conditions.
The deceased’s brother asked if the place upon which Smith was standing was secure, and the Coroner observed that it apparently way safe. He added “We have been told that there is no obvious danger about this place. It is not like a case of unfenced machinery or anything of that kind. This belt moves very slowly. If he had fallen against the belt and the upright had not been there he would not have been trapped.
The Coroner An id it was very windy on the day of the accident. He had cause to remember it becaus found he found it very difficult to make people hear as they were motoring.
Charles Knowles, .an ambulance attendant at the colliery, said Smith’s neck was to cut right through and was only hanging by skin. His up artificial leg was intact and there were no other mark on the body. He knew the deceased person and he could say that although he had an artificial leg he was very nimble.
The Coroner : So far as I can see the only possible way to prevent accidents of this kind is to put something against the upright
Mr. Plumbe : It is very difficult not to introduce another “trap ” in that way.
Returning a verdict of “Death by misadventure,” the Coroner said he had no doubt that if anything could be done the Inspector would follow it up.
Mr: T. W. Illsley expressed sympathy with the widow and relatives on behalf of the workmen of Houghton Main. He said it was a very sad thing that Smith should lose a -leg in serving his country, during the war and then return, to industry and sacrifice his life in, that way. He was a quiet well mannered man, respected as a citizen and esteemed as a workman.
M.r. S. E. Buckley expressed similar sentiments on behalf of the colliery company.