The Amble and District Mining Memorial
|CAMPBELL William Athey||1937|
|HEGGARTY Ian Arthur||1986|
William Athey CAMPBELLDied 22 November 1937
Aged 16 years, of Beacon Road, Hampeth. Buried St James’, Shilbottle, 25 November 1937
Morpeth Herald, 10 December 1937
Coroner Hugh J. Percy conducted the inquest which was held in Alnwick Courthouse, and was on William Athey Campbell (16 ½), of 18 Beacon Road, Hampeth.
Others present were Mr C. S. Anderson (manager), representing the C. W. S., the owners of the colliery; Mr T. A. Rogers, Mines Inspector; and Ald. W. Golightly, representing the Northumberland Miners’ Federation.
The coroner remarked these inquiries (into mine fatalities) were possibly amongst the most important a Coroner’s Court had to investigate. The jury had to satisfy themselves on behalf of the public that in this very dangerous vocation of mining there had been no breach of the regulations for safety or otherwise.
“Or it may be a question of personal negligence on the part of anyone in the mine, including, of course, the deceased himself,” added Mr Percy.
Deceased, William Athey Campbell, was employed at Whittle Colliery, and on the day of the accident, November 22nd, he was crushed by a runaway tub, and sustained injuries from which he subsequently died in Alnwick Infirmary.
John Pigg, 14 York Crescent, Alnwick, a set-runner employed at Whittle Colliery, where he had been 19 years, said that it was the custom at the end of the shift to come back to bank on the empty tubs. The men sat in the tubs, three to each tub, and were hauled up. The signal to haul was given by a push on the bell. It was his duty to give the signal.
On this particular day, November 22, at 3.30 p.m., after the tubs had stopped a little way above the stop-lock, he took the chock off the points, to allow the tubs to come down to rest.
“I then gave the signal. I heard the set leave the mark, and then I sensed a difference in the sound. I thought there was something wrong. The tubs travelled very slowly from the lock about walking pace, and I suppose that I heard the tubs coming over the joint faster than usually.”
“I paused a while, then shouted “Look out!” and jumped up the north side.”
Coroner: You came to the conclusion it was a runaway set coming down? – Yes, the tubs must have jumped the points.
Did you know the deceased lad was emerging from the north side? – No, I never saw him prior to the accident.
Pigg said that shortly afterwards he heard the tub crash against the wall.
Coroner: Do you think your shout would be heard or would it be drowned by the noise of the oncoming runaway? – I could not say.
Pigg said that after the tub had crashed he went back and found deceased lying in front of it, unconscious.
Replying to the Mines Inspector, Pigg described the safety precautions taken to prevent runaways.
The Mines Inspector: Since this accident has there been any alteration in respect of the fifth-north landing men?
Pigg: Yes, the men are kept back at the in-by end. A chain is put across to stop them coming through. They are not allowed to pass that chain except with my authority, when the set is safe.
Pigg agreed that a new type of coupling which was being used, with a cross-piece, was safer than the old type.
Replying to Mr Anderson, Pigg said that this was the first accident of that character there that he had known, and it was the first fatality there for the 19 years he had been there.
Answering Ald. Golightly, witness said that Campbell was quite in order in being where he was.
Ald. Golightly suggested that the whole set of tubs should be connected up with a chain, which would prevent any additional breakaway.
Mr Rogers said that this was compulsory by law when men were riding in the tubs, but on this particular gradient it had been decided to have a chain on when the tubs were coming down empty as well.
Roland Coxon Thompson (16), of 10 Newton-on-the-Moor, a set-runner at Whittle, said that he and two other boys were standing near the bell push. Campbell was further in-by.
“I heard the coupling chain rattling on the way, and I heard the noise of a tub coming towards me. I heard the tub crash into the wall three or four yards from me.”
George Harrison, under manager at the colliery, gave evidence of inspecting the scene of the accident afterwards. The tub was quite in order, but the buffers at each end were broken. The points which it had jumped were all right.
It was possible, he said, that as this tub was coming to rest it had come up against a stone. The other tubs crowding behind might have slackened the chain and released the tub.
Harrison said that the old type of coupling was being brought into line with the more modern type by having cross-pieces fitted. He thought that would be a sufficient check to prevent any similar accident.
Addressing the jury the Coroner remarked he thought they would agree with the theory which the under manager had put forward as to what had happened. It would be to their satisfaction to hear of the additional precautions which the management had inaugurated, and were in course of carrying out, as quickly as the work could be done.
“Coupled with that satisfaction you will be also satisfied that so far as legal requirements are concerned nothing has been left undone in the way of safety precautions. At the time of the accident this boy was obeying orders which then maintained. The management have now taken the precaution of putting a chain, beyond which the men are not permitted to go.”
The jury returned a verdict of death by misadventure.
On behalf of all present the Coroner expressed to the bereaved father heartfelt sympathy at his sad loss, and Mr Anderson, on behalf of the colliery company, endorsed these remarks.”
~Died 18 October 1946
|Aged 37 years, of 12 Beacon Road, Hampeth. Buried St James’, Shilbottle, 21 October 1946.|
~Died 13 February 1948
|Screener, aged 49 years, of 4 Fallodon Avenue, Shilbottle.|
Morpeth Herald, 27 February 1948
“The cause of a screener’s death when he was trimming coal on a railway waggon at Hampeth Colliery, near Newton-on-the-Moor, was commented on as a rarity at an inquest held at Alnwick on Friday by Mr H. J. Percy.
The deceased was George Graham (49), a married man who lived at 4 Fallodon Avenue,
Shilbottle and was employed on the coal screens at Hampeth Colliery
until he met with an accident on Friday, February 13, by falling through
the bottom of a railway wagon among small coal, which suffocated him.
The verdict was one of “accidental death, the result of a door at the bottom of a coal wagon falling open.”
Ernest Forster Mavin, surface foreman at Whittle (or Hampeth) Colliery, living at Elmfield Terrace, Hampeth, said that about 8.15 a.m. on the day of the accident he was told that a man was filling a railway wagon with the bottom down. That was rather startling and he went down to see what had occurred. He found that some of the small coal had shot through the open door, and among it he saw the foot of a man.
Another man said to him: “That is George’s foot.” He was taken out and respiration was tried. As they removed the coal from below, more fell down. The deceased was employed as a trimmer on this wagon and used a shovel. He got on top of the wagon to trim the coal, so that the wagon could be filled to its proper weight. No-one saw this accident happen.
Men thus employed on wagons looked after their doors and pins for the purpose of seeing that they were safe and that an accident of this kind did not happen. The deceased was a man of long experience and was a grand worker.
“I have never known a door to fly open like this before,” he said. “I have been 27 years on the job and we have filled over 40,000 wagons.”
Witness also stated that the hole where the pin that held the door went into was to a certain extent worn and the pin had a bit play, which made it easier for the pin to move. The pin must have come out of one hole and was held by the other. That was the reason the door flew open. It would be dark when the deceased made his customary examination of the door fastening but lamps were provided.
John A. Clapperton, of Newton-on-the-Moor, employed at Whittle Colliery as a screener, said that his attention was called to the doors of one of the wagons at the screens being open. When he got on his hands and knees to look under the wagon, he saw boots. He got a shovel and tried to get the body clear, and his mate went for help.
Alfred Arthur Dunn, screen engineman, of 7 Howick Street, Alnwick, having given evidence, Stanley J. Mustard, of Gosforth, District Inspector of carriages and wagons for the Railway Executive, said he examined this 20-ton wagon on which the accident occurred. The pin when pushed back was only in one hole. It was difficult to see how that occurred without someone interfering with it. They had a lot of trouble from people getting into colliery sidings and dropping the doors down to steal coal if any was left in a wagon. It was the place of the trimmer to examine his door and see his locking device was in position.
The coroner asked if the pin could not have been through the second hole when deceased got on to the wagon.
“I am afraid so; it has been through only one hole and it is quite possible for the deceased to have missed seeing it,” replied the witness. As the wagon stood now, with the pin through both holes, it was as tight as could be.
Mr J. G. Charlton, manager of the colliery, informed the coroner that the men were going to get electric cap lamps so that they could see in all directions with their hands free.The coroner expressed approval of this. He said that the responsibility for seeing the safety of the bottom door – a potential danger – lay with the trimmer himself. They had evidence that if the examination was effectually carried out and the locking pin was through both holes, then it was physically impossible for this pin to come out of its position with the vibration in the process of trimming and for the door to fly open. Whatever the cause, it seemed to be an almost irrefutable deduction that somehow or other the deceased man had not noticed the pin being out of the left hand hole. The monkey tail would appear to him to be in the correct position, and it was just that little fraction of an inch which had made all the difference between safety and danger. The jury might be satisfied to bring in a verdict of “Death by misadventure, as the result of the door accidentally falling open.”
The jury returned a verdict accordingly.”
|Of Amble, aged 28 years.|
~Died 18 November 1938
|Aged 33 years, of New Row, Alnwick. Buried Alnwick Cemetery, 21 November 1938.|
Morpeth Herald, 9 December 1938
“A 14 years old boy employee at Whittle Colliery, near Alnwick, described at an Alnwick inquest on Friday how, after getting a signal to stop a tub, there was silence. The man who had given the signal was found pinned between the tilted tub and the roof, with his neck broken.
The inquest was on James Hutchinson (33), of New Row, Alnwick, a helper-up at Whittle Colliery. The accident occurred in the colliery on November 18th.
Mr Hugh J. Percy, Coroner for North Northumberland, conducted the inquest. There were present Mr T. A. Rogers, H.M. Inspector of Mines; Mr C. S. Anderson (manager), representing the C.W.S., the owners of the colliery; and Mr F. J. MacDonald, representing the Northumberland Miners’ Federation.
The Coroner read the report of the two workmen who had inspected the scene of the accident, stating: “In our opinion the accident was caused by deceased resting on the tub to reach over and put on a token. It appears that the tub ended up owing to his weight and then dropped off the way, the fore-end catching his neck between the tub and the roof. In our opinion death was accidental.”
Edward Anderson, surveyor at the colliery, gave evidence that about 1 p.m. on November 18 he was in the district (where the accident occurred) putting lines on.
“I had gone down to see the bottom man of all, and when I got to number three tub I could see the tub standing. It was off the way with its front wheels. I could see the lad hanging over the end of the tub.”
“I shouted to see if he was all right, but got no reply. I went forward and lifted the tub up and he fell the other way. Deceased was penned in between the lifted rear end of the tub and the roof. I could see that his head was hanging down.”
The Coroner observed: “As you know now, his neck was broken; happily, his death was instantaneous.”
Anderson told the Coroner that it was a single empty tub, and its weight was not sufficient to go down with the rope, it had to be pushed. When he got to this place, deceased would probably look over to see where the token was. That may have lifted the tub, and when he leant over, the tub slipped.
Coroner: Was there any flaw in the way at all to account for this slip?
Witness: No, everything was quite normal.
Coroner: What accounted for the tub leaving the way with the front wheels?
Witness: Probably the weight of the lad, pushing sideways, and at the same time putting the brake on.
The Mines Inspector asked: “Is it your theory that whilst he was looking inside the tub, to see where the token was, he perhaps may have put a little weight on the back-end, which would cause the fore-end to drop off the way altogether?”
And what effect would that have on the rear-end? – It would send it up at least six inches.
Sufficient to crush him between the tub and the roof? – Yes.
Mr MacDonald suggested that deceased’s weight might have been just sufficient to lift the flanges of the wheels, and witness agreed.
Replying to Mr Anderson (manager), witness said that hundreds of thousands of such tubs were handled in the year, and this was the first accident he had known.
Alan Fisher (14), hauler driver, gave evidence that he was in control of the drum around which the wire rope was wrapped, to which the tub was attached. At the time of the accident the tub was going down the incline, and deceased was behind, pushing it. Witness saw deceased before the tub started the journey, and he did not say anything.
“I got one rap, to stop, and I put the brake on the drum. After the first signal, there was silence, no other signal. When I did not get the signal to start again I began to wonder, then Mr Anderson came out, and I knew something had happened.”
Replying to the Mines Inspector, Fisher said that the one rap was a proper rap, the ordinary signal. It was usual to get a stop signal when the tub was in that particular place.
Mr MacDonald suggested that an electric bell signal might be better than the rapper wire.
Charles L. Brookbanks, surveyor, gave evidence that he was sitting next to Fisher, and was there when the signal came through to stop. Fisher stopped the drum at once, promptly on the signal.
Replying to Mr Anderson, Brookbanks said that the signal from the rapper was louder than from an electric bell, and there was less likelihood of it getting into trouble.“Apart from our expression of regret and deep sympathy with the relatives, we cannot take it any further,” the Coroner told the jury. “It is comforting to have the evidence of Mr Brookbanks, which removes any question regarding the boy Alan Fisher. He was definitely there, and is able to satisfy you amply that the boy was attending to his duties, and that it was not any neglect or fault on his part that could have contributed in any way to this sad accident.”
“I think you can be perfectly satisfied that it must have been due to one of the possible explanations given. Deceased gave the signal to stop, and it must have been very shortly after that, while the tub was stopped, that something must have happened to it, because if it had jumped the way while in motion he could not have given any signal.”
“While he was doing something to the tub, in the course of his employment, the front wheel slipped off the rails, the tub tilted up immediately, and he was caught in the neck.”
“With hundreds of thousands of tubs operating in the year, and this the first accident, that does not point to any defect, beyond that inevitable risk of coincidence which is bound from time to time, in spite of every human precaution, to occur in the dangerous work of a mine. There is nothing we can suggest in this case by way of any recommendation for greater safety.”
The jury recorded a verdict of “Death by Misadventure.”
Mr Anderson, on behalf of the Company and himself, expressed sympathy with the relatives.
Mr Percy said: “Everyone in this Court desires to be associated with that message of sympathy to those who are bereaved.””
~Died 20 May 1938
|Aged 27 years, of 17A, Narrowgate, Alnwick. Buried Alnwick Cemetery, 23 May 1938 “killed at Whittle Colliery.”|
Morpeth Herald, 27 May 1938
“An inquest is to be held at Alnwick today (Friday) on William Neal (27), stoneman, 17A Narrowgate, Alnwick, who was killed in a fall of stone at Whittle Colliery last Friday night. The inquest was opened on Monday and adjourned until today.”