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1913 ACCIDENT AT SILVERWOOD

A tribute to the men involved

By Geoff Illsley

 

 My original reason for looking for your Silverwood website was that I was looking for some details of an accident there. My wife’s great grandfather Thomas Harris (1867-1913) and his son Rowland (1895-1913) were killed together in an accident at Silverwood. I have today (Saturday) received, from Brenda’s Aunt the full story including copies of their death certificates and a copy of the account of the accident and inquest from the Rotherham Advertiser. Unfortunately the copy is in pretty poor condition and if I scanned it and emailed it to you it would be difficult to read. I have therefore transcribed the article word for word.


The story tells of one of the many sad events at Silverwood.

Geoff Illsley



THREE MEN KILLED BY FALL OF ROOF
FULL INQUEST STORY
SOME QUESTIONS ON METHODS OF TIMBERING


A heavy fall of roof occurred at the Silverwood Pit on Thursday morning, three workmen being killed instantaneously. Their names are:-
Thomas Harris (42), contractor, Dalton Brook, married
Roland Harris (18), pony driver, Dalton Brook, single
Peter Oakes (41), stoneman, 14 Dalton Lane, married

The Harrises, who stand in the relationship of father and son were together with Oakes and a stoneman named Thomas Bagley of 36 Dalton Lane, engaged in “dinting” operations near the stables in the Hooton district of the mine at the  time of the accident, shortly before eight o’clock. The three men were buried by a heavy fall, which came without warning.


Bagley, very fortunately, was some distance away, having gone for a tub. He heard the crash, and returning found his workmates covered with a large stone estimated to weigh between ten and twelve tons. Help was summoned, and the men were quickly extricated. They were found to be dead, and the bodies removed to the surface and conveyed to their respective homes. The disaster created a profound impression in the Dalton district and general sympathy was expressed with the relatives of the deceased. After the accident work in the mine ceased for the day.


THE INQUEST


The inquest was held yesterday afternoon in the Grapes Inn, Dalton Brook, by the District Coroner, Mr J Kenyon Parker. There were present Mr H A Abbott, HM Inspector of Mines; Mr W H Ball manager at Silverwood; Mr Herbert Smith, president Yorkshire Miners’ Association; Mr J Hoslin treasurer; and Mr Harry Green, official of local branch, who represented the relatives of the deceased.


Elizabeth Ann Harris said her husband, who worked as contractor at the Silverwood Pit, went to work on Thursday morning together with their son Roland, who worked as a pony driver for his father. They were brought home dead about twelve o’clock the same day.


Sarah Oakes gave similar evidence in respect to her husband, Peter Oakes.


Thomas Bagley, stoneman, was next called. He said he had worked at the Silverwood Colliery for about twelve months. He had twelve years experience of pit work. The man in charge on Thursday morning was Thomas Harris, and they were proceeding with some work on the underground stables, which place they reached at about 6:45. The deputy came about half an hour later.

As near as he could say, the fall occurred at about twenty minutes to eight, stone from the roof burying the three men. Thomas Harris was got out at 8:30 and Roland Harris a quarter of an hour later. Oakes being extricated about nine o’clock. The weight of the stone which fell would be from ten to twelve tons, and the three men would be killed instantly. Witness had gone away to fetch a dirt box, leaving the place about 13 minutes before the fall occurred. After they started work Tom Harris examined the roof with his pick and it sounded all right, and afterwards it was again examined by two deputies, who came at different times. The place had not been on weight that morning and there had been no bumps, neither had there been any shots fired. No timber had been drawn while he was there.

Explaining what was meant by “dinting” the work they had been employed at during the morning he said it was getting the floor up. They had  18 inches of coal and 24 inches of “muck” to get up. He did not think it would loosen the timber, as it was not near the props. He could not account for the fall, and though he looked at the place after the accident, could not give an opinion. The place was properly timbered. The deputies made no complaints and did not give any orders. The road was of rock, and he considered it better than bi*d.


Replying to the Inspector, he said the “dinting” was not done near the timber but in the stall. Up to the time of the accident not much “dinting” had been done, and he did not think a quarter of a tub had been got out. Harris was a careful and experienced man.
Questioned by Mr Smith, witness  said under the circumstances he would not expect the  deputy to order a prop to be set on the coal.


Phillip William Hutton, of Silverwood Cottages, said he had been a deputy at Silverwood Colliery for four years and his total pit experience extended over fifty years. He was in the pit when the fall occurred, and immediately went to the place. He saw Roland Harris and Oakes got out. Witness was at the place shortly before seven o’clock and  tried the roof with his stick. It sounded hard. He found the timber all right and there was no necessity for any more to insert. Speaking of the cause of the fall, he said there was slip going up the centre of the stall which was not perceptible before the accident. He could not see that there was any other cause.
Examined by the Inspector, he said he did not speak to the men about setting temporary supports , nor did he think it was necessary. There was timber in the place. He told the men to get the dirt from behind the wood, and the work would last them all day.


Answering the manager, witness said the “dinting” would come close enough to one of the props as to cause undermining. The roof looked perfectly plain before the fall, without any sign of slip.
Questioned by Mr Smith, he said that as soon as they began to disturb the coal it would be likely to undermine the props. Asked if he did not think it his duty to order temporary supports to be set before anybody interfered with the coal, he said there was no doubt that he would have done so but before he came back again it would take men all their time to get the dirt away from behind the wood.


Lawrence Wadsworth, horsekeeper, Bramley Park, said he was at the top end of the stable when he heard the fall. He could not see what the men were doing before the accident.


Mr William Henry Ball, certificated manager at Silverwood Colliery, said he went down the mine after the accident and made an inspection of the place. The slip in the roof was the chief cause of the fall. He thought the timber was affected by the getting of the coal. He did not think the slip would be visible before the accident.
In answer to the Inspector, he said he was aware that the roof was false bedded and rather apt to come away. In the light of this accident he preferred and intended to use bars in substitution for the “lids”.


Mr Smith sought to obtain an expression of opinion from the Inspector, remarking that they wanted to do their best to avoid such accidents. The Inspector said he would take the matter up with Mr Ball with a view to the adoption of safer methods if such were possible.
The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental death”.


********


The death certificates date the accident as 25 September 1913 at Silverwood Colliery Dalton. The cause of death for both Thomas and Rowland was “Accidentally killed (fractured of skull and other injuries) by a fall of roof in Silverwood Colliery in the Township of Dalton“.

 

© 1913 Rotherham Advertiser

Article transcribed by Geoff Illsley 2008

Formatted on this page by John Doxey 2008

 

 



 

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