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Inquest Reports - Digby

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Digby Colliery

Inquest Reports From Newspapers - Re Digby Colliery Fatal Accidents

Nottinghamshire Guardian - Friday 07 August 1868

William Varley


On Monday, Mr Heath held an inquest at the Gate Inn, Awsworth, relative to the death of William Varley, a boy, who was killed in the Digby Colliery on the 10th of July by being run over with a waggon in a narrow way in the colliery. A verdict of “Accidental death” was returned in this case.

Nottingham Journal - Wednesday 03 January 1872

John Birks


On Monday morning an accident which has terminated fatally, happened at the Digby Colliery, in the parish of Greasley. A blacksmith named, John Birks, twenty eight years of age, was employed at some work near the top of the shaft, when a rope which passed over a wheel some height from the ground, and is worked by a horse was overstrained and leaving the groove of the wheel fell with great force on Birks, and felled him to the ground. He was removed to his own home at Kimberley and attended to by an assistant of Dr Forbes of Eastwood. But he died the same night. An inquest was held this morning. A verdict of “Accidental death” was returned.

Nottingham Evening Post - Thursday 21 November 1878

William Downes


On Wednesday Mr. D.W. Heath, District Coroner, held an inquest at the White Bull Inn, Greasley, upon the body of  William Downes, who was killed at the Digby Colliery on Tuesday last. Herbert Phillips under-ground manager at the colliery said the deceased was employed as head banksman, and was also engaged to send coal down the shaft of a pit which was used for the purpose of drawing up water and sending down materials. This shaft was occasionally used for the underviewer to go down to make inspections. Around the mouth of the pit a fence with movable bars was constructed, and it was the practice of the men before descending the shaft to lift up one of the bars in order to get on the cage. Witness saw the bar a few minutes after the accident, and it was then perfect, and in its proper position. Deceased had been employed at the work about six weeks. Charles Smith, living at Kimberley, deposed that he was the underviewer at the Digby Colliery and was working there at the time of the accident. About two o’ clock in the afternoon witness told the engine man that he wanted to go down the pit, and after getting on the cage he asked the deceased to take away the props upon which it rested. Deceased did so, after which witness gave the signal to go down. The deceased was not a proper person to act as head banksman, and that was the reason witness gave the signal at all. Witness was quite sure that the bars of the fence and the cage were in their proper place. After he had been in the pit one of the workmen told him that the rope attached to a cage in the shaft was broken and that something had dropped to the bottom, and on witness going to see what was wrong he found that the tram and the chair were broken and that the deceased was hanging by his arm. The deceased would have fallen a distance of about one hundred and twelve yards: he fell upon the cage which witness had used to descend.

Then witness said he did not tell the deceased he would keep the cage at the bottom of the pit, because he did not know how long he was going to stay down. Hebert Phillips being recalled stated that he engaged the man without consulting the owners of the pit, and that he had control over the surface as well as underground. William Smith said he was an engineer employed at the pit and was working there at the time of the accident. The witness Charles Smith told deceased  that he wanted to descend the shaft, but he would not be long down.  The deceased took away the props and witness lowered him down. There was no signal required to be given to lower the cage but witness let them down when told to do so. A few minutes before lowering Smith witness drew up an empty tram which was waiting to be filled. Witness afterwards found that the deceased had fallen down but could not say how it was done. Witness saw the fencing at the top of the shaft shortly after the accident and it was in its proper position. The Coroner in summing up remarked that the rules required that the mine should be properly fenced for the safety of the men. The rules also required that the banksman should be a thoroughly competent man, have control over every one working in the pit, and be the only one who should give signals for the working of the shaft when men are in it. In this case the deceased had only occupied that post for five weeks before that he was a labourer. In this instance the pit was used as a pumping shaft, and for sending down materials to the men. This was improper, as the men ought not to have gone down this shaft in the way they did, The jury in answer to several questions put by the Coroner returned a verdict of “Accidental death” they also desired to express their opinion that the pit was not properly fenced, that deceased was not a competent man to act as head banksman, and that the mechanical contrivance for signalling should be worked when the pit shaft in question was used as in the present case.

Nottingham Evening Post - Friday 17 September 1880

Emanuel Webster

Emanuel Webster

Yesterday afternoon Mr. D. Whittingham, Deputy District Coroner, opened an inquest at the Old White Bull Inn, Newthorpe, touching the death of Emanuel Webster, thirty nine years of age, who was killed at Digby Colliery of Tuesday night. William Webster, a miner identified the body as that of his brother. He was a collier working at the Digby Colliery, and lived at Ilkeston. The inquest was adjourned in order the case might be reported to the Government Inspector. The deceased was working near the bottom of the shaft, when a quantity of the roof or bind fell upon him.

Sheffield Independent - Monday 22 November 1880

Enos Leverton


On Friday evening an inquest was held at the Lord Raglan Inn, Newthorpe, near Ilkeston, relative the death of Enos Leverton, who died on Wednesday night, deceased was about thirteen years of age and employed at the Digby Colliery, and was engaged in driving laden trams of coal along one of the tramways. That day he was at his usual work when he was accidentally crushed against a doorway by a laden tram and much injured about the chest and head, he died shortly afterwards. The jury returned a verdict of “Accidentally killed”

Nottingham Journal - Saturday 20 November 1880

Yesterday afternoon Mr. Coroner, Whittingham, held an inquest at the Lord Raglan Inn, Newthorpe, respecting the death of Enos Leverton, aged about twelve years, who was killed in the Digby Colliery, Newthorpe, on the previous Wednesday. The Coroner observed the deceased, whose death they were summoned to inquire into, was a tram boy in the colliery. The Government Inspector of Mines for the district had informed him that he was unable to attend. He did not think however that it would be necessary to adjourn for his attendance, unless the jury were not satisfied with the evidence which would be given. Andrew Daykin, of Cotmanhay, a jigger in the colliery said his duty was to start the trams on the incline and to regulate their speed to the bottom. He did not know the deceased. Last Wednesday, about twelve o’ clock, he was in charge of three trams on the incline. Deceased worked close by him, and had to open and shut the door as the trams passed. They had not been properly blocked, which ought to have been done by a boy named Samuel Chambers. It was witness’s duty to see that the blocking was done, but on this occasion Chambers had not the time to do that. He was just about to do that when witness was putting a locker in when the prop gave way and the trams went on down the incline to where the deceased worked. They would go near the door. Witness whistled and shouted to the deceased so that he might get out of the way. Chambers went to the door and called witness when he found deceased was fast by the door near the roadway. His head was badly crushed. He could not speak. Death ensued the same evening. As to the likelihood of the soft coal running over the hard being the cause of the accident, Witness had known a shaft iron to break on that incline, though no accident occurred. Witness had been used to the incline for six months. There were five or six safety places for boys on the incline. The cause of the accident was the wooden prop giving way. Mr. Phillips, representing the company: Witness had not been cautioned to bring in only one tram at a time. They were bringing in two at once. Samuel Chambers, deposed to turning his horse on the incline at the time of the accident when Daykin called. Look out the trams are coming. Witness got out of the way and went to see if deceased was safe but received no response to his inquiry. He was behind the door and severely injured on the head. John Syson, contractor, did not see the accident, but saw deceased afterwards. He had never been asked for lockers for the past five weeks. There were plenty about, and if the boys were short, they could have been supplied at once. A bell was put up as a signal, though it had not been used regularly. It was a habit to shout or whistle. Sarah Ann Leverton, sister of the deceased said that the deceased had worked at the colliery for a week, she had not heard him make any complaint. After the Coroner had reviewed the evidence the jury returned a verdict to the effect that deceased was “Accidentally killed” but they recommended that self-acting blocks be used on the incline instead of those employed thereon.

Nottingham Evening Post - Friday 02 September 1892

Joseph Hind


The District Coroner, Mr. Whittingham, conducted an inquiry at the Digby Colliery Offices, Kimberley, yesterday into the circumstances relating to the death of Joseph Hind, who was fatally injured at the colliery on Tuesday morning, August 30th. Mr. J. A. H. Green appeared on behalf of the relatives of the deceased, and Mr. W. Bailey, agent for the Miners Association, Mr. Stokes. Inspector of Mines was also present, and Mr. Granville Chambers, general manager at the colliery submitted a plan of the pit and the workings where the accident occurred. Sarah Hind, when depositions were taken at her home stated that the deceased was her husband aged thirty three years. He had been employed at the Digby Colliery for about two months. Deceased had told witness that he and the deputy did not get on very well together, but he did not make any complaint with regard to anyone. William Wilkinson, of Watnall, father in law of the deceased, who wished to give evidence said the deceased had complained to him on several occasions about the deputy. He had never said the deputy gave him the most dangerous work. Alfred Chambers, a miner, of Awsworth, stated that he had been working in company of the deceased on the roads timbering for the past month. Last Tuesday they were at work on the lower plane cleaning up the roads near the refuge holes. Charles Saxton came and fetched him from the bottom of the plane and told him some poles had fallen. When he got to the place he found two bars had sprung. He and the deceased made them right again and deceased examined the bottom side and witness the top side to see that they were safe. Deceased said he believed they were all safe, and they began to shift what had fallen. Whist they were so employed some more sprang out, and the roof which the bars had supported came down and caught the deceased, knocking him to the floor. The bind struck the deceased on the head, and he died a few minutes afterwards. About twelve feet of earth fell at first and directly afterwards nearly twelve feet more came down. Witness was only yards off deceased when he was hurt. Two other men named John Chambers and Arthur Kersley, who were standing close by were also struck by the roof which gave way. He considered the roof was perfectly safe to work under when he examined it a few minutes before.  He was employed in timbering the roof at the spot where the bind fell and finished the work on Sunday night. No blasting had been done anywhere near the spot where the accident happened. Witness thought the accident was brought about by the soft coal going over the hard coal and the slip below. By Mr Green: The deputy visited them three times during the night, deceased was not a very smart man at his work although he was chargeman. He was subject to the orders of witness when there was any timbering to be done. They were not tied for time when they were timbering, and if they found any other dangerous places they were supposed to have them seen to. The deceased had charge of the road cleaning on that particular night. Several times during witnesses evidence persons in the room answered the questions put to him. Mr. Bailey, said he thought the questions asked by Mr. Green, ought to be answered by the witness himself and not by those present. The Coroner, concurred, and ordered the witness to answer for himself, and not by those present. Witness, continuing said although the two bars had slipped he still thought the roof safe to work under. Joseph Shore, New Awsworth, deputy at the colliery said he examined the place where the accident happened although his attention had not been particularly called to the spot. Altogether he examined the roof three times before the accident and once afterwards. When he heard deceased had been hurt he hurried up and helped the men extricate him from the debris. He had had a few words with the deceased when he was first employed at the  colliery as to the way he had done some work and reported him, he had been on good terms since, He corroborated the evidence of Mr. Chambers, as to the likelihood of the soft coal running over the hard being the cause of the accident.

Nottingham Evening Post - Friday 02 November 1900

Joseph Ince


Joseph Ince, aged sixty five years, Labourer of Newthorpe, Greasley, was killed yesterday whilst at work at the mortar Mill in the Digby pit yard belonging to the Digby Colliery Company. It appears that about 11:45 a.m. on November 1st he was in the act of putting a belt on a pulley, when it slipped and pinned him against a wall. Dr. Taylor was called but Ince died shortly afterwards.

Nottinghamshire Guardian - Saturday 10 November 1900

An inquest was held at the Digby Institute on Saturday by Mr. E. Williams, Deputy Coroner on Saturday respecting the death of Joseph Ince, aged sixty five, labourer of Newthorpe, who met his death in the mortar mill in the Digby Colliery Companies yard. Mr. F. W. Walker, manager of the company and Mr. F. J. Parks, Factory Inspector, were present. William Widdison, of Awsworth, joiner, employed by the company, said on the previous morning deceased called to him to give a lift to put the belt on the pulley. Witness went to assist as he had done so on previous occasions. He was pulling at the fly wheel to enable deceased to put the belt on. The steam had been left on, though it ought to have been shut off. The belt must have been partly on, and with the steam being on the machine started before Ince could get out of the way. He was found with his head on the brickwork and his right leg on the pulley. He helped to get the deceased out, being badly crushed about the face and neck. Mr. Walker, said that deceased was the sole manager of the machine. Mr. Parks. said that there was a box fixed round the pulley to keep people from going too near it. It seemed to him that deceased had gone through a hole in the box to the pulley. The proper way was through another door not through the box. Richard Hadder, of Awsworth, labourer corroborated the last witness’s evidence, and Thomas Booth, joiner of Kimberley, said he heard the deceased call, and asked Widdison what was the matter, Widdison replying that Ince was fast in the pulley. After nearly a quarter of an hours deliberation the jury returned a verdict of “Accidental death”.

Nottingham Evening Post - Monday 28 January 1901

Henry Horton

Inquest-Henry Horton

At the General Hospital this afternoon an inquiry was held by the City Coroner, Mr. C.L. Rothera, relative to the death of Henry Horton, twenty nine,  a banksman, of Awsworth, who was fatally injured at Digby Colliery on New Year’s Day.  Mr. Hepplewhite, Inspector of Mines, was present at the inquiry which was also attended by Mr. J. A.H. Green, on behalf of the relatives. Sarah Camm, sister of the deceased, stated that her brother told her that he was going between the trucks to get the numbers, and just as he was going through the shunter let down the truck. Deceased did not blame the shunter. Jim Parks, of Giltbrook, a shunter said on January 1st he was engaged at Digby Colliery, in removing three trucks under the screens. They were filled one at a time, and when one was filled it was run out. Two had been filled and the third was under the screens. Horton was engaged in taking the number of the trucks. Witness heard deceased call out, “Hold on” and found that he was caught between the buffers of the second and third trucks which witness was shunting, There was only fifteen inches between the two trucks. Witness had no idea that deceased was passing through. Dr. C.H. Allen, assistant house physician, at the General Hospital, stated that deceased was admitted on the 13th suffering from gangrene of the leg, which was amputated, and subsequently from septicaemia and pleurisy, of which he died on the 25th instant. A verdict of “Accidental death” was returned.

Nottingham Evening Post - Monday 23 March 1903

John Hearson


The Nottingham City Coroner, Mr. C. L. Rothera, held an inquest at the Hyson Green Mortuary this afternoon, on the body of John Hearson, aged twenty one years, a general labourer residing at Gedling Road, Arnold, who died on Friday at the Nottingham General Hospital.  Mr. Hepplewhite, Inspector of Mines, attended and there were also present, Mr North, of Messrs Green and Williams, on behalf of the relatives of the deceased, Mr. O. Hind, solicitor for the Digby Colliery Company, and Mr. W. Walker, manager at the colliery. Eliza Hearson mother of the deceased said that her son had resided with her. He was employed as a banksman at the Digby Colliery. Jackson Brown, of Kimberley, a wagon repairer, stated that he was at the Digby pit, on Friday last. He saw the deceased at work, shunting. He would be continually moving about the yard, altering the points and occasionally coupling. Deceased’s method of getting about the yard was to ride on a brake stick, which was wedged to a truck between the connecting rod and the lever. Witness did not see the accident happen. The brake stick could easily be removed. This deceased would do that after jumping off. Deceased fixed this stick into the truck whilst it was in motion; It was going at the rate of about five miles an hour. The stick would be about eighteen inches from the ground. A man sitting on it would make it more secure. By Mr. Hepplewhite: It was the first time that he had seen deceased ride on a stick. James Cudworth, of Digby Villas, head shunter, at the colliery, deposed that deceased was helping him in shunting. He had done this for several days, but deceased was not a regular shunter. Witness did not see in what manner deceased got from the weighing house to the points, which were some distance away. It was an uphill gradient to the points, where the trucks were sent on to the Great Northern Railway, or on to the Midland. Witness did not see the accident. It was a common practice for shunters to ride on the brake-sticks. Witness was the first to see deceased lying on the ground, but no part of the body was on the metals. Witness at first did not think he had been run over.

He was removed to the Nottingham General Hospital, where he died the same afternoon. Mr. Hepplewhite: deceased could have ridden on the engine if he had liked, but this was almost as risky as riding on a brake-stick, as he would have to jump off at the points. George Smith, of Main Street, Awsworth, said he was the driver of the engine at the colliery on Friday morning. He did not see deceased riding on a brake-stick.

The shunter generally rode on the engine with witness, and jumped off when he reached the points. This was not a dangerous practice; all wagons were not fixed with the same kind of brake. Witness had warned deceased about riding on the brake-stick on the morning of the accident, as he was not accustomed to it. There was a written rule against riding on this stick in the engine shed. Mr. Walker: This was only put up after the accident had occurred. The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental death”, blaming no one, with a recommendation that the authorities should enforce the rule that men should not ride on the brake-stick.