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Southgate Pit Fatality - 1902 - Death of William Wright Driffill aged 21

Thanks to Colin Womble

Colin Womble - Southgate Pit Fatality - Death of William Wright Driffill, Aged 21

In Memory DriffillColin Womble
7 Oct 2018
Southgate Pit Fatality - Death of William Wright Driffill, Aged 21
Hello Fionn

I'm attaching another press report involving one of my ancestors which I hope you will find of interest.

Kind regards.



Clown and District

Derbyshire Courier 27 December 1902


On Friday Dr. A. Green conducted an inquiry at Clown into the circumstances of the death of William Wright Driffill aged 21 years, a married man residing at High St, Clown, who, whilst following his employment as a loader at the South gate pit of the Shireoaks Colliery Co, on Thursday, was instantaneously killed by a fall of bind, - Mr. Hepplewhite, assistant Inspector of Mines attended the inquest on behalf of the Home Office.

Evidence of identification was given by Samuel Driffill, of North Road, Clown, deceased's father, who said his son had worked for eight years at the Southgate pit.

George Womble, of Wombles’ Hill, Clown, deposed that he was a stallman of No. 19 stall at the Southgate pit. He had been a stallman for 15 years. About 6 o’clock on Thursday morning last he was at work in the gate along with three other men and the deceased, who was a loader. Witness was standing four or five yards from the coal face and was about to set a prop there. Deceased and another man named Casey were a couple of yards away and were engaged in clearing away some dirt that had fallen as a result of a shot fired the previous afternoon. A fall of bind occurred above them, Driffill being completely buried and Casey was covered with the exception of his head, arms and shoulders. The piece was 8 feet long, one foot wide and 14 inches thick. Casey, who was severely injured, was released in five minutes but Driffill was quite dead when got out directly afterwards. There was no timber under the fallen bind, it was taken away before the firing of the shot. Five props were removed altogether two of them from under the fall. The effects of the shot extended 5 feet and 8 inches.

William Rowsall, Wombles’ Hill, Clown, also employed in the stall named, gave evidence of a similar nature, and added that the deputy never advised or said anything about the setting of timber at the place.

John Ball, Ringer Terrace, Clown, the deputy, said he examined the stall at 3:20 a.m.  on Thursday. He noticed that a good deal of timber was withdrawn; more than was necessary. There were no props within four yards of the shot hole, and he considered it was wrong. He did not see the stall men before they commenced work that morning, and he did not make an entry in the report bock to that effect. He considered the roof was safe.

John Notley, stallman, Oxcroft, also gave evidence.

Mr. Hepplewhite said there was 81 square feet of roof unsupported.

On the recommendation of the jury the Coroner censured the three stallmen for failing to prop the roof before commencing work.

A verdict of “Accidental death” was returned.

The funeral took place on Sunday, the Rev. J. Waugh performing the ceremony. The streets were lined by a large and sympathetic crowd and following the chief mourners were a large number of friends, members of the Primitive Methodist Chapel and Liberal Club, with both of which deceased was closely identified. The coffin was covered with beautiful wreaths including one from the members of the Liberal Club. A reverent and crowded congregation was present at the service, in Church and at the graveside the Rector paid a kind and touching tribute to the character of the deceased, who was well respected and esteemed. The Rector said the deepest sympathy was felt for the widow and family in this trying hour. A sad feature of the occurrence was that the deceased had only been married five months. A letter of condolence was received by the widow from Mr. T. D. Bolton M.P. and Mr. Hoggard, General Manager of the Shireoaks Colliery personally condoled on behalf of the Directors.

See also Bob Bradley History of Mining