Friday, 5 August 2016

Week 31: Crewe Works Fatality

It is sort of funny, in a weird way, how much time a family historian spends reading or searching for obituaries.  We can learn a lot from them.  You would normally see the deceased’s age at death, when they died and the survivors.  We could also possibly find out a little more about the deceased person, their interests, their hobbies and any club affiliations.

So I was truly surprised to find a full inquest into the death of one in our tree along with who all went to the funeral.  From a purely historical angle, it was also interesting to read how the inquest and the funeral proceeded.

  The Inquest is a tad graphic – you have been warned!

Nantwich Guardian Friday October 15, 1915

Crewe Works Fatality   Collapse of a Hand Rail    Inquest and Verdict

Mr. H.C. Yates, district coroner, and a jury, held an inquiry on Friday Afternoon at Crewe Police Station, into the circumstances attending the death of Charles Palin of 27 Broughton Rd, Church Coppenhall, a leading hand in the Forge at the Steel Works.
Inside Crewe Works, 1901
Mr. H.E. Brothers, H.M. Inspector of the Factories, of Latchford, Warrington, was present and Mr. W. Savage represented the Railway Company.  Mr. H.W.G. Garnett, solicitor, represented the family.

Alfred John Palin, 27, Broughton Road, Church Coppenhall, said deceased was his father.  He was 64 years of age, and was a lead hand at the steel furnaces.  He had been in the employ of the Railway Company for over 40 years.  On Thursday, at 5 a.m., witness heard of the accident, and went to the hospital, and saw the dead body.  His father was subject to giddiness.

The Accident

Thomas Turner, assistant furnace man, residing at Bradfield Road, Church Coppenhall, stated that Wednesday night deceased came to No. 2 furnace to try the heat.  He saw him about to put a bar into the furnace, and was standing near the handrail round the stage.  Witness's back was toward him, and a few seconds later he heard the cry "Oh!"  He turned round and noticed deceased was not on the stage and that the handrail had gone down.  Witness looked over the rail on to the floor and noticed deceased between the ingots on the bogie, which was moving slowly.  He at once shouted to the driver to stop, and the bogie was immediately brought to a stand.  Witness then went below and found deceased on the ground underneath the bogie on the metals.  Witness raised the bogie by hydraulic jacks, and the deceased was taken from under it and conveyed to the Company's hospital.  The drop from the stage would be about 14' 7".  It was common practice for the leading hand when he had to test the heat of the metal, to lean against the rail.

The Coroner:  Have you noticed the handrail give way before?   Never sir.
Do you know if he was sitting on the rail?  I can't say.

Mr. Booth (foreman of the jury) - There is a piece of wire round the bar as though the bar had been broken.
Witness - I put the wire round the rail last night.

Mr. Brothers - (H.M. Inspector) - There is a distinct flaw in the rail now
Witness - I had never noticed it before.

Mr. Garnett - Was the flaw noticeable before the accident occurred?
Witness - I don’t think anyone noticed it before the accident occurred.  If it had been we should have reported it

Was it all visible? - I don’t think it could be.

Mr. Brothers - You never noticed the rail next to this one is cracked in the same way? - I never noticed it.

In reply to further questions, witness said deceased was a heavy man - 18 or 19 stone.  Deceased's weight broke the rail.  The rail was bent the least bit before the accident.
{18 stone= 252 lbs/ 19 stone= 266 lbs}

The Condition of the Rail

Joseph Barker, 2, Dudson Street Crewe, labourer, said deceased told him to get the ladle ready and he did so and stood waiting for instructions to the shunter to bring along the moulds.  The moulds were on bogies a little way down the shop, and had to be brought right under the ladle and pushed back by the engine.  Witness was about 6 yards from the furnace, standing ready, and he had his back to the deceased.  He heard a shout and at once looked round and missed the deceased.  He then noticed the handrail had gone and he looked over and saw the deceased on his back between the metals of No2 and no 3 groups.  He was wedged between the axle and the metals.  The bogies were raised and deceased was got out and taken to the hospital.  Witness had been leaning over the rail the same night and out nearly his whole weight on. He thought it was perfectly sound.  The men frequently leaned on the rail when they were waiting.

Iron foundry at Crewe railway works, 1913
John Durkin, scrap-man, 39 Myrtle Street, and Alfred Walley, shunter's attendant also gave evidence.  The latter in replay to the Coroner, said deceased must have fallen whilst they were moving the moulds towards the ladle.  The deceased gave orders for them to get the moulds into position.

By a juror:  He had seen the deceased sitting on the rail many times.

Medical Evidence

Dr. Lawrence said Palin was dead when admitted to hospital soon after 11 p.m.  There were bruises on the head, face and hands and on the side of his head.  On the left side of the chest it appeared to him that several ribs had been broken.  There was a great deal of bruising of the skin on the left side.  The left arm had been broken and evidently a great weight had gone over it.  It was practically severed.  There were one of two bruises on the legs.

The Coroner - You heard he fell 14 feet.  Were there not more serious injuries to the head?  I cannot say that there were.  He died from shock through the crushing of his chest.

The Coroner - Caused by the axle of the bogie that we hear was on him?

Dr. Lawrence - I should think that would be it.

Would the death be instantaneous? - I should think so

Asked whether the handrails were examined.  Mr. Savage said it was the duty of the deceased, if he found a flaw, to report it at once.  Independent of that, no examination was made.

The Coroner remarked that the flaw had been partly hidden.

The jury returned a verdict of "Accidental Death"

Juror's Suggestion

Mr. J. Booth (the foreman) suggested the desirability of making a stronger rail and a more permanent fastening than it appeared to be now.  He did not blame the officials.  It was a pure accident in his opinion.

Mr. W Savage foreman of the steel making department, speaking on behalf of the L. and N.W. Railway Company, said he desired to express much regret at the accident and sympathy with the relatives of the deceased: and also to further say that the deceased was held in high esteem by the company for his long and meritorious services.  They felt they had lost a trustworthy servant and one whose place it would not be easy to fill.

The Coroner said he was sure that would be some comfort to the family.

Mr. Garnett, on behalf of the family, said he was much obliged to Mr. Savage for his kind expression of sympathy.  He understood deceased was much respected.

The boiler shop at Crewe railway works, 1913
The Funeral

The funeral took place on Sunday afternoon amid a general manifestation of respect.  A deputation of about 150 employees of the Steel Works Forge, together with a deputation from the Rose of England" Lodge (Warmingham) of the Grand United Order of Oddfellows assembled at the deceased's late residence and before the cortege was formed Mr. E. Alcock offered prayer in the presence of the immediate relatives and friends, and the hymn "Jesu, Lover of My Soul" was sung.  The coffin was afterwards moved to the lawn in front of the house and here the Oddfellows conducted their customary service.

After these rites had been concluded the procession was formed in the following order: members of the "Rose of England" Lodge, deputation of about 150 fellow workmen, the hearse and bearers, namely Messrs. J. Mason, F. Galley, A. Walley, S. Stubbs, S. Barnes, W. Walford, A. Haynes and G. Howarth; five mourning coaches, containing James, Jock and Sam (sons), Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Sampey (daughters), Messrs. Sam Palin, Robert Palin and John Palin (brothers), Mrs. Barnett (sister), Mrs. Sam Nightingale, Mrs. Spode; Caleb, Wilfred, Lottie, Jennie and Lily (grandchildren), Mr. and Mrs. Lucas, Mr. Brown, Mrs. Nightingale, Mr. J. Sampey, Mrs. S. Palin, Miss Stubbs, Mr. Spode, Mrs. Robert  Palin, Mr. Barnett, Mrs. S. Palin, Mr. T. Waldbrun, Mrs. S. Nightingale and Mr. E. Alcock. 

The cortege proceeded to the Coppenhall Church, where the burial service was impressively conducted by the Rector (Rev. W.C. Reid).  Another hymn was sung in the church and the \Rector afterwards concluded the last rites at the graveside.  Along the route from the deceased's late residence to the church, blinds were drawn as a mark of respect.  Mr. E. Charlesworth, Bradfield Road, carried out the funeral arrangements.

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