Tupton Collier Killed by an "Iron Man.

Taken from the Derbyshire Courier - 16 November 1901
Mr C G Busby, J.P., held an inquest on Monday at the Chesterfield Hospital, on the body of William Brooks, aged 35, a New Tupton collier, who died in the institution as the result of injuries received in No. 9 pit of the Clay Cross Company, on October 28th. Mr A H Stokes, HM Inspector of Mines; Mr W B M Jackson, J.P. (representing the company); Mr James Haslam, J.P. (representing the Derbyshire Miner's Association, of which the deceased was a member); and Mr Elliot Smith (Mansfield), who represented the coalowners' Association, were present.
Mr George Wharton, (the manager of the colliery) described the cutting machine used in the mine, and stated that the teeth of the cutting wheel were about four and a half inches long. Deceased had had charge of the machine for 18 months, and had previous knowledge of such machines.
Herbert Goddard said he and the deceased were engaged in putting new cuttersinto the coal cutting machine when the accident occurred. Witness was in front and deceased in the rear of the machine. When four of the 24 cutters had been inserted, it became necessary to slightly revolve the cutter wheel which under holes the coal face. The deceased therefore switched on the electrical current which operates the machine. The machine suddenly srung back away from the wall, and the cutters caught the left leg of the deceased, At the same moment the lamp carried by the deceased was extinguished, leaving the stall in darkness. Witness, as quickly as possible, switched off the current. He found the deceased sitting on the cutting machine, and blood had flowed from his left leg below the knee. First aid was rendered, and he was sent to the hospital.
Mr Stokes: Can you turn the cutter wheel round without turning on the current? - Witness: No.
Not by means of a bar or anything? - No.
Was he, then, doing right in switching on the current to turn the wheel? - Yes.
Is that the way you always do it? - Yes.
Mr Smith: You have a sort of oak block to put onto the coal face where it is cut? - Yes.
Was there a block of wood near the cutters then? - Not that I am aware of.
The coal face shows a mark where the cutter struck and rebounded. That being so, don't you think it is likely that this block of wood was in the way, and that the wheel began to revolve it came into contact with the block of wood? - I don't know that there was any wood there.
Mr Haslam: I you opinion how could it catch the coal? - As soon as the wheel started it would catch the coal and shove the machine out.
Mr Haslam: I can not see what it could catch.
Joseph Holmes deputy, said he examined the machine the day after the accident. He found a "half thick" - a block of wood, wedge shaped - between the rail nearest the coal face and the machine, The wood had been chipped by the cutter.
The Coroner: What do you think happened? - I think one of the cutters caught this piece of wood and forced the machine back. Mr Stokes: Can these cutters be put in without turning on the current? - I should say not.
Could you turn the wheel with a bar? - Not enough, I think, to get in all the teeth.
The Coroner: You never had an accident with this machine before? - No.
Mr Haslam: Was the hole cut sufficiently large? - There could not have been a better hole as regards room.
Dr Molyneox, house surgeon, said death was due to shock resulting from a compound fracture of the left leg, which necessitated amputation.
Verdict, "Accidental death"

Neil Wilson 2012 - www.claycross.org.uk
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