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Wellington Journal & Shrewsbury News, September 7th, 1895

FATAL ACCIDENT AT PRIORSLEE: An inquest was held before Mr. J. V. T. Lander, coroner, on Saturday, at the Schoolroom. Priorslee, on view of the body of Benjamin Thomas Rushton, aged 17 years, who was killed on the previous day in one of the Lilleshall Company's pits at Priorslee. Mr. Moses Rushton was foreman of the jury.

John Rushton stated that he was a miner, residing at Priorslee. He identified the body viewed as that of his son, Benjamin Thomas, aged 17 last birthday. On the Friday morning the deceased left home shortly after five o clock; he then appeared to be in very good health. He was employed by the Lilleshall Company, and worked at the Dark Lane Pit, under Mr. Cadman. He went there to work on Friday morning.

About ten o'clock the same day his other son came to him and asked him if he had heard anything about Ben, and he replied, "No." He was then told that he had been killed in the Dark Lane Pit. Witness then fainted away, and remembered no more. He saw the deceased when he was laid out. Deceased had worked in the Dark Lane Pit for about four or five years as a driver, and was quite competent to drive horses. For the last three or four nights the deceased had seemed very much troubled in his sleep about his horse, and calling out that it wouldn't go. John Hawkins deposed that he was a miner, residing at Old Park, and employed by the Lilleshall Company at Dark Lane Pit. On Friday morning the deceased went to work about a quarter to six.

Witness went down the pit with him. Deceased was a driver. About eight o'clock witness saw deceased cutting the horse very badly, and warned him, because the cutting was kicking very much. Witness also told him that unless he stopped it he would have to go out of the pit. Witness then went away.

Shortly afterwards a boy named Samuels went to him and said that the deceased was smothered. Witness went and found the deceased about 100 yards from the bottom of the pit in his two-double, and about 15cwt. of stuff on

him. There were three slabs on him. The slabs came from over the bars that were supporting the roof. Witness had them removed off him. He was quite dead. It would be about five minutes from the time he (witness) warned him of cutting the horse and when Samuels went and told him about the accident. The deceased had driven the horse for some time he was quite competent to drive horses, but thrashed them very much, and the horse in question when thrashed would kick very badly. If the deceased cut the horse and it kicked against the side of the pit, that would cause the slabs and soil to fall from the roof.

Witness stated that it was part of his duty to examine the roofs and roads, and see after the drivers. He examined the place on Friday morning, and the road where the accident happened, and found it quite safe. He had made no examination since the accident.

By the Foreman: Time deceased was not carrying out any extraordinary work nothing more than usual. Alfred Rhodes stated that he was a firemen, and resided at Old Park. He was employed by the Lilleshall Company at the Dark Lane Pit. He examined the roads and roofs in that pit on Friday morning as usual, and was quite satisfied that they were secure. He saw the deceased on Friday morning driving the horse in question. Witness was told what had happened. When he got to the place he found he was quite dead. Witness examined him, and found a mark on his head and on his nose. Beyond that he made no further examination. He (witness) had warned the boy not to thrash the horse. He could not account for the roof giving way; it might have been caused by the horse kicking against the side. The horse was a kicker when he was flogged, but when he was not flogged he would go all right.

Witness considered Rushton quite capable of driving horses. By the Jury : When he got to the place after the accident he found the horse standing near to where the body was lying. The Coroner summed up, and the jury returned a verdict of "Accidental death," there being no blame attached to anyone.

Submitted by Steve Dewhirst

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