"What the Papers Said" - from Shropshire Caving & Mining Club Archives
Wellington Journal & Shrewsbury News, November 9th,
An inquest was held before Mr. J. V. T. Lander, coroner, at the Barley Mow Hotel, St. George's, on Wednesday, on the body of Alfred Lees, aged 19 years, who died from injuries received in the Barrack Pit, St. George's, on the previous Friday [1st Nov.]. Mr. Thomas Falshaw was foreman of the jury. Mr. Make-peace, Assistant Government Inspector of Mines, was present. Mr. Hulett represented the Lilleshall Company, with Mr. Charles Sylvester, the underground manager. Mary Ann Fox deposed that she was the wife of Thomas Fox, and resided at New Buildings, St. George's. She identified the body viewed by the jury as that of Alfred Lees, a driver, who had been employed by the Lilleshall Company at the Barrack Pit. On Sunday [3rd Nov.], hearing that Lees had been hurt, she went to ask how he was, when the mother asked her to go up stairs and look at him. She went up and asked him how he was, but he could not speak. He seemed in great pain. She saw him again on Monday [4th Nov.], and remained with him. His death took place between one and two.
James Weston stated that he was a miner employed by the Lilleshall Company at the Barrack Pit. On the first of this month he saw the deceased at his work. Witness that morning was engaged in leading one of the horses to and fro with the tubs; it was not part of his duty to lead horses, but this horse had that morning run away and upset the tubs, and he (witness) had been ordered to walk in front of him to prevent him from doing it again. He met the deceased each time at a place called the shunt, where they exchanged tubs, the deceased taking the full ones on, and witness returning with the empty ones. At this place they had to change horses. When witness got to the shunt about 10 o'clock he found the deceased waiting. The driver of the empty tubs was a man named Pickering. Witness held the horse's head whilst Pickering uncoupled the horse from the tub. Pickering in doing so dropped the tailing chain, and thus witness could not turn the horse straight round on to the empty road. At this time Lees came on with his horse to fasten it on to the tubs which Pickering had taken his horse from.
Pickering's horse was then standing with his hind legs in the road where Lees wanted to put his horse. Lees, however, to shift the horse struck it across the back of the legs, and said, Stand over." The horse immediately kicked out and caught Lees in the lower part of the stomach. Witness asked the deceased if he should take him to the bottom, and he said "Yes." He (witness) was then removed to another part of the pit to take the place of a man who had seen put in Lees's place, and did not see him again. Enoch Pickering deposed that he was a driver in the Barrack Pit. He remembered Friday, the 1st of November. He was driving in the Barrack Pit on that day, taking full tubs to the shunt, where he met the deceased with empty ones. They then exchanged horses. The time when the accident happened the horses were uncoupled in the ordinary way. Lees then took his horse to fasten it on the full tubs.
Witness's horse had not quite turned off the road where Lees wanted to go, which was in consequence of the chain having dropped. Lees did not ask for the horse to be removed, but struck it. The horse kicked straight out and caught him in the stomach. By Mr. Make-peace: There was plenty of room to turn the horse round, and plenty of time to have done it before Lees got up, only the chain dropped.- Daniel Watkin stated that he was a fireman employed by the Lilleshall Co. in the Barrack Pit. On the day in question he saw the deceased and Pickering meet at the shunt and uncouple horses. Weston was holding the head of Pickering's horse because that morning it had run away. Weston had partly turned the horse round when Lees took his horse up to hook on to the full tubs. He saw him strike Pickering's horse, which kicked and caught him in the stomach. The deceased did not ask Pickering or Weston to take it out of the way. He knew very well it would not stand the whip.
There was no delay at all in turning Pickering's horse round. Dr. McCarthy deposed that he was called in on the 1st inst. to see the deceased, who told him he had been kicked by a horse. He was quite collapsed. Witness had him put to bed and attended him, He seemed to go on very well until Sunday, when peritonitis set in, from which he died. Peritonitis would be the result of the injuries. Verdict, "Accidental death," the jury adding that there was no blame attached to anyone.
Submitted by Steve Dewhirst