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Wellington Journal & Shrewsbury News, 3rd June 1899

An accident which had a fatal termination, and which has caused considerable sorrow in the neighbourhood of Roman Gravels, has recently occurred. On Tuesday evening a man named John Grove, aged about 44 years, who was well accustomed to work in the pits, went on duty at the Tankerville mine at six o’clock. The mode of transit from one level to another was by means of ladders, and while descending one of these it suddenly collapsed, and Groves was precipitated a distance of about 20 yards. A fellow-workman named Thomas Edwards went to his assistance, and found him in an unconscious condition, but still alive. Groves was at once conveyed to the surface, and afterwards to an adjacent cottage, but died within three-quarters of an hour. Examination disclosed the fact that he was terribly injured. One of his arms was broken and his ribs were fractured badly. Deceased unfortunately leaves a widow and 10 children. He was a very steady, industrious man, and as will be seen from a report of the Gravels Friendly Society Anniversary, held yesterday and given elsewhere, appreciative and sympathetic references were made to him by those who knew him best. Alterations are being carried on at the mine, and it is stated that a chain must have caught the ladder the deceased descended, and pulled it from its foundations, so that it easily gave way to the weight of the deceased, he being a man of considerable size.

An inquest on the body was held yesterday at the Sun Inn, Roman Gravels, by Mr. R. E. Clarke (coroner). Prior to the opening of the inquiry the Coroner and Mr. Atkinson (H.M. Inspector of Mines) visited the scene of the accident, and made a thorough inspection of the plant used and of the mine in which the fatality occurred.

Evidence was given by Sarah Groves, widow of the deceased, who deposed that her husband’s wages recently had been £1 per week. William Titley, who worked with the deceased, said someone shouted from the 28th fathom that the

chain-an iron one, weighing about 4 cwt.-had broken. They at once went to the level mentioned, and made preparations to repair the chain. Deceased coming to the top to the blacksmith’s shop for a new link, which he subsequently brought down. They started to descend lower, deceased going first. They got down one ladder and deceased went on as if to use the second, when witness beard a crash. Deceased’s light (a candle carried in his hat) went out and witness then shouted, but received no reply. Witness then looked about to see what had happened, and discovered that the ladder on which the deceased was descending the mine had disappeared. Deceased was afterwards found lying on a stage about 15 yards from the bottom of the mine with the chain near him. He was taken to the surface at once, but expired before he actually landed.- By Mr. Atkinson: The chain had been in use about 20 years ; but be had never known it brought up to be repaired.- By the Coroner: He had not heard any direct complaints about the chain, but the men on the bank had said that, it was not so good as it had been.

Thomas Edwards, agent of the mine, said be was down the workings on Tuesday, and found everything right. He had received no complaints as to the state of the ladder. The chain had been repaired twice during the six months he had been at the mine, but it had never been brought to the surface for the purpose of repair, because the men did not travel when it was working.

At the conclusion of the evidence the jury consulted together in private for some time, and then passed the following verdict:- “We find that the deceased came to his death accidentally, but we are of opinion that the Mine ought to be carried on under more modern principles and with more regard to the safety of the men, and that the shaft should be put in proper, repair before again being used as a roadway for the men."

Submitted by Steve Dewhirst

Note: Tuesday would have been 30th May 1899 and Yesterday would have been Friday 2nd June 1899.

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