"What the Papers Said" - from Shropshire Caving & Mining Club Archives
Wellington Journal & Shrewsbury News, January
A sad fatality took place at Madeley on Tuesday. Benjamin Bennett, an engine-driver, 60 years of age, was engaged in Madeley Court Field in the afternoon assisting in the repairs of a rod in the pump shaft. Whilst working he got very wet, and came up the pit to change himself, for which purpose he went into the engine house. Having changed his attire, he came out of the engine-house, and walked towards the pit mouth, where, missing his footing, he fell down the shaft, a distance of some 100 yards, and was killed instantaneously. The body was subsequently recovered and taken to the poor man's home in Court Street. The sad affair created much consternation in the neighbourhood. Deceased leaves a widow and two grown up children, who have the deepest sympathy of the inhabitants.
Last evening at the Madeley Institute Mr. Coroner Potts held an inquest on the body. Mr. C. W. Pearce (manager) represented the company, and Mr. F. H. Wynne (Newcastle), inspector of mines, was also present.
Harriett Bennett identified the body as that of her husband, who, she said, was an engine-driver, 61 years of age, and in the employ of Mr. W. H. Foster.
William Price, head engine-man, Court Street, Madeley, stated that he was in charge of the machinery at the water pit, Madeley Court, and also the pumping plant. On Tuesday, deceased went down the pit with another man named Wallace Smart about one o'clock, as something was wrong with the pumping-rod. They came up for dinner, and went down again to withdraw the bucket from the lift, which was done. Smart and Bennett were in the cabin, and witness asked them to descend the pit and disconnect the bucket from the rod. They changed their clothes, and he had the pit uncovered for them; in fact, he went and told them that everything was ready, and that the pit was uncovered. Bennett's jacket was wet, and he lent him an article to put on. Deceased followed him from the cabin, but witness did not see him fall down the pit.
Moses Lowe, Aqueduct, labourer, stated that he was working with deceased and others that day. He saw Bennett walk straight into the pit is if he did not see it. Deceased had asked him that morning if he could see any mark on the left side of his head, and witness said that he could. Deceased told him that he had been cutting a pig up that morning before coming to work, and that something hit him on the head. Witness believed that deceased's mind went for the moment.
Edward George Baugh, miner, employed at the Court Works, stated that he saw deceased's body in the pit on the bottom scaffold. The pit was about 58 yards deep. He assisted in bringing the body up. Police-constable Wakeley also gave evidence.
The Coroner, in summing up, said he was of opinion that there was a certain amount of mystery about it, yet it seemed to be very clear, and it might have been a case of mental aberration.
The verdict of the jury was "That deceased accidentally fell down the pit and was killed." The jury handed their fees over to the widow.
Submitted by Steve Dewhirst