"What the Papers Said" - from Shropshire Caving & Mining Club Archives
Wellington Journal & Shrewsbury News, November
On Wednesday Mr. Coroner Lander reopened the inquest on the body of George Woolley, a collier employed by the Lilleshall Company, who was killed in the Freehold Pit on the 23rd. October by a fall of coal.
Mr. F. H. Wynne (assistant inspector of mines) attended. Mr. N. T. Beech and Mr. C. Jones appeared on behalf of the Lilleshall Company, and Mr. W. Latham represented the Miners' Federation.
Roland Guy, miner, Donnington Wood, employed by the Lilleshall Company, said that on the 23rd October he was working with deceased, and at the time of the accident was five or six yards away. Deceased was wedging down the coal in what was called the buttock when the roof fell, some five or six tons falling on him. Witness called for assistance and helped to get deceased out, but he was then dead.
In reply to Mr. Wynne, witness said that the coal was about three feet from the last setting, of timber. Deceased would have to get about another yard or four feet of coal down before he could set another post. The posts were set about a yard apart. Witness could not say how many sprags were buried, but there was one that he knew of. There were four slips. One of these was visible before the accident, but three of them could not be seen until after. Re-examined by the Coroner, witness said that the fireman was J. Haseley, and he had examined that particular place about a quarter past one the same afternoon as the accident, and at that time passed it as safe. The one slip that was visible was guarded against.
In reply to Mr. Latham, witness said that there was plenty of timber if it had been required. Witness further added, in reply to a question by Mr. Beech, that the fireman, after making his examination, had told deceased to put another tree in this particular place, the one there having given way. This was done straight away.
Benjamin Lane, miner, employed by the Lilleshall Company, said that he was working alongside deceased on the day of the accident. Witness was filling a tub, and deceased was trying to drop some coal into the buttock, and was knocking a wedge in the face when witness heard the fall. The trees that were set were about 4ft. 6in. in length, and about a yard apart. It was in consequence of the three invisible slips that the fall occurred. When the place was examined by the fireman it appeared to be safe.
Joseph Haseley, the fireman, said that he was on duty at the Freehold Pit on the day of the accident. He had seen the place where Woolley was working, and had examined it that morning in the usual way, and passed it as safe. He (witness) made another examination of the place at a quarter past one the same afternoon. There was one tree cracked on the gob side, and this he pointed out to deceased. At that time there was only the front slip visible. Deceased at once set another tree, and it then seemed sufficient. In reply to Mr. Wynne, witness said that he did not think it was possible to have prevented the accident.
Albert Taylor, Donnington Wood, underground manager at the Freehold Pit, also gave evidence.
The jury returned a verdict of "Accidental death."
Submitted by Steve Dewhirst