John Beeby: An inquest was held at the Beckett Hospital and Dispensary on
Tuesday, on the body of John Beeby, a man
employed at J. Nall's, builder, Summer Lane, who met with his death on Monday week, through the effect of some burns caused by shavings catching
fire to his legs. - Charlotte Jessop said she was the wife of John Jessop, Joiner, of Doncaster Road. Deceased did not live with witness. Deceased was
a little infirm. He went regularly to work. Witness saw him on the Sunday before deceased was hurt. Deceased stayed to tea, and appeared to be all
right then. Witness next saw him on the following Tuesday at the dispensary. deceased was then quite sensible. Deceased appeared to be suffering from
burns on the leg. Deceased said he was putting some shavings in the fire-hole when the draught blew the fire which caught his trousers. Deceased
told witness he had attempted to put it out - Jabez Nall a builder, of Barnsley, said deceased had worked for him about two years, as stoker.
Witness saw deceased on the afternoon of the day the accident occurred. The accident had then taken place. Witness saw his brother running out of the
yard, and witness followed him. Witness saw a few shavings outside the fire-place. Deceased had been told not to burn the long shavings; only the
short ones. The shavings were long ones. Witness saw deceased standing up about two yards from the firing place, and he heard deceased cry out "Oh
dear" or something to that effect. Deceased had been told to inform witness's brother when any long shavings were to burn, as they did not think
deceased was capable of burning them. The firing place was about 8ft by 7ft, and they had to get up a ladder out of the place. Deceased had never made
any complaints about the draught. Deceased was quite sober at the time. As soon as witness saw deceased, and heard him cry he tried to put the fire out
with his hands, and failing to do that, witness took off his coat and put it round deceased to try to smother the fire. When they got the fire out some
of the men took deceased in a dog cart to the Dispensary. At that time witness did not think there was anything serious. Witness's brother on
returning at once turned a water tap on the shavings and put them out, which might have been done by the deceased had he had presence of mind. - Wm
Jessop, grandson of the deceased, said he was employed at the mill when the accident occurred. He was in the habit of taking the shavings to the firing
place. He generally threw the shavings down by the fire. Witness heard a cry after leaving the firing place and on returning found that deceased had
caught fire. Witness told deceased to put the fire out with the water pipe and in going to the water deceased fell. - Wm. Hy. Smith, house surgeon,
said the deceased suffered from extensive burns on both legs, which, in his opinion, caused death. - The Foreman thought it would be better if the
shavings could be consumed in the yard, as that limited space in the firehouse made it dangerous to anyone who was not very active. The jury
returned the verdict of "Accidental Death."
John Harrison : Mr. Daniel Hammerton, of Darfield, Yorks, joiner and builder, identified
the body as that of his brother-in-law, and stated that the deceased was 42 years of age.
Mr. John Thos. Botham of Brampton, said he was cashier in the employ of the Boythorpe Colliery Company. On Thursday night Mr. Harrison came to the
colliery offices about a quarter to five, and showed them some toys he had been buying for his children. He then went across to the general office, and left about a
quarter to six. The deceased went on the road, and witness joined him there. The night was dark, but not foggy. The deceased asked witness if he could
see, and he said that he could. The deceased said he could not see very well, and that he had walked across the road to the hedge. Witness offered
to see him home and he accompanied him 50 yards down the road. The deceased then said he could see better, and asked him to return. Witness said he
would go to the foot of the hill and he did so. The deceased would not allow him to go any further. The deceased remarked that the locomotive had just
gone across the road, and as witness saw from the steam that it was on its way back he told the deceased not to go across until it had gone. He said
that he would not. The gateman shouted "keep back", and Mr. Harrison replied to the gateman twice "all right". Witness saw the engine go across, but did
not see the accident. The gateman went from the middle of the road to the points on the left hand side. Witness ran and shouted "Mr. Harrison", but
got no reply, and he asked the gateman if he had crossed. The gateman said "No; is he not on the other side?" Witness replied "No" and they looked and
saw Mr. Harrison lying in the four-foot in the middle of the road. His left arm was off and he was quite dead. Witness ran up for one of the other
clerks, sent for a doctor, and then procured a stretcher and brought the deceased into the office. The railway crossing had been there for ten years
to the knowledge of the witness. The gates next to the road opened inwards - towards the colliery and not towards the road. There were no gates on the
road, but there was a man whose duty it was to stop people when the engine was passing. There were no lamps except what the gateman had. The gateman
stood in the six-foot between the two lines of rails.
It was his duty to stand there until the engine was on the road, and then he had to go to the points, so that when the engine was on the road, there was
neither man nor gate to protect anybody. Mr. Harrison had been at Boythorpe three months, and was in the habit of going over the crossing four or five times a day.
John Bridgett, of Short's Square, Chesterfield, said that he attended to the crossing at Boythorpe. He went on duty about six o'clock in the morning,
and had been there the whole day. The engine went across to the Tupton pit about a quarter past six o'clock. It crossed the road in order to "get a little speed"
to push the trucks up the incline to the coke ovens. One of the gates would open either inwards or outwards, but the others only opened inwards. The duty of witness
was to warn people from crossing, and in order to do this generally stood in the six foot in the middle. He had also a pair of points to work about four
yards from the gate, but he had only to work them when the engine was going up to the coke ovens. He left his position in the middle of the road to go
to the points just when the engine was on the opposite side of the road, so that when the engine was actually crossing there was no one to warn people.
About a quarter-past six he heard someone walking along the footpath and he shouted at the top of his voice "Hold back", and received an answer "All
right". Witness had a lamp with him. He recognized the voice as Mr. Harrison's. He called out a second time "Hold back" and heard the answer
"All right" a second time. He called out again, but got no reply the third time. He heard the footsteps coming on still. Witness left the middle of the
road and went to the points. He could see the road from the points. He saw the deceased step just in front of the engine and a waggon attached to it,
the latter striking him and knocking him down. There was no lap on the waggon. He found the deceased lying just within the colliery yard. Witness
had no time to stop the engine. Witness was 63 years of age.
In reply to Mr. Stokes, witness said: There was both a driver and a stoker or shunter on the engine. The engine carried no light either back or front,
but the engineman or stoker had a lamp. Sometimes the stoker rode on the truck when in front with his light, but he did not do so in this case. All four gates were open
inwardly at the time of the accident. They were kept open all day, and only closed at night, when witness left. He was never there later then half-past
six. There were no lamps upon the gates.
In answer to Mr. Hammerton, witness said he had never suggested that the gates should be made to open across the road.
Thomas Watson, of Brampton, said he was driver of the engine that injured the deceased. On Thursday evening, just before a quarter-past six, they
crossed the road with one truck which was loaded with slack. They were going to push the truck up the incline to the coke ovens, and they went across the road in order to
get up sufficient speed to do so. The witness Bridgett gave them the signal to start by waving his light. They were about twenty yards from the road. He
heard no one shout. The stoker was on the engine with him. It was not customary for the stoker to ride in the truck when they were pushing one.
There was no lamp on the engine, nor on the truck. They were going about ten miles an hour when they crossed the road, but he did not think that was a
dangerous speed. They could pull up in twelve or at the most twenty yards. Witness felt a little jerk, but did not know he had struck anybody. They
went up to the coke ovens and back, and put the engine in the shed before they heard of the accident. He wanted the stoker on the engine to look after
the sand, as the rails were slippery.
By Mr. Stokes: There were two sand-boxes on the engine. The engine was a small one. If they had a larger engine they would be able to go up the incline
without running back to get up speed. To get to the coke ovens they would have to cross the footpath, and the public road a second time. At the top level crossing,
there was no-one to warn people, but he whistled the whole of the way across.
Mr. Wm. Blanch Hodgson, of Boythorpe House, the Colliery manager, said that he had held the post nine months. During that period his attention had
never been called to the crossing in question nor had any complaint been made. It had never occurred to him that it was dangerous, because there was a man always there
to warn people. He had always found the man very attentive to his duties. He knew there were no lights on the gate posts. He gave instructions to the engine
driver, Watson, not to cross the road at the top crossing without sounding the whistle.
In reply to Mr. Stokes, witness said the greatest speed at which the engine crossed the road was when it was going to the coke ovens, and it was then
that the man Bridgett had to leave to work the points.
The coroner, in summing up, said the facts seemed to be very simple but some of the evidence certainly showed the place to be exceedingly dangerous.
In the first place, the gates opened inwards instead of opening outwards so as to form a barrier across the road; and not only so, but they were propped open the whole of
the day. At night, too, there were no lights of any kind to prevent people crossing the road in the dark. The gates were in charge of the man Bridgett
who not only had to signal the engine across the road, but had, when it was coming back, to go to the handle of the points in order to turn the engine
up the line leading to the coke ovens. Whilst he was at the points there was no one on the road to warn people. That might perhaps in the day not be so
dangerous, but after dark, and in the absence of lights, it appeared to him to be particularly dangerous. The object of the engine crossing the road was
to enable it to get up speed, but this could be obviated by a larger engine being employed to do the work. There was no provision for any lamp on the
engine or one the truck after dark. There was, however, this to take into consideration - that the deceased gentleman had been in the habit of walking
over the crossing several times a during the day, and Mr. Botham, who appeared to have done all that he possibly could, suggested to him that he
should wait until the engine had passed by. It was probable that, there being no lights, he did not see how far he had gone, and the truck coming
upon him suddenly, he was struck down and killed. Certainly something ought to be done to remedy the state of things which had been shown to exist. In
his opinion there had been a good deal of laxity in the management to allow such a condition of things.
In reply to a juryman, Mr. Hodgson promised that the gates should open across the road and so form a barrier.
The jury returned a verdict of "Accidental death" and added a recommendation that for the future the gates at a crossing should be
constructed as to open outwardly across the road, that after dark coloured lamps should be hung or affixed to the gates on both sides of the railway; and that a
lamp should be placed upon the engine or the foremost truck, whenever the trucks were being pushed before the engine.