Leeds Mercury Thursday 28 March 1878
Yesterday the adjourned inquest was held at the Royal Oak Inn, Platts Common, before Mr Wightman, Coroner, touching the death of George Jackson, aged 33, engine-driver on the Manchester, Sheffield, and Lincolnshire Railway, who resided at Swinton and had since died at the Sheffield Infirmary; Daniel Barton, 39, a screenman, but formerly a policeman; and Oliver Dabbs, 14. Mr F. N. Wardell, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Mines in Yorkshire, was present, -MR CLEGG, of Sheffield, appeared on behalf of the relatives of Jackson; and MR PARKER RHODES, of Rotherham, for Messrs. Wills, Birch, Ryde and Company, owners of the Hoyland Silkstone Colliery, where the accident occured. Mr Holt, the manager, was present during the hearing.
Richard Shenton, a stoker, residing at Swinton, said he was fireman belonging to the engine 372 on the Manchester, Sheffield, and Lincolnshire Railway. Jackson was the driver of the engine. They had been employed at the Hoyland Silkstone Colliery for six weeks, to work the trucks down from the colliery on to the railway siding. The deceased had only been on nine days. On the 20th instant they coupled eight loaded trucks to the engine, Barton at the time being on one of the waggons. He saw two boys on the first or second waggon, but he could not say whether one of them was Dabbs or not. Barton was going down to help empty the waggons. As far as he knew, the boys had no right on the trucks. They drew the trucks to the top of the incline, and kept drawing them over the summit as usual, and a man named Smith got off the engine to sprag the wheels of the waggons as usual, but he failed to get any in. The driver told witness to hold on, as Smith had not got a sprag in, and he put the brake on and stopped the wheels. The driver told witness to ease a little, and he reversed the steam. The engine and two of the trucks had then got over the summit. The waggons then kept pushing the engine on, and the driver said “Jump off mate and put a sprag in”. Witness jumped off, but there was not a sprag about. He then pinned the brake of the first truck, and put the next one down, but there was no pin. Witness then shouted to Smith, who stood with a sprag in his hand, and he replied, “They are going too fast.” He did not see Smith attempt to put the sprag in a wheel until he got to the last wagon, and then he missed his aim. The waggons were pushing the engine down the bank, and the witness ran for about twenty yards to motion to the driver to jump off, but could not see him. The rails were bright and dry from the sun, and the wheels took no effect when they skidded. When he was going down the incline he saw Barton lying on his face by the side of the rails, dead, about three-quarters of a mile from the scene of the accident, and the driver was lying insensible about three yards further on. Witnesss still followed the train to catch the points close to the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway Company’s sidings, and found that the train was smashed to pieces. Two of the trucks were broken to pieces and Dabbs was got out of the train dead. The train had run away with the engine when the wheels were spragged about six months since, and the engine was smashed. He accounted for the accident by not having sufficient brake power. The length of the incline was about a mile and a quarter.
After further evidence had been tendered, the CORONER said it was his opinion that the incline was too steep, and that a less number of trucks than was hitherto been taken down it ought to be taken down in future. He also suggested that a more convenient sprag should be used.
MR RHODES said the remarks of the Coroner should be laid before the directors, and he had no doubt they would attend to them.
The Jury returned a verdict of “Accidental death.”
The CORONER said all the evidence that could be produced had been brought forward, and he thought it would not be requisite to hold another inquest at Sheffield on Jackson.