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Forum Home > Dead and Buried. > Genuine Accidents.

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

There are, surprisingly, many genuine accidental deaths in the grim and smokey streets of the Blackcountry. Some from sheer carelessness, others from pure ignorance of the danger, and some from a combination of both. There are even those whose death was defined as an act of god.


You would have thought you would be safe inside a house, certainly Wolverhampton resident Mrs Morrison thought so, as a storm raged across the area. Mrs Morrison was the sort of neighbour who would do anyone a good turn, as she had that morning, agreeing to look after 3 year old Sarah Ann New. As the storm reached the house, they were both sitting close to the fire, when the building shook violently, as it took a direct hit from a lightening strike. The enormous electrical charge came down the chimney, and hit the pair, rendering little Sarah unconscious. Although badly shaken, and slightly singed, Mrs Morrison quickly got the little girl to Hospital, where she remained comatose for the next 2 days, before dying from her extensive burns. Just one of 3 other reported case's in June/July, 1879.


There were many hazards to be faced in the work-place too, especially in the Galvanising trade, where molton metal and acid are used. Walsall was a centre of the trade in years gone by, and Walker Brothers and Frosts spring to mind when you mention the firms. Shift working is essential in the trade, for the cost of reheating a cold bath of hot metal is astronomical. Joseph Southall was a shift worker at Walkers, his shift beginning at midnight. When his mate failed to turn up, he decided to get a bit of shuteye. Unfortunately, he chose to lie down by the coke furnace that heated an acid filled Pickling bath. Some gases,  well known today, are heavier than air, and sink to the ground where they stay until dispersed by movement of the air. Some time later, his mate turned up, only to find Joseph unconscious by the furnace, overcome by the noxious fumes. If he had only sat down, or walked about, he would have been fine, but Joseph wasn't a scientist, and didn't understand the principles involved. Thankfully, educattion is a lot better today than it was in 1887.


Over in Willenhall, the demon drink was raising it's ugly head again. Now many a great idea has come to those, who at times, were a bit " under the weather " as the rather more polite saying goes. On the other hand, " being one over the eight ", has produced a conciderable  number of daft ones. The problem facing Thomas Givney and Sarah Downing, after a nights heavy carrousing, was how to get the by now legless Mary Baker, their drinking companion, home. Givney, in a rare show of brain power, suddenly had an idea and disappeared for a short time. When he came back, he was pushing, not to steadily either, a large wooden wheelbarrow, into which he uncermoniously bundled the very drunken Mary Baker. The problem now solved, the pair set off, in high spirits, weaving their merry way down Church Street. So intent were they, that the pair failed to spot a horse and cart coming up Church Street. A collision was unavoidable, and the horse, startled by this apperition, reared up and tipped over the wheelbarrow. Poor old Mary Baker was on the receiving end of the flailing hoofs. She died later that night at her home from the head wound. Willenhall being what it was back then, a place of infinite night life, there were plenty of witness'es to the accident, but no agreement among them, as to whether Thomas Givney was drunk in charge of a wheelbarrow. No mention of where he stole it from either, and to confuse matters further Sarah Downing insisted that Mary Baker wasn't drunk, and she had, earlier in the day, fallen and hurt her head. The medical man could only find a small graze on the victims head, and the injury which caused her death, was a ruptured artery on the left side of her brain, the opposite side to the graze. How it all came to pass, is certainly down to the drink, and after trying to sort out the conflicting accounts, I wouldn't have blamed the Coroner, and his Jury, if they had all gone out for a stiff tot themselves.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

October 2, 2013 at 3:20 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Stourbridge, and John Bradley's Ironworks.




John Watkins, Stourbridge born and bred, was a hardworking and loyal employee. Born in 1853, he had spent his entire life in the Iron trade, most of them at John Bradleys Iron Works, where he was a respected and experienced man. He had married in 1887, he and his wife Alice, starting their life together at 28, Upper Hill Street, Stourbridge. ( Now, Hill Street. ) On the 4th April,1901, he had 6 children, two of them, John and William, working with him at the same Iron works, and all now living at 5, Firmstone Street, Wollaston. He had a friend working with him, Alfred Price, who had been born in 1876, in a house just two doors away from them, 30, Upper Hill Street. Alfred had been married for two years, and he and his wife Eliza had moved into 29, Upper Hill Street in 1901, as his father had recently died, and his mother, at 75, was a bit frail. He had a one year old daughter. They both worked in the Rolling Mill at Bradley's, and as I have said, were very experienced at the work, so it was no surprise to the foreman, when on the 5th April, they reported that the Roller was loose, that they should then stop the machine, and fix it. 


The roller team was composed of three men, the two mentioned, and one called Parkes. They knew what to do, and fetching a large spanner to tighten the big nuts, they disingaged the clutch, which seperated the roller from the Engine, and which then stopped. The three of them proceeded to put some force into the operation, for it was a big nut, and a large spanner. It was later deduced that the vibration from the Engine, the flywheel of which was revolving at 176 rpm, somehow caused the clutch lever to drop down, re-engaging the Engine to the roller. The spanner spun upwards, hitting John Watkins a violent blow on his head, he died on the spot. Standing just behind him was Parkes, who received a blow on the wrist and was knocked to the floor. Just at the side of him was Alfred Price, who was hit in face by the revolving spanner and fell backwards, smashing his head against the Iron machinery. He died a few hours later in the Corbett Hospital, from a fractured skull. So, seven children orphaned, in the space of a few minutes, one of the few accidents in the oldest Ironworks in Stourbridge. If they are your relatives, and you didn't know how they died, I hope the information is useful.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

November 17, 2013 at 3:35 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Not every accident results in a death, nor any crippling injuries, and here is one where the main bone of contention was money. If you think that compensation is a fairly new invention, forget it, for back in time certain folks have, shall we say, jazzed things up a bit.


William Bourne, whose age, according to the newspapers of 1913, was 55, but his birth was probably earlier, in 1852. He had learnt his trade, as a Nut and Bolt Forger, in his native Darlaston, but as trade had dropped off in the late 1890s, he had moved to Smethwick, where the trade seemed to be unaffected. In 1900, he was living in Cambridge Road, Smethwick, not far from the Railway and Carriage Works, and a  large Foundry. At the time of his unfortunate accident, he was living at 18, Whitehall Road, just around the corner from his old house, and just off Halfords Lane, at the top of which stands an impressive monument to the art of kicking a pigs bladder around a field, West Bromwich Albion Football Club. 


William now worked in Birmingham, which entailed a two way trip each day, on the Tram that passed the top of Halfords Lane, through Handsworth, and on into Birmingham. The day of the accident, on the 13th December, 1913, a Saturday, saw William, with some difficulty, get on the Tram in Birmingham, for there was a football match on, and the trams were very busy. South Staffordshire Tramway Company, as usual on these ocassions, had put on extra vehicles, which meant that the distance, or time, between each Tram was very short. The climb up Soho Hill, forced the Trams to bunch up, and somewhere along the Soho Road, one of them was forced to suddenly stop. Maybe the driver of Mr Bourne's Tram wasn't paying enough attention, for he was obliged to violently slam on the brakes. There was an immediate reaction, a very loud bang, and, what could only be a connecting rod, was forced upward, and through the wooden floor. This pinned Mr Bourne to the side of the tram, fracturing his ankle, and he fainted due to the pain. The passengers, all too aware of the power of electricity, leapt from the Tram in blind panic, including the Driver and Conductor. William Bourne was eventually rescued by two of the braver passengers, and conveyed to West Bromwich Hospital. Plastered up, he was later sent home in an Ambulance. Now we clearly have a case here for some compensation, but William Bourne saw an opportunity.


His job, which he could not do with a fractured ankle, was to work an " Oliver ". ( A powered hammer operated by mechanical means using either a hand lever, or in his case, a foot pedal.) Some time off work was to be expected, but not content with what was offered, he egged the tale up a bit, taking the Company to Court. He claimed to be partially paralysed, had lost some of his hearing, now had poor eyesight, suffered from blinding headaches, and a constantly stiff and painful neck. He stated, that before the accident he was a good and loyal workman, had not taken any time off, been very healthy, and earned £2.4s a week. He said he was now out of pocket by over £120 pounds, and in much pain. It's clear from what followed, that the Judge failed to believe the tale, for he agreed with a medical view, that a return to some form of light work ,would produce a cure for the sad wreck of a man who stood before him. The claim was later dropped by William Bourne, who settled for the compensation originly offered by the Tram Company. Does anyone know who was playing the Baggies at the time, and who won the game ?, for it certainly wasn't poor Mr Bourne.


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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

August 14, 2014 at 3:42 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

John Henry Round, aged 13, left his family home in School Street, Shelfield, Walsall Wood, about 6.00am on the morning of the 6th August,1898. He was off to work at the Northywood Brick Quarry, being employed as a Clay Carrier, and it was his first job. He had been born in Hednesford, his father being a miner from the Cannock area, who had already moved several times, in the never ending task of seeking work. It was not a long journey for young John Henry, just a short walk down Stubbers Green Road, across the waste land near Coppice House, and into the quarry. He had already carried several loads to the mixing sheds, all without incident, when suddenly, the totally unexpected happened. As he was passing the gable end of the drying sheds, the whole wall collapsed, trapping him under about a ton of falling Bricks. He would not complete the walk home. Instead, he was delivered, on the back of a cart, bereft of life, his poor little body severely crushed. Now it's not often, that you end up being killed by the very product that you are making, and although it could be described as " ironic " it is far from being very funny, which is why it's in this section, and not in the Humour topic.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

September 8, 2014 at 11:11 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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