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"Yesterday the enquiry touching the death of Isaac Hickman, thirteen years of
age, son of William Hickman, and living at Gornal Wood, who came by his death
from an explosion which occurred in one of Lord Ward's pits, of the Himley
Colliery, in the parish of Sedgley, on the 16th ult., and who, from the effects
of the burns, died on the following Thursday. It was held before W. B. Phillips.
Esq., Deputy Coroner, and a body of Jurors, of which Mr. Thomas Gordon Bunch was
the foreman, at the house of Mrs. Hughes, the Bull's Head Inn, Himley Road,
Lower Gornal. The Inspector of Mines for this district, Mr. Longridge, was
present during this third day of investigation of the affair. From the evidence
taken on the previous days of enquiry it appears, from the testimony of several
witnesses, that on the 16th of last month a boy, of the name of James Davies,
had had instruction from the doggy to keep open a certain door, communicating
with a worked-out portion of the mine, and that on the Saturday [16th] evening
he shut it in entire opposition to his instructions. The result was that the
sulphur caught fire, which, together with powder that was in the pits, caused a
shocking explosion, burning the four men and two boys, who happened to be still
remaining in the pit. The boy, whose blameable carelessness had so endangered
the lives of his fellow workers, was badly burnt himself. The evidence elicited
yesterday from Mr. Richard Groucutt, ground bailiff to Lord Ward, was to the
effect that the said doors had only been placed there a few hours before the sad
explosion. His opinion was that the catastrophe was wholly attributable to the
door being shut. The Foreman of the Jury here enquired of the Coroner if there
was any one on the Jury who were in the employ, or otherwise connected with,
Lord Ward, as it had been rumoured that they dare not give their verdict in that
case according to their own convictions, but must return the verdict as laid
down for them. The Coroner said it would be a difficulty to find a body of
jurors there who were not in some respects, either as workmen or as in business,
who has no dealing with his Lordship. He would not believe in any such rumour,
beside the Jury were sworn to give a conscientious verdict, and that he believed
they would do. Mr. Longridge. mine inspector deposed that having seen the plan
of the pits produced, and heard the evidence given by the several witnesses, he
was of opinion that the explosion was the result of the doors being closed. I
don't think that the sulphur would have stirred down to the place if the doors
had been shut. James Davies, a youth, endeavoured to excuse himself by the plea
that, "I shut the doors without a thought. I went from the doors, and was busy
with the horse, and did not think of anything being the matter." After a very
careful enquiry of the whole case, the Jury conferred for about twenty minutes,
and returned a verdict of "Manslaughter" against one of the sufferers, James
Boiler Explosion at Himley Colliery" in
Birmingham Daily Post 17th August 1859
Give me a woman who truly loves beer and I will conquer the world.”
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