Day Log/1875-11-29

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An accident occurred on 17 November 1875.

The adjourned inquest was held on this day, a Monday. [1] [2]

Details[edit source]

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FESTINIOG. IMPORTANT INQUEST. On Monday, November 29th, the adjourned inquest on the body of Owen Owens, a young man, twenty-two years of age, killed at the foot of the incline from the Cwmorthin quarry near the village of Tanygrisiau, on the 17th Nov., was held at the Queen's Hotel, before Mr. G. J. Williams, coroner, and a ivspecSabie and intelligent jury, of whom Mr Daniel Williams, scripture reader, was foreman. There were present to watch the proceedings on behalf of the Secretary of State, Mr. T. Fanning Kvans, inspector of mines; on behalf cf the Festiniog Railway Company, Mr John t.. Joaes, Portaadoc, with Captain P. Spooner on behalf of the Cwmorthin Slate Company, Mr Ellis Roberts, Festiniog, with Mr. J. F. Sims, Piasynmhenrhyn, the manager of the quarry; the family of the deceased was nou represented by a solicitor. The Coroner opened the proceedings by reading the evidence of Mr Andreas Roberts, at the previous sitting which n was to the following effect. He said he lived at Cwm- orthin, and was manager at that quarry, in which deceased W'm, He clLd Oil the lïtb. November. the Coroner then proceeded to take fresh evidence. Morris Williams said he lived at Penrhyn, and worked at the Cwmorthin quarry. Knew the deceased who had worked with him for the last two years. Remembered the day he v/ps killed. He was near him when he was killed, being with him working at the time. They found his body at the sine of the Festiniog railway ????? it was John Jone- that first found it.

Deceased was, at the time, taking a waggon from the turntable towards the foot of the incline le to attach it to the chain the turntable being nearly opposite the incline, and the waggon on the hue of the Cwmorthin incline. He had not hooked the waggon, but he had gone along the whole of the level space up to the foot of the incline. There was a double set of rails on the incline, one for the lo.ided trucks to come- down and the other for the empty ones to go up. The loaded waggons were on the rails next to Rhiw, and the empty ones were to go up the rails uex:. to the Portmadoc side. There were two loaded trucks to come down, but only one came. The loaded trucks were by their gravity to draw up the empty ones. The deceased had not had time to fasten the empty aggoll to the ch;,}; Q ere the loaded waggon came down by itself. These two ra,i.a on the incline meet together au tile bottom of the incline, so that the loaded truck came down straight on the one deceased was going- to fasten, and hit it, the deceased being behind the empty one. It could not be seen coming, as there was a great fog with wind and rain. He could not say how deceased was killed, only he inferred that the loaded waggon struck the empty one, which in its turn struck deceased. Witness, looking about after the accident could not find deceased, but at bRt; saw him on the Portmadoo side of the Festiniog railway. There was nothing on him besides a few fragments cf sbtes. He and John Jones found the body a: a distance of seven or eight from the cross roads at the bottom of the incline. The empty waggon was broken in pieces, and the one they had turned went to the garden close by, and the loaded truck that came down the incline went down to John Jones's yard. Mr Sims here explained that they, at the wish of the Festiniog Railway Company, put the brake waggon first iu the train they sent down, and that the turn-table was convenient for that purpose.

Witness continued and said the man was quite dead when they found him. He was much bruised, crushed, and mutilated. He was first taken down to the waiting room at the station, and thence conveyed to the hospital. The cause of that waggon coming down by itself was the breakage of the connecting link between it and the other waggon at the top of the incline, when they were ready to start down the other waggon remaining attached to the chain. Witness saw the link that broke â�� it was attached to the waggon after the accident. The waggons belonged to the Festiniog Railway Company, and he thought it was the business of that Company to see that they were in a proper state. By Mr Ellis Robertsâ��He did not know the length of the incline. He considered that the impetus of the descending waggon was enough to throw deceased seven or eight yards. ° By Mr T. F. Evansâ��He saw the link when the waggon had come down, hut did not see it detached. The link produced was the one attached to the waggon; of that he was sure. By Mr E. Roberts-He was not present when Mr Sims took it away from the waggon. By Mr Evansâ��He had worked there for two years and a half, but had seen no accident on that incline before but had seen accidents at other inclines by the breaking of links several times. The links were the general cause of these accidents, and not the breakage of the chains, as the former were not properly made. The Coroner said he wanted to know who was to supply these waggons and who was to see that they were in a safe condition. If there was anybody to blame, it was neces- sary to find him out-who was to see that these links were in such a condition that no accidents of this sort could take place. The cause of death in the Present instance was plain but how could the man be thrown round the corner into the position where he was found ? Mr Sims explained that the descending waggon would strike the loaded waggon and send it with great force against the empty one, which would strike the deceased and carry him that distance round the corner. One of the waggons was turned off on the main line. Witness, by Mr Evansâ��The descending waggon went to John Jones's yard, and the other loaded one at the bottom of the incline went over to the garden. Mr E. Roberts said he was present to press that it was an act of culpable negligence on the part of the Railway Com- pany, the owners of the waggons. The Coroner said the master was not criminally liable for the acts of his servants, unless he was present with them, and this Court was not to inquire into any civil liabilities of the owners. Mr Evans said he was not there in any judicial capacity, but acting on behalf of the Secretary of State, to see whether it was not possible to avoid these accidents in future. The Coroner observed that if he found that any person was guilty of culpable negligence, he would take him up himself. But all that could be done there was to inquire into a criminal charge. In the coach accident near Tany- bwlch it was shown that the proprietors of the coach, being themselves absent, were not criminally liable for the acts of their servants, although they were civilly. Mr Sims said he quite agreed with what had dropped from the Coroner, and what Mr J. H. Jones had told him outside the Court, that they could not proceed criminally against the Festiniog Railway Company, if it was against anybody it mu*t be against their servants, J. Jones said it was he that first found the body of the de- ceased; it was down on the side of the Festiniog Railway next to the mountain. There was a little slate rubbish on it. One leg was nearly severed from his body, and much blood ran from his face-he was quite dead. He (witness) was at the l'anygrisiau Station when the accident took place. He understood that deceased saw the waggon coming down and that he was running away, calling to Morris Williams, the previous witness, to keep clear, and that the waggon was hurled over him. There was a block there to prevent the waggons from the Cwmorthin premises coming to the main line. The empty waggon was struck, it struck the loaded one in turn, and this one struck deceased. The body lay seven or eieht yards from the turn-table. Mr Joseph Farmer Sims said he lived at Plasynmhen- rhyn in the parish of Llanfihangel-y-traethau, and was manager of the Cwmorthin Slate Quarry. He was up at the quarrv when this accident happened. He had spoken to deceased previously. When he heard of the accident he ran down immediately as fast as he could. On arriving down he asked where the man had been },urt_ g pool of blood where he had been killed; but the body bad been taken to the hospital before he arrived He asked where the descending waggon had gone, and wS told it WilliamR and ,tKe Roberts, John Davies, Morris will am an, l Were P1^ He believed Morris illiams saw it go, there. He knew it was the waggon that mia run (.own the incline from its number, which was 917. He coUid not swea: it was the waggon that came down by having seen it come but the man working at the top of the incline could prove it to be. It was John Jones who took off the broken link in his presence, and by his instructions. Some one present wanted him to leave it there 'a order that the Festiniog Railway Company might see it, but be replied, No, I must have that link," and he had had it in bis possession since. It was the one produced. It was the Festiniog Railway Company that supplied the waggons to them, and put them to their (the quarry company's) sidings for their use. Probably that particular waggon had been put to their siding two days previously, but he could not prove it. They did not take the numbers of the waggons until they were loaded at the quarry, but the moment they were loaded the numbers were taken. They were then taken down to Portmadoc, and checked by their clerk there. It was Humphrey Roberts that marked the number on the waggon. He (witness) knew nothing of the interior arrangements of the Festiniog Railway Company.

He did not know how the links were made they were not allowed to interfere in anyway with their waggons, except to load them. He believed the waggon inspector of the Festiniog Railway Company was Henry Cooke; and John Davies, at Portmadoc, was to examine them. The Coroner wished to know who was appointed by tho company to see that the links were tested, but nobody offering to give the information, the jury asked if the Festiniog Railway Company could not be compelled to give the information. The Coroner replied they could have Mr C. E. Spooner summoned to give evidence on the point, and it transpired that he was then in London. Mr Roberts, one of the jury, said he was formerly slate inspector at the Messrs Mathew's quarry, and he did not think that there was anybody appointed to test them. He used to see a great many broken links attaches to the wagons sent to that quarry. He used to mark on the way bill when there was a bad link. The Coroner observed that on other lines they had wagoû inspectors; it was of great importance fox every railway company to have such an inspector. He (the Coroner) was determined to see to the bottom of this affair. I Mr J. H. Jones said he believed there was no waggon inspector on this line. Mr Sims said he had seen the servants of the Festiniog Railway Company at his quarry taking the numbers of their wa,:gons but not inspecting them. Mr J. H. Jones remarked th2.t the waggons are sent up empty and he thought the proper time to examine them was before they went down over 'he inclines loaded, and he thought they ought to be examined also when empty. Mr Sims said that during the last seven weeks they had bad six waggons with broken links. Mr Evan. asked if they were not attached to the passenger trains going up, and the foreman of the jury said they were, and that there were men going on these waggons daily. Mr Sims, in answer to Mr Evans, said he thought the diameter of the chain was about one and a quarter inches, and that it ought to a strain of from six to seven tons. Mr Evans said Mr Sims had given the safe working load of that link at about seven tons; the proof strain would i 2 be about 13 tons, and the weight necessary to breakii; would be about 15 tons. Mr J. H. Jones asked if a properly constructed 1111 should not nold 24 tons suspended weight. Mr Evans said it should hold about 18 tons if the qualitf ot the iron was good, and Mr Sims calculated it at Id t00.3" Ihe latter also said the quantity of slates in the waggon", question would be from 2 tons 10 cwt. to 2 tons 12 cwi., afld | The latter also said the quantity of slatps in question would be from 2 tons 10 cwt. to 2 tons 12 cwi., afld | Mr Spooner having given the weight of the waggon at 1 to* Tai tno ,calcukted the weight of the loaded at about 3 tons 10 cwt., Mr Sims did not koow what the angle of the declivity of the incline, but it was rat^' a flat one, and very fiat as compared with others in neighbourhood-he should say it was one to six or seve* I,Ir IJvans said what he wanted to show was th»t«* link broke with a very much Jess strain than a good W was calculated to hold i.e., fro;X, 18 to 21 toas. â�� Mr Srnls sa'd he was sure that the link was not prop*?{ welded, and lie was well acquainted with the construct"05 of such links, having spent some fourteen years in con^l tion with such business. The links used bv the Fe3ti°l0* Railway Company were made, he believed" on the cof pany's premises at Boston Lodge but he did"'not knoW were t.he responsible parties there. Coronerâ��We ought to get at the man who tests tb^ links. Mr Sims, examined by Mr J. H..Tones said thai; Io^I ing at the wear at the other end of the link he could ""j say how long it had been used, hut he did not think it K. been in use very long, for it uid not show a consider*" wear. Mr Evans, on being asked hi3 opinion, said it had cot^t very much worn, nothing to warrant its giving Wav 1 manner. Mr.T.H. Jonesasked Mr Sims how he account, d for its&rfy way then, and he replied that the last straw broke the back, and this might have given way by decrees. l*e peated that it had never been properly welded It to have adhered at one side, but not at the other. *>8 the duty of the railway company to deliver the to them in a proper state. The railway company's set d were not taking the numbers of the waggons at his to fix the demurrage. He was not aware theiv fW man oa behalf of the railway company to see tb*E jf vvagarons were in proper order whilst on "his premise8, he (Mr S.) saw anything wrong with them it p duty to send the waggons down to Hostou Lodge f°V pairs. The link must have been in a dangerous sta^o- Weeks He did not send this down, because"he had oot the state it was in..J, an-1 ^kedif1,^ <jbserve(I that material evidence was p «â�¢" â�� Mr J Vf. Jones thought it was mat -Hal that the should be inspected, but was no; the q;i .r.-v co nnU' 0 to do that ? J

The Coronor replied that it is like en^a^ing a c9^|a an hoM, the proprietor was expected to send it out in S" condition. A? Mr J. H. Jones thought it was not the .'ir.y of tM way company to send the waggons in proper order, Sims offered to bring the agreement between it the railway company to the next inquest, showing was. Mr Roberts, one of the jurors, said that when o' slate inspector, it was not his duty to examine the s the waggons, but that, for the safety of his fellow he used to do it. 9et> Having consulted the convenience of Mr C. E- Mr J. Fanning Evans, and the jury, the Coroner the inquest to that day week.

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References[edit source]

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  2. ^ "FESTINIOG - The Cambrian News and Merionethshire Standard". John Askew Roberts, Edward Woodall & Richard Henry Venables. 1875-12-03. Retrieved 2015-11-27.