LEAD MINER KILLED BY FALL
On Wednesday in last week at the School-room, Rhandirmwyn, near Llandovery, Mr T. H. Powell, Llandilo, the district coroner, held an inquest on the body of Mr William Evans, of Cwmsaithe, (Cwmsaethau), Rhandirmwyn, a lead miner, who succumbed to injuries received whilst working in the Nantymwyn Lead Mines on the preceding Monday.
Mr Isaac Thomas, headmaster of the Rhandirmwyn School, acted as foreman of the jury. Mr T. Walden, Inspector of Mines, Neath was present whilst Mr J. Phillips, Town Clerk, Llandovery, represented the Nantymwyn Lead Mines Company and Mr A. Pryse Davies, solicitor, Llandovery looked after the interest of the widow and family.
Mr David Rees Evans, 7 King’s Road, Llandovery, ironmonger and plumber, gave evidence of identification and said deceased who was his brother lived at Cwmsaithe, Rhandirmwyn and was a lead miner. He was 48 years of age, a married man with a wife and two children. The deceased had been regularly employed as a lead-miner at the Nantymwyn Mines since the war terminated. He (witness) believed that he was insured. He did not know anything about the accident.
Questioned by the Inspector of Mines, witness said his brother was employed at Llandybie Colliery as a haulier and repairer prior to his present employment. The hearing and eyesight of the deceased was good, and he was physically fit and active.
Mr David Evan Jones, 2 Pannau-street, Rhandirmwyn, stated that he was a lead-miner at the Nantymwyn Mines. He had been there three years and this was his first employment. He was working with the deceased at the time of the accident, going down with the deceased at three o’clock in the afternoon, and he went to the South Lode middle level. His work was ripping, and taking the loose stuff away after the morning blasting. Anything loose on the floor and sides was also taken away. Witness put it on one side and used a pickaxe, shovel and bar. He was with the deceased the whole time, and acted under his orders. He saw the deceased taking precautions by testing and tapping so that he might feel convinced that the place was safe to work in. The deceased did this with the handle of the shovel. He could tell the difference by the sound if unsafe.
He heard the deceased remark that it sounded very solid. When the deceased was testing the roof, he (witness) was five to six feet away, and could hear what the sound was. When the accident occurred they had been working for about three hours. This would be about six o’clock. He did not hear anything, but happened to look round and saw the roof fallen. The deceased was right underneath the fall and had no chance to save himself. There was another man working with him, Roger Evans Jones, who was his partner. They were both working at the same job, with about four feet between them. There was a difference in the work carried out by the deceased and their work. The deceased was ripping and shovelling, whilst he was shovelling only. It required more experience in ripping. Roger Evans Jones was hurt but not fatally. Witness succeeded in clearing the stuff off Jones, as he was nearer to him than the deceased and consequently went to him first. Jones complained that he had injured his legs. The deceased was completely covered with the fall, and as no one was near, it was useless calling for help. He did all he possibly could to uncover the deceased. There were large stones on him, and witness managed to get everything away but what was lying on his feet. It took him about twenty minutes to do so. Failing to clear all the stones away he went for help to the shaft.
Deceased was then conscious, and asked witness to clear him and asked how his pal Roger Evans Jones was. Deceased was bleeding in the face, but at first he did not think that the deceased was badly injured. Witness ran a distance of 500 yards (450 metres) for assistance which came at once. From the time he left the deceased and secured help something like five to six minutes had transpired. Witness had not used any explosives, neither had the deceased done so during the shift. The thickness of the roof was 12 to 15 inches.
Questioned by the Inspector, witness said he was 19 years of age, and during the three years he was employed he worked underground, and part time on the surface. He left ripping or breaking down work for two months and was working on the roads and handling drams where then men worked. His work was not specific. He used an acetylene lamp. He did not fill any bogeys (drams) on the day of the accident.
All he did that day was to help the deceased, so he knew all that had occurred. The deceased started ripping the top at the outer end and went forward about seven feet. This took from 3.30 to 6 p.m. Five minutes before the accident the deceased had suggested going for a meal. They were then close together. Deceased went forward an arm’s length from him and used a pick at the bottom. He tapped the roof and the accident occurred where deceased had been picking the roof. The part above the deceased’s head fell.
A TRUSTWORTHY AND CAPABLE MINER
Captain Joseph Nile deposed that he resided at Nantymwyn House, and was a mining engineer, and manager of the Nantymwyn Lead Mines. The deceased had been employed by the company for nine to ten years, and was an experienced underground man. He had observed him on different occasions and found him to be a very trustworthy miner. In fact the deceased was one of the best he had had the privilege to employ. He was quite capable and safe. The size of the opening was five feet high and five feet wide, which was a reasonable height. The system of working was overhang picking on an overhead lode. On the day shift preceding the accident eleven shots had been drilled and fired at the far end of the stope which was 60 feet long. The length would be effected 20 feet stope, and the blast on this account would free from 30 to 50 tons.
Witness visited the place at 10 o’clock on the morning of the accident when drilling was proceeding. Mr Franklin, the foreman sent the men to the places as he was deputed to do so. They were given instructions to take down all the loose materials, which would necessitate the using of bars and picks. The picks were used for pulling down and testing as well. He had been in the section where the fall occurred, and saw no evidence of any carelessness. The roof was not supported by timbers. It was an accidental misjudgement and not a deliberate one on the part of the deceased.
Dr J. Glaister of Llandovery, stated that on the 6th inst. He made a professional call at Gwynfaes Farm, and was called from there to the scene of the accident. On arrival he saw the deceased and found that he was dead. This was about 8 o’clock. Witness examined his head and found bleeding from the ear and nose, and a few cuts about the face. He died through the base of the skull being fractured.
The Coroner, in summing up, said it was one of those unfortunate accidents which occurred sometimes. In this case he was satisfied that it was not due through carelessness and apparently could not be avoided.
The jury returned a verdict that the deceased was accidentally killed through the fall of the roof causing a fractured base of the skull, and that there was no lack of care on the part of the management of the mine.
The Coroner – I quite agree with your verdict.
Mr J. Phillips on behalf of the company expressed the deepest sympathy with the widow and family in their sad and unfortunate bereavement.
Carmarthen Journal 27th June 1930
(note) I was aware of this incident and sad loss of William Evans’ life as the witness David Evan Jones was my late father. He however never ever spoke about it and my mother used to tell me that on occasion, even in later life he had flashbacks of the incident.
It is said that one of the slabs of rock he removed off William Evans was so large that it took a number of men to remove it later. There is no doubt that a human can produce considerable physical strength when the occasion demands. At the time he was 19 years of age. He never returned to work in the mine.
STOPE - An excavation in the form of steps made by the mining of ore from steeply inclined or vertical veins.
LODE - A vein of mineral ore deposited between clearly demarcated layers of rock.