Ipswich Journal 14 October 1876
An inquest was held on Thursday afternoon in the Board Room at the East Suffolk Hospital, touching the death of James Scott, who died on Wednesday, from the effects of injuries sustained by the falling of a sack of corn upon him, at Bramford, on the 4th inst. The unfortunate man was in the employ of Mr John Hicks, of Flowton Green, and was at the mill with a load of corn. As usual the corn was drawn into the upper storey of the mill from the waggon by the chain worked from trapdoors in the lucam* of the mill. The chain broke, and one of the sacks of corn fell upon Scott, inflicting upon him injuries so serious that from the first the case was despaired of at the East Suffolk Hospital, where he was at once taken. Scott was a most respectable and trustworthy man, and stood high in the confidence of his employer and of all who knew him.
The Coroner, in opening the inquiry, after detailing the manner in which the deceased came by his death, said one of the questions which the Jury would have to consider was, whether there was any negligence in reference to the fall of the sack, or whether the chain was in a reasonable condition to be used.
The Jury having viewed the body, the following evidence was taken.
Elizabeth Scott, widow of the deceased, said. I live at Flowton. The age of my deceased husband is 46. He was an agricultural labourer, in the employ of Mr. John Hicks, of Flowton, farmer. On Wednesday, the 4th of October, I saw my husband a little after four o’clock, about which time he went to work. About six o’clock he left Flowton for Bramford Mill, with three horses and a waggon, containing corn. About half-past nine o’clock, in consequence of what I heard, I went to Bramford. I saw my husband, who was injured, being put into Mr. Blake’s cart. Deceased was conscious, and told me that his back was broken. He also said that one of the sacks fell down from the place where they draw sacks into the mill, and this struck another sack which he was in the act of raising up; this threw him on to the side of the wagon. He said there was one false link in the chain, which he made a man take into the mill and knock to. Deceased made no other complaint about the chain, and was brought here, where I have constantly seen him up to the time of his death, which took place yesterday afternoon.
The Coroner: Do you think anyone is to blame for his death
Witness: No, Sir.
Have you heard from anyone else that the chain was in bad condition? Yes, my brother John, who works at Bramford, told me that the chain was not right.
How did he know? Someone told him.
Examination continued: The deceased told me that the sack had been hoisted up about 30 feet when it fell. The deceased has left four children, the youngest of which is 15.
By Mr. Temple (a juryman): The deceased told me that he was in the waggon when the sack fell.
John Rowland, in the employ of Mr. Blake, Bramford, said: On Wednesday week, about nine o’clock, I saw the deceased come into the yard with a waggon, containing 33 coombs of wheat. He commenced unloading the wheat, each sack being hoisted into the granary by means of an iron chain, which is worked by a windlass. I was in the top of the mill hoisting the wheat up, in company with another young man named Bumpstead, whose duty it was to take the wheat away from the chain. We had hoisted 19 sacks up before anything happened, when the chain slipped off the roller of the windlass, and the jerk broke the chain in about the middle. This caused the sack, which was then on the chain, to fall. I went down the mill and saw the deceased lying in the waggon with the sack by his side. He complained to me of his back, and was afterwards conveyed here. I knew the deceased well. He has often been to the mill before. The sack which was on the chain when it broke struck another sack which the deceased was then raising up. This knocked him on the side of the waggon and caused the injuries. The chain was a good one I believe. It has been there ever since I first went to the mill, about eighteen months. It has only been mended once, to my knowledge, and that was about a month ago. (The chain was here produced, and after the Jury had examined it the witness’s examination was continued.) There was a false link in the chain, and it was that which broke. It was a usual thing to put false links in a chain. I don’t think there was any negligence on the part of anyone.
Arthur Bumpstead, miller, in the service of Mr. Blake, gave evidence of a similar nature. He added that it was the false link in the chain which broke. He heard his brother asked by the deceased to knock one of the links in the chain to. It was not the duty of anyone as far as he knew to examine the chain. Witness had been in Mr. Blake’s service eight years, but could not remember a time when the chain was mended. He did not know the cause of the chain coming off the roller.
By Mr. Whittle (a juryman): I don’t know whether it is the duty of the last witness to see that the chain keeps on the roll.
By another juryman: The roller has flanges or plates on it, but I cannot say how wide they are. The link of the chain which broke was not the one which my brother mended.
By Mr. Hicks (another juryman): The chain has broken before, but I don’t know how many times.
By another juryman: The sack was not being hoisted up at a quicker rate than usual.
Wm. Green, carter to Mr. Blake, living at Brantford, proved bringing the deceased to the Hospital on the day of the accident. He was quite conscious and told witness and the others in the cart that the sack which fell struck another sack which he was getting ready to be hoisted up, and this knocked him on to the side of the cart. The deceased did not attribute any blame to anyone.
Mr. Richard P. Blake, miller, Bramford, having been cautioned by the Coroner, said: I am the lessee of the Bramford Mills. I was at home on the 4th of October, and saw the deceased at the mill, I did not see him unloading. I spoke to him. He was perfectly sober. The witness, Bumpstead, came to my house as I was getting my breakfast, and in consequence of what he told me I went at once to the mill, where I saw the deceased lyinq at the bottom of the waggon in a somewhat doubled up position. He was perfectly conscious, and I ascertained from him that he had been injured by being knocked down by a sack. After attending to the deceased I sent for Dr. Bartlet, by whose direction he was removed here. The chain (produced) is mine, and I consider it a good and sound chain, and will last for another 20 years, barring-accidents. It has been in constant use for ten or twelve years, during which time it has never been repaired, excepting in the mill, and then by a false link. I cannot state definitely when any of the false links were placed in the chain. I cannot say how many false links there are in the chain, which I should think is from 40 to 50 feet long. It is a usual thing to put false links it a chain, in fact, they are as common in a mill as hammers in a blacksmith’s shop. I have never received any complaint, is my recollection, as to the chain. It is no one’s specific duty to examine a chain but it would be the general duty of anyone employed in the mill to remedy any defect in it. I have no idea I when the link was supplied, as we always keep them in the mill. If I had examined each link in that chain, on the morning of the occurrence, I should have passed it as perfectly sound, for I come to this conclusion from having made an examination of the chain since the occurrence.
By the Foreman (Mr. W. Catt: The false links are generally knocked together. I don’t think any undue pressure on the chain would cause a false link to open, but a jerk might.
By the Coroner: The link of the chain which broke, in my opinion, was a good one. There was no undue pressure on the morning of the accident, excepting that caused by the jerk. There was blame attached to no one but the deceased, whom I have known for several years as a steady, sober, and respectable man. It is always the custom of myself and my men to caution all the waggoners who come to my mill not to stand under the sack as it is being hoisted up. I suppose the deceased must have got under the sack as It was being hoisted up, and thus causing the accident.
Mr. Robert Alexander Gibbons, house surgeon at the Hospital, said his substitute, Mr. Burton, took the deceased in on the 4th of October. He was suffering from fracture of the spinal column and compression of the cord. Death resulted from these injuries on Wednesday evening.
The Coroner having briefly summed up, observed that he had investigated the matter rather more fully than he otherwise would have done had he not heard some rumours to the effect that the chain was in a very improper condition.
The Jury returned a verdict of “Accidental death”.
A projecting gable or dormer for external hoisting on a watermill or other building. Also known as BIRDSNEST, LUCARNE, LUCCAM, LUCOMBE, LUCOMB (derived from the French LUCARNE meaning DORMER)
Bramford Mill showing the lucam