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Author Topic: Fatal Crane Accident Dover Marine Station 1927  (Read 4254 times)

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Offline scintilla

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Re: Fatal Crane Accident Dover Marine Station 1927
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2015, 11:17:37 »
Thanks for your interest. Unfortunately my family connection is with the crane driver, rather than the deceased.

Offline scoop

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Re: Fatal Crane Accident Dover Marine Station 1927
« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2015, 21:06:26 »
Doesn't the long list of mourning relatives published in the Dover Express on the same date confirm your family connection? 

Offline scintilla

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Re: Fatal Crane Accident Dover Marine Station 1927
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2015, 12:50:52 »
I've been looking in to this accident because I believe the crane driver was my great uncle. He was born and died in Chatham, but on the 1911 census he was a wharfinger in Chatham, so the name and trade match, I just need to show he lived and worked in Dover (electoral rolls are probably the way to go).

One question I have is when he saw that the load was dropping out of control, the driver said the only thing he could do was to try to stop it with his "crypo". I have been unable to find out what sort of arrangement / device this would have been, can anyone shed any light?

Offline scintilla

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Fatal Crane Accident Dover Marine Station 1927
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2015, 12:44:00 »
Dover Express and East Kent News, Friday, 30 December 1927



The Borough Coroner (Mr. E. T. Lambert) on Friday morning held an Inquest at the Town Hall into the circumstances surrounding the death of Arthur William Bingham who died as the result of injuries received through being knocked down by a luggage crate which was being lowered by a crane at the Marine Station on Wednesday afternoon of last week.

The Coroner was assisted by a jury, which was as follows: Messrs. S. Bell (foreman), R. E. Pritchard, J. Wyatt, J. W. Vinall, S. Meadows, G. F. Barham and H. Stockey.

The jury decided that they did not wish to view the body, the Coroner stating that under recent legislation they were not bound to do so.

Mr. C. B. Roos, Factory Inspector, was present.

Mr. R. Mowll represented the Southern Railway, Mr. W. Scorer the widow, and Mr. Browning, Organising Secretary of the N.U.R. Southern District, the driver of the crane.

Mrs. E. Bingham, 71, Mayfield Avenue, said: My husband was fifty-three, and he was dock porter in the employ of the Southern Railway. He was a healthy, active man. I last saw him on Wednesday at one o’clock, when he left to go to work, as usual. He was then in his usual health.

Dr. Patrick A. N. Hannathy, acting as house surgeon at the Royal Victoria Hospital, said: I examined the deceased when he was admitted on Wednesday, about 3.30. He was suffering from a fractured pelvis. There were minor abrasions of the left side of the forehead and contusion of the lower left eyelid. He was conscious and spoke. He said he had been standing under a crane and whatever it was they were lifting came down on him and doubled him in two. He was treated, but the case was hopeless from the start, and he died at 3.10 a.m. on Thursday. I performed a post mortem examination, and it showed the fracture was a severe one, both in front and behind. There was considerable hemorrhage, and death was due to the injury and the shock in connection with it.

Herbert William Taylor, 14, Paul’s Place, Bridge St. said: I am a dock porter, employed by the Southern Railway. We were on Wednesday afternoon unloading baggage boxes from the s.s. “Invicta” on to the quayside. Bingham was making a clove hitch round the guard rail on the quayside when I first saw him. Then I saw he was setting another rope ready to throw aboard, having the coil in his hand. At that time boxes were being unloaded by means of the crane, and a box was then coming out of the hold and being swung round towards the quayside. When it got in line with the quayside, about 14 or 15 feet from the ground, I saw the box coming down rather quickly, and I shouted out "Look out there, stand from under.“ Bingham was then directly under it. I was banksman and it was my duty to see the crates on to the truck. The box came down swiftly and hit the deceased. It was too late to do anything when I shouted. Deceased was knocked down. The crane driver had already raised the box off the deceased, and I backed the crane round from the scene of the accident. As soon as it was clear, the box came down with a rush again. It was lifted again immediately. Then the crane driver jibbed out and the box came down and unhooked itself, which was what should have happened in the first place. There is a spring hook connected to the top of the box which unhooks.
Have you known this kind of accident to happen to the crane before?—No, never before.

Why do you think it happened. Have you any idea?—No, I have no idea whatsoever.

The work was being done in the usual way?—Yes, as it is always done.

In reply to the Inspector, witness said that the crane had finished hoisting as soon as it was out of the boat, and it was swinging round at the time of the accident. It came down with a rush.

The Inspector: Out at control?—Yes, as far as I could see.

Mr. Scorer: What was the size of the box?—Seven foot by five feet.

Very heavy?—I looked at the box, and it was 18cwts, 1qtr. 15lbs.

Coroner: When empty?—Yes.

Witness, in reply to other questions, said that he had seen the crane working every day, and never seen anything like this happen before.

Robert Jesse Mutton, 15, Edred Rd., dock porter, said: I was working with the last witness. I was on the quayside waiting to screw the box to the truck when I heard Taylor shout, “Look up, there," and I looked up and saw the box coming down.

The Coroner: Just as Taylor has described?—Yes.

What did you do?—We were standing clear because it was still on the move, but the next I saw was Bingham on the ground and being surrounded by ambulance men. I ran and got the ambulance box.

The Coroner: Can you tell us anything more?—No.

The Inspector: How far was the ambulance box?—Only the width of the pier—about 20 yards.

The Coroner said that there were two other witnesses who could corroborate.

The jury said that they did not think it necessary to call them.

Albert William McDowell, 14, Clarence St., said: I am a crane driver and was working the crane in question. I have been engaged on this or similar one for four years and seven months, and knew all there was to be known about it.

The Coroner: Do you pass a test before being qualified to drive it?—Yes.

Witness continuing, said: I was engaged on No. 5 crane, getting boxes out of the s.s "Invicta.” I slewed round over the hold, the box was hooked on, and I was given the “right away” by the signal of the hand, meaning it was all right for hoisting. As soon as I was clear of the hold I slewed towards the quay, and when I had the box high enough I stopped hoisting. When I stopped hoisting the brake should have acted, but it failed to do so—the cause I do not know. When I realised what had happened I did the only thing I could, I took the hoisting lever and tried to stop it with my crypo. I stopped it too late to avoid the accident. I saw it strike Bingham.

Had you completed the swing then?—No, sir, not right round.

Witness said: I hoisted it again, and the men were flying in all directions. It kept slipping, but I could not land it until I found the way clear. Afterwards, with the fitter, I lifted the box on to the truck, and three others, without any difficulty whatever. The brakes worked quite all right then.

The Coroner: I suppose the crane was capable of lifting this weight?—Yes, more than eight tons.

What was the weight of this?—Not much more than two.

Have you known this happen before?—Not to myself personally.

You have heard of cases of the brake slipping?—Yes.

Do you know the cause?—No.

Had you used the crane before that day?—No, the day before.

Do you think the wet weather had anything to do with it?—Perhaps the frost would affect the brakes, and the sudden thaw setting in.

You could test the brake before?—Not until I got a weight on.

A juryman: Was this the first box?—Yes.

Had the boat been tied up?—No, it was being tied up.

Was the boat up to time that day?—As near as I can say.

Was there a tendency to hurry things up?—No. Just the ordinary way of working.

The Inspector: Have you known cranes to slip on this quay?—Yes.

In reply to other questions, witness said that he could only test with the brake when there was a load on. The testing was done by the engineer. He looked round to see everything was in working order first.

Mr. Mowll: Who does the examining, if you do not?—One looks round to see it is in working order.

Is it not your duty as a driver?—Oh, yes, you do it before you start.

Is it no one's duty but yourselves?—No, unless there is anything wrong.

You had been working this crane for sometime past, and as far as you knew there is nothing to complain of?—No.

You had this regrettable accident, and you called the fitter in. Did the fitter do anything to alter the machinery or to affect the working of the brake?—No, sir.

So when the fitter arrived the machinery of the brake acted perfectly, and nothing had been done to alter the condition?—Nothing.

It went on working satisfactorily, and you completed the unloading with the same crane?—Yes.

Does not that teach us a lesson that there must have been some condition in the brake when you started working on it?—I cannot say.

My suggestion to you is that moisture had got into that brake—For two or three days we had a severe frost and that particular day a thaw suddenly set in sharply. Everything was sweating, as they say.

Is not that the probable cause of the trouble?—Yes.

Could you not have removed the moisture from the brake?—It is an internal brake.

Is it get-at-able?—There are three or four holes: you could look at it.

I am only making it as a suggestion, but you could have seen it. It is the sort of thing that might happen to anyone. I suggest it was the probable cause of the accident.

The Coroner: You could not see if your internal brake was wet?—No.

Have you ever known a case of sweating like this before to affect the working?—No.

Mr. Scorer: You took the lift all right, and how far did you take it up.—About 12ft above the quay.

In reply to other questions by Mr. Scorer witness said that be used the crane fairly regularly and had used it on Monday and Tuesday. The crane was overhauled every two years and taken right down. The brake was composed of fabric. If he had thought there was moisture in the brake he would not have used it. He took it that it acted all right afterwards because the moisture dried out through the fiction.

Mr. Browning asked a number of questions. and witness said that he was only an emergency driver, but had passed out. There was a place in the crane for a fire.

Was there a fire there in the afternoon?—No, but there had been in the morning.

A fire would have assisted in keeping the machinery dry?—Yes.

In reply to another question witness said that the fire was a long way from the brake.

Robert William Rose, 18, Tower Hamlets Road, said I am a fitter in the Marine Dept. of the Southern Railway, and usually attend to the overhauling of the cranes. l was summoned by McDowell on Wednesday shortly after three o'clock, to examine his crane. I examined it, and found everything in working order. I watched the completion of the unloading, and everything was done entirely satisfactorily. I examined the brakes carefully and they were in perfect order, and there was no sign there had been anything wrong with them.

Can you account for the brake slipping?—I should say it was due to the moisture.

And the moisture was due to?—Atmospheric conditions, or rain driving in the front of the crane.

Could the driver have ascertained the band, was wet?—By looking inside the casing.

Was there any reason for anticipating it would be wet?—No, sir.

Have you known a similar case?—Yes.

Witness said that grease was sometimes the cause of a slip, and sometimes moisture.

The Foreman: How long would it take to get to the internal brake?—About two minutes.

Have you received instructions to see they are in order?—We make an inspection once a month of the wires and machinery.

Is there any special book of instruction telling drivers what to do?—No.

Irrespective of the weather, you carry on?—Yes.

In reply to the Inspector, witness said that the driver could test the crane without sending for him. There was a monthly examination and a thorough overhaul every two years.

Mr. Scorer: When was the last inspection?—December 5th.

Witness, in reply to other questions, said he saw moisture on the outside of the casing but not on the brake.

Mr. Mowll: Whatever moisture there had been on the brake had evaporated?—Yes.

George Clitheroe, 277, London Road, another crane driver, said: I used the crane on Tuesday evening. It was then in perfect working order.

Mr. D. McQueen, Superintendent Engineer Marine Dept., Southern Railway, was about to produce plans of the crane but the Jury said that they were quite satisfied without them.

The Coroner, summing up, said that they had no real evidence showing how the accident happened, but there had been a suggestion that the only thing that could have caused it was the state of the weather. Considering what Wednesday was like he thought it was a reasonable explanation that when the brake was first used it had been sweating. It had been said that the driver should have seen by inspecting the brakes, but apparently from what he said, there was no visible signs externally, and there was no reason to suppose there was anything wrong internally. If this was not the cause, there was nothing else to show what was the cause of it, as the crane worked perfectly directly afterwards.

A juryman asked what was the capacity of the crane, and Mr. McQueen said that it was about four tons, and not as stated previously, but the load was only about half that.

The Foreman said he did not think the men should be allowed to walk about as they like under a two ton burden.

Another juryman said that it did not seem so much the fault of the machinery as lack of instructions to keep people away from the working of the crane.

The Coroner: You can give any number of orders, but you know people take no notice of them.

Mr. Browning and Mr. Scorer both pointed out that the deceased was working there are at the time.
A juryman said that it seemed that the man was there because they wanted to get the ship clear a few minutes earlier.

The Coroner said that he would ask the jury to consider whether the deceased met his death through misadventure or whether anyone was to blame.

The jury retired and were absent for about a quarter of an hour.

The Foreman, on return said:—We have come to the conclusion that the deceased met his death by accident due to the brake of the crane failing to act through undue moisture, due to the climatic conditions, and we suggest that a test lift should be given before the operation of loading and unloading commences. The jury wish to tender to the widow and family their sincere sympathy.

Expressions of sympathy were made by Mr. Mowll, Mr. Scorer and Mr. Browning, and by the crane driver, McDowell.


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