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PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2009 7:13 pm 
Spider Lady
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Location: Staffordshire
Preston Guardian

Saturday 29 September 1849

Recent Boiler Explosion at Burnley

The Inquest

On Friday, at the Neptune Inn, Habergham Eaves, an inquest was held on the bodies of John Parkinson, aged 46 years, Henry Robinson, aged 55 years, and James Pickles, aged 57 years, who came by their deaths in consequence of the boiler explosion at Mr. Slater's mill, on the morning of the 18th instant. The inquest commenced at ten o'clock, a.m., and did not terminate till eight o'clock p.m. John Hargreaves, Esq., was coroner, and the jury was composed of the following:- Messrs. C. Morine, musician, foreman; H. Blakeborough, watchmaker; J. W. Annington, drugginst; H. Houlding, grocer; J. Smith, drugginst; R. Harrison, chandler; H. Mansell, draper; P. Hargreaves, mechanic; P. Phillips, sharebroker; J. Butterworth, corn miller; J. Curl, innkeeper; R. Hargreaves, innkeeper; G. Yates, foreman at Mr. Marsland's iron foundry; G. Graham, ironfounder; E. N. Sharples, manager at Messrs. Maierison's printworks; and G. Whitehead, grocer. The first witness was JOhn Edmondson, fire heater in Slater's mill, who deposed that on the morning of the accident, after having supplied fuel to the boilers, he was standing about three yards from said boilers, when he was thrown from the plank on which he stood to the ground, and, feeling hurt, went home and did not return until after dinner. The exploded boiler had worked for two years, was made by Shaw, boiler maker, Habergham Eaves, and worked well. On the Saturday before the explosion, a rivet had blown from the north-west end of the boiler, the end which burst. This was mentioned to Slater, who sent for Shaw, who said there was no danger, and they might go on working it as before. Shaw did not put in another rivet, though steam had been noticed to escape through the opening caused by the expulsion of the rivet. About half a minute before the accident occurred, the fire heater examined the steam guage, and found it right, the peg standing 16 inches above the mercury. His instructions were not to go beyond 17 inches on the guage, which he never had done. -Several other witnesses were examined, among whom was Mr. Henry McCall, consulting engineer, Burnley, who stated: This forenoon I went to examine the situation of the explosion, at Mr. Slater's mill; found the north-west end of a boiler torn; the angle iron which joins the circular end of the boiler to the cylindrical part was torn in two; the upper half of the end was severed and doubled back; the severed part was bulged outwards, which might have been done either before or after the explosion; if it happened before the explosion it must have been a work of time; the tearing off the end, if caused by the explosion, would be instantaneous; he measured the distance of the several weights of the safety valve, and found they gave a pressure of 18 1/4 lb. to the square inch, that is, the boiler will allow of that pressure before the steam will escape through the safety valve; looked at the mercurial steam guage, and found that if the pressure had exceeded 19lb. to the square inch, the mercury could have been expelled; the pressure could not have been excessive, as the mercury was not expelled. I should think that Edmundson's statement regardng the 16 and 17 inches of the guage was correct. The two ends of the boiler were held together by two longitudinal stays. These stays are four feet from the top of the boiler. There are two flues running longitudinally through the boiler, which bind together the lower halves of the ends; but in the upper parts of the ends there is a space of thirty square feet, without any stay connecting the ends. To this want of stays he attributed the occurrence. In the upper part of the boiler, above the two stays at present existing, there ought to have been two additional stays between those already existing and the top of the boiler, and running through from end to end. It would have been better if the angle iron had been stronger. He attributed no importance to the escape of steam mentioned by Edmundson. He should not be afraid of any immediate danger from it, but would have it repaired as soon as possible. Such escapes of steam are frequent, sometimes happening when the boiler is new. The boiler was of a superior style. Boilers are often made with only the number of stays found in the exploded one, but there is risk incurred in the working of them. If the additional stays had been in the boiler, it would have borne a pressure of thirty pounds. The weight of the safety valve is put on by the boiler maker, and is adapted to the strength and construction of the boiler. In this instance, one weight only (one of the balls) was put on by the boiler maker. The additional weight was put on at the risk of the worker. Thought it was not safe, under the circumstances and construction of this boiler, to have put on more than 15lb. Thought the boiler should not be placed immediately under a room in which persons were working. In old mills it was so, but in new ones it was not. The above is the substance of the evidence given. After an able summing up by the coroner, the jury returned a unanimous verdict of "Accidental death" in each case, with the following intimations, they they exonerated from all blame the maker of the boiler, but recommended in future a stronger construction. They desired also that the engineer would in future take care that the steam peg was of proper length, and that the owner of the mill should give a greater personal superintendence to the boiler on his premises. They also wished to call the attention of all millowners and persons about to construct premises for manufacturing purposes, to the importance of having boiler houses detached from the same, instead of allowing them, as in the present case, to form a portion of the general building. As a sequel to the above, we may mention that whilst the jury were consulting as to the nature of their verdicr, the bodies of the deceased were borne in three hearses to the grave yard, attended by their weepeing frineds, whiclst many bystanders gazed on the mournful procession, the gloom of which was rendered still deeper by the darkening twilight and the bitter refelction that the wives and children of the deceased are wholly unprovided for.


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