Steam crane excavating clay at brickworks, 1920s [X306/78]
Saturday 27th November 1915: A tragic and shocking accident took place yesterday evening at Messrs B. and J. Forder’s Brickworks at Elstow Hardwick. Eighteen year old Thomas Clarke went on duty for the night shift at 6pm. He was helping to start the machinery and checking that it was running properly when his coat caught in the shafting. He was flung against the wall, caught in the chain wheel and suffered terrible injuries. Dr. Roberts and the police were called and he was pronounced dead at 6.30. His injuries were such that there can be no doubt his death must have been instantaneous.
William Watts of Houghton Conquest was on duty in the shaft house with Clarke. He states that they had put the belt on the fast pulley which drove the main shafting and that Clarke was aware the belt was moving. The fast and loose pulleys were outside the door of the building. The foreman says that Clarke and Watts should have gone round the outside to check the belts were working but instead they went into a tunnel to check the belts above. This tunnel was only intended to be used to oil the equipment during the day when the machinery was not running but the men had no orders not to use it. Watts stated at the inquest that both the foreman and manager had seen him going in the tunnel and had never warned him against it. A verdict of accidental death was passed and the jury gave instructions that the doorway of the tunnel should be bricked up and the shafting guarded.
Source: Bedfordshire Standard, 3rd December 1915