Read, William 1878 January 5th
On Saturday morning an accident of a fatal character occurred to a young man named William Read, who was in the employ of Mr Griffin, timber-merchant, of Fisherton. It appears that deceased brought a large tree from Milford into Fisherton-street, and whilst taking it into the timber yard of his employer was caught by the shaft of the waggon and jammed against the gate post, receiving injuries thereby that resulted in his death. The sad occurrence is all the more lamentable when it is remembered that the poor young fellow, who is only 19 years of age, had been married but a few days, and had just received a few days’ holiday from his master to celebrate the event. After the accident deceased was removed to the Infirmary, where he died 25 minutes after his admission. On the following Monday, at 3pm, an inquiry was held by the city coroner, Mr Smith, into the circumstances attending the death.
Dr Lee, medical practitioner, residing at Salisbury, deposed that on Saturday morning, between 12 and 1 o’clock, he was in Fisherton-street, where he observed that a large piece of timber was being taken into Mr Griffin’s yard, and he just reached the spot as it was turning round. He was wondering how it was going to turn into the yard, when the near horse ran short of the gateway and came against the post. The horses backed a little way, and deceased fell down on the pavement. He went to his assistance and found he was very faint, and in great pain. He (witness) immediately advised the man’s being removed to the Infirmary. This was done at once, but previous to his removal, the neighbours supplied him with a little brandy. It was his opinion that deceased must have sustained a great crush somehow. Even if deceased wished to stop the waggon he could not have, for there was another horse in front of the two in the shafts. It was a very large piece of timber they were trying to get into the yard.
A juror : Don’t you think it’s an awkward entrance?
Dr Lee : I certainly think it’s awkward, but if the man had got in front of the horses, or had taken the front horse out, the accident might not have occurred.
A juror : Don’t you think some improvement can be made in the gateway? For instance, if that small entrance to the yard were removed, and the post put close back against the wall?
Dr Lee replied in the affirmative.
Several of the jurors were also of the opinion that it would be an improvement if the entrance to the yard could be enlarged.
Dr James Kelland, house doctor to the Salisbury Infirmary, deposed that the deceased was admitted into the Infirmary at 12.30 on Saturday morning. Deceased was put down outside the Infirmary, and witness examined him then, and also when he was taken inside. His face was extremely white, and he was partially unconscious. His clothes on the right side were torn; and there were some drops of blood on the clothes, which apparently came from his mouth. On the clothes being removed he found a contused wound, about as large as the palm of a man’s hand. The contusion was over the seventh and eighth ribs, which were fractured. There were no other wounds, but there were symptoms of internal hemorrhage, which in itself would be sufficient to cause death. Deceased died five minutes to one on the same day.
In answer to a juror witness said deceased told them where he was working, and where he came from, before he died.
George Stanley, of Gas-lane, Fisherton, stated that he was a carter in the employ of Mr Griffin, timber-merchant. Deceased lodged with him, and on Saturday he told him that he had a large tree to bring to the yard from Milford, and he asked witness to assist him, as he wanted to go home in the evening. Witness complied with deceased’s request, and after they had succeeded in getting the tree on to the waggon, they proceeded to bring it into Salisbury. When they reached the yard deceased was leading the near wheel horse with his right hand, and in his left hand carried a whip. There were three horses drawing the waggon, two in the shafts, and one in front. When they were going into the entrance of the yard deceased was looking sideways, and the shaft of the waggon caught him in the side, and jammed him up against the post. Deceased was looking towards the horses with his side towards the wall, and his intention was to go a little further for the hind wheels to miss the gate post.
In answer to questions from the jury, he said the tree was a long one – rather over thirty feet – but not longer than other trees that had been taken into the yard.
A juror : Don’t you think it dangerous to take a tree of that length in that gateway?
Witness replied that he considered it was dangerous to take a tree so large into the gateway. If that gateway were wider, of course there would not be any danger.
In answer to other questions he said immediately after deceased received the injuries he was removed to the Infirmary. The shaft struck deceased in the right side. Deceased had been in the employ of Mr Griffin since September last.
A juror : Do you think the fault lay in deceased in turning the horse?
Witness : He certainly went a little too far.
Another juror : What is your opinion, as a practical carter, with respect to the gateway. Is it not too narrow?
Witness said in his opinion the gateway was too narrow, and if the post were removed, it would be a deal safer. In answer to another question he said it would be the better plan to have a portion of the copper’s shop, on the opposite side of the gateway, removed.
A juror : Do you think it was advisable to have the front horse in? Don’t you think it would have been safer for the front horse to have been taken out, and for deceased to have guided the shaft horses with the whip?
Witness : That would have been the safest way, and the two horses could have taken the tree into the yard.
James Read, wood haulier, of Fovant, identified the deceased as his son. Deceased was 19 years of age, and had been accustomed to the kind of work he was engaged in at Mr Griffin’s.
Mr Griffin said he was exceedingly sorry, in fact, no one could more sincerely regret the shocking occurrence than he did. Any suggestion the jury might throw out as to the widening of the entrance of the yard, he should feel it his duty to carry out, but he assured them that although he had carried this business on for over twenty years, yet this was the first fatal, or even serious, accident that had occurred. There had been, as might be imagined, some accidents, but these were only of a minor character. The present accident he believed was owing to a little miscalculation on the part of the deceased, and had he been on the spot at the time of the accident, he should not have allowed the attempt to have been made to take the wood in in the manner that caused deceased’s death.
Several jurors expressed a hope that the gateway would be widened, either by the cooper’s shop being removed, or by the post being put close back to the wall; and the jury eventually returned a verdict of “Accidental Death.”
The jury allowed the widow of deceased the fees, and we learn that Mr Griffin has liberally offered to pay all the expenses of the funeral.