Appleton, John

Appleton, John    1890 February 8th

Falling into a Brewer’s Vat

The City Coroner (Mr G Smith) held an inquest at the Infirmary on Tuesday afternoon upon the body of John Appleton (41), of Brown Street, a brewer’s assistant, who fell into a vat containing boiling liquor and malt on Monday morning, and died at the Infirmary at half past seven on the evening of the same day from the effects of his immersion. Mr Edward Berry was chosen foreman of the jury.

The jury having viewed the body,

John Hopkins, landlord of the Black Horse Inn, Castle Street, was called. He said that deceased was employed by him in brewing. Witness was in the brewing shed on Monday, when he saw deceased fall into a vat containing hot liquor and malt. It was scalding hot and boiling. Deceased had got from a boiler a bucket of hot water which he was going to throw away, and in doing so he put his left foot on the top of the mash tub. As he was stooping over his foot slipped and the weight of the bucket brought him over head foremost into the tub.

By the Coroner : There was no plank across the tub, but there was a platform above the tub, where witness was.

Witness continuing said he saw the deceased fall. He pulled him out at once, got his boots and clothes off and put him in front of the fire. He put him on some more clothes, got a trap, and had him conveyed to the Infirmary.

By the Foreman : There was no necessity for him to put his foot on the mash tub. Deceased was quite sober.

The Coroner again asked witness if there was not a nine inch plank across the tub and that deceased fell from it.

Witness again replied in the negative, and the Coroner told him that why he asked the question was that he had been informed there was the plank.

George Hopkins, son of the proceeding witness, said he heard the deceased scream and call murder. Deceased was out upon the ground when he arrived and witness helped to take his boots and apron off, and also went to get some dry clothes. He afterwards took him to the Infirmary. The accident happened shortly after 11 o’clock. There was no plank across the scalding liquor. The deceased was turning off the tap from the boiler.

Archdale Sharpin, house surgeon at the Infirmary, said the deceased was brought to the Infirmary about half past 11 on Monday morning. On examining him he found he was burnt all over and the skin was raised in blisters and partly torn off. Every care was taken of him but he died at 7.30 in the evening. Before he died the deceased told him that he was walking across a nine inch plank to turn off the tap when his foot slipped and he fell into the liquor which was boiling.

By the Foreman : The man was quite conscious when he made the statement.

The Coroner told the jury that he did not get his information from Mr Sharpin. A gentleman called upon him and told him about the plank.

A juror suggested that somebody should see the place where the accident happened.

Supt Mathews said there was no plank there that (Tuesday) morning. There was a tap in the boiler. He thought it would be well for the jury to see the place.

It was then advisable to adjourn the inquest until the following morning so that each juryman could inspect the scene of the accident.

John Hopkins was re-called. In reply to the Coroner he said there was no plank flush with the mash tub. The statement made by deceased was quite wrong. He stood upon the steps and witness on the platform above the mash. The brewery was as exactly as his father left it, and there had not been a plank across the mash tub for a long time.

The jury now decided to proceed with the enquiry.

Supt Mathews was then sworn and said that deceased was a single man, aged 41, living in Brown Street, and was a brewer’s assistant.

The Coroner said that the point with regard to the plank seemed to have cleared up by Mr Hopkins to the satisfaction of the jury. The evidence was that the death was accidental and that no one was to blame. The only question was whether something ought to be done to render it more safe to persons employed in the brewing.

The jury then considered their verdict, after which,

The Foreman said they were of opinion that the death was accidental. He was of opinion that it was a little thoughtless on the part of the deceased to put his foot upon the tub.

John Hopkins was again called in and promised to make the place as secure as possible to prevent any accident happening to any of his employees.

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