Leatherdale, Ernest

Leatherdale, Ernest        1918 July 5th          Wallop

Lad Killed by Steam Lorry Mishap at Wallop

A distressing road accident occurred at Wallop, on June 8th, as the result of which Ernest Crispus Leatherdale died in the Salisbury Infirmary on Sunday, through injuries sustained. An inquest was held by the City Coroner (Mr A M Wilson) on Monday, when Mr H Hurdle was appointed foreman of the jury.

Mr W H Jackson represented Messrs Chivers, the employers of the lad.

Ernest Albert Leatherdale, a baker, of Kennington, London, said he was the boy’s father. His son was 17 years old and was working as a steersman on a lorry for Messrs Chivers Bros., of Devizes, contractors, and was lodging in a caravan at Grateley where he was working. On June 8th he received a message from Messrs Chivers’ London branch saying that his son had met with rather a serious accident. Next day he came down and saw his son at the Infirmary. He was quite conscious and related the story of the accident.

Albert George Carter, who preferred to make a statement and was not sworn, said he was 17 years of age and was driving a lorry in connection with work his employers were carrying out at Grateley. Leatherdale was the steersman, and on the morning of June 8th they were going up the Post Hill, at Wallop, in top gear, the lorry moving between five and six miles an hour. When half way up the hill the lorry stopped and did not climb as well as usual. He had five tons of cement up and the lorry itself weighed eight tons. Leatherdale got out to put a brick under one of the back wheels. When he stopped the engine he shifted the gear into “neutral,” but before he could get it into low gear the lorry ran back over the brick and went backwards down the hill. Leatherdale jumped on the engine and witness left the steering to him. Witness could not manage to put the breaks on as the fly wheel break could only be used when the lorry was in gear, and the hand break could not be put on quick enough, with the result that the lorry continued to run backwards. For some reason Leatherdale jumped off again and witness had to take charge of the steering wheel. He tried his best but the steering chains broke, and as the road was very narrow the back part of the lorry slewed round and the front of the engine went into a wall, over a ditch, and into a garden before it stopped. He got down and saw Leatherdale lying close to where the lorry struck the wall. He was conscious but appeared to be hurt. Leatherdale was subsequently taken to Salisbury Infirmary.

The Coroner : Have you been up over this hill before on top speed? Yes, sir, with the same lorry and the same load.

Mr Jackson : You did everything you possibly could to avoid an accident? Yes.

The House Surgeon of the Infirmary said Leatherdale was admitted on Saturday, June 8th, about 9am, with injuries on the thigh and leg. The wound was purified, but in spite of treatment he steadily became worse and died on Sunday. Death was due to shock and exhaustion and loss of blood.

The Coroner said that the only thing the jury had to consider was whether Carter was driving in a correct and reasonable way as a driver should do. There was no doubt, in his mind, that he did all he could to avoid an accident, but when 13 tons started to run down hill a driver wanted to have his wits about him. Leatherdale, when he jumped off, must have been knocked down by the lorry, or crushed between the lorry and the wall.

After a brief consideration the jury returned a verdict of accidental death.

Mr Jackson, on behalf of the employers, spoke of their intense sympathy with Mr Leatherdale in the loss he had sustained. The employers own loss was nothing compared to the parents. He was a good lad and had worked well, and Messrs Chivers wished him to express their sympathy with the parents in the death of their son.

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