Spreadbury, Leah

Spreadbury, Leah           1919 June 20th             Downton

Land Worker’s Death

The City Coroner (Mr A M Wilson) held an inquest at Salisbury Infirmary on Monday evening in regard to the death of Leah Spreadbury, a young land worker, living at Downton, which resulted from an accident while she was at work.

There was no jury.

Frank George Spreadbury, a carter in the employ of Mr E G Warren, of Wick Farm, Downton, stated that his daughter, Leah, was 20 years of age, and until she came to work as a dairymaid at his employer’s farm two or three months ago, had been working on a farm in Sussex. At Wick Farm were two machines – one for grinding cake and the other for grinding mangel. They were driven by an oil engine, which also pumped water for the tanks. The shafting in connection with the engine was in an adjoining shed. When water was being pumped the shafting, which was between three and four feet from the ground, was in motion, with the belts of the grinders hanging loose on the shafting. On Thursday, June 12th, at about 10am, he was filling a water barrel in the yard and saw his daughter in the dairy. She brought him a letter which had come for him that morning, then left him and went towards the cowsheds and the barn. The engine was working at the time, but a few minutes afterwards it stopped. He went into the cowshed and called to one of the dairymen, as it was not his work to see to the engine, but he could not see anyone there. After he had finished filling the water barrel he went to the shafting shed and called his daughter’s name. He got no reply, but on going inside he heard her groan, and saw her lying on the floor with her head in a pool of blood and her feet entangled in the belting. She was unconscious. He disentangled her, and went for assistance. After being attended to by Dr Whiteley, she was taken to the Infirmary and he and his wife were with her when she died there on Saturday morning.

Questioned by the Coroner as to how he thought she came to be where he found her, the witness said he expected she was getting under the shafting to look through a hole in the side of the barn to see if the other tank was full. That tank was being filled with water by the same engine, and the dairyman had told her to go across to see if it was full, and, if so, to shut off the pump. She took a short cut which was often taken, instead of going out by the door.

The Coroner : Had she ever been warned about it?

Witness : Not about this particular shafting, but my wife had warned her to be careful of the machinery, because another young lady had got caught in some before.

Answering other questions, he said it was necessary to bend under the shafting to see through the hole in the side of the barn, but it was not necessary to go that way. The shafting had two pulleys on it with separate belts. She might have caught hold of the loose belting when getting under the shafting, which would have caused the belt to have become taut and to start revolving. She told her brother she had a very bad headache that morning and would like to see a doctor.

Miss Dorothy Isabel Dobbin, house surgeon at Salisbury Infirmary, said that Leah Spreadbury was admitted on Thursday in an unconscious condition. She had two large scalp wounds on the left side of her head and slight abrasions on both arms and on the right ankle. She died at 2.30am on Saturday without having recovered consciousness. Death was due to coma following severe concussion as the result of the injuries received.

The Coroner returned a verdict of “Accidental Death,” and added that there did not seem to be any negligence or blame to be attached to anyone.

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