Uphill, Hector

Uphill, Hector             1919 August 15th           Amesbury

Lorry Rider’s Sad Fate

Coroner’s Protest Against Workmen’s Mode of Travelling

The death occurred on Thursday of a young Salisburian named Hector Norman Uphill, aged 23, of 3 Herbert Cottages, Culver Street, as a result of a motor lorry accident at Amesbury. The unfortunate young fellow was riding in a lorry with a score of other workmates, who were standing in the centre or sitting round the sides, when a collision occurred with a car, and Uphill fell over the side, and, apparently, the rear wheel of the lorry went over him. The City Coroner (Mr A M Wilson), who conducted the inquest on Saturday, made a strong protest concerning the danger of riding in lorries which were unprovided with seats, and in which occupants could only stand, and were likely to be overbalanced by any sudden jolt.

Mr A J Atkins appeared for the family.

Herbert Uphill, brother, said that on Thursday twenty three labourers were riding in a lorry belonging to the Building Material Company to Amesbury Railway Station. They were going through Amesbury about five minutes to eight in the morning, and reached the turning which led to Netheravon when a car came out of the turning and collided with the lorry, next the driver’s seat. His brother was sitting on the near side, with his back to the car, and after the collision he saw him lying on the road. When asked if he were hurt, he said his leg was terribly bad. They tried to stand him on his feet, but he was too weak and he was taken into a shop near, and after being attended to by a doctor was taken to the Infirmary. At the time of the accident he thought the lorry was going about five or six miles an hour. His brother was employed by the Agricultural Board and was working near Amesbury Station. Witness explained that some of his mates were standing in the middle of the lorry and others were leaning, or sitting, around the sides.

The Coroner : If you had a sudden jolt there would not be much to hang on to, except your neighbour? Nothing whatever, sir.

In reply to other questions, witness said his brother fell out of the left side and he thought the rear wheel of the lorry went over him.

Gilbert Scott, living at 5, Exeter Terrace, Salisbury, deposed to driving the lorry at about ten miles an hour. He saw the car and swerved to avoid it, but he had not sufficient time and the collision occurred. There were slight injuries to the lorry but the car was badly damaged. He had instructions not to take more than 35 men in the lorry. With men sitting on the sides, or standing up, if the lorry went over a lump in the road or a large stone, there was a possibility that the men might fall over, but if he had to pull up short, the jolt would be forward.

Ernest Sharp, second hand on the lorry, living at 96, Brown Street, corroborated. He thought that if the car which collided with them had been travelling at a reasonable speed it could have pulled up in time to avoid an accident.

Laurence Alexander, the driver of the car, residing at the Bell Inn, Lydeway, Devizes, said he was driving a party of four passengers, including three ladies, to Bournemouth. All went well till he neared Amesbury cross roads when, as he was going about five miles an hour, a lorry struck him on the near side and swung him right round in the direction the lorry was going. One of the ladies was injured on the shoulder and on the hand. He did not see anyone fall off the lorry. If he had been going fast and his light car had collided with the lorry it would have been smashed to atoms. He had his engine shut off.

Carlyle Aldis, House Surgeon of the Infirmary, said Uphill was suffering from fractures and abrasions and internal hemorrhage, and death was caused through heart failure owing to the injuries received.

The Coroner : From the injuries, what do you think had happened? It looked as though something heavy had gone over the body.

The Coroner expressed regret at the unfortunate accident, and said it was not the first one to occur at the corner, and numerous requests had been made to make it less dangerous, but up to the present that had not been done. He felt that there was no blame to be attached to either of the drivers, and that they both drove in a reasonable and careful manner, but he felt very strongly about the way these men were conveyed in lorries. No seats were provided, and, in his opinion, it was asking for trouble for men to be sitting on the sides. There was nothing to cling to, and a jolt caused by a rut, or a large stone, might very easily cause one, two or more of them to tumble over. He had seen the lorries with the men in them, and he had often wondered whether some of them would not fall backwards because there was nothing to cling to. He hoped the employers who sent out men in this way would take notice of his rather strong expression of feeling.

A verdict was returned in accordance with the medical evidence, no negligence being attached to the drivers.

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