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MR WHALLEY ON ABUSE AND HOW…

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FEARFUL GUNPOWDER EXPLOSION…

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FEARFUL GUNPOWDER EXPLOSION AT THE PORTHYWAEN LIME ROCKS. SIX LIVES LOST. TERRIBLE SCENES. A gunpowder explosion, one of the most fearful and disastrous in its consequences which has yet occurred in this locality, and involving the loss of six lives, occurred about four o'clock on the afternoon of Thursday, May 30th, at what are known as Cooper's Lime Rocks, Porthy- waen, near Oswestry. These rocks are about a mile and a half from Llynclys station on the Cambrian Railway, and adjoining the lime rocks belonging to the Farmers' Coal and Lime Supply Company, and for some years they have been worked by Messrs. Savin and Co. (Limited). At the foot of the rocks there runs a line of railway which, skirt- ing the road to Llanyblodwel, joins the Cambrian line near Llrnc'vs, from which point gunpowder and other neces- saries for the working of the lime rocks are conveyed per rail and unshipped at the wharves of the several rocks to which the goods are consigned. On Thursday afternoon some half-dozen men in the employ of Messrs Savin and Co. (Limited) were engaged in removing a number of kegs of ordinary blasting powder, which had been brought per rail to the magazine, which is situate about five yards from the line of railway on the Llanyblodwel side of the rock. FlOm the face of the workings on the rock there runs a steep incline, on which there are two lines of rail, the full waggons drawing up the empty ones to a level at the top of the incline, which is properly guarded by stop blocks, and every other precaution being taken against waggons run. ning down of their own accord. The incline, is about two hundred and fifty yards in length, and has a gradient of about one in seven. On the incline, about thirty yards from the bottom there is on each line of rail a catch point which is worked by means of a lever at the top of the in- cline, the object of these points being to throw runaway waggons off the line, turning them into the debris on either side. The top of the incline is under the charge of a man named Roberts, whose duty it was to unhook the empty waggons from the chain as they come to the top of the incline, another man named William Evans, being told off to see that the stop block is properly adjusted before the empty waggons were unchained, in order to guard against the danger of their running down the in- cline. On Thursday afternoon an empty waggon or truck appears to have been utilised for the pur- pose of conveying the kegs of blasting powder up to the magazine, a rude tenement knocked together with pieces of stone and timber, slated, and bound together with pieces of iron. About two tons of blasting powder were taken up to the door of the magazine by means of this truck, and, when all the kegs had been unloaded, the signal was given for the empty waggon to be drawn up to the level at the summit of the incline. In the meantime an o!d man, seventy-two years of age, named Joseph Tunley, and a young man named John Griffiths, were engaged in storing the kegs of powder inside the magazine, and had got about thirty cwt. under cover, including an open half barrel of powder. The empty truck, which had been drawn up to the top by means of a waggon laden with limestone, which had been let down on the other rail, suddenly broke oose, and the block being off, and the wheels unscotched, it started at full speed down the incline. Griffiths, the foreman of the works, was at Oswestry engaged in proving a case at the petty sessions against a couple of girls, who were charged with stealing some coal belonging to the company. Roberts, seeing that the empty waggon, if allowed to go on unchecked down the incline, would, in all probability, dash amongst the men who were working at the kilns at the foot of the incline, changed the points so as to turn the waggon off the metals, a practice which appears to be very common at such workings. The waggon, leaving the line, unfortunately dashed into the kegs of gunpowder which were lying out- side the magazine. An explosion almost instantaneously ensued and, communicating with the magazine, was fol- lowed by a second still more fearful, which shook the houses at the foot of the rock to their very foundations, and was felt as far as the Pant and Llanymynech, and for miles round. Hearing the explosion. the men who were employed on the rock at the top of the incline, and those who were at the kilns, rushed to the magazine. A fearful scene met the view. Not a trace of the magazine was visible, and for some moments the air was darkened with the falling of stones, pieces of timber, and iron. The men who were engaged in storing the gunpowder, and those who were working in the immediate vicinity of the maga- zine appear to have been killed instantaneously. Tunley's body was literally blown to pieces. One leg was found in the kilns below the magazine, a portion of his thigh was blown on the turnpike road at the foot of the rocks, and another thigh was picked up late in the evening some three hundred yards from the scene of the accident, in a potato field in the valley below. The body of John Griffiths, who is supposed to have been with Tunley in the magazine at the time the explosion occurred, was subsequently found on the turnpike road leading to Llanvblodwel. 'Mrs Lloyd, the wife of Mr Charles Lloyd, butcher, Maesbury, was driving along the road in the direction of Llanyblodwel, when her attention was called to what she thought was a heavy blast in the rocks. She was alarmed upon seeing the unusually heavy fall of stones, and pulling up the horse, saw what she thought was a large piece of rock come whirling through the air, and fall about ten yards from her, making a deep hole in the roadside. Upon going closer she found it to be the body of a man, which was subseqnently identified as that of Griffiths. The body appears to have been hurled a considerable distance into the air, and some men who were working in a field close by, were at a loss to know whether it was a stone or crow. It fell with what must have been a tremend- ous force, on a hillock of road sweepings close under the hedge on the turnpike road, where it was found face up- wards by a man named Robert Michael. Although the hillock was composed of very hard materials, the body by falling left a distinct impression, seven inches in depth, of the head, body, and right arm. The poor fellow's legs were almost severed from the body being attached to it by a single piece of skin. Four other bodies were afterwards picked up near the scene of the explosion, all of them being so burned as to render identifica- tion a matter of some difficulty. They were removed into a shed on the works to await the inquest. They were identified as those of Joseph Tunley, 64, married; William Howell, 46, married; Richard Jones, single, 26; John Griffiths, 21, single; William Jones, 14; and Charles Powell, 13. William Howoll was a local preacher with the Primitive Methodisto, and leaves a widow and two sons, one of whom is a pupil teacher at Carneddau. Tunley also leaves a widow and family, but all of the latter are earning their own livelihood. He had been nearly all his lifetime in the employ of Mr Savin, his father, and grandfather, and was an old and valued utrvant. Griffiths, was a very steady man, and was the adopted son of the foreman of these works. Mr Tbsmas Savin was on the spot shortly after the explosion, and also Mr J. Sides Davies, surgeon, Oswestry, both of whom were telegraphed for. Strange to relate, the waggon which caused all this deplorable mischief escaped comparatively uninjured. It was blown into the I air and alighted on its wheels, close to the magazine the I framework and body were wholly undamaged, the lower part I W3 scorched, and the wheels were slightly discoloured. Roberts, who was the man in charge of the incline, has been in Mr Savin's employ for a great number of years, and boars the character of being a remarkably steady sober man, and the same remark applies to William EvanS, The marine was about twelve feet by £ ?ven and had a woodtl! I door ana goring-. j THE INQUEST. The inquest was held at the Lion Inn, Porthywaen, on Friday afternoon, May 31st, before Mr E. Blackburne, the district coroner of Shropshire. The following jury was empanelled :-Messrs John Richards (Llynclys), fore- man James Owen, Samuel Pugh, James Lawrence, Richard Jones, William Speakman, John Berry, Thomas Tudor, Arthur Griffiths, John Pembrey, Charles Roberts, John Hughes, and Samuel Jones. The bodies were des- cribed as those of Joseph Tunley, 64 William Howell, 46 Richard Jones, 26 John Griffiths, 21 William Jones, 14 and Charles Powell, 13. Superintendent Gough watched the case on behalf of the police. The jury hiving gone to the rock, they viewed the bodies and the scene of the accident. Mr Thomas Savin, who ac- companied them, pointing out the different places affecting the enquiry. The machinery at the top of the incline was subjected to a careful examination. It was shown to be in good working order, and it was clear that all had been done that mechanical appliances could do to guard against accidents. On re-assembling in the room where the enquiry was held, the Coroner, addressing the jury, said that the inquest was of a very serious character, and he thought it would not be fair towards Thomas Roberts and William Evans that their evidence should be taken before they had had the opportunity of consulting a solicitor. He proposed, therefore, with the concurrence of the jury, to take evidence as to identification and other preliminary evidence, and to adjourn the enquiry until the following morning, in order that the two men he had alluded to might avail themselves of the opportunity of engaging a legal gentleman to represent them and cross-examine the witnesses. The first witness called was William Watkins, a labourer in the employ of Messrs Savin and Company (limited), at Cooper's rock. He deposed chat about four o'clock on the previous afternoon he was at work on the tip at the bottom of the incline, when he heard a man call out and caution them against an empty waggon which was running down the incline. He called to the men who were with the gunpowder at the magazine to look out, as there was a waggon running down the incline, and im- mediately he saw the waggon toss over. The first time it did nothing, but the next moment it came amongst the powder casks which were lying outside the magazine. An explosion instantly took place, and he saw two or three bodies go up into the air and a quantity of timber and rubbish. In about a second there was another explosion, and three bodies fell about twenty yards from the spot where witness stood, one body going over his head in the direction of the turnpike road. He ran in the direction of the magazine, and saw some bodies all a-blaze. The body of Richard Jones lay nearest the magazine, being about fifteen yards distant. The bodies of Charles Powell and William Howell were respectively about fifty to eighty yards from the magazine. Witness subsequently assisted in bringing in the bodies of Tunley and Griffiths, and placed the whole in the shed where the jury had viewed them. Tunley's body was in five pieces, and was picked up in a field about two hundred and fifty yards from the scene of the explosion, while the body of Griffiths was found on the side of the turnpike road, about five hundred yards away. Tunley and Howell were married men, both their wives being alive, and the latter left two children. Tunley had charge of the tip and the powder, and kept the keys of the magazine, and when the explosion oc- curred he was engaged with the other men who were killed, in placing some kegs of blasting powder in the magazine. The powder was loaded on the tip, in a waggon which was brought up the incline, just opposite the magazine. There the powder was unloaded, and the empty waggon was drawn up the incline by means of a full one being let down on the other rails. Witness saw the waggon at the top of the in- cline, and it appeared to be standing there about a minute before it descended again and caused the explosion. He saw Thomas Roberts and William Evans at the top of the in- cline, and it was their duty to be there. In answer to questions put by Mr Savin, the witness said that the powder barrels were right on the edge of the line, apparently resting on the main rail, and it would have been almost impossible for a waggon to have come down the in- cline without catching them, whether the catch points had been turned or not. He was of opinion that the first explo- sion was caused by the empty vaggon coming into contact with the barrels which had been placed on the line. By Superintendent GoughâThe points were for the purpose of turning runaway waggons off the line. William Griffiths, foreman at Cooper's rocks, said that he was in Oswestry at the time the explosion occurred. Thomas Roberts and William Evans were usually at work at the top of the incline, Roberts being the breaksman, and Evans the driver of the waggons from the quarry. It was Evans's duty to shut the stop block as soon as an empty waggon had been drawn up the incline, and Roberts had to unhook the chain from the waggon, first seeing that the stop block was properly adjusted and if he saw it was not on, it was his duty to see that it was properly fastened before he unchained the waggon. Evans ought to call out to Roberts that the stop block was all right. Both were very careful, steady men, and understood their duties thoroughly. Both had been working for Mr Savin a great number of years, and at this special work. By Superintendent GoughâIt was not possible for a waggon to go down the incline if the stop block was properly adjusted. By Mr Savin-The incline had been constructed up- wards of twelve years, and Roberts had been employed at the top and Tunley on the tip ever since it had been in use. William Evans had been at the top nine or ten years. It required great caution both at the bottom and top of the incline, and Roberts and Tunley would be selected to be in charge of these points, because they were careful, steady, thoroughly reliable men-in fact, none could be more so. About thirty cwt. of gunpowder had been carried up to the magazine, and were being added to six cwt. that were already stored therein. Could not tell how much of the thirty cwt. had been carried inside the magazine when the explosion occurred. By the Foreman-Only remembered one empty waggon to have run down the incline before the present instance. Had seen some full waggons run away, but that was before the catch points were put on, and that was owing to the breaking of the chain. It was customary for the men to send for beer whilst they were at work but he was not aware that any had been sent for on the day of the ex- plosion. At this point the proceedings were adjourned until Saturday. The enquiry was resumed at the same place at eleven o'clock on Saturday, June 1st. Mr J. P. Jones (from the office of Messrs T. and C. Minshall, Oswestry) appeared on behalf of Thomas Roberts and William Evans, the two men who were at the top of the incline when the empty waggon, which caused the catastrophe, broke loose. Superintendent Gough watched the proceedings for the police. Mr Thomas Savin, Mr R. S. France (Nantmawr quarries), Mr Dawson (the manager of the Farmers' Coal and Lime Supply Com- pany), and other gentlemen were present. Wm. Griffiths, the foreman of the rocks, was recalled, and asked by Supt. Gough whether there was any ill-feeling against Mr Savin for having prosecuted two girls at the petty sessions on the day of the explosion, for stealing coal from the kilns?âWitness: No, I heard of nothing of the kind.â The Coroner: I suppose it was Roberts's duty, if he saw a runaway waggon start down the incline, to turn it off at these points?âYes, it was.âThe Coroner: And he did so on Thursday?âYes.âMr J. P. Jones: In which way was the powder usually carried from the trucks-did they carry it straight into the magazine, or did they put it down out- side ?âThey usually carried it straight into the magazine. William Watkins, the first witness examined on the former day, was recalled, and in answer to the Coroner he said he saw two men standing close together at the top of the in- cline when he heard the shout that the waggon was racing down. He could not recognise them at that distance.âMr J. P. Jones I see you said yesterday that the barrels were right on the edge of the line-was it u-ual to place them there ? -Witness: No, it was not. âHow did they usually un load the powder ?-I have seen them at other times take the powder off the waggon and straight into the magazine.âThen the proper thing to have done would have been to carry the barrels right into the magazine, and not to have placed them outside ?-Yes.-The Coroner: Could the men at the top of the incline sea the men unloading the waggon by the magazine.âYes, they could see them unloading the waggon there.âThe Foreman Would not the brakesman at the top have to stop the waggon at the magazine ?âYes, that would be his duty.âAnd would not the two men at the top know that the powder was being unloaded ?âYes, I should think so, because they would have to stop the waggon there.âMr J. P. Jones: But would the men at the top know that the barrels were on the line ?-No, I should think not.âDo you think it likely they could see that the barrels were on the line ?-I cannot say that it was go. Edward Tudor, workman in the quarry, said that on Thursday afternoon he was working at Cooper's rock, within thirty yards from the top of the incline. A man named Wm. Thomas was standing clos3 by him. Thomas said, Oh dear the waggon's going over the top Wit- ness turned round and saw an empty waggon starting over the top tip. Thomas Roberts was trying to hold it back, but it overpowered him and went down the incline. Thomas ran to the top tip, and witaess, following him, saw the waggon go down the incline, and then turn over. In a moment he saw a flash and heard a loud clap. In a second this was followed by another explosion, and wit- ness saw the magazine literally lifted up in the air. It was all ablaze, and the flames and smoke appeared to be on all sides of the rock. Witness waited a few seconds and then ran to take shelter behind the rock. He was too frightened to notice where William Evans was he might have been close to the waggon, but witness did not notice him, his attention being wholly centred upon the waggon which was going down the incline. He saw Roberts, when the waggon overpowered him, run to the points to throw it off. He (witness) was not aware that the men were en- gaged in getting the powder into the magazine. By Mr J. P. JonesâCould not see the magazine or the barrels of powder lying on the line outside the magazine, owing to the intervening wall. He did not believe that any person standing on the top of the incline could see them but as he had only been put on that part of the works on the morning of the accident he had had no opportunity of judging. He had not worked in that quarry for sixteen years. By Superintendent Gough-Some beer had come to the place where witness and William Thomas were standing when they saw the waggon go down the incline. He was certain that neither Roberts nor Evans had taken beer that morning, and the other men had only had half-a-pint a-piece. William Thomas said that he was with the last witness, and was in the quarry about fifteen yards from the gin where the waggon was standing. He saw Robt. Thomas wrestling" with the waggon, and trying to prevent it from going over the tip. Witness said to Tudor, who was standing near, Oh dear, that waggon is running! and ran his best to the top of the incline to see fwhat would become of it. When he next saw it, it was running down the incline, and he noticed it go off the line at the check standing near, Oh dear, that waggon is running! and ran his best to the top of the incline to see fwhat would become of it. When he next saw it, it was running down the incline, and he noticed it go off the line at the check siding. He saw no men about tu" spot where the waggon first went oti. The waggon appearea .to falJ °ver twice, Hud then there wt*? a flash of fire, and >TJ tness, being j greatly frightened, ran back to the quarry for safety's sake. 1 He was standing on the opposite side to the magazine, and saw Roberts turn the points. He s kw nothing of William Evans.âMr J. P. Jones Who called out Danger?"â Witness I didn't hear anyone call out.âThe Foreman Did you hear Roberts call to the men below that the wag- gon was coming?âNo, I was too frightened to notice. Edward Scott said that at the time of the accident he was in the machine-house at the bottom of the incline with the witness Watkins and four other men. He had helped to load the powder in the waggon, by order of Tunley, who had charge of the magazine. The first waggon load con- sisted of thirteen casks, which went up to the magazine in ) charge of three men who were riding upon it. Another waggon came down, and several casks were put into it, and that was taken up to the magazine: all the men and boys who were killed accompanying it. Witness did not see them unloading it as he had gone into the machine-house. In a few minutes Watkins, who was standing in the door- way, cried oub, Look, look and witness saw an empty waggon coming down the incline. He saw it pitch over twice. The first time it did not do any mischief, but the next time it pitched over it went into the heart of the powder casks, all of which were by the magazine door, fac- ing the incline the waggon came down, none of those which had been carried up having been placed 4in the magazine. He did not see them unload the second load of casks; but. when the waggon was coming down the incline, he noticed that some of the casks were very near the line, if not actually upon it. He thought he heard some one shout from the top when the waggon was coming down, but he was not quite sure. After the explosion, witness saw a body, four or five hundred yards up in the air just like a crow.âMr J. P. Jones Did you see the barrels taken out of the first waggon?âNo.âBut you saw the barrels outside the magazine?âYes.âHow many were there?âAbout forty casks-four quarter casks and the rest in hundreds. Two loads went up to the magazine, and there was another load to go up, and that is by the machine house now.âHow far was it from the magazine door to the side of the line ?âAbout three or four yards ? Somewhere about that way, I should think.âThen you are not quite certain whether any of the barrels were on the line?--No, I'm not sure of that. They were very hard on the line, and I don't think a waggon could have passed down without knocking some of them.âWas it usual to put the casks down outside the magazine ?-No, as long as I have been there the casks were always carried straight into the magazine. I never saw the powder going up in the waggons before, and I have been carrying there ten years. We used to carry the casks from the kilns on our backs, and take them straight into the magazine.âWas it by Tunley's orders that the powder was put outside the magazine in this way ?âYes, sir; he was the master over the powder. Robert Michael, foreman at another of Mr Savin's quarries, said that he had been a ganger under Mr Savin for sixteen years, and was well acquainted with the Porthywaen and Llanymynech works. The gunpowder ought to have been taken straight from the railway waggon and carried into the magazine on men's backs. It should not have been put in the rock waggon at all, and the men seemed to have done this on Thursday afternoon to save themselves trouble. Mr Thomas Savin said -All the deceased men were in the employment of Messrs Savin and Company (Limited). Immediately I had the telegram on Thursday afternoon to say that this accident had occurred I came down to Porthywaen from Oswestry, and got all the information I could gather. I did not come to a decided conclusion when I first saw the place, but I have since formed the opinion that there must have been two explosions, the first one being caused by the powder being placed near the line of railway, and that the rock waggon escaping from the top ran into the powder barrels, which were wrongly left outside, instead of being put straight in the magazine; and I have no hesitation in saying that there would have been no accident, and no loss of life, if Joseph Tunley, who had the entire management of the powder, had done the same as on all former occasions, so far as my know- ledge goes. The check siding was made specially to meet the requirements of an accident which might be occa- sioned by the running away of a waggon from the top. Such things have happened in our quarries, and it is im- possible, however careful a man may be, to absolutely rely on the waggons not getting away from the top. And, in this view, I am supported by two gentlemen, who have quarries, the inclines upon which are longer than ours. The magazine itself was 15 feet 6 inches from the outside rail to the inside of the wall of the magazine, which was made of stone and very strongly built. It was a slated roof, and some pieces of iron were, I believe, used in the roofing. When the incline was first made, we had a loaded waggon which ran from the top, and clearing the lower tip and the limekilns, it embedded itself in a field below; but, since these check sidings have been put in, we have had no one injured to my knowledge, nor would any acci- dent have occurred this time had the casks of powder been put into the magazine at once. The check siding is worked so as to stop runaway waggons. Immediately the siding is opened, the waggon is thrown off the rails, and consequently runs over the rough ballast, broken stones, and sleepers, bringing it to a sudden stop, or, in the case of a full waggon, emptying the stones in front of the waggon, and bringing it to a stand still. The length of the in- cline from the bottom tip to the top of the incline is about two hundred and forty-one yards; from the top of the incline to the check siding is about 128 yards; and from the top of the incline to what is called the V crossing is about fifteen yards. From the V crossing to the centre of the turntable at the top is about nineteen feet, and from that point to the face of the quarry about seventy-six yards. The check sidings are worked by a rod and lever at the top of the incline, and are under the control of the man in charge of the top, Thomas Roberts; and these he very properly used on Thursday afternoon, for the purpose of turning the waggon off the main line; otherwise it would have run down to the bottom amongst some men who were working there, and very probably have killed some of them. Roberts had nothing to d" with the powder, which was under the charge of Joseph Tunley. The distance from the centre of the magazine to the check points is about forty feet or thereabouts. The magazine was below the points, but sheltered by a large quantity of stone, several feet in width at the top of the latter and several yards thick at the base. The magazine itself was, I think, about eleven feet eight inches long, and about eleven feet wide, inside measurement. I am not positive as to the width, because the stones were so shaken. Thomas Roberts and Joseph Tunley were placed in charge of the several points of the workings because they were considered the best men in the quarry, and because they were such tidy, steady fellows. They had been in the employ of my family since I was a boy, and William Evans has been working for us a great many years. Mr R. S. France saidâI, of course, was not present at the accident, but, at Mr Savin's request, I have looked at the incline. The primary cause of the accident was the breaking away of the waggon the secondary cause arose from the circumstance of the barrels of powder being too near the rails just at the moment the waggon came down, and which barrels, according to Mr Savin's evidence and that of the other witnesses, were improperly placed there. As to the primary cause of the accident, the top of the incline, where the waggons land, appears to be in good working order but it does so happen that not only at Mr Savin's quarries, but also at mineâand I think Mr Dawson can say the same as regards his quarries âthat with all reasonable care exercised, the waggons do sometimes break away from the men in charge of the top of the incline, and when they once start to run down the incline there is no means of preventing them from going to the bottom except by means of catch points, which throw them off the road. The men at the top of the incline occupy a very responsible, onerous position, and we always select the best men we can find for that duty but I have found that even with the best men these accidents happen, and in order to prevent the "break aways" doing much damage, I have fixed my catch points on my incline (which is much longer than Mr Savin's) as near the summit as possible. I have pointed this out to Mr Savin, and I understand he intends having his catch points put in the same position as mine. It also appears desirable that when he re-erects his magazine it should be placed further from these catch points than the old one was for although it may not happen that the maga- zine would be destroy ed by the runaways," yet, if men will be so reckless (I think I can scarcely use a milder term)as to leave powder adjoining the incline upon which waggons are continually running up and down, and where they know there are these runaways" from time to time âthen all Mr Savin can do is to remove the temptation to which the men are exposed of temporarily placing the barrels there instead of carrying them at once into the powder house. There is a temptation to the men to do this, because if the man who had the key of the magazine did not happen to be there just at the exact moment, the men would almost naturally unload the waggon and put the barrels as near the magazine as possible so that the other work of the rock might proceed. As regards the starting of a waggon, I may say that I have known even the blast in the rock start a waggon which was standing on a level: the least thing will do it. f Mr J. P. Jones said that Mr Dawson, the manager of the Farmers' Coal and Lime Supply Company, could corroborate Mr France's evidence as to the frequency of waggons break- ing away from an incline, but the Coroner held that it was unnecessary to call him. I William Evans, who was cautioned by the Coroner before tendering his evidence, said I am a horse-driver for Messrs Savin and Company (Limited). On Thurs lay last I was at work at Cooper's rock driving a horse which was lugging the waggons from the gin at the top of the incline up to the men who were working in the rock. My work is to mind the mare and lug the waggons. lihave nothing to do with the scotch for the wheels unless I am back in time enough to meet the waggons. Just before the accident I was standing near the top of the incline, and saw the empty waggon come up. I thought it was all right, and I was bringing the horse to lug it away, when I saw it starting back again down the incline. Roberts seized hold of the waggon and tried to prevent it starting but it overpowered him, and went down the incline. I went to the points to I help him to throw the waggon off. I saw the waggon run down the incline, and then came the explosion. I was quite sober, and so was Roberts.âThe Foreman: Was it your duty to shut the gate (the stop block) when the waggon came up ? No, it was my duty to look after the horse but, if I was there I would shut it.âThe Coroner And whose duty would it be to shut it supposing you were not there ?-I don't know. Roberts had charge of that place, and it was his duty before unchaining the waggon to see that this gate (the stop block) was up.âMr J. P. Jones Why did you turn the points ?âBecause we were afraid of killing someone at the kilns down below.-Yoti thought it was the best thing to do ?âYes.âThe Coroner: You were afraid of the runaway waggon killing inenat the bottom ?-Yes. -The Foreman: Did you know that the men were unloading powder at the magazine ?-Yes, we could see the men unloading the powder by the magazine, before the waggon came up; but we thought they had finished.âMr J. P. Jones And that it was put o^t of the way i~Yes.âWhici way did they I usually unload it ?-They carried it right into the magazine t on their backs. I thought the waggon was all right it I was there a minute, and then I brought the horse to lug it up to the rock.âA Juror Is it your duty to put the stop block behind the wheel of the waggon when you are there ?-No, I have to look after the horse. I would put the block there, but it was not part of my regular duty. I was coming up to the waggon with my horse, and when about fifteen yards off, I left the horse and ran to assist Roberts. I was about ten yards down the incline, going to fetch my chain, when the waggon going up to the top of the incline passed me.âSuperintendent Gough Was the waggon on the top when you returned to bring ycur horse ? âYes, it was.âAnd how far did you have to go to fetch your horse ?-About fifteen yards.âHow long had it been up there, do you think, before it went back again ?-About a minute, I should think.âWas Roberts there at the time it came up?âYes.âWas any other person there besides Roberts?-No, there was no one with him.âThe Coroner Could it be that Roberts thought you put the block on when you passed the waggon to go for your horse?âHe might have thought so.-Superintendent Gough Did you notice whether the block was on when you passed ?âNo, I did not look at it. I saw the waggon standing there, and so I thought it was all right. Thomas Roberts was on the other side of the waggon from me.-The Coroner :âHad you any orders to call out to Roberts if the stop block was not on?-No, I never had any orders.âHow long have you been at this particular work?-- Ten years.âDriving the horse?âYes, all the time. Was Roberts standing on the same side as you were?-No, he was on the other side of the waggon to what I was. Thomas Roberts, who was also cautioned before giving his evidence, saidâI am the gin" man at Cooper's rock, and work the gin" at the top of the incline. On Thurs- day I loosed the empty waggon up, and it landed on the top. I saw William Evans passing along the side of the waggon, and thinking he had shut the block, I took the chain off the waggon, which started to go back. William Evans was coming up with the mare to draw the waggon to the rock, and I called to him to come and help me to try and prevent It from going down the incline. It had gone too far, and we could not step it, and I then went to the lever to turn the points so as to throw it off at the check siding. Evans a'sisted me, and we managed to throw it off, and then the explosion ensued. I did not call to Evans to enquire whether the block was closed be- fore I took the chain off the waggon. As he was there I thought he had done it, for he always closed it if he was there, otherwise I looked to it myself. I do not know that he received any orders to put the block down, but he used to do it when he was there.âMr J. P. Jones Which side of the waggon were you standing on when it ran down ?âI was standing between the two roads.âBut were you on the same side as the block?âNo, I was on the other side. The waggon was between me and the block.âThe Coroner: Could you see distinctly whether Evans had put the block down ?âNo, I could not.âThe Foreman Was it your duty to enquire whether the block was down before you undid the chain-we had it in evi. dence yesterday that you were to ask before unloosing the chain?âNo, I don't know that it was. I saw Evans there, and thought it was all right.âA Juror How long had the waggon landed on the top before it went down the incline ?âAbout a minute or so, I think.âHow long had it stood there before you unhooked the chain off?- Not very long. It started moving back almost as soon as I bad unhooked the chain, and I think I had drawn the sprag out, but I am not certain. I calledto Evans to come and help me the moment I saw it was starting back, but we were too late, and over it went. The Coroner stated that a further adjournment would be necessary in order that the Home Office might be com- municated with. This being an explosion of a powder magazine, they might think it necessary to send down a Government Inspector, and therefore the enquiry would have to be further adjourned to see whether that official would attend or not. The attention of the Home Office had been directed to the explosion from the reports which had appeared in the newspapers, and Mr Savin had been telegraphed to for the particulars. Mr SavinâThe telegram was addressed to the Chief- constable of the county, and he sent it on to me. The proceedings were then adjourned to Thursday, June 6th, at the same place at eleven o'clock. Mr Dawson said that Mr W. T. Parker (Chairman of the Farmers' Coal and Lime Supply Company), Mr Savin, Mr France, Mr Williams, and himself, would be glad to receive subscriptions in aid of the widows and families of the deceased men. The funerals took place on Saturday evening, and were attended by a great number of mourners. The churchyard at Trefonen, where the bodies of William Howell, Richard Jones, John Griffiths, William Jones, and Charles Powell, were interred, was crowded to inconvenience. The funeral service was read by the Vicar of Trefonen, the Rev. David Lloyd. Joseph Tunley was interred the same after- noon at Llanyblodwel. The bodies were conveyed direct from the blacksmiths' shed at the rocks in which they had been deposited pending the inquest, to the places of inter- ment and the expenses attendant upon the funerals were defrayed by Mr Thomas Savin. Colonel Edgell, the Chief- constable of Shropshire, viewed the scene of the explosion on Friday, May 31st, and great numbers from Oswestry and thb adjoining villages journeyed to the Cooper's rock on the Saturday and Sunday following. On Sunday the friends of the deceased attended at the Parish Church, at Trefonen, when the Rector, the Rev. D. Lloyd, preached an impressive sermon from the fortieth chapter of Isaiah, sixth, seventh, and eighth verses.

MR. WATKIN WILLIAMS, M.P.,I…

ALABAMA CLAIMS.

OSWESTRY.