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Rushden Echo & Argus, 23rd Sept 1923
Mr. Alfred Mills

Tannery Fatality at Little Irchester

Alf Mills

Victim Formerly of Irthlingborough

Whirled to Death

A shocking fatality occurred on Tuesday morning at the works of the Midland Chrome Tannery Company, near the L. & N. W. Station, Little Irchester. An engineer named Alfred Mills of the Court Estate, Rushden, and late of Irthlingborough, was engaged at 8 a.m. in oiling the bearings of the machinery, when some men heard a rumbling noise and, looking up, saw that Mills was being whirled round in the  shafting. The engine was stopped, and Mills fell to the floor.

Nearly all the clothing was ripped off him. He was alive when picked up, but died before Dr. Pickering, who was sent for, could arrive. Mills, who was 23 years of age, was married last August at the Newton Bromshold Parish Church. The church bells were tolled on Wednesday morning.

The Inquest

On Wednesday Mr. J. C. Parker (Deputy Coroner) held an inquest. Mr. Mudford, H.M. Inspector of Factories, was present.

Jem Mills, 65, High-street East, Irthlingborough, father of deceased, gave evidence of identification.

Simeon Luck, foreman of the lime-yard, said that deceased did the running repairs of the machinery. He saw deceased on Tuesday at about 8 a.m. oiling the bearings of the machinery. Later he heard "banging noise" and ran to the place where deceased was oiling behind a large drum. He shouted "Stop the engine!" Witness saw Mills revolvingwith the shafting, and as the engine stopped deceased dropped to the ground, very badly injured and with his clothing torn off him. Steps were used for reaching the shafting, but they were not there on this occasion. Deceased climbed to the shafting on a disused vat, and witness thought that is what he did. The shafting and pulley were not guarded and could not be. Deceased had done the job many times before and had made no complaints.

Dr. Pickering said the left leg of the deceased was fractured in thee places, the right arm was broken, there was a large scalp wound and, he thought, a fracture of the skull. The body had only one sock and I boot, and and it was very badly bruised. Death was due to the injuries.

Edward F. Teesdale, manager of the tannery, said the men would save themselves the trouble of getting the ladder by climbing on anything handy. Deceased was a very keen workman, thoroughly conscientious, and one of whom the firm thought a great deal.

The shafting could be guarded, but he did not think it necessary, as they were ordering the oiling to be done before the machinery was working. It was not the general rule to this.

By the Inspector: When a man was testing a bearing he did not think it desirable to slow down the engine—the men must take the risk. He had not seen a loose-sleeve guard for such shafting.

Mr. Teeslale expressed the sympathy of the directors with the parents.

A verdict of "Accidental death" was recorded.

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