Mexborough and Swinton Times September 27, 1919
Touring a Corpse.
Strange Happenings at Wombwell .
Early on Friday morning, Arthur Spencer (40) of 42. Lundhill Row, collapsed while working at the boilers at the Cortonwood Colliery, and died.
Through inability to get into touch with the Wath Police, the body was removed to Wombwell.
Admission of the corpse was declined at the house where deceased on the grounds of insufficient accommodations, and the Wombwell police refused to allow the remains to be housed in their mortuary on the plea that the fatality had occurred outside the Wombwell Police area.
The body, after a considerable lapse of time, was conveyed back to the Colliery, and finally found a resting place in the Wath mortuary.
At the inquest he’d at the Wath Town Hall, on Saturday, Herbert Spencer, of Wombwell, brother of deceased complained of the painful circumstance- relating to the disposal of the body, which he said, had accentuated the grief of the relatives.
The Coroner (Mr. J. Kenyon Parker), expressed surprise that Councillor Hall who had labelled these happenings as “a scandalous state of affairs,” was not present at the inquest.
Mr. R. Grahame, general manager of the Cortonwood Collieries, described how an attempt was made to establish telephone communication with the Wath police, and how upon failing to do so it was decided to have deceased taken to the surgery of Dr. Foley, at Wombwell.
The Coroner said that he had gone into the question of the disposal of the body on account of previous comment on the occurrence. The law was that when a man died under circumstances necessitating an inquest, it was the duty of the persons who had charge of the body to communicate with the police of their area and await instructions, and to remove the body nowhere until such instructions were received. In this case, Mr. Grahame, as general manager, was responsible, though he (the Coroner) was not disposed to criticise his actions or to blame him.
He would like to emphasise, however, that their duty was to have housed the body on the Colliery premises, not to have taken it all over the district before any word had been received from the police. The Wombwell police were not in his district, and he had no authority over them.
He was not disposed to criticise or blame them either. If, they had accepted the body in their mortuary he would not have found fault with them but at the same time they were acting strictly according to law in refusing admission as the accident had occurred outside their district.
With regard to the other point the Colliery authorities had no right to remove the body to the home where deceased had lived. In view of the explanation which had been given he did not think there was a necessity for an expression of opinion from the jury.
Evidence relating to the death was given by James Ernest Harrop, of Wath Road, Wombwell, was employed as a fireman along with deceased. Witness saw him at about 2.30 am on Friday, and he had then just finished cleaning his fires, and was stood with his shovel in his hands. 10 minutes later deceased was found lying in the ash heap. He appeared quite lifeless then, though he was taken into the fresh air, and later on taken to the ambulance room.
In answer to the coroner, witness said that it was very hot work cleaning boilers.
Do you think deceased had been affected by the fumes? – I shouldn’t think so. All the ashes were slacked while I was there.
Mr Herbert Spencer here stated that the deceased finished cleaning six fires when he collapsed. He also had a mishap with one of his firing rakes.
Doctor D.B.Foley said that deceased was quite dead when he was brought to his surgery on Friday morning. Witness had conducted a post-mortem, found that death was due to valvular disease of the heart, which seemed of long standing.
“Death from natural causes” was the verdict