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Brentford Families - Mitchell

Trevor Mitchell sent the following three newspaper cuttings in June 2012.

They describe an accident at the Brentford Gas Works which caused the death of George William Mitchell at the age of 39.

The newspaper articles have been transcribed:

11 September 1912

was held at Brentford Fire Brigade Station on
Tuesday morning, Dr. W. H. Gordon Hegg con-
ducting the enquiry, Mr Oswald Hanson
solicitor, representing the Gas Company, Mr
R. Goodman (chief engineer of the Gas Com-
pany), and Dr Williams (Home Office) were
present. Mr T Turner was chosen foreman
of the jury, Station PC Goddard was present
for the police whilst PC Canning as coroner's
In opening the enquiry the Coroner said that
this man had been employed at the Gas Works
for the past 11 years. He was engaged in feeding
coal hoopers on the top floor of the works
working by himself. His brother heard some-
think fall and on going to ascertain what it
was found decesaed lying unconscious on
the second floor, the deceased having fallen
about 20 feet. Dr Neil was called and the
body was taken to the Cottage Hospital, but
the deceased gradually grew worse and died
without regaining consciousness.
The Coroner's Office said that the jury had
that morning visited the scene of the accident
and were able to form an opinion as to the
place where the accident happened.
Dr Neil said that he was called on Friday
afternoon between 4.30 and 4.45 and he
found the deceased unconscious. He ordered
his removal to the Cottage Hospital where he
was detained. Witness found that he had re-
ceived a slight injury to the back of his head.
Wiitness saw that he was in a dying condi-
tion immediately he entered the hospital
and he died there an hour after ad-
mission. He had made a post mortem ex-
mination and found that the body was well
nourished and quite healthy. There were a
few marks on the skin and on the right and left
side of the back were one or two grazes on and (sic)
the arm. There was a fracture from the left side
of the head to the right temple bone. The
actual cause of death was shock consequent
upon a fractured skull. The injuries were such
as might have been caused by a fall of 20 feet.
The Coroner: We had a case of death from
the same place some time ago due to carbon
monoxide poisoning. What is your opinion
here? - I am unable to find any traces of it
The Coroner: The condition of the blood,
what would it lead you to think? - I am not
positive about it one way or the other.
The Coroner: Might he have been over-
come by the fumes of gas and then fallen?
Would there have been traces of gas? - There
would have been no evidence either way.
The Coroner: Or he might have slipped? -
The Coroner: There was no smell of gas or
anything about at the time of the accident? -
None that I could trace.
Do you think there would have been any
if he had died from the fumes? - Probably
there would have been a smell in the breath.
Mrs Sarah Mitchell, the widow, identified
the body as that of her husband. He worked at
was no lighting of the houses then or drawing
of retorts, and the house was clear.
Is the work that this man had tricky work? -
It is no more dangerous than any other work
uinless he slipped and fell.
Is there a reason for slipping there? - There
are wooden planks there.
Do you consider that there is any more
risk than in your work? - No answer.
Apart from the question of the rates of
wags, would you rather work where he was
or down below? - I would rather be where I
am; it is hotter there than where I am.
It is riskier? No.
The Coroner: You don't consider there is
any extra risk there? - No, unless a house is
being lit up; not otherwise.
Proceeding witness said he saw the deceased
within two minutes of the accident when he
held his hand up to witness to show that he
had enough coal.
By the Jury: The only extra danger with
the deceased's work was the greater heat,
which was not sufficient to overcome a man.
By the factory inspector: There was a
current of air though there, and since the last
fatality a large opening had been made, so that
even if there was 80 or 90 degrees of heat it
was not stagnant air.
Samuel Perry, the senior foreman, said he
knew the work the deceased had to do, but he was
not present when the accident occurred. A
boy came running to him and he went to see
what it was and found the deceased lying on
his back. He went up to see where the de-
ceased was working soon afterwards, The
man seemed to have got from the hooper, taking
his shovel with him to the landing, which con-
sisted of wooden planks about 4 ft below the
top of the hooper. He must have slipped in
coing down with the shovel and fallen to the
second stage.
The Coroner: You think he slipped?
Witness: Yes sir, I feel quite cerrtain that
he did.
Is there no protection against a man's fall-
ing if he slipped? - There is one rail.
How high? - About 3 ft or 3ft 6ins.
How far are the stanchions apart? About
(?3? ft.
Then there is room for a man to fall between
them? Yes, certainly.
Do you think that is sufficient in view of
what has occurred? I did think so, but in
view of what has happened I think another
rail would be better.
Proceeding the witness said that one of the
witnesses suggested that the deceased
was standing on a plate of the hopper, but he
was standing on the coals. There was no plate
around the hopper. He though that the shovel
was the cause of the accident; if deceased had
laid the shovel on top of the coals it would
not have happened.
The Factory Inspector: Has the deceased
or any of your men ever suggested an addi-
tional fencing? - No sir, but if they ask me to
do anything for them I always see what I can
Is the station rigid? - Yes.
A juryman: Would it be possible for the
And you will so advise your board: -
And there has been no accident of this kind
there before: - No, only the case of three
months ago.
Which was under different condition? -
Yes. I would like to say that this house has
been in this condition for 20 years and we have
never had an accident of any kind.
The Coroner having briefly summed up, the
jury retired to consider their verdict, which
after a short interval they gave to the effect
that death was the result of an accidental fall;
that no one was to blame, but the jury
believed an iron mesh should be furnished
Mr Hanson for the company said they ac-
cepted the view of the jury, but believed they
had a better means of protection, and this Mr
Goodman explained, obviously to the satisfac-
tion of the jury, to be of a horizontal nature
instead of a mesh as had been suggested to fill
the space on the hand rail.
Mr Goodman expressed the regret the firm
felt for the widow, add tendered their deepest
sympathy to the bereaved relatives. They
were insured against accidents, and the widow
would benefit by that.
The Coroner said of course it would be sat-
isfactory to the widow to have this insurance
compensation, but he was sure she would
rather have her husband back. He was sure
that the jury would join in the sympathy Mr
Goodman had expressed on the firm's behalf.
This was done, and besides handing their
fees a collection was also made by the jury-
men amongst themselves for the benefit of the
widow and her large family of little ones.

Middlesex Independent 14 September 1912

The sympathy of everyone will go out to the
disconsolate widow and the family of the poor
fellow Mitchell, who life was cut short so
terribly suddenly at the Gas Works last Fri-
day afternoon. To everyone "death cometh
soon or late," but in this case the suddenness
of the call seems likely to result in terrible
hardship, for a wife and half a dozen children
old - are left totally unprovided for, except so
far as insurance is concerned. He had served
his country well, having been for eight years
with the colours in one of the Middlesex
Regiments, then for a time he was in the
Reserve. He was one of those who "heard his
country's call," whom "there was no need to
send to find," when the call for fighting men
went up; promptly he went to the front, and
for three years engaged in the battles of his
country in South Africa. When there was no
further need for his services on the veldt he
ment, or the Territorial force as we know it
now, and it was only a month ago since he
returned from camp where he had put in a
fortnight's training. His body will this after-
noon be laid to rest, and his comrades in the
territorial force will honour his memory by
attending to see him laid in his last resting
place, with full military honours. The jury
empnelled at the inquest held on Tuesday
were so impressed wit the sadness of the
circumstances that they not merely gave up
their fees to the widow, but, with the coroner
heading the subscription list, they all gave of
their substance, such as they could afford.
One would like to think that the example of
the jury would be followed by those more
fortunately placed than these "twelve good
men and true."

Middlesex Independent 18 September 1912

The funeral took place on Saturday after-
noon with full military honours of the late Mr
George William Mitchell who died, as already
reported, from the effects of an accident whilst
at work with the Brentford Gas Company.
The deceased was an ardent territorial. He
had served in the 2nd Middlesex Regiment,
and in the Mounted Infantry. During his
service in South Africa he gained three bars
on the Queen's medal and two on the King's
medal. Since his return he has been associ-
ated with the "B" (Brentford) Company of the
8th Middlesex Regiment, and enjoyed great
popularity with his colleagues 150 of whom
paraded, not alone from Brentford but also
the other companies in the Battalion, for the
funeral. Capt Isaacson was in command of the
funeral party.
Headed by the Band, under the direction of
Band-master Scott, the cortege made its way
from the house in Greet Road to the Ealing and
Old Brentford Cemetery, where the Interment
took place, the last rites being impressively
conducted by the Rev T Selby Henry. The
principal mourners present were the widow,
Mr J Mitchell (brother), Master George
Mitchell (son), Mrs Ellen Mitchell (sister in
law), the Misses Daisy and Annie Mitchell
(daughters), Mrs A West (sister), Mr T West
(brother in law)), Mrs A Rolfe (sister), Mr J
Rolfe (brother in law), Mrs E Mitchell (sister
in law), Mrs Robinson (sister), Masters GW
and Bert Fowler (nephews). There were also
present a large number of the deceased's
fellow workmen from the Brentford Gas
Three volleys were fired over the open grave
and the "Last Post" sounded in accordance
with the army custom. It may be observed
here that the body was conveyed to the
cemetery in a hearse instead of, as customary
in such cases, on a gun carriage. Owing to
the Army Manoeuvres it was not possible to
obtain the necessary horses for the regulation
The coffin, which was of polished elm with
brass fittings bore the inscription
Died 6th, September, 1912.
Aged 39 years.

Page published August 2012