1925: Farm labourer’s fatal accident near Coombe Keynes

Fall from Farm Waggon – Bournemouth chauffeur as principal witness

The tragic circumstances under which George Cleall (43), a cowman employed at Povington Farm, East Lulworth, met his death whilst returning from Hethfelton Farm with a load of straw on a haorsed waggon, formed the subject of an enquiry by the Deputy Coroner for East Dorset (Mr. R. D. Maddock) at Povington Farm on Monday.

Bessie Cleall, of Povington, wife of deceased, giving evidence of identification, mentioned that her husband had been working for Mr. T. W. Wrixon for about 16 months. Deceased was quite well when he left home about 7 a.m. on Saturday, and he had no serious illness. He never complained about his work. There were two children, one aged four years next June and the other 1 year 6 months.

Chauffeur Witnesses the Fatality

Wm. Chas. Elias, chauffeur, of 18, Poole-road, Bournemouth, stated the previous Saturday, about 3.30 to 3.45 in the afternoon, he was with his employer on the road between East Lulworth and Wool, near Coombe Keynes, and saw two waggons laden with straw about 300 yards apart. Witness had passed the first waggon with the car, and then saw the top of the load on the rear waggon when 120 yards away. The waggon appeared to be coming towards him rather quickly, and he therefore drew up at a “widish” part to let it pass. Then the horse appeared round the corner, trotting, and the man in charge, who was on the near shaft, jumped off and seemed to get under the wheels of the waggon. The horse continued at a running pace, bringing the waggon towards him, and the witness waved his arms at it to prevent it colliding with the car. The horse, however, continued on its way, avoiding a collision, and witness jumped out of the car and went to the man, who was lying on the road and had not moved, and, as far as witness could judge, was dead. There was a bruise at the side of the deceased’s head, and blood was coming from the left ankle. Witness hurried to a farm on the right-hand side of the road to get help, and a man on a motor-bicycle went to summon the police. A policeman and doctor came some time later. Witness did not see anyone on the road at the time of the accident except the lady in the car. The road was a fairly hard stone one, and was quite dry.

Thomas Walter Wrixon, of Povington Farm, East Lulworth, the deceased’s employer, informed the Coroner that on Saturday Cleall left the farm with a horse and waggon to bring straw from Hethfelton Farm, being accompanied by another man with a two-horse waggon. Deceased had done the same journey for the same purpose 15 to 20 times during the past winter. The animal he drove was a mare aged about 10 years, and perfectly quiet. Cleall had never complained about the horse when he had had it out. Deceased was a steady man and a very good worker indeed. The road near the corner referred to was very narrow, with a very bad corner, and on the descent. Deceased was a good man with horses, one could not have a better man, and he was active and quick naturally.

Erneest Corbin, dairyman, of Coombe Keynes, stated that deceased stopped his horse and waggon at witness’s gate on Saturday afternoon and they had a conversation about Cleall’s dog. Witness saw deceased go down the road towards Povington, leading his horse. A few minutes later a man came and told him that there had been an accident. He found Cleall lying on the road towards his left side, quite dead.

P.C. Beviss (Wool) said on receiving information of the accident about 4 p.m. he told Dr. Anderson, and together they went to the scene of the fatality. Deceased was taken to Mr. Ford’s farm close by and there examined by Dr. Anderson, who found deceased had died of a fracture of the base of the skull. The left leg was also broken, and there was a cut on the right knee. There was a large abrasion on the left bottom jaw, which might have been crushed by the waggon passing over it.

The Coroner (who sat without a jury) returned a verdict to the effect the death was due to a fracture of the skull, caused by the farm waggon passing over deceased’s head, the injury being accidentally caused.

Published by Western Gazette, Friday 10 April 1925

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