Burnley Express in Advertiser, July 20th 1907.

Two applications under the Workmen’s Compensation Act were made before his Honour Judge Bompas, at the Burnley County Court yesterday afternoon.

The second application was for the allocation of the compensation awarded Lily Nichols, of 78, Church-street, Burnley, for the death of her husband Arthur Nicholls, who was a stoker at the Hill Top Mill, and who was scalded to death last May. Mr. Fullalove appeared for all parties, and stated that the compensation paid into Court was £182. Of this £20 had been paid to the widow, leaving a balance of £162. Mrs. Nicholls was living with her mother, and the child had aged 16 months.

His Honour allocated £42 to the widow and the rest of the child. He allowed the widow £22, and ordered the other £20 to be invested for the widow’s future use. The £120 was also to be invested, and 4s.weekly to be payed to the mother for the child’s support till the money was exhausted. “I always,” added his Honour, “like to make the money last till the child reaches 13 or 14 years of age, when she will be presumably be able to support herself.”

Burnley Express and Advertiser Oct. 16th 1907.


We have been supplied by the Board of Trade with an official copy of the proceedings of the enquiry into the explosion (which was attended with fatal results) of an economiser at the Hill Top Mill, Burnley. This occurred about 9 a.m. on May 13, and the firemen, John Nicholls, died from injuries received. The following is report of Mr. Albert F. Laslett, of the Surveyor’s Office, Liverpool.

Nature of economiser; The economiser is off Messrs. Green’s type, about 29 ft  six inches long, five feet five inches wide, and ten feet two inches in height, measured over the boxes connecting the tubes at their upper and lower ends. It consists of 24 rows of tubes, having eight tubes in each row and connected by a top junction pipe, carried above the back tubes in each row. Access to the seven front tubes in each row is obtained through hand holes in the upper side of the square boxes into which the tube ends are inserted. The back tube in each row is cleaned through apertures in the top junction pipe, which are closed by small oval covers secured by two bolts 1 inch in diameter. These apertures are 2 3/4 inches in diameter. Three boilers’ in connection with which this economiser works, are intended for a working pressure of 90 lbs. per square inch, the economiser itself being intended for working pressure up to 120 lbs. per square inch. The economiser was made by Messrs. E. Green and Son, of Wakefield, in the year 1890. Various repairs of an unimportant character have been found necessary, at different times, consisting chiefly of renewals of access lids and parts of the cleaning gear. The economiser is regularly examined by the inspectors of the Vulcan Boiler and General Insurance Company, Limited, King-street, Manchester, the last inspection having been made on March 30th last.

The Explosion: – One of the oval access caps, on the cross junction pipe over the back tubes, was blown from its seat, and hot water and steam at considerable pressure were discharged through the opening. The explosion was caused by the breakage of the front bolt, securing the cap, the bolt being broken apparently in an attempt by the deceased man, Nicholls, to tighten up a leaking joint while the economiser was under pressure, the boilers at the time being worked at 87 lbs. per square inch.

General Remarks: – The machinery and boilers at the Hill Top Mill are in charge of an engineer. Mr. James Whalley. On the morning of May 13th last, some repairs to the mill gearing were found necessary, and while the engineer was engaged in this work, about nine a.m., the fireman, Nicholls, was met coming from the economiser house very severely scalded. Nicholls was able to say that a joint on the economiser had blown out, but collapsed before he could explain his condition more fully, and died without being able to make any further statement. Mr. Whalley shut off all connections between the economiser and the pumps and boilers, and then found jhat one of the caps on the cleaning holes was lying on top of the economiser, having apparently been forced from its place by the pressure of the feed water, after the front bald have been broken. A spanner, 21 inches long, was lying near with part of the broken bolt. It would therefore, appear that Nicholls, who was the boiler attendant on duty, had noticed one of the caps leaking, and seeing that the engineer was engaged in repairs to the machinery in the mill, had attempted to tighten the joint, applying such a pressure to the spanner, in the operation, that the bolt end was twisted off, the nut being set fast by rust. The manager of the mill and the engineer state in evidence that the deceased man Nicholls, who had been employed at the boilers for a few months only prior to his death, had been instructed that when he observed any defects in the steam fittings are other apparatus in the works, he should report such to the engineer, and should not attempt to make good defects himself, as he was not considered competent to do so. The spanner used by him had been in use during the machinery repairs that morning, and had been taken away by Nicholls unknown to the engineer. In the observations of the Engineer Surveyor-in-Chief it is noted that the top was held by only two bolts, one on each side. The failure of the bolt resulted in the cap being blown off, and the attendant was so injured by the escape of steam and hot water that he died. He adds; “As this is not the first death that is resulted from precisely the same cause, and as similar casualties are likely to occur in the future unless steps are taken to prevent them, the makers of such apparatus would do well to amend the design so as to avoid the dangers which at present arise from one of the bolts breaking while the apparatus is in use; and the owners of those now in use should, I submit, have printed notices hung in conspicuous places warning attendants not to tighten up the bolts of the caps while the apparatus is under pressure, as the failure of a bolt may lead to fatal results. 


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