Friday, 23 September 2011

Fraser vs. Younger & Son

Industrial accidents. Not very nice. This one, at George Yonger's brewery in Alloa, was particularly nasty.

See what you think:

"FRASER v. YOUNGER AND SON. Reparation—Culpa—Unfenced Machinery. Verdict for defenders. In this case, in which the now deceased James Fraser, provision dealer and cowfeeder, residing at Candleriggs Street, Alloa, was originally pursuer, and in which Mrs Margaret Smart or Fraser, his widow and executrix, who has been sisted in his room and place, is now pursuer; and George Younger & Son, brewers in Alloa, are defenders, the issue was as follows :—
"Whether the pursuer's daughter, Ann, died in consequence of injuries sustained on or about the 10th of April 1866, from an unfenced shaft in the mash-house of the defenders' brewery at Alloa, through the fault of the defenders— to the loss, injury, and damage of the pursuer? "Damages laid at £1000."
It appeared from the evidence that the pursuer's daughter, who was thirty-four years of age, had entered the brewery in order to get a bag of draff, and that while there she was caught by a shaft and killed. It was said that she wore a large crinoline. The distance between the shaft and the wall was only ten inches, so that she was dreadfully mangled. The pursuer claimed damages on the ground that the shaft ought to have been fenced; while, on the other hand, the defenders maintained that the deceased had no right to enter that part of the brewery, and that they were therefore free from liability.

The jury, after an absence of an hour and a half, returned with a unanimous verdict for the defenders, but strongly recommending the widow to their consideration."
"The Scottish law reporter, Volume 3, (November 1866 - May 1867)", 1867, page 363.

I don't like to imagine what they mean by "dreadfully mangled". Sounds awful. The brewery's defence - that she shouldn't have been in that part of the brewery, so it was her own fault - wouldn't convince me. What about their employees? Wasn't the uncaged shaft just as dangerous for them?

"strongly recommending the widow to their consideration" this says that, despite finding in the brewery's favour, the jury still thought they had a moral obligation to the widowed mother of the dead woman. I wonder if they did give her any dosh?


BryanB said...

Presumably the employees would not be wearing large crinolines, so it was relatively safer for hem.

JessKidden said...

While doing US pre-Prohibition research on various US breweries, I've come across a number of brewery industrial accident stories- in many cases, they are the only brewery-related stories that made the local newspapers.

Many were horse-pulled beer wagon accidents often involving children, but being crushed by kegs, boiled in kettles were common, as were a number of brewers' suicides.

I guess I've "collected" them with the future thought of making a webpage of them but it just seems too ghoulish, even tho' the point would be that... well, things were rough back then.

A similar accident to the one you've written about here occurred in the Ballantine brewery in Newark, NJ in 1886 and was covered by The New York Times, in somewhat graphic language.

"(An engineer) was oiling the machinery when he was caught by a shaft of the machine and before it could be stopped, he was crushed to a pulp. The shaft pounded him every time it descended, crushed him to jelly."

Ron Pattinson said...

JessKidden, newspapers have always loved a nice gory accident.