Although the people of Boughrood were largely involved in agriculture there were still industrial accidents. Several of these involved Boughrood Mill. In January 1908 William Powell, then aged “about 17,” and employed by his father as an odd job boy offered to remove the stick from the millwheel. The inquest would later learn that this was used to prevent the wheel turning in time of flood when the water over topped the sluice. William slipped into the water and was drawn into the huge wheel and crushed. It took over an hour to extricate his body. The tribunal decided that to prevent similar accidents occurring the fence should be moved closer to wheel to prevent the stick being removed in this manner and that the wheel should be “spragged” by timber inserted from inside the mill.
Below is a transcribed version of the report followed by a copy of the actual newspaper article.
THE BRECON AND RADNOR EXPRESS, THURSDAY, JANUARY 16, 1908
DISTRESSING FATALITY AT BOUGHROOD
CRUSHED BY A MILL-WHEEL
Touching the terrible death of William Powell (17), Boat row, Boughrood, an inquest was held before Mr F.L. Green, Presteigne (coroner for the Eastern Division of Radnorshire), at Mr C.S.W. Powell’s residence, Boughrood, on Friday afternoon.
Rev. Prebendary Jackson-Taylor was elected foreman of the jury.
Mr James E. Ashworth, inspector of factories, Swansea, attended.
Immediately after the jury had viewed the body and inspected the scene of the fatality, Mr C.S.W. Powell, deposed that he was inspector of weights and measures for the county of Radnor and lived at Boatside villa, Boughrood. He identified the body as that of William Powell, who was employed by witness’s father (Mr Charles Powell, the Castle, farmer and miller), as odd-jobs boy, that was, his duties were of a general character. Witness understood he was between 16 and 17 years of age. Deceased lived with his mother, who was a widow, at Boat row, Boughrood. The widow, he believed, got her living by sewing, and witness could not say whether she was, to any extent, dependent on deceased. Witness was with the lad at the time of the accident, that was, about 7.30 on the previous Wednesday morning. He went down to the mill to take a stick, or prop, from out of the water-wheel, and, in passing through the building, saw deceased with a bucket half full of water. Witness remarked “What are you doing, Billy?” He replied “going to feed the pigs”. Nothing further was said, and witness proceeded round to the wheel at full walking pace – not knowing that deceased was following him. While Mr Powell was in the act of taking the stick away, he saw the boy clutch, in stooping position, with both hands at the bottom of the stick, and, consequently witness let go his hold, allowing the lad to remove the stick – an act he did. Witness then turned to the right – an opposite direction to where deceased was standing – to place a bar against the railing. After that, and just as he turned to go away, he caught sight of the boy falling into the wheel. Witness sprang towards him, but failed to secure hold only just touching his coat. The wheel was then going down rather fast, because the river had swollen, and caused the water to overflow the sluices. That, coupled with the fact of the wheel being top heavy, caused it to revolve rapidly for half a turn or so, and take deceased right down under. Witness thereupon tried to lift the wheel, but found the task utterly impossible, and ran for help. He also shouted, and Thomas Weale, a postman, responded to his call. Weale came running down after him to the spot, and, in a few minutes, several others, who heard the call, were on the scene. They tried hard to get the wheel back round, so as to extricate the body, but the body prevented the wheel from turning. After endeavouring to remove the wheel for some time, more help was secured, and, with the aid of levers, they got deceased up. The work of extricating the body occupied an hour or more, and, when raised, the lad was quite dead. The stick, or prop, witness had referred to, was put to stop the wheel going round when the river was swollen, and the water therefrom overflowed the sluices. Witness sometimes worked the wheel for his father, and, as he placed the stick in it the night before, he went to remove it on the morning in question.
The Coroner: Had there ever been an accident at the mill before?
Witness: Yes; but before my memory. A man is said to have been killed there many years ago.
The Coroner: Had this boy met with an accident at the mill before?
Witness: Yes; he got meddling with the chain. He was probably climbing down the chain inside the mill, but no one seems to know exactly how he hurt himself.
The Coroner: Do you know anything about a notice having been given for the wheel to be fenced?
Witness: Yes, notice was received from the Inspector of Factories last October, requiring a fence to be placed alongside the water-wheel.
The Coroner: Was that notice complied with?
The Coroner: When?
Witness: At once.
The Coroner: What do you mean by “at once”?
Witness: Within a few days of its receipt, or with all possible speed.
Inspector Ashworth: Had you used the prop for the purpose described before?
Witness: Yes; several times in flood, when the river had overflowed the sluices.
Inspector Ashworth: Could you remove the prop alone?
` Inspector Ashworth: What I mean is, there must be a deal of pressure on the wheel sometimes, when you might not be able to remove the prop.
Witness: I could do so on the occasion in question, because the river had fallen a great deal snce the night before.
Inspector Ashworth: To remove the prop it was necessary for someone to go inside the wheel?
Inspector Ashworth: If the fence were placed, say 18 inches nearer the wheel, the prop could be removed without going inside?
Witness: It might.
Inspector Ashworth (to the coroner): I say the fence is a little too far from the wheel, because, at present, anyone, going to remove the prop, must get inside it. The fence, as far as it goes, is good enough.
The Foreman: Could there not be some arrangement to sprag the water-wheel from inside the mill?
Witness: I think there should be.
Inspector Ashworth: Yes, if that could be done, it would be better.
The Foreman: There would be less danger, anyway.
Mr W. Jones (juror): Did you ask the boy to help you?
Witness: No; he followed voluntarily. He might have thought he would be wanted to hold the light.
The Coroner: The boy was in the course of his employment?
Witness: He was about to feed the pigs, and was at the wheel with me.
The Foreman: Had the lad been there before?
The Foreman: Then, very likely, he thought he was wanted.
Witness: Yes; no doubt he did, to hold the lamp, or something. That, of course, was only known to himself.
The Coroner: You, as far as you know, say he was trying to help you?
Witness: I saw him clutch, and remove the stick.
Mr W. Jones: But that was contrary to his orders, if he were told to feed the pigs?
Witness: I only asked him what he was doing.
Inspector Ashworth: Had he ever removed the prop before?
Witness: Not himself; but he had been with others.
Inspector Ashworth: Then, he might have thought he was wanted, and went to help as part of his duties?
Witness: He might, of course.
The Foreman: It seems the boy thought he would be useful by going to the wheel.
Witness: If anything, he saw the lamp, and thought he could hold it.
Mary Ann Powell, mother of deceased, said her lad was 17years of age on November 9th last. He was not her only son, but she was trusting him to help her get a living.
Dr Frederick James Jayne, of Tagarth, stated that he was called to Boat row, Boughrood, about 10 o’clock, on the previous Wednesday morning, and found the body (dressed) lying on the table. Deceased face was very swollen and bruised, and a ittle blood was issuing from his left ear. Witness removed the clothes, which were wet, and made a close examination of the body. He found considerable bruises on the chest and back, there was also a fracture of the spine in the region of the neck, several ribs were broken, &c. The injuries were consistent with falling into, and crushed by, a wheel. Witness considered death was due to the fracture of the spine.
The Coroner: Thomas Weale, the postman, who ran down to help Mr Powell to get deceased from under the wheel, is here.
The jury considered his evidence unnecessary, and, consequently, did not call him.
Briefly summarising the evidence, the coroner thought the jury would not have much difficulty in arriving at how, when and where the poor fellow met his death, that was, there could be no doubt that his end was accidental.
A verdict of accidental death was returned, the jury recommending that the present fence alongside the wheel should be placed closer, so as to prevent anyone getting inside to take away the prop, or that the wheel be spragged by means of a bar through the wall from inside the mill.
Letters, embodying the recommendation, were ordered to be sent to the landlord and tenant.
The funeral was at Boughrood church, on Saturday afternoon, Rev. Prebendary Jackson-Taylor officiating.