Charles Hagan was a Labourer at Salford Docks and was killed by a capstan he was operating.
The Salford Reporter of 24th December 1898 records an Inquest held at the Salisbury Hotel, Trafford Road, Salford on Monday 19th December, into the death of Charles Hagan, aged 30, of James Henry Street, Salford. In attendance was Mr W. Sydney Smith, (HM Inspector of Factories).
The first witness was Mary Ellen Hagan, widow of the deceased, who said that her husband had worked at the Ship Canal Docks for about four years as a Dock Labourer. On Friday morning (16th December) he went to work and later she was informed that he had met with an accident.
John Downham, Labourer, who was acting as Assistant Foreman said that he was loading wagons on Dock 6, where the deceased was working. The deceased was moving wagons with the aid of a capstan worked by hydraulic power. A hemp rope was attached to the capstan. The capstan was controlled by a foot-operated lever. As the wagons moved to the correct position he requested that Hagan stop them. On going to unhook the rope, he found that it was tight. He then noticed that Hagan's leg had become entangled in the rope. Hagan fell to the ground and his body began to wind 'round the capstan. Somebody turned off the capstan and the witness removed the rope from the wagon, but could not get near Hagan to help him. He saw that Hagan was dead and his body was crushed. He added that he had never seen Hagan using a capstan before, although anyone could work the capstan.
. Carter, Foreman employed at the Docks said that the deceased was his assistant foreman and his duty was to look after the cotton stored at No.3 shed. He had to see that it was sent forward as quickly as possible. He had no right at the capstan as he was engaged in the shed. He noticed that Hagan had been caught by the capstan and was being dragged round it. Carter tried to switch off the capstan, but could not do so. He said that the capstan should have stopped when Hagan took his foot off the lever. He could not account for the capstan not acting properly.
At this stage in the proceedings, the Jury request a visit to the Docks to see the capstan. This was granted.
Upon returning to the Salisbury Hotel, the next witness, John Richard Flint, a jigger driver at the docks, said that it was his duty to operate capstans. He saw the deceased working the capstan at 10 o'clock on Friday morning. He said that he had operated it after the accident and it was then in perfect working order. He could not account for the accident. In answer to a question, Flint said that he had never been instructed how to operate capstans.
William Fox, Mechanical Engineer to the Ship Canal Company, stated that the capstan was operated by hydraulic power, and the lever to turn the water on and off was about 6 to 8 feet away. Labourers operated the capstans, but there were no rules or regulations that he knew of. Capstan operators had to ensure that there was sufficient space around the capstan to allow the ropes to be placed over them safely, as it was in this case. He said that when he was informed of the accident he stopped the work and called the Factory Inspector. They examined the capstan together and found that it was in perfect working order. The Jury returned a verdict of Accidental Death.
The Funeral of Charles Hagan took place on Tuesday 20th December. The coffin of oak was placed into the hearse and was followed by two mourning coaches. The cortege left his house in James Henry Street at 1.45 pm and proceeded by way of Taylorson Street, New Park Road and Ordsall Lane, to the Dock Mission office in Chief Street, where about 30 fellow workmen met and followed to Weaste Cemetery. The route to the cemetery was lined with people. Father Carruccio, Priest of All Souls Church, Weaste, conducted the service and Charles was interred in a common grave in the Roman Catholic portion.