Elizabeth Thompson was a 13 year old mill girl, who was trapped in the machinery and died.
The Salford Weekly News of 20th August 1870 ran the headline "Fatal Accident in a Mill at Salford". It referred to an Inquest held by the Coroner F. Price Esq. the previous day, at St Philip's Tavern, Oldfield Road, Salford, on the body of Elizabeth Thompson, aged 13, who was killed at a cotton mill on Thursday 18th August 1870.
The deceased was the daughter of Mary Thompson of 88, Regent Street, Salford and it was stated that Elizabeth was the sole support for her widowed mother. Enoch Bates gave evidence and said that he was a Minder of a pair of self-acting mules at Messrs Charles Tysoe and Sons mill in Hope Street. The deceased was his "scavenger" and had to go under the mules 3 times a day to wipe away the build up of cotton dust on the roller beam. Each beam took three or four minutes to clean. She was also learning how to "piece" the cotton. The first scavenging had to be done after breakfast. Elizabeth was with him in the wheel-house (the passage way between the mules) from 9 until 9.15 am learning how to piece. She then left him to go on her first scavenging job. It was the duty of every scavenger to knock on the board in front of the carriage (or travelling part of the machine) as a signal to the Minder to stop the machine. He never heard the knock and was turning from one end to go into the wheel-house when he saw Elizabeth under the machine with her head caught between the boards of the travelling carriage and the iron roller of the fixed part of the mule.
The machine was thrown out of gear by the accident and Bates shouted to Thomas Clarkson, a Spinner, to cut the power, whilst he went to loosen her. He saw that Elizabeth's head was crushed and she appeared dead. He also said that he examined the machine later and found that Elizabeth had indeed scavenged the roller beam up to the point where she became trapped.
oseph Shaw, stated he was a "Piecer" at the same machine and at the time in question had his back to her, putting a spindle-band on the other wheel. When he finished, he turned 'round and saw Elizabeth, with her head fast in the mule. He called out to Bates and ran to the headstock to stop the machine, but he was too late. She was in the habit of sweeping the floor while the machine was in motion, but never to wipe the roller beams. She should have knocked.
Thomas Clarkson said that he was a Spinner and had charge of half the mules in the room. On Thursday morning he heard Bates and Shaw scream out and one of them said "she's fast"! He went with all speed to the unlocking lever and Bates and Shaw drew it out. He got over the carriage to the deceased and found her head was crushed and bleeding very much from a wound at the back. He saw no appearance of life and must have died immediately. The body was taken to the Infirmary. He was close enough to hear a knock if she had done so, but she did not knock. The Jury returned a verdict of Accidental Death.
On Monday 22nd August 1870, Elizabeth was buried in a common grave in the Church of England portion of Weaste Cemetery. The service was conducted by Rev P.C. Nicholson.
On Saturday 1st October 1870, The Salford Weekly News ran a headline "Important Case under the Factories Act", followed by "Enoch Bates, a self-acting minder in the employ of Messrs Tysoe and Sons, Hope Street, Salford, was summonsed at the instance of Mr Robert William Coles, Factory Inspector".
He was charged with a violation under section 20 which states, "No child or young person shall be allowed to work between the fixed and travelling parts of a self-acting machine, whilst it is in motion by steam power". The evidence presented concerned 13-year-old Elizabeth Thompson, who, on 18th August, was "permitted to go under a mule to wipe the fluff off the roller beam, whilst the machine was in motion. She was struck by a moving part and immediately expired".
Joseph Howarth gave evidence and said that the employer gave strict instructions not to allow scavenging whilst the machines were in motion. The defendant has so much to do that he didn't notice the deceased go under the machine. Case dismissed !!!!!