Jonathan Preston was an engineer, employed in the flax mill of William Renshaw & Co, Flax Street, off Adelphi Street, Salford and was killed at work when a beam engine collapsed on him on 27th October 1863.
The Salford Weekly News of 31st October 1863 records, "An accident happened at Mr Renshaw's flax mills, Adelphi Street on Tuesday (27th October) which resulted in the loss of one life and in great damage to property. At six o'clock in the morning, the manager of the mill saw the machinery, which is worked by two engines of forty horse-power each, set to work, apparently in good order. About half and hour later, he was standing outside the mill when he heard a crash, which shook the building as if it would fall. He went into the engine room and found that the two sway beams, which were about twenty feet in length, had broken off about four feet from the ends and fallen, carrying with them the connecting rods (large masses of iron about ten feet long and one foot thick). One of them damaged the cylinders of the engine and the other broke through the stone flooring and fell into the engine bed beneath.
On further examination, the manager found underneath the floor, where it had been broken in, the body of the engineer named Jonathan Preston. His head was crushed to pieces, but his body appeared uninjured. About that time in the morning it was his custom to go to an indicator, fixed in the wall underneath the beam, to mark the rate at which the engines were working. It is assumed that he must have been doing this at the moment at which the accident occurred. The engines have been used at full power lately, but no cause can be given for the breaking of the cast iron beams, which at the point of fracture are two feet deep and of width varying from two to ten inches.
An Inquest was held on the body of the deceased in the course of the day before the Coroner, Mr Rutter, when the jury returned a verdict of Accidental Death. Preston was 47 years of age, a steady and excellent engineer and much liked by both master and men. The damage to the machinery is said to be about £1,000."
The funeral was held on 1st November 1863 in Plot B1 of the Dissenters portion of Weaste Cemetery. The service was conducted by Mr William Henry Walker, the Cemetery Registrar.