William Hamilton was a Steeplejack, who was killed at work when the top of a chimney collapsed and he and a colleague were flung to the ground.
The Salford Reporter of 1st September 1900 records: "Shortly after 2 pm on Friday (24th August 1900), a shocking accident occurred at the English Velvet Cord Dyers Association works on Hodge Lane (off Langworthy Road), by which two steeplejacks named William Hamilton and Henry George lost their lives. The deceased, who were employed by Mr. Joseph Faulkner, Chimney Repairer of Strangeways, had just resumed work at the top of the chimney, when its cap suddenly collapsed and the debris carried the deceased and the scaffolding upon which they had been working, to the ground. Both men were killed instantaneously".
An Inquest was held on Monday 27th August at the Duke of Lancaster Hotel, Salford, conducted by Mr F.W.Roe Rycroft, Deputy Coroner. Elizabeth Ann Sherry of Water Street, Manchester, said she had known William Hamilton for 4 years and had identified the body. He was 49 years of age. Jane Ann George of Knowles Street, Stalybridge, was the wife of 45 year old Henry George, and had identified his body.
Thomas Kelly of 189, High Street, Pendleton said that he had been in charge of Hodge Lane Dye Works until 29th October when the operations at the works ceased. He was now in charge for English Velvet Cord Dyers Association. The top of the lightning conductor had broken off the works 65 yard high chimney during a storm. Mr Faulkner had been asked to inspect the chimney a month prior to the accident. He laddered it first and reported the cap of the chimney was unsafe and sent a quote to make it right. This was accepted and his men started to erect the scaffolding on Monday before the accident. Work to remove the condemned part of the chimney began and the deceased men started throwing the "blocking" off. All went well until Friday at about 2.20 pm when the cap of the chimney spread outwards. It collapsed like a pack of cards and nothing could be seen but a load of scaffolding and debris falling. The men were carried down with the debris which would weigh about 30 tons. Hamilton was found outside in the works yard on some scrap iron and George was inside the storeroom, having fallen through the roof.
Joseph Faulkner of 13, Great Ducie Street, said he was an Electrician and Chimney Repairer. He inspected the chimney and reported that the cap was in a dangerous condition and gave an estimate. The cap had expanded and was opening in several places. Hamilton had worked for him on and off for 15 years and George for 7 or 8 years. Both were competent workmen.
James Faulkner, brother of Joseph Faulkner said that he was a lightning conductor fixer. He visited the Hodge Lane works the previous Monday with the two deceased men and the necessary tackle for the scaffolding. He supervised the erection of the scaffold, which was completed on the Thursday, and the start of the removal of the capping, but was not present on Friday. He said both men had had great experience and every precaution was taken although the top of the chimney was very dangerous. They had three stages of scaffolding, but it was not possible to provide life lines.
Charles Taylor of 11, Prescott Street, Harpurhey, said that he was employed as a Labourer on the job. He saw the scaffolding fixed in the usual way and everything went well until the accident happened. Both men had been down to have their dinner and they commenced work again at 20 minutes to 2. He shouted to them not to throw anything down as two carts had come to be filled. They waited until the carts had gone and then re-commenced work. He was sitting down underneath, watching them, when Hamilton shouted to him to run away as fast as he could. He ran away and on turning round, saw a cloud of dust and scaffolding. The deceased men were holding onto something at the top when Hamilton shouted and they appeared to have a moments warning that the chimney was about to collapse.
The Deputy Coroner said it was evident that the proprietors had taken the usual precautions. Having been informed that the chimney was unsafe, they employed Mr Faulkner, a competent man, who also employed competent men. Unfortunately an accident happened. The Jury returned a verdict of Accidental Death and expressed their sympathy with the relatives of the deceased men.
The funeral of William Hamilton took place at Weaste Cemetery on Tuesday 28th August. The coaches went to Mr Faulkner's premises in Strangeways to pick up William's brother from Oldham, Mr Faulkner and ten Steeplejacks, four of whom acted as bearers. The cortege set off from Mr Simpson's (Undertaker of Cross Lane) and proceeded to a common grave in the C of E portion of the cemetery.