Weaste Cemetery

Biographies of people buried between 1900 & 09

James Bird (Killed at work) (1857 - 1906)

James Bird was a Foreman Bricklayer who lost his life, on 20th March 1906, during the construction of Togo Mill, Patricroft, Eccles, when the scaffolding he was working on collapsed, on 19th March 1906.

There is some confusion about his date of birth. The 1901 census records his birth year as 1852; the family gravestone records his age in 1906 as 49 (making his birth 1857); and the Weaste Burial Register (and the report of the Inquest) showed his age as 46 (making his birth date 1860).

There is also no record for his marriage to Emmeline Wilkinson, possibly as this may have taken place in a Roman Catholic Church. However, the 1901 census reveals that James and Emmeline lived at 3, Robinson Street, Salford, and James was born at Sedgley, near Dudley, Staffordshire. Their children, all born in Salford, were Charles Henry (b.1884), Gertrude (b.1893), Ellen (b.1895), Edward (b.1897), and Thomas (b.1898). In 1903 James jnr was born, and in 1905 May was born.

The Guardian newspaper of 20th March 1906 reported, "One Man Killed: Four Injured. While a number of men were engaged in the building of the Togo Spinning Mill, Trafford Road, Patricroft, yesterday afternoon, some scaffolding gave way with the result that five men were seriously injured, one of whom died soon afterwards The men were laying bricks from a temporary platform of five planks, supported by what is technically known as "pudlocks"- stays fixed into the wall. The building had reached the height of about 40 feet from the ground. At about half past two o'clock, one of the stays of the temporary stage suddenly gave way and all were thrown through the apertures, which they were building for windows, to the ground outside the mill. The five men were taken to hospital where, John Westwell from Cadishead died later."

The following day the Manchester Courier reported, "Patricroft Scaffold Accident – Another Death. Another of the five men injured by the collapse of the scaffold at the Togo Spinning Mill, Patricroft, died yesterday at Eccles and Patricroft Hospital. His name was James Bird who resided in Salford.

An Inquest into the deaths of James Bird and John Westwell was held on 29th March at Eccles and Patricroft Hospital, which gave a different slant on the construction of the scaffold. The Manchester Courier on 30th March reported a witness Thomas Cainally of Barrow Street, Patricroft who was one of the men who built the scaffold. He said "it was erected by standards (vertical poles) resting on the planks of a scaffold beneath. He had been on the scaffold with the men and considered it quite safe. After hearing the medical evidence, the Coroner said that it would probably never be exactly known what caused the scaffold to fall. It was a question whether or not such scaffolding should be braced. However, unless the Jury could say anyone was to blame, in a criminal sense, their verdict would be one of accidental death. The Jury returned a verdict accordingly."

James was buried at Weaste Cemetery in the Roman Catholic plot K grave 431.