37.29 – George, Mary, James and William Howorth

George Howorth and Mary Lawson were both from Burnley, Briercliffe and Extwistle respectively, and married in 1824. George worked as a carter, and carted his way down the Burnley Valley towards Todmorden in search of work. He needed it – six children within 15 years, and all of them living! Kids are expensive after all.

They made their way to Peel Street, and there they stayed. Come 1861 and five out of six children remain in the household, all working. The sixth child is actually a grandson, John, the son of probably one of the two eldest daughters Sarah or Ann. We suspect Ann, as both she and John are still there in 1871. George died first, in 1875, and Mary followed in 1884.

William is also still there in 1871, although James has moved out after his marriage in 1867 to Mary Barker from Rochdale. They move back and forth between Rochdale and Todmorden for a time to chase work, but eventually settle at Upper George Street in Rochdale not long before James’s death. They had four children – one, Barker, worked alongside his father and was there on the day he died. All things considered, Barker was extremely lucky. It seems that James forgot that even if he was a master iron moulder and glazier, even masters can make mistakes.

“A shocking accident occured at Mr. J. H. Stott’s Wardleworth Ironworks, Whitworth road, shortly before noon on Monday, and through it one of the workmen – James Howarth [sic], of Upper George-street, a grinder and glazier, 53 years of age-sustained injuries so serious that his recovery from the first was regarded as very doubtful. Barker Howarth, his son, was also injured, though much less severely than his father. Both men were formerly employed at Messrs. Lord Bros.’ Works, Todmorden.

The glazing wheel on which the two men were working is a machine much like a moderate-sized grindstone; it is, however, made of wood and is coated with leather, the leather being covered with emery. At the time of the accident James Howarth was glazing a large iron frame end, weighing about a hundred weight, and the glazier was flying round at a great number of revolutions a minute. While the elder Howarth was holding the frame end upon the glazier, some portion of it became hooked in the leather coating of the machine; the frame end then flew up and struck Howarth on the face with tremendous force. He staggered backwards several yards, and then fell heavily to the ground. Several of his mates immediately ran to his assistance; they found that his face had been smashed, and that he presented a frightful spectacle. One of the men ran out for a doctor. It happened Dr. Pooley was in the neighbourhood, and he at once went to the works, and having seen the injured man, ordered his removal to the Infirmary. This was promptly done, by police constables Drake and Aspden, in the ambulance carriage.

The frame end of iron was broken in the accident, and a large piece of it struck the younger Howarth, breaking his arm at the elbow, and lacerating it near the wrist. The young man also proceeded to the Infirmary, where his injuries were attended to. The elder Howarth was in a semi-conscious state when he arrived at the Infirmary. There it was found that the whole of the bones of the front of the face were smashed, but the lower jaw was not injured; the right eye was completely destroyed, being cut into three or four pieces, and the left eye was also fearfully injured. The doctors who attended him on his arrival at the infirmary were Drs. Sellars, Pooley, Kerr and Dyson, the latter acting as locum tenens for Mr. Davies, the house surgeon, who is away. These gentleman appeared to think that Howarth might recover if the base of his skull was not found to be fractured, which could not be ascertained at first, as the patient’s condition was so serious that a close examination was not possible. Howarth was exceedingly restless during the afternoon, but he became quieter as the evening wore on, and he had a fairly good night. During Tuesday morning he recovered consciousness temporarily, and spoke to some members of his family who were with him.

Howarth was a big, powerful man, and was thoroughly master of his craft; his employer declares him to be one of the most careful men in his service. He and the foreman state that everything was in good order in the works, and that the occurrence was a pure accident. In addition to the injured son, Howarth has a wife and two grown-up sons and a daughter, for whom the utmost sympathy is felt both within and without the works. Howarth was very popular among his fellow workmen.”

James passed away not long after, and at the inquest, various other workmen testified as to the dangerous nature of their work, but also that James and Barker were so strong that they were more than capable of handling such a weight of solid iron without needing further assistance. It was ultimately determined that what happened was a pure accident, caused by a single loop of leather from the belt catching in the wheel as it spun at speed, and there was no H&S concern either from James’s end or for Stott’s Ironworks to amend. It probably would be a different outcome today, but risk assessments and litigation weren’t so common back then, so little things slipped past even the most experienced workers from time to time.

It seems likely that Barker’s shattered elbow never healed sufficiently for him to continue in the ironworker trade, as his father had imagined he would, as in 1901 and 1911 he is working as a carpet weaver. Barker passed away in 1915, aged only 40.

Now their other son, William, had stayed in Todmorden with his sister Ann and her son John. In 1891 and 1901 William and Ann are living at Ridge Street, John having moved out. William is a general outdoor labourer and Ann is a domestic housekeeper in 1891, and not working in 1901. When William dies in 1910, the final Howorth to be buried at this grave, Ann is able to stay at Ridge Street by taking in a boarder. Admittedly the boarder is two years older than her, a 78 year old widow, but they seem to have made it work.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *