'The Calch' - Minera Limeworks
Minera Lime Works in the 1960's.
The 'Minera Limeworks Company' was established in 1852 and at its height operated seventeen kilns. On July 1st 1865 the Minera Limeworks Company became a 'Limited Company' and took over the existing works previously leased by the 'Brymbo Company'.
In 1867, The Minera Lime Company purchased its own locomotive which they named 'Minera'. The loco was required to shunt and haul the ore to the Minera weigh-bridge. The construction of the first 'Hoffman Kiln' was undertaken in 1868. The 'Minera Lime Company' carried out the first of many 'big blasts' in 1872, and it was following one of these blasts that bones (thought to be pre-historic), were found.
A terrible accident occured at the limeworks in 1873. The locomotive 'Minera' became derailed whilst it crossed the 'crusher bridge' within the works, and fell to the track below. Both the driver and another workman were killed in the incident. During the following year of 1874, a second 'Hoffman Kiln' was constructed within the works.
A 'Big blast' took place at Lester's Limeworks, Minera, at 3pm on May 10th 1884. The rock face selected for blasting was 300 feet long and similar in height. Tunnels of 60 feet in length had been driven into the face and these were 180 feet apart. 20 cwts of explosives were packed in one tunnel & 23 cwts into the other. A dull roar and a dust cloud was followed by a shower of small rocks as 23,000 tons of rockface had been blasted away.
The Great Western Railway were hauling out three train loads daily from the Minera Lime Company works in 1887. At this time the company now owned 212 of their own railway waggons. In 1894, Minera Lime Company organised the first of many outings for 152 of their work force, with a trip to Liverpool at a cost of 1/9d for each rail fare. In later years workers enjoyed trips to Rhyl, Llandudno & Barmouth. The Lime Company enjoyed a good relationship with its workforce & never experienced any strike action from their employee's throughout its existance.
In the year 1899, The 'Lester Lime Company' & the 'Minera Lime Company' amalgamated. In 1901 The Minera Lime Company quarried 125,000 tons in this year. (In total, about 8 million tons of high quality limestone has been obtained from Minera, - an average of 80,000 tons per year over a 100 years.) During 1904 a cave was discovered after blasting at Minera Lime Works which contained a human skeleton and other bones. The British Museum officials, who visited the site declared that there was little doubt that these remains were indeed pre-historic.
Limeburner Thomas Lewis made a gruesome find in the early hours of December 21st 1905. Local tramp William Henry Williams was found badly burnt in the Hoffman Kiln at Minera Lime Works. Discovered at 3 a.m. Williams died through his injuries at the Wrexham Workhouse later that day. (Full inquests transcribed from the 'Wrexham Advertiser' below...)
The very last 'Big blast' took place at Minera limeworks in 1919. In 1926 the workers at the Minera Lime Works were forced to become unemployed as no lime was burned due to the coal miners strike. 1932 witnessed a general depression in trade, Minera Lime Works were not operating and Brymbo Steelworks were closed. The following year of 1933 saw the 'Minera Limeworks Company' finally closed down.
Adam Lythgoe Limited took over the Minera Limeworks site in 1954 and operations were re-commenced. Once the largest Lime workings in north Wales, The Limeworks closed in 1972. Shortly after this date the branch of the railway serving the works was pulled up and dismantled. At its peak the Limeworks had its own steam locomotives as well as over a hundred coal and lime railway wagons, as it produced thousands of tonnes of lime per year. The kilns still remain to this day, allbeit in a state of disrepair.
Following the limeworks closure, the quarry was worked for road building materials until its closure in 1992. In 2004 the quarry areas were cleared of all standing materials and the area 'in part' levelled. Whilst it is said, the quarry still has viable amounts of lime reserves, a return of quarry operations remains very doubtful.
The 1905 Minera Limeworks Incident
THE WREXHAM ADVERTISER
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 30, 1905
SHOCKING DEATH FROM BURNS IN WREXHAM
Extraordinary Evidence at Inquest.
CORONER AND JURYMAN - Series of Scenes
On Saturday afternoon an inquest was held by Mr W. Wyne Evans, coroner for East Denbighshire, and a jury of whom Mr Hy. Boothey was foreman, on the body of Wm. Henry Williams, a tramp, who went to sleep in an empty lime kiln at Minera on Wednesday night, and was so badly burnt that he died in the Wrexham Infirmary on Thursday. The evidence was of an extraordinary character, and so unsatisfactory as to make it necessary eventually for the coroner to adjourn the inquiry. During the proceedings also a scene was caused by one of the jurymen.
The coroner having briefly explained the nature of the case, and the jury returned from viewing the body, P.C. David Jones informed the court that the witnesses from Minera had not arrived. Replying to the coroner, the officer said the witnesses were coming by the 2.50 train.
Mr W.H. Parry (a juryman): " I hope I am not going to be detained. It is a matter of business with me and a very busy day. I can not wait for witnesses." The Coroner: " It is a matter of business with us all, Mr Parry. I will not detain you a moment longer than I can help."
Dr Enoch Moss was then called, and said he was medical officer to the workhouse. Deceased was brought to the house on the 21st., and witness saw him about three o'clock in the afternoon. He was suffering from shock consequent upon burns. There were burns on both legs and thighs, on each side of the abdomen and on the chest. Both hands and arms were also burned, but not the face. All the burns with the exception of those on the hands were superficial in character. Deceased died about 12 o'clock the same night.
A Juror: " Was the case one in which there was no hope from the first ?" Dr Moss: " I think it was. As a rule if you get a third of the body superficially burnt the person dies." The Coroner: " What was the immediate cause of death? " Dr Moss: " Shock and heart failure." The Coroner: " Should not the man have gone to the Infirmary in the ordinary course? I do not understand why he was brought here." Dr Moss: " I don’t understand it. I was told he was brought down in a cart with only a little straw covered over him, but I do not know that. It would have been better to have taken him to the Infirmary straight away, because there is a medical officer on the spot there. I believe he was admitted here about seven o'clock in the morning, but I did not get the message about him until I came home." The Coroner: " You did not see him until three?" Dr Moss: " A little after that." The Coroner: " Then the man remained until you saw him without being attended by a medical man?" Dr Moss: " He had not been attended to by any medical man to my knowledge. If he had his wounds were not dressed." The Coroner: " Can you tell me why this was?" Dr Moss: " I cannot say." The Coroner: " The man must have suffered terribly, I suppose?" Dr Moss: " Yes, he must have done, because these burns are very painful." The Coroner: " I do not know why the master of the Workhouse did not send deceased to the Infirmary. Do you ask any questions now." Gentleman: " I will send for the master." Mr Parry: " Had we not better wait till the master comes in, Mr Coroner?" The Coroner: " I will proceed with the inquest, Mr Parry. Have you any questions to ask, gentlemen?" A Juror: " I think the jury would like to wait until the master comes."
P.C. David Jones at this stage stated that the Minera witnesses had now arrived. Thomas Williams of Pentre, Minera, was then called and identified the body of the deceased, who he said, was his father's cousin, and 60 years of age. The Coroner: " Where did he live?" Mr Williams: " Nowhere Sir." The Coroner: " Where did he sleep? Anywhere, I suppose?" Mr Williams: " Yes Sir." The Coroner: " Did you know that he slept in the lime kilns at Minera?" Mr Williams: "I did not know." The Coroner: " Did any of you take any interest in him?" Mr Williams: " No, because he would not work or anything of that kind." The Coroner: " What did he live on?" Mr Williams: " What he catched."
Dr Moss, recalled, said he went to the Workhouse as soon as he heard of the case. Deceased told him he had got burnt in the kiln. He was in a very prostrate condition. Mr Cartwright, the master of the Workhouse, stated that the deceased was brought there while he was engaged with a committee of the Guardians. The porter came and told Mr Cartwright, and gave him the following certificate , signed by Dr Vaughan Griffith of Coedpoeth; ' William Henry Williams is unable to follow his usual employment in consequence of burns. Kindly take him in at once.' This paper had been brought down by Thomas Lewis, the fireman and the engine cleaner at the limeworks, who accompanied deceased in the conveyance. When Mr Cartwright had finished with the committee, about an hour later, he went and saw the deceased, and sent for the nurse who attended to the man. Asked to explain the delays, Mr Cartwright said they naturally concluded that if a man came in a float from Coedpoeth on a doctor's certificate and on a cold day, he could wait for Dr Moss to see him. Dr Moss, again called, said when he first saw deceased the latter had 'had hot water bottles put to his feet, and had taken hot milk and tea. He had been treated very effectively for the time being, but of course, the nurse could not presume to dress a lot of the wounds until he himself had seen the man.
Mr Parry interposed a further interruption here, and asked that certain information should be supplied. The Coroner: " If you will control yourself for a little while, Mr Parry, we shall have it all." Mr Parry: " I am here to investigate this case, sir." The Coroner: " So am I, and please investigate it properly." Continuing, the Coroner said the man should have been sent to the Infirmary. Mr Cartwright: " That may be sir, but I cannot help it." Mr Parry: " It seems to me if the man had been a workman, he would have been taken to the Infirmary. But being a tramp he was sent here." The Coroner: " There seems to have been a terrible mistake, poor man! It is a scandal that a man should be allowed to remain for three hours without being attended to." The Master of the House: " He was attended to by the nurses." The Coroner: " But his wounds were not dressed. Nothing was done to relieve the pain." Mr Parry (to the coroner): " I hope your remarks do not refer to any of the officials as far as the Union is concerned. His wounds ought to have been dressed before he came down to the Union." The Coroner (to the Master): " You say that the nurse attended to him?" The Master: " At once." Dr Moss went on to say that there might have been some oil put on the wounds, but when he spoke of 'dressing' he meant lint and the wounds wrapped up. In answer to the coroner, Dr Moss said that if an accident of that kind happened in the Infirmary, and he was not at home when he was summoned, another doctor could be telephoned for. Such an urgent case had actually happened. The Coroner: " I cannot imagine a more urgent case than this." Dr Moss: " Yes, but it is very easy to see the urgency when you hear the evidence after a man's death. It is not always easy for an outsider to see when a case is urgent."
Dr Moss went on to point out that the deceased could talk plainly and coherently. Asked by Mr Parry if there would have been any hope of the man's recovery if the deceased's wounds had been dressed by the doctor at Coedpoeth. Dr Moss replied, " I hardly think so." Mr Parry: " I don’t want you to mention names, but was that man attended to as he ought to have been when a medical man had seen him?" Dr Moss: " If a medical man had seen him he had not been attended to as he ought to have been." Mr Parry: " It strikes me very forcibly that if this man had been a member of the Miners Association or any other association he would have been taken to the Infirmary and not to the Workhouse. Is that wrong or right doctor?" Dr Moss: " I believe it so, but I cannot speak with any authority." Mr Parry: " I am simply asking you a plain question. This man is almost an imbecile. He is a pauper, and because he happens to be a pauper ---------" The Coroner (interposing): " There is no occasion to make such speeches, Mr Parry! If you have got any questions, please ask them." Another juror remarked that they were there to find out whether the man had the attention which was due to him under such circumstances. The Coroner: " I think it has been admitted he had not." Mr Parry: " If you admit he has not had the attention, I have nothing more to say."
Mr Parry, however, continued to pass remarks and the coroner requested him to desist, and went on to say it was self-evident that the man had not been properly attended to. Some great mistake had been made. He did not know where, and that was what they were there to find out. Mr Parry: " There seems to be some reluctance on your part to let me ask questions." The Coroner: " I am not reluctant at all, but there is no need to make speeches." Mr Parry: " I hope you are not going to cry me down. I am not going to be dictated to by you, sir." The Coroner: " Mr Parry, I must ask you to behave yourself properly!" Mr Parry: " If you think you are going to cry me down here, I am going to ------" The Coroner: " What do you want ?" Mr Parry: " Nothing more, you have admitted all I have asked for." The Coroner: " Well, what do you want ? Have you anything more to ask ?" Mr Parry: " But you interfere when I am asking questions." The Coroner: " Mr Parry, will you please sit down before I fine you ?" Mr Parry: " Before you what ?" The Coroner: " Before I fine you." Mr Parry: " Pardon me. I am here as a juryman. You must not exercise your authority over me as a juryman. I appeal to the foreman, he is my master." The Coroner: " I never saw such a thing before. I shall have to adjourn the inquiry." Another Juror: " Mr Parry, we want to get back to work." Mr Parry: " They want to hush things up." The Coroner: " I have never been treated like this since my appointment."
Thomas Lewis, the fireman at the Minera Limeworks, was then called, and spoke to finding deceased in the cabin, as already stated. He wrapped the man up in an old top-coat, and fetched the engine-cleaner Samuel Roberts . Thomas lewis left the deceased as he "had to look after his work". The Coroner: " But did you know that the man was so severely burnt ?" Thomas Lewis: " Well I wasn't a doctor sir, but I could see that he was burnt badly." Thomas Lewis, continuing, said he knew the deceased had been working at a farm, which was a short distance away from the limeworks. At seven o'clock that morning he informed the Limeworks manager as he arrived at the works, and a message was sent to Dr Vaughan Griffith. They started from the works about ten o'clock with the deceased, and called at Dr Vaughan Griffith's on their way to Wrexham. Dr Griffith gave them the certificate. Up till then a doctor had not seen the deceased. When Thomas Lewis first saw the deceased he had no one to send for a doctor, neither had he any authority to do so. A Juryman: " Had'nt you got the humanity ?" Thomas Lewis did not reply. The Coroner: " It seems to me you have been very neglectful in this matter." Thomas Lewis said he was frightened when he saw deceased naked, and it upset him. Mr Parry: " Did you do anything to alleviate his sufferings ?" Mr Lewis: " I didn't know what to do for the best." Thomas Lewis further stated that they sent for some oil and poured it on the deceased's wounds. He could not say what time the message was sent to Dr Griffith.
Samuel Roberts, engine-cleaner at the limeworks, said he was called to the cabin by Thomas Lewis about three o'clock on Thursday morning. Lewis threw his topcoat over deceased, and Roberts then went back to his work. He did not send for a doctor. They called at Dr Vaughan Griffith's house on the way to Wrexham, about half past ten. Roberts was present when Dr Griffith saw him. Dr Griffith lifted the cloth which covered the deceased, and asked his name. The Coroner said there was evidently a good deal in the case which required clearing up, and he would have to adjourn it for the presence of Dr Vaughan Griffith, and other witnesses. He would be glad to know what day would suit the jury. The jury could not agree at first as to the day to be chosen. The Coroner (after waiting a while): " Well, this is the most awkward jury I ever met with." A Juror: " Well, we all have our engagements, Mr Coroner." The inquiry was eventually adjourned to today (Friday).
THE WREXHAM ADVERTISER
SATURDAY, JANUARY 6, 1906
On Friday evening Mr W.Wynn Evans continued the inquiry touching the death of William Henry Williams, who died in the infirmary on the 21st. inst. owing to burns received at the Minera Lime Works.
Richard Williams, manager of the Minera Limeworks, said he went to the quarry on the morning of the 21st at 7:25 am, and he saw Samuel Roberts and Thomas Lewis, they were the only two men employed on the works at that hour. They told the witness that William Henry Williams had met with an accident, and that he was in the cabin. Witness went to look at him. Thomas Lewis said they had found him at about four o'clock. He told witness the deceased had been severely burnt, but he did not inform him that he was so bad as he was. Witness asked what had been done, and Lewis told him that Mr Edwards, who kept a farm close by and with whom the deceased had been working the day before, had promised to get a trap and have the man taken to Wrexham. The matter being left in the hands of the two men and Mr Edwards, witness did not take much notice. The witness was informed that the trap would arrive at about 7:30. The trap arrived. The works were a good distance from any houses. Witness lived on the works and could have been wakened up, but instead Lewis sent to Mr Edwards. The deceased had no right to be on the works. A trap belonging to Hugh Roberts arrived at 7:30. Mr Edwards had sent to Hugh Roberts to get his trap to take the deceased to Wrexham. The deceased was carried from the works to the trap, which could not get on the ground because there was no road. He believed that that Mr edwards was informed about five o'clock. the deceased was not taken to the trap until 8:40, owing to some misapprehension that the deceased should not be removed until a policeman had seen him. This accounted for the delay. Oil was put on the man's wounds. Witness saw the man at a distance; witness did not examine him. He was not in pain and witness did not think the case was serious. A box of matches was found where the deceased was lying in the empty chamber (the kiln). There was no heat in the kiln. No burnt clothing or buttons were found, although a search had been made.
The Coroner: "What is suposed to have happened to the man?" Witness: "I dont know; set himself on fire I suppose." The Coroner: "I understood the man was in the kiln and that the kiln was heated. That is not so?" Witness: "Oh no. Chambers are large holes in the wall of the kiln and the deceased is supposed to have gone there to sleep." Coroner: "Has the man ever been warned away?" Witness: "Oh yes." The Foreman: " Was there sufficient heat in the kiln to set fire to the matches?" Witness: "Oh no; it was quite cold." Coroner: "I can't understand what has become of his clothes." Witness: "He must have torn them off." A Juror: "Was there any lime burning in the kiln?" Witness: "There was lime burning fifty yards away, but the deceased could not get to it." The Juror: "Was a doctor sent for?" Witness: "Yes, our intention was to take him to see a doctor on his way to Wrexham." Coroner: "Was a doctor sent for?" Witness: "Yes."
The Coroner: "Why was not the man taken to the trap as soon as the trap arrived?" Witness: "We were not ready for him. He had to be carried two hundred yards to the trap." A Juror: "A witness has said that it was ten o'clock before the man was moved." Coroner: "What time did the trap leave the works?" Witness: "Another witness will say." Coroner: "It's a pity someone in authority did not take the matter in hand." A Juror: "Had any of the men attending to deceased had lessons in ambulance?" Witness: "Yes, one had." A Juror: "Are there any appliances kept in case of accidents of this nature?" Witness: "There are, in the office for our own men."
Wm. James Wilkins, a clerk at Minera Limeworks, said he went to the office at 8:40 on the 21st inst, and he heard of the deceased being in a cabin at 9:10. Samuel Roberts told him that William Hy. Williams had been burnt. He saw the deceased wrapped in a big rug. Witness asked the man how the accident happened. He said he did not know. Witness then sent for a doctor. Witness and Samuel Roberts and Lewis helped the man to the trap in order to take him to the doctor in Coedpoeth. The doctor saw the man, and then witness left, and the man was taken to the Wrexham Workhouse. Witness believed that when Lewis found the man he sent Samuel Roberts to Mr Edwards at Cae Madoc, and Mr Edwards promised to send a trap in order to take the man to Wrexham. Witness was told that oil had been put on the man's wounds.
The Coroner: "There seems to have been great delay." Witness: "The deceased had been working for Mr Edwards, and Lewis was under the impression that Mr Edwards should look after the matter." A Juror: "It seems that as soon as this witness came, all that could be done was done for the man. Nothing seems to have been done before." Witness, in answer to further questions said, Cae Madoc was about half a mile from the works, and was difficult to get to. Coroner: "I cant understand why the manager was not called." Witness: "That has been the mistake." A Juror: "Who sent for the doctor?" Witness: "I did." Juror: "What time?" Witness: "I could not say exactly; about 9:45. I attended to the man first. It takes about three-quarters of an hour to get to Coedpoeth. It would take about half an hour to get from the cabin to where the trap was."
Dr Vaughan Griffith said that he saw the man at 10:30 on the morning of the day named, he was in a trap. A few minutes before he saw the man a messenger from the limeworks informed him that he was wanted there as a man had been burnt. Witness asked the messenger a few questions, and he was informed that the deceased had been found early in the morning. Witness asked him the cause of the delay in sending for a doctor, and the boy said he had been sent first of all to Mr Jno. Roberts, the local Guardian, who advised him to see the police, and the policemen advised him to see witness. Just after witness had started for the works he was informed that the man had arrived. Witness saw him in a trap. He was well covered up. Witness knew that he had been severely burned, and as it would have caused the man considerable pain he did not remove the covering, but gave an urgency order for the man's admittance to the Wrexham Infirmary, as the men who the deceased was with gave him to understand that it was the wish of those concerned that he should go to the Workhouse, and also because he believed the man was a pauper. He asked the man if he was comfortable in the trap, and he said he was.
Ed. Evans, porter at the Workhouse said he admitted the deceased to the Workhouse. He knew the man was severely burned. Witness telephoned to Dr Moss after the man had been put to bed. Dr Moss was not in. Coroner: "Why did you not telephone for some other doctor?" Witness: "It was not my duty." Coroner:"Whose duty was it?" Witness:"The master can answer that." Coroner: "Did you tell the master Dr Moss was out?" Witness: "Yes" Coroner: "Why was someone else not telephoned for?" Witness: "We were expecting Dr Moss." Coroner: "What time was the man brought in?" Witness: "Eleven o'clock." Coroner: "A long time to keep waiting for a doctor- eleven to three."
Witness, in answer to the master, said he thought the man was well treated in the house. Nurse Jones said she attended to the deceased. He was suffering from severe burns. She put the man to bed and did what she could until the doctor saw him. Peter Cartwright, master of the Workhouse, said the deceased was admitted to the house at 11:30 am, on an emergency order. He saw the man sitting by the fire and asked him if he was in pain, and he said only in his hands. Witness told the porter to telephone for the doctor.. In witness's opinion the man's case was not urgent. He told witness he had fallen into a lime kiln at two o'clock in the morning. The man was put to bed and given hot milk, and attended to by the nurse. Witness saw that his legs were burnt, but the wounds were dry; he had not examined any other part of his body. Coroner: "When you knew the doctor was not in why did you not telephone for another doctor?" Witness: "We expected the doctor every half-hour. He was treated by a trained nurse."
The witness Wilkins and the manager of the works said it would be an impossibility for anyone to fall into a kiln owing to the construction. The Coroner, in summing up, said this was a very curious case. One did not know how the man met with his injuries, and one could only surmise that he set himself on fire, and he supposed that his clothes must have been burnt up. Owing to a series of unfortunate mistakes the man was left 12 hours before a doctor saw him, and this was evidently due to the illiterate men in the works. It struck him however, that someone or other would have hurried up if the man had been wealthy. After 25 minutes consultation the jury arrived at the following verdict: "The cause of death was shock, caused by severe burning, but there is no evidence to prove how the man came to be burned. The jury regret that medical aid was not called in sooner."