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British Industrial History

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West Gorton Mills, Manchester

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of West Gorton, Manchester.

1858 'THE LATE FATAL BOILER EXPLOSION AT WEST GORTON, MANCHESTER. The inquest over the body of William Cannon, one of the two men whose deaths were occasioned by the boiler explosion at West Gorton Mill, near this city, on Friday morning, was opened, before Mr. Rutter, county coroner, on Saturday afternoon, at the Justice Birch Inn, Hyde Road. Mr. Alexander Wilson, the trade instructor at the City Gaol (which is within a short distance of West Gorton Mill), was the first witness examined. He deposed to having a heard the terrific noise of the explosion at the mill shortly before six o'clock on Friday morning; and described some of the appearances which presented themselves on his immediately proceeding to the scene of the catastrophe. The engineer (Cannon) appeared to be dead when found. He was much scalded, and had a severe wound upon the head, and one arm broken. The witness also spoke of the subsequent finding of the safety valve of the engine within the grounds of the gaol; as also of several weights, &c., which had penetrated the prison roof.
Mary Ann Lewis, a young woman, said that she was employed at the mill. On the morning of the day previous she went to the premises at ten minutes to six o'cock. The mechanic (Redman, the other deceased man), two weavers, and a helper were in a shed waiting for the engine to start. Cannon had put some coal on the fire under the boiler and was oiling the upper part of the engine when the boiler flew up. Cannon was knocked down, and she believed he then called out to her and another girl to go out of the way. They went to the far end of the shed and were not hurt. She could not see where the engineer stood when he called out; the dust and smoke prevented her.
John Robinson, of Gorton Brook, said be was the proprietor of the West Gorton Mill. Cannon was his engine-driver. The engine had been erected about a month, being at the-time quite new. It was of-six-horse power, and was manufactured by Threlfall, of Saiford. The boiler was of At eight horse power, and, he believed, about two years old. When he took possession of the shed in May, the boiler had been out of use twelve months; He had it taken up for examination. It was then sound and as good as new. A mechanic named John Wheeler assisted him in the examination of the boiler. When he left the Premises on Thursday night, everything appeared just as usual. He returned to the shed three minutes after the explosion occurred - on Friday morning. .... Wilding, of Openshaw, was the maker of he boiler. .....'[1]

1891 Directory: Listed. More details

Location: The 1905 O.S. map of Openshaw shows 'West Gorton Mill (Disused)' on the north bank of the Corn Brook, and fronting on to Ambrose Street. Immediately to the north west was the Royal Iron Works of Vaughan and Son.


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Sources of Information

  1. Manchester Times, 9 October 1858