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Bateman's Buildings, Manchester

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This was a collection of industrial buildings in central Manchester.

The 1849 OS map [1] shows that 'Bateman's Buildings' were located next to the River Irwell and Blackfriars Bridge, immediately north of Blackfriars Street. Also accessible from Deansgate.

1836 Boiler Explosion [2]

'SHOCKING ACCIDENT — BURSTING OF A STEAM BOILER. On Saturday morning last, about half-past nine o'clock, the inhabitants of the lower end of Deansgate and St. Mary's Gate were alarmed by a tremendous explosion, as of a piece of heavy artillery, which shook the buildings in the vicinity. On examination into the matter, it appeared that the report was caused by the bursting a large steam boiler of forty-four horses (estimated) power, belonging to Mr. Richard Gould, who owns the property in Deansgate known by the name of Bateman's Buildings.

'The premises (as will be seen on referring to our report of the proceedings at the coroner's inquest,) are let off to several tenants, all of whom require the aid of steam power in prosecuting their business. The machinery is set in motion by means a steam engine of thirty-six horses' power and the steam is generated by three boilers, two of twenty horses' power, and one of forty-four horses' power. Two only of these boilers, however, are in operation at one time. One of tbe twenty horse boilers, is in course of repair by the boiler maker, in the employ of Messrs John Fernehough and Son, of Dukinfield, and the engine was working with the steam generated by two boilers, one of forty-four horses' and the other of twenty horses' power. There is one circumstance connected with these boilers which we must not omit to mention. The steam from the boilers is conveyed to the cylinder of the steam engine by a large feed-pipe open to all the boilers, and upon this pipe is fixed a waste steam valve.

'As as far appearances went every thing was going on as usual on Saturday morning, and the engineer was amusing himself with trying tbe effective state of the force pump, when suddenly a loud crash was heard, the roof of a building of slight construction, near the place where he was standing, was blown up, and the bricks of which the building is built were forced in all directions. The engineer and another man were dashed down the steps of the turning shop, which is close to the engine-house door. The people in the mill of Messrs. Thorpe and Hague, whose mill is worked by Mr. Gould's engine, were startled by the report of the smashing of the windows by the bricks, mortar, and water, and an immense volume of steam. The machinery received a sudden check, and shortly afterwards ceased to move.

'Some of the workpeople instantly made their way into the yard, and the cause of the accident was soon apparent. The engineer and his companion were released from the cellar, and one of the boiler makers came running up tbe boiler-house steps, calling out, "Patrick killed," meaning the boy employed by the boilermakers to carry rivetts for the boiler. Upon a person going down into the boiler-house, it was found that the boiler had burst somewhere or other, but where could not be ascertained for half a dozen hours afterwards. A wall, about a yard and a half high, and two yards thick, the fire place, doors, &c. had been blown clear away from their original position, part of the bricks being forced the entire length of the building, smashing the windows and falling into the river. The steam in its expansion raised the floor of the room above the boiler-house, which is used as a calender-house by Mr. Mort, and instantly filled this place to such a degree that it forced down the light erection in the yard, (previously mentioned) which is a continuation of the room. In this place Mr. Mort, sen., was engaged in doing something, and, as a matter of course, he was seriously scalded. It appears that at the time of the explosion, the boy Patrick M'Nally and one of the men were in the boiler house, and got a thorough drenching with the hot water and steam from the boiler. They attempted to find their way up stairs, and the man succeeded; but the lad missed his footing, and fell down between a wooden stage and the iron plate of the fire-place, where he was found screaming for aid. He was released and carried up stairs, and a search was next made in the coal-hole, where Thomas Moulton, tbe foreman of the boiler-makers, had been at work making rivets. He was found lying dead in a wheelbarrow, having been scalded to death. Upon the searchers proceeding along the side of the boiler, a youth named Eccleston was found in the flue, literally roasted and scalded to death. He had been seen to place some wet cotton upon the large boiler to dry, and it is supposed that he was doing so at the time the boiler burst, and the flue blowing up he must have fallen between the flue and the boiler. He and Moulton were conveyed to the Crown and Sceptre public-house, on the opposite side of Deansgate, and in the course of the evening Eccleton was conveyed to the house of his parents in Strangeways.

'The other parties who were injured were conveyed to the infirmary, some of them being in a very bad state. The boiler-house presented a sad scene of destruction, bricks and rubbish being scattered all over the place, and the wonder is, that "firer up," as he is called, escaped with his life, the engine-bouse doors were burst from their hinges, and the partition wall partly forced in.

'Preparations for holding an inquest were made on Saturday evening but it was judged prudent to defer the inquiry until Monday morning at nine o'clock. In order that all possible information might be afforded to the jury, Mr Henry Duckworth, foreman to the boiler maker, Messrs. Galloway, Bowman, and Glasgow, millwrights, in Bridgewater-street, was directed to inspect the fractured boiler. Reports were prevalent as to the state of the boiler and the bad effects the firing apparatus. The latter is apatent invention called "Chanter, Whitty, and Co.'s patent carbonizing apparatus," made by Diggles, of Bury, and the coal cast down an inclined iron plate, and the end of the boiler is subjected to a tremendous heat. It was believed by some people that the constant oxidation of the boiler at the end, which is acted on by the fire, caused tbe boiler plate to be worn thin, and hence the cause of the fracture. Without giving any opinion upon the matter, we refer our readers to the following report of the proceedings at the inquest:

'THE INQUEST.

'The jury, upon which four or five respectable practical men, (including Mr. William Glasgow of Manchester, foreman, Messrs Robert Oram, William M'Intire, and George Yates, all of Salford), having been sworn, went to Strangeways to view the body of George Eccleston, the boy. His face presented a hideous appearance, the skin being of a deep chocolat colour, and the nose being entirely wanting. The body of the man, Thomas Moulton, lay at the public house, and presented no extraordinary appearance, the lower part of the body having received the severest injury. The jury having viewed the premises returned to the inquest room.

'Mr. Thomas stated that he had tbe direction of the authorities to say, that they were anxious to render the jury all the assistance in their power in making the inquiry, and thoroughly sifting the matter.

'The first witness called was Mr. Thomas Hague, who said — I live at Strangeways, and am a turner and filer. I was in the card room of Messrs. Thorpe and Hague, spinners and manufacturers by power, in whose service I am. They occupy four rooms, which they take from Mr. Richard Gould. He also lets off a room to Mr. Buckley, wood turner, and to Mr. Jones, calenderer; to Mr.Dickinson two rooms; to Mr. Parson two rooms Mr. Peter Herman, three double rooms ; Mr. Farrar, turner, one room; Mr. Short, calenderer, two rooms; Mr. Hargreaves, calenderer, two cellars; Messrs Sutton and Finch, calenderers, one room ; Mr. Gould does not occupy any rooms himself. All the rooms are worked by the engine, which is thirty-six horse power the power being supplied by Mr. Gould. There are three boilers, only two of which are worked at a time. About half-past nine Saturday morning, I was in the card room opposite the small room over the boiler which has burst. I heard a tremendous noise, the stones, and dirt, and water, were forced against the windows. I went into the yard. They wanted me to stop the engine, but it was so hot with steam that I could not get into the place. John Braid (one of the boiler makers lying at the Infirmary) who was employed in repairing one the boilers, came running out of the boiler-house, calling out "Patrick is killed." Patrick is the little boy, who is lying at the Infirmary.

Before we could go down to the engine-house, James Fowler, the engineer, (now lying at the Infirmary,) came out of the cellar at the left of the engine-house, where he had been blown by the steam. A man named Abraham, another boiler maker, (scalded and lying at tbe Infirmary,) also came out of the place, and the firer-up was also at the same place. We got a candle, and found in the boilerhouse the little boy Patrick, tbe smelt [rivet] carrier, in the fire-place. After having released him, we went to the coal-hole adjoining the boiler which had burst, and found tbe foreman of the boiler makers, Thomas Moulton, lying on a wheelbarrow, quite dead. We brought him out, and, after a short search, found the little boy, George Eccleston. He lay at the bottom of the flue, between the flue and the boiler. He was quite dead. There did not appear to be any water there. The little boy was in the employ of Mr. Herman, and carried cotton to be dried on the boiler which has burst. The engineer, Fowler, has been employed on the premises for three years at Christmas; is about 30 to 40 and has been engineer many years; and the foreman has been there from six to nine months. I saw Fowler at breakfast time, about an hour before the accident happened. He said nothing about the boiler at that time. He has said several times that he did not like the firing-up motion. He complained of it when it was put up in March last. It has only been at work since the first of October. He said it was more trouble and would save nothing, and would be more expense than it was worth. The boiler was not a new one. The furnace is "Whitty's patent," and was put in by Mr. Diggles, of Bury.

'Mr. Oram — The fire goes down an incline plane, and is a smoke burning apparatus.

'Witness — The boiler came from Evans and Co., at Edge Green, near Wigan. I don't know the size the cylinder. We use the steam to heat the mill, and one of the calenders. There are no drying cylinders. The quantity of steam used for the rooms and the calender, would be very trifling. The fireman, at the breakfast half-hour, tried the steam, and it blew off as usual up the chimney. We also blow it out of a pipe in the yard. I saw it blowing in the yard that morning from both boilers. There is a communication from both boilers to the yard pipe. The firer-up opened the valve on Saturday morning, and changed tbe weights from one end of the lever to the other.

'Mr. Glasgow, the foreman — They had extra weight on one end of the lever, which I think they had no right to have.

'Witness cross-examined by Mr. Glasgow never saw more weight on the boiler than there now is. I am certain the valve of one was open, but don't know about the other. Each boiler has not a safety valve, but there is one on the pipe, which is common to all the boilers. [There is safety valve to the boiler.]

'William Farrar.- I occupy the smithy in the yard adjoining the room which has fallen. There is only the wall between the rooms. Half an hour before the explosion I was in the smithy. I use some of the steam power in the cellar. I never saw the steam coming through the waste steam-pipe, which is next to my door. I believe a man named Buckley heard it coming out. A brick came through the roof and knocked my hat off. There were four us at work, and expected we should have been killed. I had been at work from six o'clock in the morning. When I came back from my breakfast the engine was going. The engineer was sending some water up the pipes, (a forcing pump.) I and my boy were looking at pipe a few minutes before the explosion, and I pulled my boy into tbe smithy to his work. The next time I saw the engineer was when he was brought up the yard. I had not seen the fireman before the accident happened. The engineer a little before eight o'clock, told me that Mr. Hague had found fault with him for allowing the water to come through the pipe, (the waste steam-pipe.) and run on the top of smithy. I never heard the engineer, or any body else, express any apprehension as the safety of this boiler. I believe that Mr. Buckley saw the steam coming from the pipe. They altered the fire-place, and the boiler had not been used because of tbe alteration. I believe the men (four or five in number) have all been hurt. The engineer was quite steady that morning.

'Mr. Henry Duckworth, foreman Messrs. Galloway, Bowman, and Glasgow, boiler-makers.- I have inspected this boiler this morning ; on measuring the boiler, which is very wide, being 8 feet 1 inch at the bottom, 8 feet 3 inches at the top the water, with two round flues 2 feet each in diameter. It is 22 feet 4 inches in length, rises at the bottom 11 inches, and from the bottom of the flues 11 inches. The depth is 6 feet 8 1/2 inches from the top of the flue to the top of the water; total depth 10 feet 6 1/2 inches. There are five stays at the bottom of the boiler, and five at the middle, and three at the top. There are three perpendicular, six diagonal, and three upright stays in the boiler, connecting the top and bottom. The front of the bottom, next the fire, is the part which has given way. It has been forced down to tbe extent of 18 inches, and is 7 feet 3 inches wide; consequently the water and steam would all escape, and it would be attended with the results which have happened. I have examined the plates of the boiler, and can find no fault with them they are about 7-16ths of an inch. They would have been perfectly sufficient if they had been fixed in a proper way. The boiler bottom ought to have had a rise in the middle of 16 inches at least, and the stays ought to have had good glands, which in this boiler has not been done. They were neither large enough nor strong enough. All the top glands, (three in number,) are broken. There ought to have been five stays and glands at least in a boiler of this size. There is a stay less than there ought to have been in the boiler. It is not a strong boiler for that size. It had been repaired before it was brought here. The plates at the top of the boiler are about 3-16ths of an inch thick, and some of these also are burst. My own opinion is, there has been too great a weight of steam on the boiler, and this has been the cause the bursting.

'Mr. Oram — I have had firing apparatus of this sort which I took away, because thought the fire acted too much on the edge of the boiler.

'Mr. Pollitt (a juror)— I also thought that was the case with a boiler of mine; but I did not get rid of mine on that account.

'Mr. Oram — I requested a gentleman at Rochdale to notice his fire-place, which was on the same principle, and he thought there was no difference between the wear of a boiler with firing of this description and the common fire-place.

'Mr. Duckworth. - I conceive that the boiler has been made by an inexperienced person, and the stays are not fixed a proper manner. It is not owing to the boiler being short of water that the accident has taken place.

'Mr. John Hague. - I have occupied part of these premises nearly three years, and have been supplied with power all that time. I had the sole charge getting in the boiler from Mr. James Lord's, in Salford, near the Town Hall. Mr. Gould bought it at Wigan, and Lord repaired it, and placed new flues in it when it came to town. After it was put down in its present situation examined it. I saw that several of the "cotters" were wanting from the stays. Lord sent men who put them in all right. I thought the boiler was then safe. It is about two months since it was finished. We put water in the boiler, and when one of Peel's men (Gavin Mc. Murdock) got up the steam the stays were all torn out directly. Lord was sent for, and he put in five fresh cross stays. He wanted to put only three stays, and I would have five, and they were placed over the flues. Mc. Murdock said that as Lord had begun it he had better finish it. There were no flues in the boiler before it went to Lord's. It was considered to be perfectly safe.

'Mr. John Hague having been sent by the coroner to examine the stays, in order to see whether they were broken in the same way that they were on the first occasion, returned and said, he had been inside the boiler. Most of the glands and the stays were broken. None the five new stays which he got put in were broken, but there were two keys missing from two of the stays. On the former occasion the stays were cut, but now the different stays were torn out. It is the old work which has given way. The steam guage was put up by Messrs. Peel. A man named Bowker told me that the boiler ought never to have been placed there, it was good for nothing ; but he told Mr. Gould it was a good boiler.

'CORONER.— It does not seem that any body connected with the premises is to blame. It all appears to have resulted from the want of sufficient strength in the boiler.

'The room was then cleared, and the jury left alone. After an interval of about twenty minutes they had agreed to their verdict, which was "That the deceased had come to their death accidentally, by bursting of the steam boiler. In the second place they considered the boiler as being unfit for working, on account of its bad formation." The jury also stated it was their opinion, that for the purpose, far as possible, of preventing the recurrence of similar accidents, an inspector or inspectors of steam-engines should appointed by the authorities, to be empowered to inspect the steam boilers belonging to the mills and manufactories of this town ; that he should have the power to get to, and have the control over the safety valves belonging to the boilers, and that he should be empowered to secure them by a lock, or any other means that might be found most desirable.

'The Coroner said he considered the recommendation of the jury to be a most important and proper suggestion ; but he was afraid that it could not be carried into effect without a legislative enactment. He did not see out of what funds the salary of the inspector, could be paid; but still it was a most excellent suggestion.

'Mr. Pollitt.— The expense would be but trifling.

'Mr. Glasgow. — We suggest that the expense be paid by levy, in proportion to the number of hores power employed by each person.

'Mr. Pollitt.— I should think every body would pay.

'The CORONER said that such a clause might be inserted in the factory bill, for instance, when it was next brought before the House of Commons, and then the wish of the jury would be obtained. He repeated that it was very desirable that the suggestion of the jury should carried into effect.

'The jury wished to include in their verdict a condemnation of the boiler, but they were informed by the coroner that this could not be done. They, however, recommended that the boiler should be replaced by a new one.

'Mr. Hague said that the boiler should be "cut out." so that the iron could never be again used for a similar purpose.

'Persons Killed.-George Ecclestone, a boy, aged fourteen, residing in Strangeways; Thomas Moulton, boiler-maker, Dukinfield.

'Persons Scalded, and now lying in the Infirmary Mr. Mort, sen., aged seventy-one; John Braid, boiler-maker, scalded on the face, arms, and legs; Abraham Parkes, leg sprained; Patrick M'Nally, back and hands much scalded: John Fowler, engineer, scalded on the breast; James Wood, much scalded.'

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Godfrey Edition Old Ordnance Survey Town Plans: Manchester Sheet 23: Manchester Victoria 1849 [1]
  2. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Saturday 12 November 1836