The Attercliffe Burning Fatalities - Sheffield May 1905

The Lindley Family in the 1901 UK Census

The Sheffield Daily Telegraph dated Tuesday May 23 1905 carried this report on a house fire that killed two children the previous Saturday. 



Yesterday the Coroner, Mr. D Wightman conducted the inquest at the Sheffield Public Mortuary, touching on the deaths of Mary Ann Lindley and Clara Lindley, the two children who were burned to death at the Atterchffe fire on Saturday. 
The Coroner, at the outset, observed that he only proposed to take evidence of identification for burial purposes, as the inquiry would have to adjourned to enable the father and son, at present patients in the Royal Hospital, to present. The only witness he called was the mother the children, Mrs. Mary Ellen Lindley. She said the names the children were Mary Ann Lindley, aged nine years, and Clara Lindley, aged four. Her husband and eldest son, John Lindley, aged 15. were also suffering from burns, and were being treated at the Royal Hospital. 
The Coroner: When are they likely to be able to attend? 
Sergeant Hoggard: I think we had better adjourn for a fortnight. 
Are they badly burned?—l have been told that they are comfortable. 
The Coroner remarked that a fortnight was a long time to adjourn for, and it was decided to adjourn for a week, and if the husband was unable to be present then, to postpone the inquiry for further seven days. 
At the conclusion of the proceedings, the mother remarked: Would you allow me to speak, sir. If the police had been a little bit sharper, and got a ladder, my children would have been saved. 
The Coroner; Now tell your husband that, and let him talk about it at the adjournment. He will do it better than you.

The Coroner's final remarks to the mother Mary Ellen Lindley are not at all unusual for the time. In matters such as this it was a widely held belief that only males could articulate and understand the practicalities in hand.  

The two children were buried together in Sheffield's Tinsley Park Cemetery on Thursday 25th may 1905, two days after the inquest 

LINDLEY Mary Ann 25 May 1905 9 dau of Sam 36 Edward Rd Carbrook FB140nc
LINDLEY Clara 25 May 1905 4 dau of Sam 36 Edward Rd Carbrook FB140nc

As an aside two more of Sam and Mary Ellen's were also buried in the Cemetery at earlier dates - it appears that Mary Ann and Clara are buried in the same grave as their elder sister Ellen 

LINDLEY Ellen 8 Oct 1895 1+ daughter  of Sam 20 Edward Rd Attercliffe FB140nc

LINDLEY Samuel 7 Mar 1902 2hrs  son of 36 Edward Road Attercliffe T43c

And it appears that the Coroner was going to be vexed by the time it took to resume the inquest. He was initially looking to resume the inquest in seven days and failing that fourteen days. It took a month for the inquest to be resumed. This report appeared in the Sheffield Daily Telegraph dated Wednesday 21 June 1905

A Defective Fireplace. 

The story of the fatal fire at Edward Road, Attercliffc, at midnight May 20th, by which two children were burned to death in their beds was told at the resumed inquest at the Sheffield Mortuary yesterday, before the Coroner, Mr. D. Wightman. The deceased children were Mary Ann Lindley, aged 9, and Clara Lindley, aged 4, daughters of Sam Lindley, mortar grinder, and Mary Ellen Lindiey, his wife. 
Inspector Fletcher, of the Attercliffe division, represented the police. The first witness yesterday was the father, Sam Lindley, who has been some weeks in the Royal Hospital recovering from the burns he sustained on the night of the fire. Lindlcy who said the fire broke out about a quarter to twelve midnight. Witness and his wife and their daughter Betsy, aged 19, were in the house place, and the deceased children were in bed. Suddenly Betsy screamed out, and looking round the witness saw a blaze between the oven and the cupboard. Witness got up out of his chair in a hurry and in excitement, and in doing so he caught his elbow on the corner of the table, and the movement upset the paraffin lamp that was burning on the table, and it fell to the floor and broke. In an instant that corner of the house was in a sheet of flame. 
Witness tried to beat the fire down with the hearthrug, and was badly burned in doing so. He persisted until he received a blow on the head, probably from a failing picture, and from that moment he remembered nothing until he found himself at the Hospital next morning. He thought the main cause of the destruction ot the house was the upsetting of the lamp. 
The Coroner alluded to the fact that at the first hearing Mrs. Lindley, the mother of the deceased children, made the statement that had the police been more prompt, the children might and would have been saved from the house. Lindley said his wife had told him of this. He, for his part, could not attach blame to anyone. 

The Father’s Complaint. 

In answer to a juryman, Lindley added that on several occasions he had complained to the rent collector about the state of the fire-place. Mr. William Brailsford, accountant, of Pinstone Street, who said he was the collector for the property, his client being Mr. Henry Outram, of Norfolk Street, asked the witness whether he and his wife were sober, and whether they had been quarrelling. Lindley said they were both sober, and they had not been quarrelling. 
Robert Charles Hall, the man who saved three of the children, was next called. He lives at 25, Edward Road, opposite the Lmdleys, and is employed at Vickers, Sons, and Maxim’s as a rigger or climber.” He was the point of going to bed when he heard screaming in the street. Going out he saw the house opposite ablaze, and three children at the chamber window. Flames were coming out of the window and door downstairs. He at once went back into the yard, and got two clothes props, which he lodged against the window of the burning house. He then climbed up the props to the window sill and rescued the three children. He asked them if there were any more. He also shouted out, as his feet were getting burned, and he had to drop. Witness did not think that had he known there were other children in the house he would have been able to go in. Second-officer F. W. Hadwick, of the Westbar Fire Station, said arriving in Edward Road they found the house in a mass of flames. His first inquiry was to whether the whole of the occupants were out, and he was told by a police officer that they were out. He knew different when the fire was extinguished, about 12.20, and he found the bodies of the children. 
Police-constable (30) Robinson said that when reached the premises the house was furiously burning. He made inquiries .of Lindley’s son and others, and was definitely told that all the children had been got out. Pressed for an answer to Lindley’s condition, Robinson said if was to give an opinion, was that Lindley had had too much to drink. 

Charges Against Police Withdrawn. 
Mrs. Lindley, re-called, said her husband was not quite sober, but he was sensible. She had seen the fire come out near the cupboard two or three times before, and had put it out with water. On one occasion she sent a postcard to the landlord about the defect in the fireplace, and she had also complained to the collector two or three times. 
Witness now said she was sorry she had made the complaints against the police, and she was wishful to withdraw them. A bricklayer named George Norman, in the employ of Mr. Henry Outram, cab proprietor, owner of the- property, was called, at Mr. Brailsford’s request to explain how it was the repairs to the fireplace had not been effected, notwithstanding Mrs. Lindley’s complaints, and his visit to inspect the fireplace. 
On receiving Mr. Outram’s instructions to put the fireplace into good repair, he arranged go on the Wednesday before the fire, but on that day he was ill, and was off work. Mr. Brailsford made a statement, not on oath, tending to show that it was impossible for the cupboards to have fired from the fireplace, the way described by Lindley. 
The jury’s verdict was that the death the two children was due to accidental causes—primarily the defective fire-place, and, secondly the upsetting of the lamp. They stated that they would like to put on record their high praise of the manner in which the three other children were rescued by R. C. Hall. Further they expressed the opinion that considerable blame attached to both Mr. Outram, the owner, and Mr. William Brailsford, his collector, and to George Norman, the bricklayer, in not seeing to the repair of the fireplace. 
Norman, they held, had given his evidence in a very unsatisfactory manner, and had only come to the inquest to mislead the jury. 
These opinions the Coroner embodied in formal statement appended to the verdict.

The verdict is what one would have expected given the evidence. It is clear that the Coroner and the Jury had little or no time for the evidence of Mr. Outram, Mr. William Brailsford, the  collector, and Mr. George Norman, the bricklayer. In fact the jury stated that the latter " had given his evidence in a very unsatisfactory manner, and had only come to the inquest to mislead the jury." But like some many cases of a similar nature, no sanctions were imposed on those parties who failed to perform their duties and responsibilities to the required standard. The aforementioned were negligent but it would have been very difficult to prove that they were criminally liable for the tragedy    

The Lindley family in the 1911 UK Census

Sam died in 1933 at the age of 76

LINDLEY Sam 11 Sep 1933 76 labourer 58 Swallow Street  Sheffield FB140gp

whilst his wife died nearly eight years later in 1941 

LINDEY Mary Ellen 29 May 1941 82 widow 12 Ausburn Street Sheffield FB140gp

They are buried together in Sheffield's Tinsley Park Cemetery

1911 Census
Name: Sam Lindley
Age in 1911: 54 Estimated Birth Year: abt 1857
Relation to Head: Head Gender: Male
Birth Place: Sheffield, Yorkshire, England Civil Parish: Sheffield County/Island: Yorkshire-West Riding Country: England
Street Address: 19 Fell Rd Sheffield
Marital status: Married
Occupation: General Labourer
Registration District Number: 510 Sub-registration District: Attercliffe ED, institution, or vessel: 16 Piece: 28004
Household Members: 
Name Age
Sam Lindley 54
Mary Ellen Lindley 53
Sam Lindley 29
Betsy Lindley 24
Herbert Lindley 19
Albert Lindley 12


UK Census

The Sheffield Daily Telegraph - Tuesday 23 May 1905 and Wednesday 20th June 1905

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This page was last updated on 17/09/22 06:09