Eaglescliffe Foundry Destroyed in Gale

Eaglescliffe Foundry Destroyed in Gale

We are indebted to Cengage Learning for their kind permission to reproduce the following article.

It was taken from the Illustrated Police News of Saturday, 29 October 1881 and describes the destruction of Smith and Stoker’s Iron foundry on Yarm Road, Stockton which happened during a terrible gale in the preceding week.



While the gale was raging with its greatest violence a frightful catastrophe happened at Messrs.  Smith and Stoker’s iron foundry, in Yarm Road.  At about twenty minutes to three a tremendous gust of wind caught the most exposed part of a range of buildings, which comprised the Pattern and Fitting shops and a portion of the foundry.  The whole structure, which is admitted to have been stronger than any of a similar kind in the district, fell with one awful crash – collapsed, in fact, like a pack of cards.  The workshops were all well employed at the time – between fifty and sixty men being in them – and the injury to life and limb was appalling.  Four men were killed where they stood.  Their names are :-  Mr. Henry Smith, jun., son of one of the proprietors of the works: Thomas Young, time-keeper and weigh-man, residing at No.1, Derby Street;  John Mackay, blacksmith, of Light Pipe Hall Road and  John Jeffery, foreman pattern maker.  Two men were so shockingly mutilated and crushed by the falling mass that little hopes are entertained of their recovery.  Their names are Jas. Price, apprentice pattern maker, and William Pearce, moulder, living in Derby Street.  The following twelve others were all more or less badly injured, but the greater number are expected to recover — viz.,  Miles Moore, pattern maker; William Johnson, George Fawcett, J.Cousins, William Sewell, John Leek, Benjamin Wilson, William Hurd, Matthew Hurd, Clement Walland and John Pearce.  Another man – Thomas Johnson – had his head frightfully cut, one leg broken, and his vital organs so much injured that he died within a quarter of an hour after his admission to hospital.  Those who were least hurt were taken to their homes, and promptly attended  by a medical gentleman; but the more serious cases were conveyed direct to hospital.  The patients now at the institute are William Pearce, a middle-aged man, who has sustained two fractures of the skull, broken thigh, and crushed ribs; William Johnson, a lad about fifteen; severe injury to the head; James Price, fracture thigh and contusions;John Leek, broken ankle and minor injuries; William Sewell, severe shock to nervous system – lying in a state of collapse; Benjamin Wilson, fracture of right thigh; and Thomas Fawcett, left leg broken.  It can well be conceived that such a shocking calamity – coming as it did without the slightest warning- caused a complete panic among the men in other parts of the works.  As soon, however, as they had recovered sufficiently from the fright to realise the actual state of things, they set vigorously to work, with those who were fortunate enough to escape unscathed, to extricate their dead and mangled fellow workmen from among the debris.  Mr Henry Smith, it seems, was at the fatal moment engaged in superintending the mixing of metal for casting; and, judging from the high pile of material under which his lifeless remains were found, he was doubtless killed instantaneously.  The body of John Mackay was brought out from beneath a mass of fallen material in the blacksmiths’ shop, and it took nearly an hour to reach him.  It appears that Jeffery was passing out of the pattern shop, for the heavy door was found to have fallen over him.  The corpse of Thomas Young, the time-keeper, was unearthed among the ruins of the pattern shop, where he had been, it seems, to communicate with one of the workmen.