While doing research on Toronto’s Don Brewery, I stumbled upon an article that had been posted by Chris Hobbs on his family geneaology page. While researching his ancestors, he found this rather interesting article in the The Manchester Guardian about an accident that happened at the Don brewery, Shalesmoor near Sheffield, England. The article is dated Wednesday 13th April 1853. The headline reads “A Man Smothered in Malt at Sheffield”, the body of the article is transcribed below.
A singular and fatal accident occurred early on Tuesday morning the 5th inst at the Don brewery, Shalesmoor. The floor of a chamger, containing upwards of 200 quarters of malt, gave away in consequence of one of the beams snapping asunder, and a large portion of the contents were precipitated into an open shed beneath. The accident is supposed to have taken place about four o’clock in the morning. Soon afterwards Mr. Redfearn, (Smith, Redfearn & Co.) was apprised of the accident, and on going into the shed he was surprised to see the legs of a man protruding from the outer edge of the malt, the upper part of the body being covered with malt. Life was quite extinct when the body was removed. It was conveyed to the New Inn, and there identified as that of James Johnson, a single man, aged 26. He was last seen alive late on Monday evening, being then in a state of intoxication. He appeared to have gond to lie down in this shed, and was asleep when the floor fell, and covered him with the malt. Stupified with drink, he was unable to rouse himself, else a slight exertion on his part would have been sufficient to rescue him. The occurrence was investigated by the coroner on Tuesday evening, and a verdict of “Accidental death” returned. – Sheffield Independent.
A quarter of malt is a standard 336lbs (barley quarters weigh 448lbs) which means there was approximately 33.6 tonnes of malt on the floor when it collapsed on the unsuspecting James Johnson. Well, that’s one way to go!