Michaelston-y-Fedw Community

Disaster at Druidstone House

The following is taken from the South Wales Argus dated Thursday 24th October 1901

Riding School Collapse

Fatal Disaster at Castleton

One Man Killed, Many Seriously Injured
On the eve of the great sale of hunters at Druidstone, Castleton, comes news of a serious disaster at the riding school. Mr. Herbert B. Cory was having a new riding school erected, and in it the big luncheon in connection with the sale was to be held on Friday. The building was just approaching completion and many workmen were still engaged upon it, when about half past nine this (Thursday) morning, one of the end girders gave way, and the whole building collapsed. One man, who only started work on Wednesday, was killed outright; one boy was so seriously injured that his life was despaired of; another man had his leg broken in two or three places; one man has serious injuries to his back, and it is suspected that he has dislocation of the spine; yet another had his foot smashed; another has a serious scalp wound and fracture of the skull is suspected; while others have suffered minor injuries. Dr. Graite of Newport, was one of the surgeons who attended to the injuries of the men.

Newport Men's Narrow Escape
Two Newport carpenters, named James Flanders and W. Rives, narrowly escaped being included among the victims, for their work was being done inside the building within a few feet of the place where the workman was killed. Fortunately for themselves, they were late in starting on Thursday morning and when they arrived the building had collapsed. The building was made of timber, with pitch pine uprights 8 inches by 8, and the roof was supported by 13 iron girders, each weighing nearly two tons. All the injured men belonged to Castleton, and were working inside the building. Those who were employed outside escaped.

Other Narrow Escapes
At the time of the accident, besides the contractors men engaged on the job, there were sever of Mr. Cory's employees attending to various duties in the building, and it is really marvelous how any of them escaped. Three magnificent Shire horses were also in the building when it collapsed, and they, too, escaped with minor injuries. The animals were found standing perfectly still up to their knees in debris and it was with some difficulty that they could be extricated from the mass of masonry and girders.

The Killed and Injured
The man killed was William Pearce, carpenter of Rogerstone, a married man with several children.

The injured are:-
Augustus Spooner, thirteen, carpenters boy, fractured skull. (He died that day of his injuries. Ed.)
William Price, bailiff, fractured ankle.
George Richards, groom, fractured right leg.
Edward Weston, farm bailiff, injuries to head.

The following carpenters also received injuries of a more or less serious nature:-Thomas Howells, Albert Hunt, W. Clifford, and R. Harris, and Mr. Fursey the contractor.

Medical aid was immediately telephoned for, and Dr. Shiach, Dr. Briggs, and Dr. Sparrow, Cardiff, and Dr. Graite, Newport, arrived at Druidstone and attended to their injuries. Pearce was found lying on his back with a girder across him, and must have been instantly killed. He sustained serious injuries to the abdomen. Spooner who sustained a fractured skull, was removed to the office and operated upon. His condition was precarious, and it was intended to remove him to the Newport Infirmary later in the day if he recovered sufficiently. It is assumed that the collapse was due to a faulty girder.

The following is taken from the South Wales Argus dated Thursday 25th October 1901

Mr. Herbert Cory's Great Sale

Large and influential attendance at Druidstone

The event went ahead, being the most important sale of Hunters ever held in this part of the world.

In his speech, Lord Tredegar referred to the disaster of the previous day, which had cast a gloom over the proceedings.

Mr. Cory replied that the disaster had quite upset Mrs. Cory and himself and "he didn't care a hang what the horses fetched".

The following monumental inscription is to be found in St. Michaels Church, Michaelston-y-Fedw.

Gussie Spooner met his death on 24th October 1901 at Draethan - aged 14 years.

Thanks to Ross Williams, Hereford for this contribution.