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Threlkeld Inquest Verdict
Widow Knocked Down by Lorry
A verdict of death was returned at the inquest at Keswick on Thursday
arising out of the fatal accident at Threlkeld on Friday 12th February, when
Mrs. Hannah Elizabeth Robinson ,widow. Town Cross, Threlkeld, was killed,
The lorry involved was driven by Douglas Arthur Standing of Darlington
The West Cumberland Coroner Mr. J M Banner Mendas conducted the inquest
Major T H. Jefferson was foreman of the jury. Mr: W Thompson, Keswick,
represented relatives Mr. L H. Hayes Manchester the lorry driver and
Deputy Chief Constable Baum the police.
Sidney Robinson, Town Cross, Threlkeld, confirmed the evidence of
identification given at the Opening of the inquest.
TWO LORRIES MET
Wm. Henry Newall The Cresent, Whitehaven Road, Cleator Moor motor driver
for the West Cumberland Farmers, said that while driving his lorry thruogh
Threlkeld shortly after 12-30 he saw as he approached the sharp bend in the
middle of the village a woman walking down the road in front of him He
slowed down , just as he reached the corner another motor vehicle came
towards him slowly, and stopped just short of the turn as he could not get
round the corner until he (witness) got round. He went on slowly pulled out,
and passed the
When he. looked back in his mirror; the other lorry was still stationary on
the corner there was a little frozen snow on the left hand side of the road
enough to make pedestrians walk rather further out into the road than usual.
EYE WITNESS’S EVIDENCE
Mrs Pauline Nicholson Airey Church Row, Threlkeld. said she saw Mrs..
Robinson coming out of her sons, shop and helped her down the steps as she
was slow in her movements. She saw the two lorries at the corner and saw the
one from the Penrith direction stop to let the other one pass.
witness then said that the stationary lorry (Standings) started to go
again it began to run backwards, but quite slowly she could see that he was
going to run into Mrs Robinson , the back end of the lorry was swinging out.
She screamed and ran back into the shop to get help.
Mr. Thompson - can you tell me if the lorry driver had stopped his engine ?
no lorries often have to pull up there though as there is a big stone
standing out from the Grange house on the
corner and it is very awkward.
Answering, Mr..Hayes , Mrs. Airey said she did not think Mrs. Robinson
passed the stationary lorry when the Whitehaven lorrypassed her -She thought
it was the rear offside of the lorry whichcaught Mrs Robinson when the
lorry swung across the road.
the Foreman asked Mrs. Airey whether she had any idea why the lorry went
backwards. She replied that she thought at first it was going slightly
backwards in order to then pull out and miss the big stone.
Nicholson Airey, grocer said he heard his mother scream. the accident had
taken place before he had got outside. The lorry was more or less straight
across the road with its back to the wall on the right hand side in fact the
end of the platform of the lorry was through the wall. Mrs. Robinson was
lying with her head behind the offside front wheel and her legs sticking out
from under the lorry and in line with the front: axle.
VEHICLE ACROSS ROAD
P.C. Henderson, . Threlkeld, said the vehicle was crossways on the road
with the near-side rear embedded in a five feet high stone wall and the
offside rear 2 ft. from the same wall. The lady was lying between the two
front wheels. He examined her and formed the opinion that she was dead, and
this was later confirmed by Dr. Harrow.
The road was wet and it was raining slightly but it was clear of snow except
for a banking one foot foot to eighteen inches wide on each side. The Lorry
3½ ton Thorney-croft diesel engine lorry carrying 7½ tons of bagged oats He
made a test of the lorry the same day , the the driver and sergt Jackson.
The driver drove the lorry at 10 m p h. in second gear and on a level part
of the road the vehicle drew up in 10 to 12 feet when the footbrake Was
applied. On a slight gradient similar to the one where the accident took
place, the driver applied his hand brake and the vehicle started to move
back- wards, but stopped when he applied the foot brake.
Wm Beedie , Whitehaven, vehicle examiner for the ministry of Transport
said he examined the lorry at a garage in Keswick the following day, and
found its general condition good. He understood that it was a 1953 vehicle.
As far as he could see on examination, the braking system was intact and
everything seemed to be working They took it out on a test with the garage
proprietor (Mr. W. Scott driving and with Inspectar Walton and P.C.
present. Tested on a level straight road, there was 22 per cent effiency
on the foot brake, where- as they required 50 per cent efficiency; whilst
for the hand brake was only 5 per cent , they also found that the clutch
was slipping because it would not take. up the gear at the normal revs. The
foot brake held the lorry on the upper half of Victoria Street, but the hand
brake would not. After the road test he had the brake linings tested and
found, them worn but , not excessively pehaps by about 50 per cent, -He then
put the vehicle off. the road.
The Coroner : You can not tell tell me whether the brake inefficiency
was built up slowly or not ? There didn`t appear to be anything to show that
the brakes became suddenly inefficient Mr Haves did you ever test
this vehicle while the actual driver was there ? No, he had gone back to
Darlington. There were three of you and the driver in the cab of this lorry
whilst the test was made, and the cab is fitted for two persons? yes and the
driver Was not obstructed. The police officers were there as the Coroners
Dr. J A. Harrow, Keswick, said that on examining Mrs. Robinson
he found there were many fractures and injuries and that death
was caused by the fractured skull and internal injuries. - The Coroner said
the driver was not compelled to give evidence and he asked if he wished to
do so. Mr. Hayes said the driver of the lorry, Douglas Arthur Standing,
Darlington. did not wish to. Give evidence.
DRIVERS STATEMENT TO POLICE.
P.C. Henderson read a statement made by the driver after the
accident. It stated that whilst travelling through Threlkeld at about 5
mph. and approaching Grange corner a left hand bend, he met a West
Cumberland Farmers lorry; so pulled in close to the nearside. and stopped to
allow the vehicle to pass.
The statement continued : As I stopped I put my foot on the foot brake but
the vehicle started to move backwards. I applied the hand brake but this
would not hold, As my vehicle continued to gain speed, I looked round for
the nearside to collide with the wall
I felt the bump of my collision with the wall, and. I got Out to see. what
damage there was to the vehicle and wall and discovered a woman lying
between my two
front wheels. I had not seen the woman on the road.
The Coroner, in summing up, said that what the driver did when the brakes
did not act was doubtless what everyone would have done if a vehicle was out
control—locked the wheel round to pitch the back end of the lorry into the
The driver seemed to have done that with reasonable expedition, and it was
unfortunate, ,of course that behind there was Mrs. Robinson It might be that
the driver ought to have known that brakes were not good and maybe other
steps would be taken be cause the brakes were not in order, but there was
nothing in the driving of the vehicle which made them, concerned with the
charges that were sometimes made in these cases. There was no reckless
disregard for other road users but the state of the brakes they might think
had caused the fatality.
If the brakes were not efficient that was not an issue to be fought out at
that Court. The jury returned a verdict of accidental death and expressed
deep sympathy with the family.