Here’s a report in the local newspaper – I was getting on for 50 when this happened, and I remember both these people!
This story has been transcribed from the original newspaper article, with all the quirky 1890s punctuation and lack of paragraph breaks …….
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Tuesday 8th July 1890
BIRMINGHAM COUNTY COURT
Yesterday – Before His Honour Judge Chalmers.
An Accident. — An action was bought by William Southwell, tailor, 9. Centre Row, Inge Street, against William Jones, landlord of the Criterion Hurst Street, to recover £50. damages for injuries received in consequence of the alleged negligence of the defendant in leaving a cellar-grating in an unsafe condition. The case was tried by a jury. Mr Dale (instructed by Mr. F. M. Burton) appeared for the plaintiff and Mr Bickley for the defendant. – The case for the plaintiff was that on the 25th of November last he was walking along Inge Street, when he stepped on the cellar-grating at the defendant’s house, which is situated at the corner of Hurst Street and Inge Street. The grating was out of repair, and as soon as his weight bore upon it it gave way, and he fell into the cellar, breaking his left ankle. He remained in the General Hospital for nearly a week, and was an out-patient for five or six weeks. Prior to the accident he worked for his own customers, and his earnings amounted to 50s or £3. A week. Since the accident, he has not been able to work, because the injury was such that he could not sit at his board. – The plaintiff, in cross-examination, denied that a load of coal was being taken into the cellar and that a man on the pavement warned him not to step on the grating. Nobody spoke to him. He stepped upon the grating, it gave way under him and fell with it into the cellar. – The defence was that the cellar grating was not in a defective condition, but had recently been renewed. It was open for the purpose of putting in coal, and the plaintiff could have seen that coal was being put into the cellar. The accident was therefore due to his own carelessness. – A witness named Granger was called to prove that he was putting coal into the cellar, and that he warned the plaintiff to be careful. The witness added that the plaintiff took no notice of what was said to him, but fell through the hole. At the time of the accident the grating was leaning against the wall, and soon as Grainger had pulled the plaintiff out of the cellar he let down the grating. – The jury gave the verdict for the defendant.