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On Saturday a man named Robert Taylor, while working in the new brick field at West Harton, was struck by lightning, and killed instantaneously.  His clothes, including his boot and stocking, were cut straight down the left side, and he was badly burnt as well as his clothes.  The deceased resided at Kingston, West Harton, and was a married man.  He leaves a widow and six young children, for whom great sympathy is felt.  The deceased was only 30 years of age.
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Shields Gazette Monday 22/5/1893


On Saturday afternoon a heavy thunderstorm was experienced at South Shields and in the surrounding district about four o’clock.  There was a very vivid flash of lightning, followed by an exceptionally loud rattle of thunder, and about this time a sad fatality took place near Harton.  Mr Robert Taylor, brick manufacturer and builder, was at his brickyard, which is situated a little beyond Harton Colliery on the Boldon Road.  He had in his hand an india-rubber hose pipe with which he was watering a heap of clay that had been dug and was being prepared for use this morning, when he was suddenly struck to the ground.  His foreman, Mr Healey was close by him at the time, and he was with equal suddenness thrown upon the heap of clay and rendered insensible for a brief period.  On recovering, Mr Healey found Mr Taylor lying on the ground a few yards from him.  He had apparently been struck upon the head by the lightning.  His clothes were torn off right down one side, and one of his boots was ripped off.  The terrible incident affected Healey very much, but he subsequently called assistance, and the dead body was removed to the home of the deceased, Kingston Cottage, Harton.  Mr Taylor was 30 years of age, and leaves a widow and several children.

Shields Gazette  Wednesday 24/5/1893


Yesterday an inquest was held before Mr Coroner Graham at Harton concerning the death of Mr Robert Taylor, builder and brick manufacturer, who was killed by lightning while in his brickyard near Harton Colliery on Saturday afternoon.
Mr William Taylor, banksman, Silksworth Colliery, said he was a brother of the deceased, and on Saturday paid him a visit.  The deceased was a brick manufacturer, and resided at Kingston Cottage, near Harton Colliery.  On Saturday morning deceased never seemed in better health.  Witness left him for the purpose of going to Westoe to visit another brother, and he returned to Harton about twelve o’clock.  A heavy thunderstorm came on, and witness went to his mother’s house, which was close to the deceased’s residence.  Whilst there he heard of the death of his brother.  The deceased left a widow and six children, the eldest being eight years old, and the youngest six months.  He identified the watch and chain produced as belong to the deceased.
Mr Joseph Elsie said he resided at Caldwell, Westoe, and was a foreman for the deceased.  On Saturday, deceased paid his men a little after 12 o’clock, but witness and deceased remained in the yard.  Witness had dinner with the deceased at his house, and they returned to the brick-works again.  Deceased said that some clay looked rather white, and he should like some water poured upon it.  Witness told the enginemen to get the steam up, so as to work the hose piping, and the deceased picked up a galvanized pipe, which was lying near, and carried it a few yards, when he laid it out in the direction wanted.  The deceased told them to turn on the water, and Witness told him that the water was all right.  That would be about five or ten minutes to four o’clock.  Witness turned his back to the deceased for the purpose of watching a new plough which was being used in the adjoining field.  He did not see the flash of lightning, nor did he hear any thunder, but suddenly he found himself lying on the ground, about a yard from where he had been standing.  He felt very dizzy, but as soon as he recovered, he looked in the direction of where he had left the deceased, and could not see him.  He looked about, and found him lying stretched out on the ground.  Witness immediately went to him, and saw that he was lying flat on his face, and bleeding from the mouth and nose.  His feet were close to the galvanized piping.  He turned him over, and found that he was breathing, but he quickly ceased to breathe, and witness, knowing that he was dead, laid him down, and went for assistance, and Dr. Robson quickly came, when he pronounced life to be extinct.

Dr Robson gave a description of the body, and how the lightning had acted when it struck deceased.  The hair, the moustache, and the whiskers on the left side of the face were singed: his cap was off, and had not been found. The neck tie was half torn away, and the other half was in two pieces fifteen yards off and singed.  About half his clothing, right down the left side from the shoulder to the boot, which was taken off, was torn away from the body, and there were marks like bruises upon the body.  There was a small cut on the left boot and also on the neck.  His watch was found lying about four yards off, the under part of the rim of the watch case was partly fused, as were also the links of the watch chain.  The ring was off altogether.  The watch had stopped at exactly 3.45, thus showing the time of his death.

The jury found that Robert Taylor, while in his brickyard, was accidentally killed by lightning.

The Coroner said it was supposed that the lightning had struck the ground a little behind to the left of the deceased, had been attracted to the man, and struck him on the boot and run up his leg and body on the inside of his clothing, as the appearance of his clothes bore out this supposition, for in addition to part of the watch being broken the body flannel was singed, and not the outer part of his clothes.

The jury expressed much sympathy for the widow and children of the deceased.

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