Charles Barker

Charles Barker, of No. 5, Flavell’s Yard, Baxter Gate, Loughborough, worked for the firm as a foundry labourer. On 6th March 1909, whilst working with a hand crane in the foundry, he fell from the beam of the crane, sustaining a compound fracture of his right ankle[1]. The ankle was subsequently operated on and unfortunately the injuries were such that it required the excision of the ankle joint, causing a permanent stiffness, weakness on the ankle and consequent lameness. He was obviously totally incapacitated and off work for a period, during which the firm paid him 9s. 6d. per week, which was fifty per cent of his wages, a sum he was entitled to under the Workmen’s Compensation Act of 1906. He was still off work six months later, when he engaged a firm of solicitors to take the matter of further compensation to the County Court.

Charles Barker returned to work eight months after the accident, but found it almost impossible to continue due the pain, particularly working on an uneven floor as in the foundry. He was immediately sent by his solicitors to Dr Joseph Balm Pike, their medical expert, who worked at the hospital in Baxter Gate. Dr Pike recommended that the patent should not work on any uneven surface and preferably be found a position that he could undertake sitting down, or required only walking on level surfaces.

He did eventually return to work but by the following November, the situation had not improved and whilst he did his best, he was still in pain. After consulting the doctor again, the diagnosis was that there was no obviously improvement in the ankle and Charles Barker would never be able to do any work that involved standing for long periods. During this time, the firm who legally were only obliged to pay Charles Barker 9s. 6d. per week, had in fact, been paying him his full wage of 18s., although it was reported that the firm only thought he was worth 6s. per week. Consequently, Charles Barker’s solicitors sought a lump sum settlement from the firm, unless they were prepared, under by binding agreement, to continue paying him 18s. per week.

The solicitors then filed a claim for £150 compensation, which was the lowest Charles Barker was prepared to accept. On top of the solicitors added £13-13-0d. to cover legal and medical fees. The firm responded offering £100 lump sum and expenses, without prejudice. This was immediately rejected, with the solicitor’s reminding the firm that their client, now aged 40, was an almost illiterate unskilled labourer, who now was permanently crippled and because of the accident almost certainly unlikely to work permanently again. It was argued that his maximum earnings were likely to be a maximum of only 10s. per week. However, Charles Barker, through his solicitors made it known that he was prepared to half the difference and settle for £125 lump sum, plus expenses, mainly because the firm had been good to him since the accident. On 14th October 1910, seventeen months after the accident, both parties signed the agreement for the £125 lump sum, plus expenses, under the Workmens’ Compensation Act of 1906. Between the date of the accident and 28th May 1910, when Charles Barker resumed work, the firm paid him 9s. 6d. per week and from 28th May until 14th October 18s. per week.


  1. Private Records.