Inquest Hears About Mine Shaft Death

An inquest's heard how an 11-year-old girl from Hampshire died after falling down a disused mine shaft.

Eleanor Clarke fell about 20ft down the mine entrance at cliffs below Droskyn Point, near Perranporth, Cornwall.

The girl was on holiday with her family and had been exploring the cliffs and caves when the tragedy occurred on August 11 last year.

The inquest in Truro heard the youngster, who had been looking for rock pools with her father Harry and two brothers, landed in a water-filled cave below.

Mr Clarke carried his unconscious daughter from the mine shaft after using a rope and buoyancy aid to negotiate the sheer drop.

Holidaymakers, including an off-duty special constable and paramedic, assisted lifeguards in attempts to resuscitate the schoolgirl.

Eleanor, from Andover, was airlifted to the Royal Cornwall Hospital but died later that night from head injuries.

Eleanor had been exploring during low tide an adit - a horizontal entrance to a mine - when she fell.

The entrance was well lit by daylight but the adit soon disappeared into the darkness - hiding the sheer drop.

Pc Andrew Brocklehurst, who accompanied Mr Clarke to inspect the adit the following day, said in a statement to the inquest:

''It is easy to understand how anybody even treading with care would have been totally unaware of the shaft tunnel.''

The inquest was told there were no signs warning the public of the dangers of adits or mine shafts.

Since the tragedy the local parish council, which owns the land where the accident happened but does not own the mining rights, has erected a metal grill over that particular adit and is installing extra signs warning of the dangers from mine shafts.

In 2000 another holidaymaker in her 50s fell down the same mine shaft, suffering pelvis and rib injuries, the inquest heard.