The daughter of Thomas and Esther Eaton, Lucy was born in Wolverhampton in 1903. On 28 May 1903, Lucy was baptised at St Thomas’s parish church in Wednesfield. The family were living at 4 Court, 1 Rookery Street, Wednesfield, in 1911, along with Lucy’s three sisters Daisy, Dorothy and Mary Esther. Dorothy and Mary were twins. Unfortunately, Lucy’s older brother, Samuel Charles, had died in 1907. In 1912, Lucy’s parents had another set of twins, Minnie and Stanley, but unfortunately Minnie died not long after birh. In 1914, youngest sister, Nora was born.
By 1917, at the age of fourteen, Lucy was working as a helper in the Assembly Department at the Patent Axle Box Company’s Works, who were based in Wednesfield, at the junction of Hall Street and Well Lane. These were described as “controlled” works.
Lucy accidentally set herself on fire, and died on 23 June 1917, in Wolverhampton General Hospital at 8.20 am.
An inquest was held on 26 June 1917, which gave more details of the incident which resulted in Lucy’s death. On 22 June 1917, she
was wiping cartridge cases at the Patent Axle Box, Wednesfield when by some means her clothes caught fire. the flames were put out, and she was taken to General Hospital where she died at 8.20 am 23rd inst.
A fellow assembler, Edith Ward, who lived at 65 Prestwood Road, gave evidence to the inquest.
She was wiping cartridges with an engine wiper. The cartridges are worked in turps, and then wiped with the engine wiper. She went near to the stove with the cloth, and the cloth caught fire. There was a small quantity of fire which was left by the right hand. When the wiper caught fire she wiped it down her overall. The overall was saturated with turpentine and a blaze sprung up. She got badly burnt.
Edith stated that there was not normally a fire there, as the employees usually had their meals in the mess room. She could not account for Lucy going near the fire with the turpentine.
William Hayes, the charge hand in the room adjoining the Assembly Room stated how he saw Lucy in flames and threw bags on to douse them. He stated that the fire had been left on by the night people. Works manager James Morris undertook to remove the stove altogether and to ensure that no fire would be allowed there in future.
The coroner’s verdict was accidental death, from shock caused by the burns. A report about the tragic incident appeared in the Express & Star on 26 June 1917. York Minster has a memorial to 1,400 women of the British Empire who lost their lives during the First World War, and Lucy’s name is inscribed here.