Huddersfield Daily Chronicle (29/Sep/1886) - A Child Drowned at Beaumont Park: Heartless Conduct

The following is a transcription of a historic newspaper article and may contain occasional errors. If the article was published prior to 1 June 1957, then the text is likely in the Public Domain.



On Tuesday afternoon Mr J.E. Hill, deputy coroner held an inquest at the Ship Inn, Paddock, touching the death of Mary Wilson, a girl aged four years (daughter of George Wilson, teaser and fettler, of Brow Road, Paddock), who was drowned in Beaumont Park on Sunday, under circumstances described in the following evidence. Mr G.B. Nalder. Town Clerk, Mr. R.S. Dugdale, C.E., borough surveyor, and Mr J. Ward, the Chief Constable, were present during the enquiry. The father of the deceased having given evidence of identification, his daughter Ada, aged 10 years, was called, and she stated that about three o'clock on Sunday afternoon she and her brother John (seven years old) set off to go to Beaumont Park with her sister Mary. When they got there they were standing beside the lower lake when a little boy ran past and accidentally touched the deceased, who fell into the water and was drowned. She did not know the little boy and would not know him again. John Wilson, the brother of the last witness, said that after the boy touched the deceased he continued running, and witness did not think he saw her fall into the water. He should not know the boy again if he saw him. In answer to the Chief Constable witness said there was no one near when the deceased fell into the water, and he went to tell a woman of the accident. He did not tell her where his sister had fallen in, and she went to the wrong pond. She told someone else, and they also went to the upper lake. During this time four youths came up and stood on the side. One of them took off his shoes and stockings, rolled up his trousers, and went in for the deceased, whose clothes they could see on the top of the water. He, however, came out again when the water got up to his knees, and he and his companions walked away. Mr Ward said that ever since the accident they had been endeavouring to find out who these youths were. As they would understand people went there from all parts, but they hoped by the publicity which would be given to those proceedings that they would be able to trace them. If they did, however, it would not make any difference to that enquiry. The Coroner : No, it is not a crime, though it is a shame and a disgrace. A juryman : It is a shame — a cowardly shame. Thomas Whiteley, warehouseman, of Woodfield Road, stated that about six o'clock on Sunday night he was standing in the Park near the "Castle" refreshment rooms when a boy ran up saying that a child was drowned, and asking for a prop. He at once procured one and went down to the lower pond, and got the child out with it. The child was quite dead at that time, and the body was floating on the top of the water. There was no fence round the pond, the surface of which would be about a foot lower than the path. He did not see the youth who went into the water ; that happened before he got there. Richard Swarbrick Dugdale, borough surveyor, said that the pond in question was formed underneath some very precipitous natural rocks, and was bounded for over half its circumference by these rocks, and the other portion by a broad walk some 18 feet in width, into which three other walks led. There was a waterfall of, he should think, perhaps 50 or 60 feet into the pond, but there was not much of a current in the pond at any time. The lake was formed for the purpose of growing aquatic plants, and was made at the request of a society in the town. The depth of the water round the edges was not above 15 or 16 inches, and in the deepest part — just at the foot of the rocks — its depth did not exceed 2ft. 3in. or 2ft. 6in. The bottom was of stones and soil, for the purpose of nourishing the plants. There was a head-gardener and another man on duty at the Park on the day in question — there were of course more on a week-day — and In addition the Chief Constable stated that there would be one constable there until five o'clock. The coroner said it was evident that the people who made a sort of halt attempt to get the child out did not stay to see the end of it. The Chief Constable remarked that they did go away, and he could not find anyone who saw the lad get into the water. A juryman : Probably the lad did not know the depth of the water. Mr Dugdale did not know what he saw, but on Monday, when he measured the depth of the water, he could see the stones at the bottom, although it was muddy. The Coroner said that having taken his shoes and stockings off he perhaps did not find the stones so comfortable. Mr Ward thought that the water touched his trousers, and he was afraid of spoiling them. The Coroner : It is a pity that the child should be drowned for the sake of a pair of trousers or boots. The Chief Constable said they wanted to find him in order to tell him that he need not be so particular about his trousers or boots if a similar thing should happen in the future. In the course of the further proceedings Mr Dugdale said that the water in the lakes in any of the parks did not exceed 3 ft. in depth, and that it was a question if the lakes were fenced round whether it would not be as dangerous, it not more dangerous, by reason of children climbing them, and probably falling into the water from a greater height. The jury ultimately returned a verdict to the effect that the child bad been accidentally drowned.