Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Another story from Tony Goulfing ... The Fylde tragedies of 1901 &1903

Suicide at Rossall School 24th February, 1901.

Rossall School
The embryonic Township of Chorlton-cum-Hardy was still mourning the death of Queen Victoria just a month previously on 22nd January when it was shocked by the news that young Frederick William Lamb had killed himself at Rossall School Nr, Fleetwood.

Frederick, who was an orphan living out of term time with his aunt (1) at 8, Chestnut Avenue, was found in his study shot through the heart.

According to contemporary press reports of the inquest into his death he left the school’s evensong service, on Sunday 24th February, before it finished and his body was discovered 20 minutes later (about 9-00 p.m.) by his friend and room-mate Oliver Wyndham Bushel. Also published the following day, in full and rather unkindly, was a letter of farewell written by Frederick and received by his friend Oliver on the Monday morning.

Bathing machines
This letter shows that Frederick had been considering suicide for some time being “tired of school life” and wishing to be “buried with my father and mother----I have not seen them for many years and now I wish to do so in heaven above” 

It is also apparent that the two boys were extremely close indicated both by tone and content of letter and the bequeathing of Frederick’s watch and chain to Oliver, to whom he had given it as the two boys entered the chapel for Evensong.
Whalley Hotel
Frederick was born in the June quarter of 1884, in Manchester where his father, Henry, was the landlord of the Whalley Hotel at Brook’s Bar.

His mother was Martha Ann (née Cunningham). Both his parents died before Frederick was eight years old, his mother in the March quarter of 1890 and his father in the June quarter of 1892.

The renumbered "72" Marlow Moor Road, May 1959
On Friday 3rd July, 1903 Cleveleys was the scene of a multiple drowning tragedy which devastated 3 well known families of Chorlton-cum-Hardy.

The three victims were: two young daughters ( Minnie and Ethel aged 17 and 14 respectively) of Frederick Warburton, a starch agent of 72, Barlow Moor Road and Mrs. Eleanora Maria Lord the wife of William Lord the manager of Smiths book store on Chorlton-cum-Hardy station.

William and Eleanora had been married less than a year – the wedding had taken place at St. Clements on 10th July, 1902.

They had set up home at 14, Clarence (now Claridge) Road. Eleanora, who was born in Hay, Breconshire, Wales in the June quarter of 1873, was the daughter of a retired Primitive Methodist Minister, Jeremiah of 120, Sandy Lane. William was born in Hensall, West Yorkshire where his father, Samuel was a Police Officer.

The tragic loss of three young ladies’ lives made headline news,  national and many local newspapers throughout Britain carried detailed reports (2)  of the incident; although, it must be said, not always very accurately. In particular it was first reported that the three fatalities were all sisters and that William Lord was Frederick Warburton’s son-in-law.

A party of five bathers, the three victims together with Mr William Lord and a third of Mr. Warburton’s daughters – his eldest, 19 year old, Madge, entered a rough sea ignoring warnings that it was dangerous to so do at around 4-00p.m.on a Friday afternoon.

A swiftly turning tide took them by surprise and despite being for the most part experienced sea-bathers they soon got into difficulties and desperately cried for help. Their pleas for assistance were heard and echoed by Mrs Warburton who was watching from the shore.

A local boatman, John Croft, of Claremont House, (3) had seen the bathers entering the water and, with his expert knowledge of the waters in the area, had thought they may be a problem responded when Mrs Warburton raised the alarm.

Without this man’s brave actions the loss of life would have been much greater as he managed to bring two of the party, William and Madge (4), safely to dry land. It was further recorded that both were by then in a state of near exhaustion and but for Mr. Croft’s timely intervention would surely have drowned.

On the following  Saturday, 11th July, for his bravery the elderly boatman was presented with an illuminated address a silver watch and a purse of gold after a collection was made by some grateful visitors and citizens of Cleveleys. The watch was simply inscribed, “Presented to Mr. John Croft – for saving life.” He was also later honoured with their certificate, by The Royal Humane Society. (5)

A final observation on this tragic story is that it shows quite clearly how Press reports can be full of errors and often were in this case; perhaps its sensational nature tended to encourage some speculative and “fanciful” reporting.

"CHAPEL OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST" AT ROSSALL SCHOOL, FLEETWOOD 19TH JULY, 2001,  BATHING MACHINE GALS  FROM ORIGINAL 1902 CARD, Whalley Hotel, 1960 A.H. Downes – m 40816, 72 Barlow Moor Road, 1959
m 17506 A.H.Downes, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, 

1) Frederick’s aunt was Ann Maria Lamb (née Loveridge) who married his father’s brother Edward Benjamin, who was also a hotel keeper in Manchester Cathedral in the September quarter of 1870.
2) Several included the name of the Warburtons’ hotel: “Seabeach” and one even included a pencil sketch of the hero, Mr. Croft.
3) This was apparently how the guest house run by John Croft’s wife was known.
4) The two survivors fared very differently in later life. Madge Warburton went on to marry Thomas Arthur Russell, an ordnance fitter of 3, Lonsdale Road, Fallowfield, at St. Clement’s, Chorlton-cum-Hardy on 15th April, 1911 in a double ceremony, in which her brother, Godfrey, also married an Emily Kate Ormond Burrows. However, she sadly died only six years later, aged just 33, on 8th June, 1917. She is buried in Southern Cemetery as are her sisters; Madge in grave B 1309 and her sisters in A 407 of the Church of England section. In contrast, the bereaved William Lord remarried on the 25th  June, 1906 at St. Werburgh’s Church to Florence Broughton,  the daughter of Henry Broughton a solicitor’s clerk of 31, Nicholas Road, moved to Brentford, West London, and went on to have a very successful business career. The 1939 Register shows him as a company secretary/director living in Purley in the Surrey “stockbroker belt”
5) Extraordinarily John Croft himself later became a casualty in another case of multiple drowning. On 1st September, 1914 with the initial battles of World War 1raging in France and Belgium, the aging boatman who was by then approaching 70 was hired to take a party o6 out for a 2 hour sail. Somehow, the craft capsized with the loss of all on board. The  passengers were, Mr. John Ashton, an overseer for Boundary Spinning Co. of Oldham, Mr. Ashton’s children Ethel,18, Hilda,10, and Walter,8, together with a family friend Miss Jane Smith ,aged 19 and also of Oldham, and 12 year old  Herbert Woodcock of Congleton, Cheshire, thought to be Mr. Ashton’s nephew

No comments:

Post a Comment