Thursday, 14 August 2014

Canal Rescue

This is just one of a series of around fifty old newspaper articles that I have been reading. I have been researching from old newspapers and magazines the last 200 years or so of the inland waterways. With particular interest in the issues of the day that were effecting the canals. The most active periods for evaluation and change, has always been just prior, during and shortly after the two world wars. It should be remembered that between the wars the ownership of some of the canals changed hands as the railway companies bought up the waterways to get reduce competition. What is not clear is the effect this early form of asset stripping had on the viability of the inland waterways. Its good to take a look back at what people were saying and doing in the past. Most surprising of all are some of the problems that beset the canals back then - are still prevalent today. Reading old newspapers can throw up some rather interesting stories. Here is what we would call today a public interest story.

Caveat: Some of the articles are difficult to read and even using modern electronic  scanning and text conversion methods. The odd punctuation, word or character may have been transcribed in error. 
Geraldton Guardian and Express
Tuesday 2 July 1929


The gallant rescue from drowning of a girl of three years was made by Leslie Duncan, aged 13, of 31, William street, Miles Platting, Manchester. The girl, Nora Macdonald, of Tickers street, Miles Platting, fell into the canal while playing. Duncan, who cannot swim, was held by the jacket by two other boys while he stretched out and caught hold of the arm of the girl as she was sinking.  Duncan stated that he and the other boys had been taught at school how to apply artificial respiration, and in this way the girl was brought round.


Wednesday 27 October 1926

Canal Rescue Hobby
One hundred persons have been saved from drowning by Mr. Thomas Jackson, of Hoddiges road, Hackney (England), in the course of half a century. Mr. Jackson is retiring on pension after forty years service as a porter with the Gas Light and Coke Company, his health having suffered through constant immersion in water. He began life-saving when he was ten, and since then has brought 100 persons out of the water, but two of them died. Sixty of the rescues were from the Regent's Canal. Life-saving seems to have been almost a hobby with him. "If it were not so dangerous it would be funny the way kiddies get into the canal," he said. "I have pulled five of them out in five successive days. "My wife once had five suits of mine hanging on a line to dry, and I had to go to work if one of her flannel petticoats, which I used as a shirt because I hadn't a dry one left." The walls of his home are covered with life-saving certificates. He also holds a medal for saving seventeen children from the canal at Haggerston. While the medal was being made he saved four others, and this was recognised by the addition of four silver bars. " Mr Jackson is in somewhat straitened circumstances. He is suffering from bronchitis, and has only a pension of 18/2 a week. 

Evening News
Thursday 5 June 1924

Plucky Rescue of Woman 

Seeing Mary Mould, of Barwon Park road, St. Peters, fall into the St Peters Canal to day, J. Love, of Clarendon road, Stanmore, Jumped in and brought her to the bank. She was taken in an unconscious state by the Newtown Ambulance to the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, and treated for immersion. 

The Courier-Mail
Saturday 25 September 1937

Alsatian Helps To Rescue Boy From Canal

LONDON. September 23rd.

An Alsatian dived into the Cardiff Canal with his master and rescued a child from drowning. Clutching the boy's clothing with its teeth, the dog helped its master to bring the boy to the bank.

Northern Star
Monday 17 September 1928

Man saved from canal.

A man's life was saved through the new Manchester police telephone box system. A young, wife took to a police station a letter which she said her husband had left in the house. A description of the man was telephoned to a police box and Constable Critchlow ran towards the canal. He shouted to a man answering the description and the man took to his heels. A moment later he was seen in, the water. His head rose above the surface as the constable drew level and Critchlow grabbed his coat and dragged him to the side. He was taken to hospital.

Saturday 11 March 1933
Didn't Tell Mother of Rescue

A thrashing was the reward of Jack Posen, a fifteen year old pit boy, of
Donisthorpe, near Ashby de la Zouche, who plunged into the canal and rescued Aubrey Doacher, aged 8, imprisoned under the ice. The rescuer's mother, thinking that Jack had fallen into the canal, thrashed him when he returned home. The boy made no mention of his brave deed, changed into his pit clothes and went to work as usual. This is Posen's third rescue from the canal.

Northern Star
Tuesday 22 January 1924


Charles Lamb's essay on the art of pig driving is rcrti I led by ilia rid ventre of a villager of Haslet. On the way to the pork butcher the villager's pig dived off a canal bridge, and the man dived to the rescue. A boatman, not knowing that he was playing follow my leader with the pig. The boatman rescued him only to be attacked for his interference the pig owner trying to re-enter the water, crying my pig my pig. Thinking he had to deal with a madman, the boatman fairly overpowered Hans and held him down. In the meantime the pig reached the opposite bank, but only to be re-caught and led to the slaughter when the owner had explained himself to the bargee.
Cairns Post
Thursday 28 March 1940

Thousands of gallons of water were drained from a canal at Wolverhampton to rescue Sam, a barge horse, which had been in the water for nine hours. "Now I'm watching Sam in case he gets pneumonia," his owner. Mr. Ben Matthews, said subsequently. "He was pulling a barge when he was startled and he jumped into the canal at a spot where the water was six feet deep. Men raced to the rescue with ropes, but Sam,' struggling frantically, pulled three of them into the water. We worked for hours by torchlight into the night, trying to get the horse out. Eventually we decided to empty the stretch of canal between the locks, which is about a quarter-of a mile in length. While several men held Sam's head above water we gradually drained the water out Then we had to drag some fencing down before Sam was absolutely free. Apart from a few scratches and the danger of contracting pneumonia, Sam was no worse for his cold bath. Sam, who stands 16 hands high, is worth £80.

Evening News
Tuesday 7 February 1871

Shocking Case of Drowning.

A shocking case of drowning occurred at Tipton a few evenings ago. Two men were fighting near the canal, when two policemen came up. One of the combatants was dazed, but the other, whose name was Bellingham, jumped into the canal, which at that place was twelve feet deep. The disengaged policeman went round to the other side to seize. Bellingham on landing. Seeing this the unfortunate man refused to land, and after keeping himself afloat for about five minutes, sank, and was drowned in the presence of his wife and a crowd of people. At the inquest several witnesses swore that the police not only prevented any one from entering the canal to rescue the drowning man, but said they did not care how he was captured, dead or alive. On the other side it was sworn that they did all they could, but that Bellingham was stupid, and refused to come to the side. The jury returned a verdict of 'Found drowned, and acquitted the police of blame.

The Charleville Times 
Friday 13 October 1933

Fight to save four lives.

Dramatic scenes accompanied the rescue of two women from a canal at Widcombe, Bath; recently. Two men who plunged in after them, 'were in grave peril also. The women, Mrs. Eames, aged 60, and her daughter, aged 24, fell about 20ft. into a lock which contained five or six feet of water. Constable Thomas jumped after them, but landed in deep mud. He struggled to the women,, who were clinging to each, other, and held them up. Help came from Mr. W. Hancock, a Bath and Somerset Rugby football three quarter, who dived in and took the elder woman from the constable. Both women by this time had collapsed. Then one of the crowd on the lock side procured a long pole with a hook at the end and hooked Miss Eames dress. With the help of others he began to haul the girl up, but the dress gave way several times. Next a lifebuoy was thrown and the policeman managed to put it round the unconscious girls neck and his own. The hook was fixed into the lifebuoy cord and the crowd slowly hauled the pair out. Both women were rushed to hospital in a serious condition. Constable Thomas was given oxygen and returned to duty later in the day. Mr.
Hancock went home.

The Daily News

Monday 10 January 1910


LONDON, December 12. A plucky rescue at midnight from a canal was described at Nottingham on Tuesday, when Harold Stone, 21, was charged with the attempted murder of Annie Axe, twenty-two, at midnight on November 26.
Strikingly dramatic was the story of the rescue as told by two young men earned Wallace Kerry and George Warrener. They were, they said, going towards their homes on the night in question, and were crossing the Wollaton Canal Bridge, when they heard a splashing in the water and the muffled cries of a woman. Running down on the canal bank they found Axe and Stoner in the water, which is very deep at that point It was a work of considerable difficulty to get them safely to shore, but this was accomplished at last. Axe told the court that she came from Gainsborough two years ago and met Stone at an open-air service. They kept company, and she was about to become a mother. She informed him of this while they were standing by the canal on the night mentioned, and he replied that as he was out of employment there was only one thing for it she must drown herself. There upon he pushed her into the water. Stone emphatically denied the girl's story. He said that the girl had threatened to do away with herself, and he took her down to the canal thinking that it would frighten her. While there she asked him to strangle her, and as he refused, she jumped into the water. Then he leaped into the canal in an attempt to rescue her. The magistrates said they would give Stone the benefit of the doubt, and discharge him. 
The Daily News
Saturday 19 March 1932

Remarkable Rescuers

The 'Daily Mirror' Brave Dogs, the V.Cs of the canine world, are to be exhibited again at Cruft's Show. These animals, each of which has saved human life at the risk of its own, will be on view in the Gilbey Hall of the Agricultural Hall Isington. Last year they were the attraction of this famous Dog Show, and on the last closing hour before the crowd could be dispersed from the V.Cs' corner! Of the ten brave dogs present last year nine will be there this, with the addition of at least five new recipients of the Silver-mounted Blue Collar. 
There will be Prince, of East Grinstead, who saved his little mistress from drowning. Peggy, of Wigan, is responsible for saving the life of a boy who had fallen into a canal, and a little girl owes her life to Peter, of Letheringsett, Norfolk. She had fallen into a pond and the dog held her up until assistance came. Tinker, of Westminster, who risked his life to warn of fire and to whom a family of four owe their lives; and Pedro, of Cumbernauld, who saved a youth from a vicious attack by a horse. ' Another hero is Nip, of Ilford. This dog raised the alarm in a fire and saved the household. He was overcome by smoke and could not bark, so threw himself repeatedly against the bedroom door and awakened his master.  When a window was opened he jumped and as a result is lame for life. He now has to wear specially designed supports.  In consequence of their bravery and sagacity, these dogs have received the 'Daily Mirror' Gugnunc Collar for Brave Dogs, and their names and deeds are inscribed in the Roll of Honour. The owners were presented with illuminated certificates. 

Bendigo Advertiser
Wednesday 14 June 1916


A woman who fell into the Grand Union Canal at Willesden, England, on the 24th April, gave birth to a child before she was rescued says the London "Daily Express". Mother and baby are now doing well.
Queensland Times
Friday 13 June 1924

LONDON, June 12. Mr. Horner, a well-dressed man, of 23 was charged with murdering a, five-year-old boy by drowning him in the Salford Canal. It is alleged that he asked the boy to accompany him to the canal, where he picked him up and threw him into the water. He then knelt down on the towing path and watched the boy drown. Another man failed, to rescue the boy.

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