Tuesday 27 May 2014

Canal Cuttings (19)

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 in 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. 

The Windsor and Eton Express

21st July 1827

The two following inquests were held at Aylesbury yesterday, before Mr Burnham, one of the coroners for this county. The first was on view of the body of Wm. Roadnight, a lad aged 10 years, son of one of the turnkeys of the gaol, who was drowned in the canal the preceding day.

James Parsons, a lad about 11 years old, said I went to Mr Fountain's field (by the side of the canal) on Thursday, for the purpose of gathering cow clods. Three other young lads, named Joseph , George, and Isaac Roadnight went with me, and William Roadnight (the deceased) joined us in the field. We filled two baskets with clods, which we place on a barrow and began to wheel them home on the towing-path by the side of the canal. Rain coming on we stopped under the second bridge, and the deceased seated himself on one handle of the barrow and I on the other with my face from the water. The barrow tilted, and I and the deceased fell into the water. I got out of the water by swiming. I saw William Roadnight rise in the water once, and have not seen him since. 
[A Juryman who had viewed the body, observed, that from the bruises on it it was probable the deceased was struck by the handle of the barrow in its overturning, and thereby rendered incapable of struggling.] 
Thomas Collins, a mason, examined - I was at work on Mr.Payne's building, on Thursday, on the New Road, and saw James Parsons coming along very wet, Mr.Winfield asked him what was the matter with him. He said, he had fallen into the water, and another boy was then in the water under the second arch. Mr.Winfield, I, and some of the men at the building then set off and ran to the canal. When I got to the canal I saw two hats and a wheelbarrow swimming on the water between the two gates. I undressed myself and got into the lock and went down two or three times to the bottom. I saw Mr.Winfield take out the deceased. He bled very much, but I think he was dead when taken out of the water. Mr.Franklin, who was passing, desired Wm. Welch to take his horse and ride for a doctor. The Coroner asked the Jury if they required further evidence; they replied in the negative, and returned a verdict of Accidental death.

The second inquest was held on the body of James Pullen, a young man about 22 years of age, a labourer in the employ of Mr.Richard Terry, of Aylesbury, who died on Thursday in consequence of injury sustained by a cart passing over his chest on Tuesday last. - Wm.Davies, a labourer of Fleet Marston, deposed as follows :- As I was setting out to go to Aylesbury on Tuesday, the deceased passed my door with a horse and cart and I asked him to let me ride. He said, "No, my friend, I can't, for I have no room." I was coming along the road to Aylesbury and saw the horse and cart coming back, and Pullen was hanging to the horse's head by a hempen halter; the winking halter was hanging down, the rein being across the horses neck.

The horse at length threw Pullen and the near wheel of the cart passed over his body. I went up to him, and Dr Terry came up in the God speed in his gig, and got down and examined him. Pullen but his hand in his bosom, and looking at Mr Terry's face, said, "For God's sake give me ease if you can." Mr.Terry said, "My friend, I can nothing for you here." Mr.Terry desired me and others who were standing by to take the deceased home, and I assisted him to Aylesbury. Pullen told me he must die when I was assisting to remove him. Davies was the only witness examined by the Jury, expressing themselves perfectly satisfied with his testimony and after some deliberation, they returned a verdict of Accidental death, with a deodand of £5 on the horse and cart, in consequence, as it was intimated by the foreman, of their considering the horse a vicious animal, it having ran away on the day previous to the accident which was fatal to the deceased.

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