Bowering, William 1876 June 10th
On Thursday morning last an inquest was held at the Infirmary, before Mr G Smith, the City Coroner, on the body of a little boy, named William Bowering (son of Charles Bowering, a painter, living in St Edmund’s Church-street), who accidentally met with his death on Wednesday, through falling in the water near the Town Mill, and being drawn through the Mill.
Moses Biggs, house surgeon at the Salisbury Infirmary, was the first witness, and said that just after two o’clock on Wednesday afternoon the deceased was brought to the Infirmary, but was dead when brought in. He examined the body, and found on the left side of the forehead a large tight swelling, due to the effusion of blood. Immediately on the left of this was a wound about an inch long. The face and neck on the left side were considerably bruised, and also the left shoulder and right hip. Judging from these injuries he didn’t think death to be due to immersion in the water, but to the injuries received. The injuries he had described would be quite consistent with the body having passed under the wheel of the mill while in motion.
Henry Wyman, a labourer working at the Salisbury Cathedral, and living in Water-lane, said he was coming from dinner about ten minutes to two on Wednesday, and looked over the Gaol Bridge in Fisherton to see a fish, when he saw the deceased come from underneath the bridge, and float down the stream. He got on the top of the bridge, lowered himself into the water, secured the body, and got it out on the bank. He could not say whether the boy was dead or alive, but he heard what seemed to be a groan proceed from him. He brought him up a ladder which was placed there by some other men whilst he was in the water, and handed him to two men who were standing in the street. They then proceeded to the Infirmary, and he accompanied them.
Edward Shuttle, an assistant to Mr Fullford, baker and grocer, in Castle-street, said he was passing through St Thomas’s Churchyard about quarter to two on the afternoon in question, when two little boys ran out of the Town Mill gates into the “Shoulder of Mutton” yard, and attracted his attention by calling out “Willie Bowering has fallen into the water, and gone in under the bridge close to the mill.” He looked under, but didn’t see anything of him, and then ran into the mill and told the miller what had happened, upon which they stopped the working of the machinery. He next ran round to the Gaol Bridge, and saw the deceased lying on the bank. He was present when the boy was taken up the street, but could not tell whether he was alive or dead.
George Kilford, of 10, Egerton-place, Fisherton, said he was miller for Mr Sutton, at the Town Mill, and about a quarter to two he heard a different kind of sound in the works, but took no notice of it at the time. About two minutes after that Mr Sutton ran in and told him a boy had fallen into the water, and they then walked to the mill head together to see if they could find him. They could see nothing of him, however, but found a sort of Scotch cap. They then stopped working the mill, and ran to the mill tail to see if they could find the body, but failed to do so. Witness next ran round to the Gaol Bridge, and by the time he got there deceased was out on the side of the bank. The time which elapsed between the time Mr Sutton informed him there was a child in the water and the time they stopped the mill was about a minute. He supposed deceased must have been struck by the wheel, but if he had gone straight through he might not have been hurt.
Charles Marshall, a little boy who was with the deceased at the time the accident occurred, said he was playing with him, and he fell from the bank in the middle of the stream into the water.
Charles Bowering, father of the deceased, said his child would have been nine years old next November. About five minutes to one on Wednesday he went out to play with another boy, and the next he heard of him was that he was drowned.
The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental Death,” and it was suggested that a guard or grating should be immediately placed against the mouth of the mill to prevent a similar accident, this being the second which had occurred there. The jury also praised Henry Wyman for the way in which he acted in the case.