Wingrove, Edward

Wingrove, Edward         1878 April 27th           Stratford-sub-Castle

Another accident occurred in the River Avon on Good Friday, in which Edward Wingrove, a lad of about 16 years of age, came by his death. It appeared that in the afternoon deceased, and a young man named Charles Gaisford, hired a boat of Mr Sheppard, and together rowed up the river Avon as far as Stratford Bridge. There they, with three or four other young men that had preceded them in another boat, drank some beer that deceased and Gaisford brought in their boat, and after a short rest commenced their return.

They had only got as far as Black Well when Wingrove, having lost an oar, reached over the side of the boat to regain it, and in so doing capsized the boat, and was drowned. His companion, after a sharp struggle, managed to reach the bank. The inquest was held at the Council Chamber on Saturday afternoon by Mr G Smith, the borough coroner. The foreman of the jury was Mr George Fullford, of Castle-street. Subjoined is the evidence adduced on that occasion.

Mr Gowing, surgeon, deposed that at about six o’clock on the previous evening he was sent for to see deceased. He answered the call and found him lying on a hurdle in front of his father’s house. He was not quite cold, but was dead and rigid. It was his opinion that asphyxia was the cause of death. The appearance of the body was of an ordinary case of death by drowning.

After concluding his evidence Mr Gowing remarked that he had a suggestion to make which he hoped the Press would notice. It was this – that copies of the directions issued by the Royal Humane Society for the treatment of drowning persons should be mounted on boards and placed in a conspicuous place in the boat-house. With regard to the present case the deceased was brought home with his face covered, which would have rendered resuscitation difficult, supposing he had been in the water only three or four minutes. When there was the least chance of animation being restored the face ought never to be covered. It was his opinion that if copies of the Royal Humane Society’s directions were hung up in conspicuous places, people might probably be induced to read them before taking their seats in a boat, and bystanders might also profit by them.

On behalf of the jury and also for himself, the Coroner expressed their obligations to Mr Gowing for his suggestion.

The next witness was Charles Gaisford, who stated that by trade he was a miller, and resided at 6, Chapel-place, Fisherton. Deceased was a friend of his, and on Friday afternoon, rather after four o’clock, they went up the river Avon in a boat hired from Mr Sheppard. When they reached Stratford Bridge they remained there about ten minutes, and drank a glass of beer with other friends (four in number) who went before them in other boats. The beer – in all a gallon and a half – was taken in their boats, but they drank a portion of it before starting.

They proceeded on their way home at a smart pace, and when about 20 yards on the Salisbury side of Black Well, the deceased who was rowing missed a stroke and lost an oar. In leaning over the side and endeavouring to recover it he upset the boat, and both he and witness were thrown into the water. After a sharp struggle he (witness) managed to reach the bank. There were no weeds there, but witness could not swim. After getting into the water witness did not see any more of deceased until his body was taken out of the river. On their way back from Stratford bridge they were singing songs, but were sitting quietly in the boat, and were perfectly sober.

The Coroner said he hoped it would be a warning to Gaisford not to go up the river again until he could with safety.

Mr Harry Tom Horder said he resided with his father in Queen-street. On Friday afternoon he went up the river Avon in a canoe. On his return, at about a quarter past five, he saw the last witness on the bank near Black Well. Someone was shouting from the direction of the Butts, and on looking round he saw it was Mr Dorrell, who said to him, “Come on as fast as you can; there’s a man in the water.” He had only gone a short distance when Mr Dorrell said, “Stop! You’re right over him.” He drew the canoe aside, and on looking down into the river saw the body of deceased at the bottom. He appeared quite dead, and witness was unable to reach the body with his paddle, the water being eight or ten feet deep. He told Gaisford that his companion was dead, and inquired of him how long he had been in the water. He replied “Some time.” Witness then paddled on as fast as he could to Mr Sheppard’s and having given an alarm proceeded to the police station. He remembered passing Gaisford and deceased between the islands as he went up, and they were then rowing very steadily.

Mr F Dorrell said he was a bootmaker of Winchester-street. On Friday afternoon he was walking with his wife in the Butts, when his attention was attracted by hearing persons singing on the river. A boat was being rowed briskly along by four persons, and was followed by another boat containing two, who were in the middle of the stream rowing rapidly, but with perfect steadiness. A minute afterwards he could distinguish only two heads over the boat, and his wife exclaimed, “They’re in the water!” The boat was drifting away from them, keel upwards, and the deceased tried to grapple it, but sank in the effort. Witness tried to get to their assistance, but owing to the place being so boggy, he was unable to go far. Two boys were a little way off, and calling to them he told them to run to Mr Sheppard’s and procure assistance. This they did. While Gaisford was in the river he heard him say to deceased “Keep up Ted.” Immediately after that deceased sank for the third time, and witness saw no more of him until his body was recovered. Mr Horder was coming down the river in a canoe and witness calling to him told him briefly what had occurred. He came down as quickly as possible but not in time to save deceased. The body was got out while witness went to Mr Sheppard’s boat-house and back. He should say that the body had been in the water nearly half-an-hour.

Andrew Sheppard said he lived with his father, who was a boat proprietor in Castle-street. On Good Friday afternoon the deceased and another young man came and hired a boat for the purpose of going up the river. In consequence of all the boats being out they waited a short time, subsequently taking an ordinary river pleasure boat. He and his father exercised their discretion in letting boats, and if they saw after starting that people were unable to manage a boat they called them back. The boat the deceased and the other young man took was perfectly safe in the hands of an experienced boatman. Deceased had been up the river several times, and he believed knew how to manage a boat. He saw that the two had a jar with them when they started, and drank a portion of its contents before leaving. He was not aware what it contained. He could not say that it was an unusual thing for persons to take ale with them. Some frequently went ashore at Stratford for it.

On learning of the accident, he immediately proceeded to the spot to render all the assistance he could. The body was recovered within a quarter of an hour after Mr Horder had given the information. His father was not licensed to let boats, and was not under the control of any public authority. When the body was taken out of the river it was taken across Mr Keyne’s nursery to his father’s house. He admitted that boats would be safer if they had a wider keel than the one in question. Everybody made their own selection, and when there were only two for a boat they generally preferred a light one.

The Coroner directed witness’s attention to the fact that it had been suggested that copies of the Royal Humane Society’s directions with regard to an accident should be posted in the boat house.

Witness said he would inform his father of it.

The father of the deceased said that at holiday times it was his opinion that a man should be constantly kept at the dangerous part of the river where the accident happened.

The Coroner, in the course of some remarks, observed that this was a very unfortunate case, and one to be greatly regretted. For his part he thought that control should be exercised over the letting of boats, especially to young persons.

The jury returned a verdict of ‘Accidentally Drowned,” and added, “That this jury desire the Coroner to bring to the notice of the Urban Sanitary Authority the necessity, which in their opinion exists, of issuing licenses under Section 172 of the Public Health Act, to owners of boats let on hire, with a view to exercising a supervision over such boats, for the better securing the safety of the lives of persons using them.”

The Coroner promised to pay due attention to the request.

The fees of the jury were handed over to the Salisbury Provident Dispensary.

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