Rogers, James

Rogers, James      1917 June 22nd           Harnham

Man Drowned at Harnham

Young Chemist’s Plucky Attempt to Rescue Him.

On Monday afternoon a man was seen struggling in the river near Harnham Bridge and help arrived too late to save him, not withstanding a plucky attempt by a chemist’s apprentice as soon as he reached the spot. An inquest was held by the City Coroner (Mr A M Wilson) at the Council Chamber on Tuesday evening, Mr A E Best being chosen foreman of the jury.

Norton Oswald Allen, a pay clerk in the War Department, living at 13, Belle Vue Road, identified the body as that of James Rogers, who was employed as a road labourer at Porton from May 24th to June 9th. Witness said he did not see him after the latter date till the 15th, when he returned for his pay, saying he had been ill, and would come back as soon as he was better. Witness thought the man’s hands were poisoned.

Frank Sidney Churchill, proprietor of the Lodging House in Winchester Street, said that Rogers had been staying at his place for the last six or seven weeks. He believed he was a native of Southampton. He worked at Porton, but stayed away from his work last week because he had bad hands. Witness last saw him at 2 o’clock on Monday afternoon. He was a big, strong fellow and appeared in good health, except for his hands.

Charles Trowbridge, warehouseman at Boots Cash Chemists, said he lived at 7, Downton Road, Harnham, and as he was going home to tea on Monday at ten minutes past five he saw a man leaning over Harnham Bridge and looking down the stream. Soon after he got indoors his little girl ran in and said, “There is a man in the water.” He went out at once and saw a man struggling in the river about 30 yards from the bridge, and apparently trying to save himself. Witness could not swim but got a rope and saw the man sink as he returned with it. Then Mr Quick came up and dived in after him. He thought it was the same man that he saw leaning over the bridge.

Replying to the Foreman, he said the wall of the bridge was too high for a man to fall over.

Answering a juryman, the witness said the man was in the centre of the river when he first saw him in the water, but he was gradually coming nearer the bank.

Douglas Ewart Quick, chemist’s apprentice at Messrs Boots, and living at 5, Downton Road, said that when he was going home to tea at 5.15pm, and was near Harnham Bridge, he heard someone shouting, “There is a man in the water.” He ran round to the back of the houses and saw Trowbridge, who pointed out where he last saw the man. Witness dived in immediately and found the body on the bed of the river, but could not move it as it was too heavy. He came up and went down again, but without success. Then Mr Preston came along with a punt, and they got the body to the surface with the punt pole and tried artificial respiration till the police arrived. The water was about 8 feet in depth.

PC Toogood said that at 5.20pm he received a telephone message at the police station and immediately cycled to Harnham and found that the body was lying on the bank of the river. Artificial respiration was applied till Dr Fison came and said the man was dead. He found on the body a military pass and birth certificate of “James Rogers,” who was born on February 21st, 1870, at Southampton, also 7½d. There were no marks on the body except a slight bruise on the forehead.

The Coroner suggested that this was a case in which the jury should return an open verdict.

The Foreman intimated that the jury agreed on that verdict, and said they considered great credit was due to Mr Quick for his attempt to rescue the man. If he had been on the spot a few minutes before he might have saved his life.

The Coroner said he certainly thought Mr Quick did everything he possibly could and did not hesitate as a great many people might have done.

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