Mexborough and Swinton Times May 20, 1905
Crossing The Ferry
Sad Drowning Accident at Conisborough
An exceedingly sad drowning accident happened at the Conisborough Ferry on Sunday morning, resulting in the death of John Fletcher, aged 2 years and 11 months, living at 4 Dearne Street.
The circumstances were enquired into by the Doncaster District coroner, Mr F.E.Nicholson, on Tuesday morning at the Castle Inn, Conisborough. Mr William Jones was foreman of the jury, and police Sgt Horton and PC Alexander acted as Corrie’s officers. The jury and coroner, after viewing the body, paid a visit to the ferry, the scene of the accident.
The first witness called was John Fletcher, four Dearne Street, Conisborough, a fireman employed at the Cadeby colliery. He gave formal evidence of identification. The deceased child was nearly 3 years old, and the last witness saw him alive was on Saturday afternoon. Witness went to work at 530 on Sunday morning. He was informed of the accident about 11 o’clock my son Thomas, and he visited the ferry at once. Deceased was laid on the grass, and he could not say whether he was dead or not.
A young intelligent boy named Tom Stacey, aged 12, living with his parents at eight Dearne Street, said his father’s name was Samuel Stacey, and he worked at the Cadeby colliery. Witness went to school, and helped at the ferry when he liked. He had often ferried people across during the past 12 months, and he understood the working of the boat.
On Sunday morning between 11 and 11:30 o’clock Mr Harry Guest took Frank and John Fletcher across. Later witness saw them on the other side, and he went to fetch them. When they had got nearly across, coming back, the deceased was sat near the posts where the rope caught and he seized it with his hand. When the boat swung round the deceased was jerked into the river. Witness attempt to reach him but failed. Mrs Clayburn, who lives at the ferry cottage, heard the screams, and Mr Clayburn came across in his boat but had to go back, as he had forgotten his boat hook. They got the deceased out on the bank directly afterwards, witness thought he was dead.
John Clayburn, a canal labourer, living at ferry cottage on the Cadeby side of the ferry, said he went to the scene of the accident in his bold. The deceased had gone down when he started. He had to go back to his mortal; he got the child out directly. Deceased would have be in the water probably 10 minutes. Deceased was about 5 yards from the side, at a depth of 11 feet.
Dr Forster came directly, and tried to resuscitate the boy for three quarters of an hour, but all attempts failed witness was of opinion that the deceased went under the belt, and that he was suffocated in that way. The boy Stacey managed the boat very nicely.
In answer to a jury man, witness said he thought it was a pure accident
Frank Fletcher, brother of the deceased gave evidence and said they went across the ferry into the fields to gather bluebells.
Charlie guess, residing at the ferry farm said his father, Henry Guest, was a tenant of the farm, and the ferry was included in it. The outlook actually, and received the fees. They had no agreement, he believed Astor how it should be worked. The boy Stacey was witnesses cousin, and he had worked the ferry off and on for nearly 2 years. He was quite competent to manage the boat. Witness did not see how the boat could be fenced at all.
Witness: I believe this is the first accident there has been, at least what I can remember. I believe there was one when my grandfather was a very boy, when he was about nine years old. That is 76 years ago. (Laughter)
The coroner said it appeared to be a pure accident. He did not appear to have been caused through one of skill in working the ferry. The boy Stacey gave his evidence very well, and he did not think there was any blame attaching to anyone.
The jury concurred, and returned a verdict that the deceased met with an “Accidental death.”
The coroner said he did not think they could make any improvement in the ferry.