Mexborough and Swinton Times August 6, 1897
Sad Drowning Fatality at New Conisborough.
At the Denaby Main Hotel, New Conisborough, on Monday, an inquest was held by Mr F. E. Nicholson, district coroner touching the death of James William Billingham, a boy aged eight, who was drowned in the canal while bathing on Friday last.
George Butcher was foreman of the jury, which was composed by Messrs Samuel Hepworth, Paul Pitchford, Charles Goldspink, John Bodkin, Seth Metcalf, James Severn, Thomas Wraithwaite, Henry Duke, Thomas Foulkes, Colin Saxton, Harry Day and Stephen Baines.
James Billingham, father of the boy, stated that the disease was eight years old. He last saw him alive on Friday before he went to work. He next saw him about 6:30 dead.
A juryman asked if the witness knew whether the boy was quite dead or not when he was got out.
The Coroner: There is a man here who got him out he will tell us.
Frances Williams Keys stated that he was a glass blower engaged at Messrs. Kilner works. He came out of the works at half past five last Friday, when he saw a lot of women and children on the bank. He heard that someone was drowning, and he ran down, and taking his clothes off jumped in where directed, after he had got him to the bank some men got hold of him and took him home. He appeared quite dead. The deceased was stripped and had been bathing.
A juryman asked if the boys were trespassing.
The coroner asked if there was a notice up, and a juryman replied that there was.
A boy named Albert Bacon stated that he with the deceased and another and all went to bathe about 5 o’clock. The deceased went out of his death and sank suddenly. He did not call out. He (witness) told some men of what had occurred. The man Keys then came up and got him out. Deceased would have been in the water 10 minutes after he sank when he was got out. They knew they were trespassing.
A juryman asked if nothing was done to try and restore the boy after he was cut out the water.
Witness said some men took amount.
Mr E. Duke, who attended on behalf of the Navigation Company, produced a copy of the notice that was posted near to where the fatality happened.
The coroner: I don’t blame the company nor do I think anyone else does.
The foreman said he thought great credit was due to Keys for his plucky attempt to get the boy out. If he had been a little sooner he might have been successful.
The coroner agreed with those remarks, and added that it was a pity that there wasn’t a safe place. Fenced off for bathing.
A verdict of “accidental death” was returned.