Canal Tragedy – Denaby Woman Who Took To Drink – Sad Story

August 1915

Mexborough & Swinton Times, August 18th 1915

Canal Tragedy.
Denaby Woman Who Took To Drink.
Sad Story.

At Mexborough Cemetery on Friday, Mr. Frank Allen, the Coroner, and a jury inquired into the circumstances attending the death of Elizabeth Brookes, aged 47, wife of William Brookes, miner, of 39 Maltby Street, Denaby Main, whose body was recovered from the canal, near the Pastures Bridge at Mexborough on Thursday morning.

Evidence of identification was given by the husband Wm. Brookes, who said that he last saw his wife alive on Tuesday morning at five-thirty when he left home for work. His wife got his breakfast ready. When he returned from the pit at two-thirty in the afternoon he found the house locked and his wife gone away. He never saw her again alive. She had an operation two years ago, and had developed a habit of rambling about since. He had never heard her threaten suicide.

Henrietta Smith, married woman of 62 Clifton Street, Denaby Main, said she had known deceased a good while. Deceased had visited occasionally, and had a drink at her house. She came there last Tuesday between eight and nine o´clock in the morning, and stayed there until Wednesday evening. She refused to go home, and asked that she might stay. She spent the night on the sofa downstairs.

She did not say why she would not go home.

Questioned as to what deceased had been doing during her stay, witness said they had ” a moderate drink.” Deceased left between eight and nine o´clock on Wednesday, and witness did not see her again alive.

The Coroner : Was she sober ? Yes.

So you mean sober or `soberish´?

She was not what they call too far gone.

Do you know any reason why she should commit suicide ?

No, sir. I have never heard her say anything.

A Juror : Was there any reason why you should not have informed her husband that she was staying with you ?

I had not spoken to her husband very much.

A Juror : What does your husband say about it ?

He has `carried on´ with me, and I´ll see it doesn´t happen again.

The Coroner : We are not here to criticise your conduct Mrs. Smith.

The Foreman ( Coun. W. Winstanley J.P. ) : Can you yourself give any reason why she should not want to go home ? No.

William Oliver Beckett, fitter, of 11 Ferry Boat Lane, Mexborough, said that on Thursday morning at five o´clock, he was proceeding to work at Denaby Main, and was walking along the hauling bank of the canal when he noticed a body floating in the water near the Pastures Bridge. He obtained assistance, and got the body to the side. Afterwards he notified the police.

The Coroner said it was not for the jury to criticise the dead woman´s mode of life. She seemed recently to have taken to drink, and he thought it was fair to assume from Mrs. Smith´s evidence that the deceased was worse for liquor when last seen alive.

The jury expressed the opinion that between illness and drink the deceased had come to the end of her tether and committed suicide.

An ` open verdict ` was returned.