Canal Tragedy – Denaby Woman who took to Drink

July 1915

Mexborough times, July 24, 1915

Canal Tragedy
Denaby Woman who took to Drink
Sad Story

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

Evidence of identification was given by the husband, William Brooks, who said he last saw his wife alive on the Tuesday morning at 5.30, when he left home for work. His wife got his breakfast ready. When he returned from the pit at 2.30 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 threatened to commit 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 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 on the evening of Wednesday, and witness did not see her again alive.

The coroner: Was she sober? – Yes

Do 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 inform 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 that it does not occur again.

The coroner: we are not here to criticise your conduct, Mrs Smith.

William Oliver Beckett, fitter of 11 Ferryboat Lane, Mexborough, said that on Wednesday morning at five o’clock he was proceeding to his 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 pasture 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 seen recently to have taken to drink, and he thought it was fair to assume from Mrs Smith’s evidence that deceased was the worse for liquor when last seen alive.

An open verdict was returned.