South Yorkshire Times June 10, 1950
Denaby Drowning Victim Had Fallen Into Canal Before
“He had been told many, many times not to go near any water. He did fall into the canal before and was pulled out by someone who was there, none the worse for a ducking. It does not seem to have put him off going, but I always thought it would.”
This explanation was given to Mr C. R. Marshall, Doncaster District Deputy Coroner on Saturday at an inquest on 10-year-old Clifford Peters, of Adwick Street, Denaby, by the boy’s father, Mr Jarratt Peters.
The Coroner recorded a verdict of “Accidental death — by drowning” on Clifford, who fell into the South Yorkshire Navigation canal at Denaby last Monday.
Leonard Pritchard (11), 73, Annerley Street, Denaby, and Tommy Newton (9), 33, Adwick Street, Denaby, who were playing with Clifford at the time of his death, gave evidence.
The three had gone to the canal, near Mexborough Lower Lock behind Denaby Colliery at about noon. Leonard told – how they had crossed and re-crossed the canal by means of protective wire netting above the water. “It’s not dangerous at all,” said Leonard, There is a rope at each side.”
A later witness, Police Sergeant Eyett (Denaby) agreed that the netting was used by workmen to cross the water and gain access to the pit heap, but that it was not a recognised means of crossing for pedestrians.
Later Clifford and Leonard had sailed a log on the canal. When Clifford became tired of sailing the log he began to throw stones into the water. “He was picking up some stones,” said Leonard, ” and he overbalanced straight into the water, and when I saw him he was head down and feet up.”
Tommy had been picking flowers nearby and had heard a splash but had not seen Clifford fall. When he reached the water side all he could see were Clifford’s hands and hair above the surface, and later, when Clifford disappeared, a ball came to the surface.
Tommy ran to the nearest house, but there was no one in. He went on to the road where he saw Mr Bernard Moxon, of Don View, Mexborough. Mr Moxon ran the hundred yards to his home, fetched his cycle and hurried to the spot, but could see nothing. He sent the boys to the police and Tommy’s mother informed Mr and Mrs Peters.
Both parents left at once for the canal, but were advised to go home by the police from Denaby and and Mexborough. Several police, and some civilians spent over four hours looking for the body before it was eventually found. Two men Mr George Aimson and Mr Harry, Jenkinson, had dived repeatedly into the canal.
The banks of the canal at the place where Clifford fell in are concreted and about two feet above the surface of the water. The water is about eight feet deep at the edges, and deepens to around 15 feet in the middle. The body was found roughly ten yards from where the accident occurred.
Mr Marshall on being told that the three boys had crossed the canal by the wire netting, asked: “You ought not to do that, surely ? ” and later advised “I shouldn’t go there again if I were you.”
He later commended Sergeant Eyett for deciding on his own initiative, to take action against the crossing being made by children. He would certainly have asked him to do so otherwise. Although, he said, the crossing was not even the indirect cause of the boy’s death, it seemed to be—in fact it was — a very dangerous- place.