Denaby Hero – The Sprotborough Boating Disaster – Easter Tragedy

May 1935

Mexborough and Swinton Times May 10 1935

Denaby Hero
The Sprotborough Boating Disaster
Easter Tragedy

The heroism of William Langford, 21 years old Denaby miner, who plunged into the River Don at Sprotborough Falls on Easter Monday in a vain effort to rescue two men who pleasure rowing boat had overturned, earned the high praise of the Doncaster District coroner (Mr. W. H. Carlile) last Friday when holding an inquest at Conisborough council offices and the two men, Frederick Liversidge (22), Brickyard, Labour, St Smithen’s Terrace, Doncaster, and Ernest Robinson (25), railway fitters labourer, of Wandsworth Road, Doncaster, whose bodies were recovered on April 25th at Sprotborough, and May 1st at Newton respectively.

The Coroner, in returning verdicts of “accidental death” in each case, said: “One thing stands out in this enquiry, and that is the action of William Langford in going to their assistance. I think his conduct deserves the highest commendation. I hope the facts will be brought to the notice of the appropriate authority, and that his action will be acknowledged in a suitable way.”
Langford, who resides in Maltby Street, told the Coroner that at about 10. 30 a.m. On Monday, April 22nd, he was cycling along Sprotborough Bridge when he saw a rowing boat upside down and two men struggling in the river. They were 5 to 10 yards from the weir and were in difficulties. He left a cycle on the road and ran down the river bank. Without taking off any clothing he dived into the river and swam towards the two men. He heard one of them men shouted for help. He got within 4 yards of one of the men when the man went under. “I began to feel exhausted myself and swam to the overturned boat and rested by hanging onto it. I looked round for the other man, but he sank before I could get to him.”

The Coroner: I think you have been off work for 12 months with rheumatic pleurisy? – Yes, sir.

For nine months of which you had been in Ilkley Sanatorium?-Yes, sir.

You only returned home a month ago?-Yes, sir.

You have not suffered any ill effects from this? – No.

Police Constable Heaver, at Denaby who recovered Liversidge’s body, said he for it was dangerous for anyone to go within 10 yards of the weir. When the water came down the weir it caused a crosscurrents and he fought the belt must have got broadside on the currents and turned over. “We almost had the same experience when we were dragging.”

At the conclusion of the inquest after Robinson (unemployed labourer) father of one of the drowned men, thanked the Conisborough police for their untiring efforts – dragging operations were continued eight days- to recover the bodies.