Inquest -Good Friday Fatality at Conisboro’

April 1902

Mexborough & Swinton Times – Friday 04 April 1902

Good Friday Fatality at Conisboro’

Two Young Men Drowned.

The Inquest.

The inquest was held on Easter Monday afternoon at the Castle Inn, Conisboro’.

A considerable number of visitors were attracted to the locality by news of the and they watched with some curiosity the coroner and jurymen first walk down to the river side to inspect the boats, and then return to the club-room of the inn.

The inquiry was conducted by Mr. F. E. Nicholson, the Doncaster district coroner, and Mr Wm. Jones the foreman of the jury, Inspector Watson and Sergeant Phillips, were present on behalf of the police and Police-constable Duffin, who had made the principal inquiries in the case, acted as coroner’s officer.

Before the inquest our representative gathered that the said deceased, David Collins, had worked as a joiner for Mr. Arthur Hawley and dodged at the house of a widow, Mrs Elsie Carr, 27. Barnsley road, Wombwell.

Evidence of identification in both cases was given, the Coroner intimating that he proposed to hold one inquiry only, as the evidence as to the fatality was in each case precisely alike.

Mrs. Judith Baynham, widow, said the deceased Richard Baynham was her son. He was a dattaler employed at Manvers Main. Ile was a data’. She last saw him alive at 2 o’clock on Friday, when he was in good health. He was aged 18 years. She knew he went with others to Coisboro’.

Tom Collinson, Friargate Street New Scarboro’ Wakefield, Mill overlooker said deceased, David Collinson was his brother, and about 25 or 26 years of age. He last saw his brother in Wakefield about seven months ago. He had lately been living and working at Wombwell. The deceased was a single man.

Richard Russell, of Barnsley Road, Wath upon Dearne, apprentice blacksmith, 18 years of age, said he did not know Collinson, but knew Baynham, with whom he came to Conisboro’ on Good Friday, arriving about 4 o’clock.Just before 5 o’clock they took on a small boat, “Jesse.” At the start the witness rowed, steering the boat at the same time with the oars, the rudder being in the boat. The owner of the boat gave them instruct ions about being careful. They went down the stream as far as the Rainbow Bridge, and then turned to come back. Baynham then commenced to row. Returning, they met a barge and they put to the side of the river until it passed. When they started again they met a larger boat, containing eight men. Some of the men tried to catch hold of their boat, but not being able to do so, one of them seized hold of Baynhem’s oars and pulled the boats closer to one another, and fastened together the rudder string. Of those who were in the larger boat the witness only knew Tom Flint. Some of those in the big boat said they would tow Baynham’s boat, down the river, but witness told them he did not desire their assistance, and that they were going back. Tom Flint then jumped out of the big boat into the small one. Baynham then had hold of the oars, and sat in the middle seat. Flint then went and sat down to try to but he had had some beer and fell over. He asked witness to lift him up, but he refused and he got up himself. Witness then seized the opportunity of getting into the big boat, and told Baynham to do the same, but the latter did not get a chance. Collinson then got into the small boat which broke away, and the next thing witness so was that the small boat had capsised„ and the men were in the water. Flint could swim, but the other two men went down directly. One of the oars of the boat fell in the water.

The Coroner: Was there anybody in the big boat that could swim?

The witness: There was a sailor from His Majesties ship “Australia.”

Could not he swim?  – He never made an attempt-Do you know his nause?—No, I should not have known if I had not seen it on his cap that be belonged to the Australia.”

How did Flint get out? – He swam to the big boat, and some of men pulled him into the boat.

Did you go and report this? – I got out of the big boat on to the bank—a gentleman helped me up. I was coming to the police station to report it, and I asked the others to do the same about their mate. None of them seemed willing, and then they started saying “we all ought to tell one tale.’ but I said I was going to truth, and all I know about it.

You didn’t know any of the other men at all? – I only knew Flint.

If Flint and not been in the boat they would not have known you?—lf Flint had never jumped into our boat my friend would have been alive yet; we should have got back safe, because we could both use the boat. I can row with a pair of oars and steer with them. I have been on the water several times at Belle Vue, Manchester. That is where I learned.

Mr. Marshall (one of the jury): This Flint jumped out of the big boat into your boat, did he? – Yes.

The Coroner: And then you jumped out of the little boat into the big one?—Yes.

Mr. Booth had told us that he would not let three have it. We asked him if he would let us have a boat, and he asked us how many there were of us. We said “two,” and then he said, “Well, you can take it ” (meaning the small boat. Jesse.’) “You must mind and keep square in the boat, and not begin to jump about or anything.”

The Coroner: It is safe enough if anybody handles it properly.

The sitness : It was safe enough. We had been down to the Rainbow Bridge and were coming back.

Tom Flint was the nett witness called.

The Coroner : It is my duty to inform you that as a witness you are not bound to give any evidence which may incriminate yourself in any way.

Flint: Right, sir.

Proceeding with his evidence. Flint said he was a hairdresser and lived at 57, the Junction, Wombwell. On Good Friday he and seven others went out in a boat, which they engaged from Mr Booth. The others whose names he knew were Chas. Awkley. Fred and Herbert Stanger, Geo. Crossley, Francis Viggers, and Richard Collinson. They took the boat out at a quarter to five, and went down the stream. They came across the “Jesse” containing Russell and Baynham. He knew Rowell, but did not know Baynham. He did not see what happened at first as he was one of the four in the large boat who were rowing, and he had his back to the small boat. When he turned round the small boat was alongside. The first thing he saw was Russell getting out of the boat into the large one. Collinson then said to him. ‘Come on, Tommy, you and I will get into this boat”; so he said “All right, one boat is as good as another.” He got in the boat and Collinson followed, Baynham being still in the little boat. The other party in the big boat rowed to the side of the river. In the little boat they were all settled nicely, as safe as anything they thought.

The Coroner: What seat were you in? You can only row from one seat in that boat? —The witness: I was not on the rowing seat.

Who was on the seat where you were you row from? —l think Baynham – and where was Collinson? He was sat where they steer the boat.

Where were the oars?—There was one in the water.—Who had the other?—Baynham.

What happened next ? – Well, I was not happening to notice what they were doing at the time. I was looking on to the bank, and all at once the boat gave a jerk, and over we went into the water.

Was anybody leaning over to pick the oar up?—l could not say. — You were in the boat?—l was in the boat, but I could not say. I was not leaning over. Whether they were leaning over or not, I could not say. I felt a jerk, and the cold water on me. When I came up I was facing the larger boat. I swam towards it, and when I got there I was exhausted. George Crossley caught me and someone else; Charlie Awkley save it was him, and dragged me into the boat. When I sat up in the boat I said. ” Where’s David?” They said. “They have both gone down.”

You knew Collinson?— Yes, I had come with him in an a waggonette from Wombwell – Was not anyone attempting to pick up the oar when the boat went over?—l could not say.

How far would you be from the other boat when you toppled over?—About seven or eight yards as near as I can say.—You didn’t see the others go down?—No. I managed to save myself. When I looked up they were gone.

Mr. Jones (the foreman of the jury) : Were you sober’—Yes.—Had you had anything to drink in Conisboro’—Yes, we had a drink here. That is the only place. We know got out of the waggonette until we got here.

The Coroner: How was Collinson? – He was sober —You are not accustomed to rowing, are you?—No.—Hadn’t you a sailor with you?—Yes.—Could the swim?—l have never seen him swim.

Mr. Jones: Do you know the sailor?—l know with him coming to our shop. His brother brought him, and introduced him to me.

In the course of further evidence, the witness said the name of the sailor was Herbert Stanger. The big boat was fast on the bank. The sailor had told him he was trying to get the bow of the big boat ran, but instead the others helping him they were in a flutter, and were injuring him.

Mr. Marshall: Did the other man jump into your boat? —Yes, be jumped in.

Mr. Marshall: The boat didn’t capsize while one of you was jumping in? – No. it got clear away. If it had capsized as we were striding over they would have been there to have picked us up.

Mr. Marshall: I understand that one of you jumped into their boat first?—Another juryman: I think the last witness said so.—The witness Russell: he jumped into our boat first before ever I could jump out. —The witness Flint: If the other boat had been near at hand, they would have been got out: but it was away.

Mr. T. R. Booth (juryman): You could not think you were very safe when you had only one oar. They must have been trying to get the other oar.

The witness Flint: I could not say whether they were or not; I didn’t see them.

A juryman: I think you are wrong about the boat being seven or eight yards away! —The witness Flint: I am going by swimming. That is as near as I say. When I was got out I was fairly exhausted.

A juryman: Were there not some men rowing up in a boat, and did they not call them all cowards? Did you hear that?—No. I didn’t.

The juryman: I did; I was about a hundred yards away.

The witness Flint: I seemed to completely lose my senses when I was dragged into the boat. I was exhausted. I did not know fairly what to do or anything. I never seemed to fairly come round until I was in a gentleman’s house.

The juryman: Didn’t one shout for help? – The witness Flint: I didn’t hear anyone. I never opened my mouth. I closed my mouth, and struck out for the other boat. I was lucky to save myself as it was. I think in another other two or three yards I should have been down myself. I am not an expert swimmer; I have just learned to swim across the Barnsley baths.

The witness Russell was re-called.

The Coroner: you see another boat come up?—Yes, sir. When I had got on the bank. There were young men and young women in. The young women called all the lot of us cowards, and especially the sailor.—For not trying to rescue them? – Yes, sir

Do you say one them jumped into your boat first? – Yes, sir, Flint. He’s lying when he says I jumped in first.

A juryman: What was the condition of the last witness – Was he sober? – No sir, he wasn’t.

A juryman: What do you mean they were acting silly in the boat? – Witness: they weren’t what you call drunk, but they were acting clever and silly in the boat.

The Coroner (to the jury): You have seen the two boats and you can imagine that it wants a skilled oarsman to jump from one boat to another—The Coroner remarked that the evidence of Flint was very unsatisfactory. He had had a very narrow escape.

A juryman: I think he ought to speak the truth.—Another juryman I think he ought to be censored.

The Coroner: I think so too. He has run very near being committed for manslaughter. I shall certainly not him any expenses.

A juryman: It sounds more to the mark about his jumping into the little boat first.

The Coroner said no doubt accident had been caused through gross negligence on the part of one of them – the one that was nearly drowned. He certainly thought he was deserving of severe censure. It was wrong altogether for Flint to interfere in the first instance.

A juryman : If the two young men had been left alone they would have come about their business all right.

The Coroner: There’s no doubt about that. Mr. Booth seems to have taken the greatest precaution in giving them instructions in the use of the boat.— The jury: Oh. yes.

The Coroner: I should like that to appear, became he gave them due warning, and the two men apparently understood it when they originally started.

A verdict to the effect that the two men bad been accidentally drowned was returned, the Foreman (Mr. Jones) stating that the jury wished to add a rider censuring Flint.

The Coroner: Yes, I most certainly agree.

Flint was called into the room, and censured by the Coroner as follows :—” The jury consider your evidence very unsatisfactory, and your conduct deserving of great censure, and I hope it will be a warning to you in future. We have reason to believe from the evidence that you greatly assisted in causing the death of these two men from your conduct in the affair. Your evidence is most unsatisfactory, and I hope it will be a warning to you in future. They don’t believe your evidence to start with.

Flint: I have told you all I know, sir.

The Coroner: You can go.—The inquiry was then closed.


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