The Chair used in the Conisborough Castle Rescue

August 1939

Mexborough & Swinton Times, August 18, 1939

The Chair used in the Conisborough Castle Rescue

Some of our Conisborough readers may, no doubt recall that a portion of this paper was given over some time ago to recording the reminiscences of a nonagenarian Conisborough resident, Mrs. Wood, of Burcroft Hill. Not the least interesting part of the story was an account by Mrs. Wood of a rescue in the very interior of Conisborough Castle of a visitor who had fallen into the “black depths” of the dungeon when attempting to recover his hat.

The rescue occurred when Mrs. Wood was in her youth, but she distinctly recalled that a chair was used in the descent to the aid of the badly injured man, and this information did not escape the notice of our good friend, Mr. William Ellis, of School Terrace, who has helped me on numerous occasion on Conisborough´s points of historical interest. Mr. Ellis informed me that I would be able to see the actual chair if I cared to visit Mrs. S.A. Balmforth, who lived in Willow Street, Conisborough.

The visit was duly made and Mrs. Balmforth related that the chair formerly belonged to her grandfather, Mr Henry Bell, who worked for a Major Grantham at Dale House, Conisborough and lived at Coachman´s Cottage. Coachman´s cottage has since become Dale Cottage, but she says it has changed very little from the time when the rescue took place. Although she was too young to remember the event, Mrs Balmforth said that she had been told about the incident by her grandfather.

The trusty old chair (it is more than 100 years old) was lowered by block and tackle into the dungeon depths and the injured man, Lieut. William Alexander Brown of the West Yorkshire Militia who was in camp at Doncaster and had come over to Conisborough with some friends, member of the well-known Doncaster family of Nicholson, was placed on it by a volunteer. The chair, which is in an excellent state of preservation, is of the long-legged kitchen style and its oak colouring has been mellowed by the passing years. It was brought from Coachman´s Cottage because the dwelling happened to be the nearest house to the Castle at that time. The injured man was taken to a house in Doncaster Road, tenanted by a Mr. “Simmy” Simpkins, before being moved to Hill Top, where he died from his injuries. This was in June, 1867.


While we were talking, I noticed a particularly handsome table in the room, and Mrs. Balmforth mentioned that a flood brought her the table. Her grandfather was engaged at one time as a dredger man on the River Don, and during a dangerous flood, he intercepted a huge log of wood which was floating down the river. Instead of breaking it up for firewood he had a joiner friend made it into a table, and the article was turned over to her on her grandfather´s death.

Mrs. Balmforth, by the way, has read the “Times” for as long as she can remember; (her parents were also regular readers). She says she would rather go without her breakfast than her “Times”.

Link to the Original Story :

1867 – Frightful Accident to a Gentleman at Conisbrough Castle


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.