The district coroner held an inquest at the Railway Inn on Wharf Street, Dukinfield into the death of a child who apparently drowned in a mug of water. It was Miriam WILD aged one year and eight months, daughter of William WILD, platelayer of 49 St Mark’s Street who died in unusual circumstances.

"Mrs WILD stated that at five minutes to two o’clock, she had occasion to leave the home to fetch some clothes from the drying ground at the back of the house. The child was playing at the bottom of the stairs." She returned three minutes later to find the child with her head in a mug half full of water.

"She had left the mug on the kitchen floor. She immediately took her out of the water, but she appeared to be dead." Neighbour, Mrs HEGINBOTTOM heard the mother’s screams and ran to her aid, calling for Dr MALLET. He pronounced the child dead, saying "the blue wash in the water had poisoned her."

I can only assume that the ‘blue wash’ was some sort of chemical. The coroner recorded accidental death.

Another death by drowning, I’m afraid, this one the result of being too venturesome. "A pathetic drowning occurred on Saturday afternoon in the canal near Plantation Street, Ashton. Hannah PINDLE, daughter of John James PINDLE, a moulder of 15 Back Mount Street, left home at 2.30 to visit her sister in Dukinfield."

On her way, she met Ruth HIBBERT and two other friends and the walked the canal towing path together. They came across a boy with a ladder reaching down into the canal and Hannah decided she would go down. But as she started to climb back up, she suddenly went white in the face and fell backwards into the water Her friends called on her to lift her arms out of the water, but she quickly disappeared below the surface.

A Gorton woman named THOMAS was found dead on the stairs with a piece of window cord tightly fastened round her neck. She had evidently been strangled, but there were so many bruises on her body that the doctors were puzzled to account for them. The theory was that she had hung herself, but that the cord had become untied so that she had fallen onto the stairs.

A rather bizarre report of the inquest held at the Robin Hood Inn, High Lane on the death of Elizabeth WHITELEGGE, 48 year old wife of Samuel WHITELEGGE who gave the following evidence:

"On Monday last, he was in bed with the deceased at about three o’clock in the afternoon when she fell out of bed and lay there. He asked if she was hurt and she replied no. She was tipsy when she went to bed. She had had a gill of whisky and a quart of beer in bed that morning and was intoxicated. He thought she had taken no food for about a week. He had not seen the deceased take any opium or laudenum. He got back into bed again and fell asleep for about a quarter of an hour and then got up again and found his wife dead."

Neighbour Mrs Elizabeth BAGSHAW said that Mrs WHITELEGGE had been drinking for three weeks and was scathing about the state of the house. The doctor diagnosed "heart failure due to excessive use of stimulants and lack of food.’ Mr WHITELEGGE was admonished by the coroner for causing his wife’s death by encouraging her to drink to excess, but no other action was taken. How would such a case be resolved today, I wonder?


Private N ADAMS of the Lancashire Fusiliers wrote to his aunt and uncle, Mr and Mrs A BORSEY of Beswick: "We drove the Boers from Biggerabergs and then from Glencoe, Dundee and Newcastle. Afterwards, our brigade was ordered to Utrecht in the Transvaal. We were the first regiment of infantry of the Natal Field Force to enter the Transvaal territory. I have been in all the towns that belong to Cape Colony, Natal, Orange Free State and the Transvaal. It’s not everyone who can say that.

And from Private R BOWER, 7732, 2 Cheshire Regt. (Staybridge volunteer) from Jo’berg. "Things are very dear out here. For such things as butter, it costs 3s 6d per pound, milk condensed 1s 9d, jam 1s 5d per pound, bread (small loaf) 1s.

"I have had a novel and dangerous task today. J GIBLIN and I had to take a prisoner to a gold mine named the Treasury Gold Mine Co and we had to cross the veldt, reported to be occupied by some rebels. We got our man safely caged. By this time, it was getting dark and so as we had nine miles to go to barracks, we made our way to a station we could see. There we encountered New Zealand volunteers who entertained us to tea.

"Your affectionate son in khaki"

And finally, a tobacco health warning from 1900. The Edinburgh School Board issued the following circular. "The prevalence of the practice of cigarette smoking by boys and young lads calls for serious attention. Its injuresome effects on the physical and moral nature of the young is recognised by medical men of eminence in our own and other countries and in some countries, legislative measures have been adopted for the protection of their youth from this evil."

The tract continued and was spot on when it observed that tobacco causes "serious organic diseases, such as cancer and heart-disease" which makes you wonder how the tobacco manufacturers have managed to fight a rear-guard denial campaign for so long. Perhaps the medical arguments were undermined by the conclusion that cigarettes "stunts their growth, blunts their mental faculties and ruins their morals".

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