Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Postman's Park (31): Edward Morris


One of the peculiarities of the Watts Memorial is that it only records the deeds of those who died as a result of heroic acts. We can generally do no more than speculate as to what incidents went unrecorded as a result, but sometimes the gaps are obvious, as in the incident which led to the death of Edward Morris.

Edward was 10 years old and had gone swimming with his 9-year-old friend Sidney Probyn Moody one bank holiday. Bathing in the Grand Junction Canal near Wormwood Scrubs, Sidney became exhausted. Edward went to his rescue but Sidney, panicking, pulled him under and both were drowned. So far, a typical incident for Postman's Park, as retold on the plaque:

EDWARD MORRIS, AGED 10, BATHING IN THE GRAND JUNCTION CANAL SACRIFICED HIS LIFE TO HELP HIS SINKING COMPANION, AUG 2 1897.

However, the acts of bravery did not end there. While some passers-by on the towpath simply walked away, two fishermen went to the rescue. They were James Brown and Charles Simmonds, described as 'a cripple'. Despite his disability, Simmonds succeeded in pulling out Edward and Sidney. Sadly, both were dead.

The coroner and jury praised the two men, particularly Simmonds, 'for their pluck'. However, having survived the tragedy, their names are unmentioned on the Watts Memorial.

2 comments:

Adam said...

Yes, it seems that it is more a reflection of a morbid Victorian fascination with gruesome deaths rather than a celebration of heroic acts!

CarolineLD said...

To be fair, probably a mixture of both: Watts wanted the plaques to be exemplary, and it's easier to hold someone up as a moral example if they're not still around to misbehave!

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