Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Postman's Park (33): River Lea


Several drownings in the River Lea are recorded on the Watts Memorial: those of William Donald in 1876 and George Blencowe in 1880. The problem of deaths in the river was obviously an ongoing one since it was raised in Parliament in 1896. One issue was the lack of proper fencing or walls along the banks, although this appears to have played no part in the incidents recorded in Postman's Park.

Donald was bathing in the River Lea when his cousin, swimming with him, got into difficulties. Donald drowned trying to rescue him. (It is interesting that here, as in Alice Ayres's case, the family relationship went unmentioned: perhaps the rescue of relatives sounded somehow less heroic).
WILLIAM DONALD OF BAYSWATER, AGED 19, RAILWAY CLERK, WAS DROWNED IN THE LEA TRYING TO SAVE A LAD FROM A DANGEROUS ENTANGLEMENT OF WEED, JULY 16 1876
Sixteen-year-old George Blencowe drowned similarly, attempting to rescue a friend.
GEORGE BLENCOWE AGED 16, WHEN A FRIEND BATHING IN THE LEA CRIED FOR HELP WENT TO HIS RESCUE AND WAS DROWNED, SEPT 6 1880
However, other organisations were able to reward happier outcomes. In 1909, 13-year-old Florence Manning was awarded a bronze medal by the Royal Human Society after she saved a friend from drowning.


For all Postman's Park posts, click here.

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