Monday, 9 March 2009

Postman's Park (36): quicksand


Arthur Strange was employed as a carman (delivery driver) by Whiteley’s in London, one of 6,000 employes of the department store which offered a delivery service up to 25 miles. Mark Tomlinson was an assistant at Nottingham City Asylum. However, both had connections to Kirton Holme in Lincolnshire: Tomlinson had been born there, and his family still lived there. His cousin Ida Mumford (herself a Londoner) was engaged to Strange.

On a visit to Lincolnshire, the three of them went with the Tomlinson family's housekeeper, Ida Clayton, to a popular but isolated bathing spot near the neighbouring village of Kirton Skeldyke. The area is one of salt marsh, with dangers including patches of quicksand - sand and clay which presents the appearance of solid ground but is in fact highly unstable due to salt water below the surface. Once stepped on, it becomes liquid and almost impossible to escape.

When the two young women went paddling in the river they fell into a deep ‘hole’ of quicksand. Strange and Tomlinson attempted a rescue but although Strange was initially able to hold onto the women, he soon followed Tomlinson who had sunk immediately. All four were drowned.

At the inquest, the coroner commented that the two men 'did a most noble duty and died a noble death'. Their efforts were later commemorated on the Watts Memorial:

ARTHUR STRANGE, CARMAN OF LONDON, AND MARK TOMLINSON, ON A DESPERATE VENTURE TO SAVE TWO GIRLS FROM A QUICKSAND IN LINCOLNSHIRE WERE THEMSELVES ENGULFTED, AUG 25 1902.

For all Postman's Park posts, click here.

3 comments:

Adam said...

Funny how many of these are heroic failures.

This death is my absolute worse nightmare!

Philip Wilkinson said...

Caroline - I'm confused. Have you got your Lincs and Lancs muddled up? Or maybe I've got my anorak on the wrong way round, which is quite possible, but I think all these places are in Lincolnshire, near Boston and the Wash.

CarolineLD said...

Agh, proof of the impossibility of proof-reading one's own work! You are of course right, this all happened in Lincolnshire (as I even managed to transcribe from the plaque without noticing the error above it). Corrected now, thank you for spotting this!

Adam, I've been struck by the same thing - a huge proportion of these memorials are to people who were dragged under by the drowning person they went to rescue, overcome when searching for people who'd already escaped, etc. I'm not sure whether this indicates a particular affection for those who died nobly but in vain, or just a low success rate for attempted rescues. Presumably the requirement that the rescuer died didn't help.

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