Ever-present danger
We think of the canal as a pleasant place to spend our leisure time but as these stories show it can be dangerous if we don’t take care
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SECOND BOY DROWNED IN RECENT WEEKS An inquest at Shipley Fire Station returned a verdict of accidental drowning after hearing of the death of nine- year-old Harry Varley of 7 Atkinson Street, Shipley.. The boy’s mother, Mrs Mary Varley, told the jury that her son had left home at half-past eight on Thursday evening to go and play on some waste land near the Leeds and Liverpool Canal in Wharfe Street, immediately behind the Theatre de Luxe. She started to get anxious when he didn’t return and a search was made at 10.30 p.m but the boy couldn’t be found. The next morning John
Holmes, a boatman who lived in Wharfe Street, discovered that his boat, which had been tied up the night before, was adrift. He also found a teapot with a string attached on the canal bank nearby. He immediately took a boat hook and dragged the canal and found Harry’s body in a few minutes. Tea pot It was his view that the boy, who had never learned to swim, had been trying to catch fish in the teapot but when he had loosened the boat and pushed it off he lost his balance and fell into the water. He was the second young boy to drown in the canal in recent
weeks and one jury member commented that he was surprised there weren’t even more. ‘It is no unusual thing on a Saturday afternoon to see about twenty children playing on the canal,’ he said Another reported he had heard that teachers were asking pupils to take frogs and fishes into school. Inspector Beaton said he had no evidence this had happened in this case but that teachers should not encourage children to play on the canal banks because it was dangerous and if he heard of any such encouragement he would launch an investigation. Shipley Times & Express 2 June 1916