100 YEARS AGO: TRAGIC DROWNING IN SEEDLEY PARK, SALFORD
With all the furore going on at the moment about the future of the Buile Hill Mansion, I thought it would be appropriate to include this rather sad tale of young Vernon Lowe, who tragically drowned in the the lake at Seedley Park in August 1919.
Seedley Park was purchased for £,5,000 by Salford Corporation in March 1873 and was designed by Henry Moore the Head Gardener at Peel Park and covered 13 acres of land including a lake.
An Inquest was held into the death of Vernon Lowe who was almost two years of age at the Salford Magistrates Court with the Coroner Mr A. Holmes in charge of proceedings.
Captain Townson represented Salford Corporation and Mr A. Wilsher the Superintendant of Salford Parks was also in attendance.
Mrs Lowe the deceased boys mother told the inquest that that Vernon was playing at the rear of the house along with his brother Eric and another boy, Albert Gatlow both aged three years of age at 10.45am.
At 1.40pm the two boys arrived home minus Vernon, she asked where he was and was told, "He has fell in the duck pond and is crying"
She rushed to the park with another son Leslie and met a gardener, James Buckley who told her that he had taken a little boy from the water and had done all he could to revive him, he then took her to a nearby tool shed to identify his body.
Leslie Lowe aged nine told the inquest that he took his mother to the park to show here were the lake was, he then stated that he saw a park keeper hammering a railing into the iron fencing surrounding the lake.
James Buckley then gave evidence, he said that at 1.40pm he went to feed the ducks and saw an object in the water, he waded in and discovered it was the body of a young boy lying face downwards in the water which was between three and four feet deep.
He was asked by the Coroner if he had put any new railings in that day, he denied this and added that neither had he heard of any other park keeper having mended any railings around the lake on that day.
He explained that the railings were examined daily and if any were found to to damaged they would be straightened immediately and if one was missing it would be replaced as quickly as possible.
Leslie then told the inquest that the Buckley wasn't the man he saw putting in the railings, adding that the man he saw was wearing a park keepers hat.
Buckley said that at the hour the boy saw the man mending the railings none of the men on duty in the park would be wearing uniforms.
Finally P.C. Sykes took the stand and told the inquest that he took the boys body to Salford Royal Hospital and then to Wilburn Street mortuary.
In his opinion he thought that boy could not have got through the railings, he had examined them and in no place were they wider than the width of his hand, and therefore he must have got over the railings in some way.
The Coroner said it was impossible to say how the boy got into the pond and he must return an, Open Verdict.
Several unanswered questions here obviously.
How did Vernon manage to climb over the railings, or was he helped over? who was the mystery man who Leslie said he saw fixing the railings, if there was one? and why did the two young boys not raise the alarm instead of going home which was a ten minute walk away, did they panic when he went in to the water?
We will never know the answer to these questions in what is a tragic story.
In a footnote the lake was filled in, in 1945 but the ground still remains marshy and boggy.