Fires and more

1852 – Unresolved Child Murder

In May 1852 the body of a newborn girl was found in the River Lugg at Marden;  she was wrapped in a handkerchief and had a garter tied tightly around her neck.

William Price, a labourer from Wellington found the body, and the police were called.  Whilst waiting for the police, William noticed a woman on the bridge crying and praying and very distressed, and he became so irritated by the noise that he told her to go away.  It transpired that it was an Irish woman in her early fifties.

The post mortem was carried out by G.R. Terry, a surgeon of Hereford, and he found the baby still had the placenta attached by the cord.  The body was decomposing badly, but he could see the tongue protruding from the mouth and deduced that the garter was tight enough to cause strangulation.  He thought that death took place before the baby was put in the water but that it had been alive when born.

He declared that he thought the Irish woman would have been too old to have done this and that it would have been a woman of around 20 or 25.

There were many rumours abounding about who the mother could be, and eventually a widow by the name of Ann Dance who had six small children had the finger of suspicion pointed in her direction.  Many people said that she had appeared to be pregnant but then nothing transpired – she was hauled in and examined by G.R. Terry, but too much time had elapsed for him to be sure as to whether she had given birth to the child.  She was duly discharged, and the police had no other leads

At the inquest, the jury had no proof as to who had committed the murder, and the only verdict they could return was that the child had been murdered by some person or persons unknown.

1853 – Opening of Shrewsbury and Hereford Railway

At Marden there were great celebrations at the opening of the Shrewsbury and Hereford railway, with the church bells ringing merrily all day long.

The bell ringers were kept fortified with roast beef and old cider, and even the school children were given “plentiful supplies” of cider and plum cake in the morning and again in the evening.

I assume that the cider given to the children was in fact merely apple juice – or maybe not?!

1857 – Politics Leads to Assault on Young Girl in Marden

After the election at the beginning of April 1857, a group of people were making their way along the road in Marden.

Some of them were rather drunk, and as they discussed politics things became somewhat heated, and during the ensuing row, John Colcomb struck a young girl named Jane Clayton.

He hit her in the chest, and the blow resulted in a bone in her corset breaking and piercing her chest wall.  She was taken into the care of Mr. Hill, the surgeon, but was not expected to live.

1858 – Cruelty to Step Son

James Williams of Marden was charged with ill treating his step son, a lad of around 9 by the name of Henry Prosser.

James was spotted by Mr. Adams, guardian of the parish, hitting Henry savagely and repeatedly about the head and face until the poor lad fell to the ground.  It was Mr. Adams’ opinion that if he and some others had not intervened, Henry could well have been killed.

It was revealed that James often gave the lad very heavy work, including using an iron bar which was almost the same weight as himself.

At the Hereford Shirehall, Mr. Griffiths spoke very sternly to James, and warned him that if he did anything like it again he would feel the full force of the law.  James of course promised never to repeat the offence, and he was ordered to pay costs of 10s……….once things were over, James “made use of some insolent expression” which infuriated Mr. Griffiths, and he said that he was very very sorry that he had not sent him to gaol.

1858 – Scaffolding Collapse at Marden Church

Mr. Noden a builder of Leominster, and his foreman, were putting up scaffolding at Marden Church, which was under repair, when everything gave way and the two men fell 30 feet to the ground.

Mr. Noden was badly injured and could not be transferred to hospital, unlike the foreman.

Mr. Noden was not expected to live.

1899 – Old Couple Escape Fire at Marden

Two cottages were totally destroyed by fire at Marden one Friday evening in late January;  they were owned by Mrs. Sarah Morgan of Paradise, Marden.

The cottages lay close to the Volunteer Inn, also known as the Old Post Office, and were thatched.  Two labourers, James Baker and George Powell, lived in the cottages with their wives, and James and his wife were over 80 years old.

It seems that the fire broke out in James’s cottage, where due to the cold weather they had lit a fire in the bedroom.  At around 4 in the afternoon Mrs. Baker went to check on the fire and all seemed well, but at around 7 in the evening when a neighbour called round to ask if Mrs. Baker would babysit for her the next day, it was discovered that the bedroom was ablaze.

The alarm reached Hereford fire station at 8.50 p.m. and four horses were quickly obtained from the Green Dragon;  under the command of Superintendent Richardson, the large manual engine arrived at the scene to find both cottages already gutted – the thatching was very old and would have rapidly been destroyed.

Mr. Baker was deaf, and both of them were dreadfully frightened – they had to be carried out, and a few possessions were saved from each house but all the furniture was lost.  The bakers were initially taken in by kind neighbours, but there was huge concern for their welfare as they were rendered entirely at the mercy of the parish, or the continuing sympathy of friends.

It was suggested that perhaps efforts could be made to find another home for the old couple, and there was no doubt that if an appeal was launched it would be well supported.

1899 – Another Fire at Marden

During an early evening in April 1899, fire broke out in some outbuildings at Ash Grove Farm, occupied by Arthur Weaver.

William Vickress, of Litmarsh, Marden rode to Hereford City Police Station to give the alarm and the fire brigade was subsequently called out.  Four horses galloped to the scene, pulling the large manual engine, and found that a big straw barn was ablaze.

The firemen, commanded by Head Constable Richardson, tried hard to put out the fire but were defeated.