Thursday, May 26, 2016

Suicides Bridge

The canal bridge immediately to the east of the Galleon Bridge was at one time known as "Suicides Bridge." This was on the footpath at the western end of the works leading to the Pancake Hills. We can only guess at why this bridge became a favourite for attempted suicide, but of the three canal bridges around Wolverton this had the least traffic and may have been the most private for those contemplating their end.

One story that came out of 1915 concerned Mabel Timms, then 21 and living at 29 Green Lane. She was charged with attempted suicide, then a criminal offence. She had been going out with Charles Haynes of New Bradwell for about 3½ years. During the dinner hour on Monday December 17th he told her that he wanted to break off their engagement. She became extremely upset and, according to Haynes, she said she would not be going to work and he would never see her again. He told her not to be silly and to either go to work or go home. As she left him she went off in an agitated state down Church Street in the direction of Old Wolverton. 

That could have been the end of the story but a man called Leonard Rose of Newport Pagnell happened to be walking across the bridge a minute or so later. He was an insurance agent on his rounds. As he crossed the bridge he looked over the parapet see if ice was forming on the canal and instead saw a woman's hat floating on the water. Immediately after he saw a woman’s head bob up above the water. She made no sound and he immediately struggled over the wall and hurried down the bank to the tow path. The woman came up again in the middle of the canal. Rose had been invalided out of the army with a gammy leg, and could not climb into the water. Instead, he grabbed a long ash stick and reached out to her. She flailed at it and it became entangled in her scarf so he was able to pull her to the side. She was unconscious, but he had learned artificial respiration while in the army and was able to bring her round. When she was strong enough he took her home.

The court took a benign view of the case and adjourned the hearing for three months, and, subject to her good behaviour, would make a decision at that time. Leonard Rose was highly commended for his action.

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