Unsolved Murders

William Brownbill

Age: 10

Sex: male

Date: 12 Aug 1902

Place: Bridgewater Canal, Trafford Park

William Brownbill drowned in the Bridgewater Canal at Trafford Park and was said to have been pushed in.

William Brownbill had lived on Rixton Street in Salford and had been in Trafford Park with some lads. A boy who saw them said that William Brownbill was sitting on a plank on the canal side and that the lads were getting out. The boy said that he asked them if they were going in again but they told him that they were not.

The boy said that he was standing about a yard from William Brownbill and that another lad that had been sitting on some stones on the towing path came towards them, going up behind William Brownbill. The boy said that the lad shook his fist at him as though to tell him not to speak but he called out 'Don't push him in, he can't swim', but that the lad put his hands on William Brownbill's back and pushed him into the water. The boy said that the lad then stood back and watched William Brownbill for about three minutes.

The boy said that he called out to another lad saying that William Brownbill was drowning and that the other lad then jumped into the canal in his clothes and tried to save him. The lad said that he managed to catch a hold of William Brownbill's clothes but said that William Brownbill then started to struggle. He said that he manged at one point to get William Brownbill onto his back but that he fell off again and that he didn't see him again until he was taken out of the water by a man sometime later.

The boy said that the lad who had pushed William Brownbill into the canal had stayed by the canal side for some time and had then gone off and returned with the man that had finally got William Brownbill out of the canal.

Several other witnesses were called but no one else could corroborate the story that the lad had pushed William Brownbill into the canal.

The lad that was accused said that shortly after he first saw the boy and William Brownbill bathing they all got out of the water but when another lad got back in William Brownbill and another boy also went back in. He said that next he heard someone saying that a boy was drowning and that after ascertaining that it was true he went to get assistance.

An open verdict was returned.

*map pointers are rough estimates based on known location details as per Place field above.

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Tuesday 12 August 1902