Re Joseph Cole Ivens’ tragic demise (by Jan Arnold):-
Further to this tale…[See Post: Not All Plain sailing] the said Joseph was one of my Great Grandfathers on my mother’s side. We had never heard of his unfortunate demise, which only came to light recently from newspaper archives.
He had partaken of ‘a glass of ale’ at the Dun Cow in Saltisford, Warwick, ‘as was his custom’ according to a newspaper report of his inquest-which was held at that hostelry!’ He lived nearby, in Victoria Cottages. The landlord’s wife, Mrs Iliffe, said that he appeared to be his normal self-whatever that may mean! She didn’t say at what time he’d left the pub, but it’s not too far to walk along to the bridge as I’ve done it myself! The next witness, Edith Paynting, saw him standing still for some time on the towpath near her house at about two fifteen, again, something which he was often seen to do. This was only 200 yards from the bridge. That seems quite a long time since he’d left the pub, even if hobbling along, which might indicate that he’d perhaps imbibed more than one glass of ale, and his difficulty with gout could indicate an habitual drinker?
The Dun Cow (photographed in 2016)
By two thirty he was found drowned by a passing boatman, so whatever happened took place in those brief fifteen minutes from when he was last seen alive. It does seem likely that he knocked his head on the underside of the bridge and lurched on his gouty feet with indecent haste into the canal. (Or was he pushed…?!) His hat was found under the bridge with an indentation in it. The ground beneath the hat was dry, but around it was wet, so the presumption was that it had been there for some time, but that does not fit with the brief timings as reported by witnesses, and one of the Jurors said that it had been raining all the time.
Whatever the truth was, he drowned very quickly, possibly was unable to swim. He was found standing upright underwater, with his hands against the guard under the bridge, and when he was removed to the bank his feet and ankles were seen to be covered in black mud. He must have sunk into the mud whilst attempting to scramble out, because normally a body would float. I understand that he was a big (fat?) man and needed a large coffin!
The Fateful Bridge-although it has been modernised since Joseph’s encounter with it.
Strangely, there is no mention of his wife at the Inquest.
This branch of the family had a thread of tragedy running through it, more of which I’ll describe in another post, and a remark from his son Joseph which might throw fresh light on the cause of drowning…..