John Bancroft drowned after a drinking bout.



The following story was reported in the Keighley press of 7th January 1913 entitled “ A Baildon Bridge Mystery” concerning a John Bancroft, who it seems fell in the canal and drowned after a bout of drinking:

The body had been found by Charles Simmons, a boatman of Baildon, who found it floating in the canal and the newspaper reported on the incident as follows:
'At Shipley today, the District Coroner held an enquiry on John Bancroft [24] , woolcomber of 10 Croft Street, Keighley, whose body was recovered from the Leeds and Liverpool Canal at Baildon Bridge on Sunday.
Ann Thomas, wife of Joshua Thomas, of Raglan Street, Shipley, said that her husband and Bancroft worked in the same mill. As they did not arrive back home at the proper time after the night turn, she went out in the morning and found them at an hotel. They went home with her, and she gave them something to eat and drink.
The Coroner asked -  What was their condition? – 'They were fairish on in beer, but they knew what they were doing.'
When Bancroft left it was raining, and witnesses asked him if he could manage by himself? – 'Yes' was the answer.
The police evidence was given that the body appeared to have been in the water for about three weeks.
The jury returned a verdict of ' Found Drowned', there being not sufficient evidence to show how he got into the water.

John Bancroft seems to have been a single man, who originally came from Liverpool, and was lodging in various houses in Keighley. At the time of his death he was lodging at Croft Street, and previous to that the 1911 census shows him as lodging with a family who also had several other lodgers at 'The Walk' in Keighley. The census also confirms his occupation as a woolcomber in a Spinning Mill

1911 census
  Many men it John's situation used various lodging houses in Keighley such as the one shown below. The 'Borough Model Lodging House' in Leeds Street, was rather euphemistically termed “the Working Man’s Home”, offering single beds for eightpence a night.

Keighley at that time boasted three common lodging houses, essentially catering for the homeless. They had a combined total of 288 beds. The Borough Sanitary Inspector singled this one out for special praise as “a model of cleanliness, and fitted with electric light throughout. Emergency exits, fire extinguishers, baths, hot water in the wash-house and kitchen, in fact everything possible is done to ensure the safety and comfort of the lodgers."

Borough Lodging House circa 1920




By the early 20th century, Temperance Societies although now very much in decline, were still preaching their warnings about the evils of drink......Perhaps John Bancroft should have heeded their warning!
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