A grave in Liverpool’s Roman Catholic Cemetery at Ford reveals a tragic tale of boys being killed playing on the winter ice over 100 years ago.
January 1905 was a bitterly cold month that saw temperatures across Britain remain below zero for a number of weeks and bodies of water freeze over up and down the country. Children took advantage of this to slide on the ice but in many cases such dangerous practices ended in tragedy, leading to 35 children dying at various location in a seven days period.
One such tragedy occurred at Moss Lane in Litherland where a now long gone pond had iced up. On the 24th January that year after school two brothers, seven year old Arthur and eight year old Vincent, went sliding on the ice with their friend Edward Paddock, aged ten. The boys, who lived next door to each other in nearby Alexandra Mount, got more venturesome and went towards the middle but all at once the ice gave way. All three fell in and despite their frantic efforts to stay afloat they soon sank below the surface, the pond being about eighteen feet deep.
A fourth boy named O’Donahue had remained on the bank and ran to Alexandra Mount for help but when several adults came to the scene, all they could see was two caps on the ice next to the hole.
The bodies were recovered using grappling irons and an inquest the following day returned a verdict of accidental death, the Coroner calling for the dangerous position of the pond to be brought to the attention of the local authorities.
Arthur and Vincent were buried in the Liverpool Roman Catholic Cemetery at nearby Ford. It was the second time their parents had buried their offspring, another son called Sidney having died at the age of two in 1901. The boys’ father Thomas was a manager in an iron foundry and he and his wife had two more children according to the 1911 census.