Harry Rutherford's
Festival of Britain Mural

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Glass House Fold

In Paul's post about the area around Kingston there's a mention in Elsie Hawkins' description of life around there in the 1930s of an incident in Glass House Fold when two children fell down an old mine shaft. The story is in Thomas Middleton's 'History of Hyde', but I remember reading it when I was very young in 'History of Denton and Haughton', also by Thomas Middleton. The story is as follows:
"Glass House Fold was the scene of an extraordinary adventure which befell two children in 1910. The children were Sarah Leech, aged eight years, and Jack Bowker, aged five. At three o’clock in the afternoon of Sunday, February 27th, 1910, they were playing together in a field a few yards distant from their homes, when suddenly they disappeared – the ground beneath them had given way. Nothing was seen or heard of them until half-past eight next morning. For sixteen and a half hours they were at the bottom of an old and long forgotten pitshaft.
The police were informed, and a close search of the neighbourhood commenced. When daylight broke next morning, and the search had proved fruitless, it was feared the children must have fallen in the river and been drowned. Then suddenly, two men, still searching, met near a wall, and called to each other to ask if the children had been found. The next moment there came a cry from behind the wall, and on looking over, the men saw a hole. They shouted down, and in answer, the girl called back that she and the boy were both safe. Rapidly a number of men gathered about the pit-mouth. They could not see down the hole, and they dared not approach the edge for fear the earth would give way so a plank was obtained, and laid across the top of the shaft; a basket  and a rope were procured; the basket was lowered, and the men shouted to the youngsters to get into the basket one at a time, and stick tight to the rope. In this way both were brought to the surface.
The story the children told was simple and touching. When they found themselves at the bottom of the shaft, they began to cry. Some time later they felt sleepy. The girl took her pinafore off and laid it on the ground in the darkness, put her hands together as she had been taught to do at home, and prayed that God would take her and little Jack back to their fathers and mothers. “Then,” said the girl, “we cuddled up together on the ‘pinny’, and Jack put his jacket over us to keep us warm. We stretched our arms round each other’s necks and went to sleep.”
The children slept all through the night, and they had not been awake long when they heard the noises of the men outside. What had happened was that the children had fallen down a ling disused pumping shaft of the old Glass House Fold coal-pit. When the colliery ceased working, the shaft had never been filled up; it did not even appear to have been covered over; but in the process of time, grass and herbage growing over it had gathered dust and soil, and covered it with a thin layer of earth, which looked just like the rest of the field – and the presence of the shaft had been forgotten.
The news of the children’s adventure was printed in newspapers all over the country, and thousands of people flocked to Glass House Fold to view the shaft and to see the children, who were not in the least the worse for their strange adventure in the earth. A few days later the shaft was filled up with loads of clinker from the Hyde Sewage Works."

The stories in both books are identical, but in  the History of Denton and Haughton there are a couple of pictures, firstly of Glass House Fold:

Then of the two children:

I met Jack Mason, as he was then known, in the late 1970s when he lived at the bottom end of Lumn Road. Beryl says that before he retired he was a manager at Ashton Brothers and he attended the same church as she did - the Fellowship Church in Chapel Street.


Anonymous said...

What a great post.
Lovely to see Jack suffered no ill effects from his traumatic adventure and lived a long and apparently happy life.

Thanks Dave.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this story and especially for the photographs. My great grandmother was this little girl's aunty. Glass house fold has been a place name in our family history but I have never seen it before. Thank you so much for sharing this!

Martin said...

Have found a postcard showing the two children with I assume the men that found them . It was with photo's of my Grandma's . Very intriguing to why she had it. Does anybody know who they were?