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Jolly Waterman / The Bridge, Waterbeach. Artist and date unknown.

Jolly Waterman, Waterbeach

History of the Jolly Waterman

Waterbeach / River Cam OS 1885


Keziah Webb, publican, widow, 41, b Stretham,
Bertha, 10, b Waterbeach
Rachel, 4, b Waterbeach
George Willis, lodger, agricultural laborer, widow, 68, Essex
Charles Jacobs, lodger, hurdle maker, 49, b Dullingham,
Edward Chapman, lodger, agricultural laborer, 24, b Comberton
Jonathan Lythell, lodger, agricultural laborer, 37, b Waterbeach

CIP 12.3.1881

DISCOVERY OF THE BODIES OF THE MISSING SKATERS. On Tuesday, Mr. C. W. Palmer, coroner, held an inquest at the Jolly Waterman, Waterbeach, touching the deaths of James Dawkins and James Levitt, the two men who skated on the 26th of January to Burwell. and started their return journey, but never reached Cambridge. The following evidence was taken;

Frederick Dawkins, bricklayer’s labourer, of Grantchester, said ; I have seen the body of James Dawkins, the deceased. He is my brother, and was also a bricklayer’s labourer. He was twenty-one years of age and single. He lived in the same row as the other deceased lived in, and about half-past nine o’clock on the morning of the 26th of January I saw them out together. They had their skates with them, and I understood that they were going out for a day’s skating; that was the last I saw of them alive. I have seen the bodies of the deceased. I identify one of them as being the body of James Dawkins, my brother. I identify the clothes. He was wearing them on the morning of the 26th of January when I last saw him. The knives, pipe, cigar-holder, and gloves produced, all belonged to my brother.

Mary Ann Murfitt, of Waterbeach, said : On Sunday last, I was down against the banks of the river Cam, about half a mile from the Jolly Waterman. I saw a man’s head in the water. I went and told Mr. Burton. I then went on to Waterbeach and told the police officer.

William Burton said: On Sunday, about half-past two o’clock in the afternoon, I was at the side of the river Cam, some little distance from the Jolly Waterman. Mary Murfitt told me she had seen a man’s head in the water. I got another man to help me, and we took a boat and got the body of the deceased Dawkins out of the water. About six weeks ago I met the deceased and another man walking along the bank of the river, a short distance from the Jolly Waterman. They were both carrying their skates upon their arms They asked me if the ice was safe. I said ” I had heard it was not safe till they got beyond the locks,” meaning Bottisham Locks. They bid me good evening, and said they should walk till they got to the other side of the locks. That was about seven o’clock in the evening.

Ann Gotobed said: l am the wife of Wm. Gotobed, who keeps the Jolly Anglers, in Waterbeach parish. I remember the night of the 26th of January. About twenty minutes past six o’clock on that evening two men called at my house. They had a pint of beer. One of the men gave me half-a-sovereign in payment for the same. I gave him three two shilling pieces, three shillings, sixpence, and threepence halfpenny in coppers. I have seen the body of Levitt, and I identify that the body of the man who paid me the money. I asked the deceased if he had any smaller change, and he said he had only one penny, which would not pay for the beer.

P.C. Duce said ; On Sunday afternoon, about four o clock, I received information from the witness Murfitt of the finding of the body of the deceased Dawkins. I proceeded to the spot. I searched the body, and produce the pipe, gloves, cigar-holder, and knives I found on it.

The evidence taken in the first case was then read over, and the following additional evidence taken:

Philip Parr said : I live at Gwydir-street, Cambridge and am a grocer. I have seen the body of one of the deceased. I have no hesitation in identifying it as the body of my cousin James Levitt. He was twenty-six years of age and a bricklayer. I last saw him alive in the evening of the 25th of January. He told me that he and Jim Dawkins were going to skate the river the Burwell next day.

Moses Rollings, labourer, of Bottisham Lode Fen, said, Yestenday, about mid-day, l and two other men were going down the river with some boats. We saw something the river and found it was the body which has been identified as that of the deceased Levitt. We got it in a boat, and brought it to the Jolly Waterman.

Pc Duce stationed at  at Waterbeach, said : I received  information on Monday last of the finding of the body of the deceased Levitt. I at once came down to the Jolly Waterman, and had the body of Levitt put beside that of the other deceased. On searching the body of Levitt, I found three two shilling pieces, three shillings one sixpence, three pence and three halfpence, which I produce.

The Coroner, in summing up, said whatever conclusion the jury might arrive at, he thought they would agree with him in expressing deep sympathy for the relatives of the deceased for the loss they had sustained and for the suspense they had undergone.

The jury  returned an open verdict of “Found drowned.”


Heziekiah Hancock, publican, 28, b Swaffham Bulbeck
Mary Hancock, wife, 26, b Swaffham Bulbeck
Lewis Hancock, 4, Swaffham Bulbeck
Walter Hancock, 1, Waterbeach

F R Leach & Sons staff in 1894, Clayhithe Bridge Hotel. FRL is seated on ground third from right.


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