Our People - Margaret Addison
Dewhirst's Cuerden Mill, Bamber Bridge. The mill lodge can be seen at the bottom right of this image.
Image courtesy of Britain from Above
One summers day in 1917, Margaret Addison (nee Brockbank), a 30 year old woman from the Withy Trees area of Bamber Bridge, took her 7 year old son John to Cuerden Mill. Once there, she pinned her hat to the ground, tied John to her and waded out into the mill lodge. Both drowned with John struggling in vain to free himself from his bonds. No one knows what was going on in her mind at the time. Nobody can second guess what her feelings were, or why she killed John as well as herself. It could have been a 'cry for help' - her hat had been carefully pinned to the ground, presumably so it did not blow away, maybe marking where she had entered the lodge. She had earlier said to friends and relatives that she was contemplating harming herself.
In the months leading up to her death, Maggie had a mystery correspondence with a woman from Preston. The woman was writing to Maggie at her work address, Bamber Bridge Spinning and Weaving Company, Wesley Street, Bamber Bridge. It was maybe because Maggie did not want her mother to know about whatever was in the letters. The inquest also heard from Maggie's mother that she would often go and stay with friends at Preston. It would seem these letters were read by other people at the mill, leading to some kind of fallout. There was gossip, and in a small(ish) place like Bamber Bridge, such gossip can be extremely hurtful.
Her husband, William had left Bamber Bridge in 1911 to join with his family in Fall River, Massachusetts, U.S.A. - they had gone across a year earlier. Many thousands of people from Lancashire had moved to the United States between the years after the American Civil War and before the Great War. They settled in the mill towns of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maine and New Hampshire. WIlliam had been in the Army earlier in his life around 1901 and it would seem that he was charged with desertion at that time. By the time of Maggie's death, he was serving with the Essex Regiment, having been with the Loyal North Lancashires before that. We can't read too much in William's going away to America and leaving Maggie at home - many male migrants go away to a foreign country for work and send money home - maybe this was what William was doing.
In her last hours, Maggie was seen on Bamber Bridge Railway Station, bound, so she said, for Liverpool and thence to America, probably to join with William's family. She never made that trip.
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Edited 20 November 2016
1901 Census of England via Ancestry.co.uk / 1911 Census of England via Ancestry.co.uk / British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920 via Ancestry.co.uk / Lancashire Daily Post via British Newspaper Archive / 9th Battalion Cheshire Regiment War Diaries via Ancestry.co.uk