B enjamin Hudgell


1882 - 1902

Bishop Stortford


Son of Benjamin Hudgell and wife Harriet

from Bishop Stortford Hertfordshire



Hertfordshire Mercury


July 5th 1902

Double bathing fatality


     A sad double drowning fatality occurred at Bishop Stortford on Saturday morning.

    Four Great Eastern Railway employees, named Benjamin Hudgell, George Taylor, Herbert Challis, and Frederick Willey, went to  the River Stort to bathe.

    Unseen by the others Hudgell sank, but their attention was drawn to it by a passer-by named Ashman, and Taylor swam to his mates assistance. He also disappeared and was not seen again.

    The bodies were subsequently recovered, and artificial respiration was tried by Messrs. F. Glasscock, H. O. Lee, W. Stubbing, and W. J. Careless of the Ambulance Corps, but to no purpose.

   The inquest was held the same evening before Mr. Henry Baker, coroner for the Bishop Stortford Division, and a jury of which Mr B. Gouldstone was foreman - Hudgell's father identified his body, and Mrs. Taylor, of Whittlesea, Cambs., that of her son. - Frederick Willey stated that about 7.15. he went into the water with the deceased and Challis. It was a regular bathing place, and the deceased had often bathed there, but not this year.

     Herbert Challis corroborated. - Charles Pateman the lockkeeper deposed that he met the deceased going towards the river. Later he was called by Ashman and he took his boat and got the bodies out. Witness had cautioned many bathers that the water had been deepened, and told them to tell others.

    There was a hole at the spot where ballast had been taken out to repair the towing path. There was no footpath where the bathing took place, only the towing path for horses. He believed the bodies lay on top of each other. Witness was sue they were quite dead when he got them into the boat.

   By the Foreman: - The hole was from 8 to 10 feet deep. There was no notice board stating that bathing was dangerous. No one had permission to bathe there.

   By the Coroner: - The owner of the river was Sir Walter Gilbey. - Dr Agnew said he was called about 8 o'clock, and met the bodies in the boat. Artificial respiration was being tried, and was continued for another two hours. There were no marks of violence on the bodies and attributed death to suffocation by drowning.

   By a juryman: Taylor was probably pulled down by Hudgell in his struggles. If the bodies were under water 25 minutes nothing but artificial respiration could be tried. - The Jury returned a verdict of accidental death, and asked the Coroner to write to Sir Walter and request him to erect a notice board at the spot to caution bathers.

   A sad incident in connection with the death of Taylor is that he was to have been married shortly, and singular to say, his intended wife was formerly engaged to a young man who met a violent death by falling from the roof of a Bishop Stortford malting.

  It was at first intended to convey the body of Taylor to Whittlesea for interment, but eventually it was decided to have the funeral at Bishop Stortford. It accordingly took place on Wednesday afternoon, when the tow were consigned to their last long home in the Bishop Stortford Cemetery, the two bodies being placed in the same grave.

  The coffins were brought from the residences of the deceased to the fountain at Hockerill by Great Eastern Railway Employees in uniform and were by them conveyed to the Cemetery.



Fountain: Great Eastern Street Fountain

Erection date: 28/2/1881

    The funeral ceremony was carried out by the Rev. C. L. White, vicar of Holy Trinity, Bishop Stortford. A large wreath was sent by the railway employees and another by the members of the Working Men's Club. The latter will also erect to the memory of the deceased a headstone and curb.

    The offertory at St Josephs Roman Catholic Church on Sunday was given to the relatives of the deceased men.


The Guardian Newspaper

 June 30th 1902

George Taylor of Whittlesea and Benjamin Hudgell and Frederick Whilley of Bishop Stortford were bathing in the Score on Saturday when Willey missed his companions. He tried to find them, but failed. Their bodies were found half an hour later in ten feet of water. An inquest was held in the evening upon the bodies. The evidence showed that Hudgell sank without a cry, and when Taylor's attention was called to this he went to the rescue. He was however seized by Hudgell and dragged down.
The bodies were found together. A verdict of accidental drowning was returned.

Herts and Essex Observer


100 Years Ago

28th June 2002


This week in 1902



    The gallant conduct of George Taylor, of Bishop's Stortford, who lost his life in trying to save his friend from drowning in the River Stort on June 28th, has been awarded the memorial certificate of the Royal Humane Society (In Memoriam certificates are awarded posthumously in those rare cases where a rescuer had died in the attempt to save someone else), reported the Observer.


    At a meeting of the society in Trafalgar Square, Admirable Sir G Digby Morand said: The committee is unanimously resolved that the gallantry displayed by the late George Taylor who, unfortunately, lost his life while attempting to rescue BENJAMIN HUDGELL, who was drowned while bathing in Bishop's Stortford on June 28, merits the highest praise of this meeting who desire to record their appreciation of his noble act."




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