Catastrophe in Regents Park

paper headingEdmund Pullum was born on the 8th of October 1841 in Shoreditch, Middlesex. He was the eleventh of thirteen children, the son of William Pullum and his wife Susannah neé Abby. He was baptised at St John the Baptist Church in Hoxton. He lived with his family at 13 Hyde Place, Shoreditch.

On August 11th 1866, a year after his mother’s death, he was aged 24 and got married to Jane Wilson at the parish church in West Hackney, Middlesex. Jane was the 23year old daughter of carpenter Robert Wilson and wife Jane neé Gladdle, who had died before Jane was 8 years old. The couple then lived at 58 Buckingham Road and Edmund worked as a commercial traveller.Regents Park lake

At the start of the following year, Jane was about 5 months pregnant and so did not join Edmund when on the 15th of January, he and hundreds of other Londoners when they went skating on the frozen over ponds in Regents Park.

In those day, as well as the ponds being used for recreation, it was common practice for ice to be collected from around the edges of London’s parks to supply shops, large houses and hotels with ice for food preservation etc. People of all ages and walks of life were there, skating or using slides if they had no skates. Women were there selling oranges and dogs also joined in the fun.

Despite the frost, it was a sunny Tuesday afternoon. A little after a quarter to four, a chasm opened up and at least 150 people fell through into the icy water, which was over 12 feet deep in places. The incident was reported in the newspapers the following day.
London_ England Standard – Wed 1st report

The Humane society went to the aid of the injured but they did not have enough equipment and pleasure boats were unable to reach everyone.
The Humane society was founded in London in 1774 by two doctors who were concerned at the number of people wrongly taken for dead – and, in some cases, buried alive. Both men wanted to promote the new, but controversial, medical technique of resuscitation and offered money to anyone rescuing someone from the brink of death. They also published information on how to save people from drowning. There were wardens in many of the London Parks who went to the aid of people who got into trouble in the water.
The casualties were taken to Marylebone workhouse and later the dead were also conveyed there.

People were still missing and 3 days later on the Saturday, when the weather had improved a little, a diver was sent down to look for bodies. Large crowds gathered as this was novelty.

Morning Post_ 21st  Jan 1867

London_ England Daily News_ 21-1 (3)

London_ England Standard – Mon

In the board room of Marylebone Workhouse, at 5pm that evening, the coroner resumed the inquest that had been adjourned from the Wednesday before. Among the bodies that had been recovered but not identified on that Wednesday but had been by the Saturday was Edmund Pullum aged 25. At this time, Edmund’s father William Pullum gave evidence.Father's evidence at InquestThe inquest resumed on Monday 21st, and looked into the causes of the accident and whether a similar accident be prevented in future. The Coroner still felt there was insufficient evidence for a verdict and adjourned the inquest again until the following Monday.
London_ England Standard -Tues

Edmund Pullum was buried on the 23rd January in Abney Park Cemetery, Stoke Newington in a public grave.
The Inquest verdict was given on the 2nd of February.

Following the Tragedy:

Jane gave birth to their daughter on 23 May 1867 at 58, Buckingham Road, De Beauvoir Town, West Hackney. She was baptised Edith Jenny Pullum on June 16th at St Peter’s in Hackney.

In 1871, Jane was a milliner and living with her father-in-law, William Pullum and his daughter Maria at 25 Hyde Road in Shoreditch. Her daughter Edith was with Edmund’s married sister Mary Ann Harriet Selby in Islington.

On the 12th of June 1875 aged 32, Jane married Edmund’s younger brother Charles Joseph Pullum at St Paul’s Church in Islington. Charles had been a railway porter for the North London Railway Company and was now a ticket collector. Both their addresses are given as 1 Phillip Street, Islington (it was not uncommon for the same address to be given for the bride & groom, they were not necessarily living together)

Less than 3 years later in 1878 on the 17th of March, Charles died at 1 Phillip Street, Arlington Square, Islington, aged 34. He was buried on the 23rd of March like his brother in Abney Park Cemetery, Stoke Newington in a public grave.

A second time widow, Jane in 1881 is still a milliner and lodging at 1 Phillip Street in Islington. Ten years later, she is lodging at 174 New North Road in Islington.

Banstead asylumIt appears that Jane is admitted to Banstead Lunatic Asylum in Surrey from 17th September 1892 to 8th December 1894, when she has recovered.

Throughout this time her daughter Edith Jenny is still with her late husbands’ sister Mary, but on 12th May 1894 marries widower Henry Lowe at St Matthew, Upper Clapton and the following year on the 18th of March, she has a daughter Edith Mary. Tragically, Edith Jenny died the same month (probably in childbirth or a condition related to it).

Jane Pullum in 1901 is living with her sister Mary Ann’s daughter Minnie and her family in Barking, Essex. In 1911 she is living with sister Mary Ann and her husband of 46 years, in Edmonton. Jane died in Edmonton (her sister had moved back to Hackney) at 44 Lancaster Road on March 2nd 1925 aged 82.

Last updated 21.11.15