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Barnsley Civic Disaster

Read more about the history of the Barnsley Public Hall disaster on Wikipedia


Memorial to civic’s child deaths

By Adam Civico. A memorial is being planned to mark the 100th anniversary of the public hall disaster in which 16 children were crushed to death.

On January 11, 1908, the girls and boys — some as young as four — were suffocated or trampled in the queue.

It was Saturday afternoon and the kids were waiting to pay a penny to see a cinematography exhibition and variety show by the World’s Animated Picture Company. In a rush for admission a staircase became overcrowded and the children were crushed to death and many more were injured.

Barnsley Council and the Civic Trust would like to trace relatives of the youngsters who died so they can be involved in a ceremony planned for January. The public hall, now the Civic, is being modernised and an afternoon of remembrance will be held on the centenary.

Paul Stott’s great aunt, Mary Elizabeth, who was eight, and great uncle Hardy Stott, four, were the only siblings to die in the disaster.

Paul, 42, said: “The effect this tragedy had on the people of Barnsley and on individual families was devastating. Thousands lined the streets to watch the funeral processions. If the same thing was to happen today there would be a national outcry. It is time to remember those children and to tell the world about what happened that day.”

The organisers are also looking for memorabilia, newspaper cuttings, artefacts and family recollections to create an exhibition about the disaster. Coun William Newman, spokesman for the development, said: “I hope people will be moved to come forward.”

The children who were killed were Beatrice Cartwright, seven, Alice Marshall, six, Henry Williams, six, John Charles Hibbert, six, Florence May Smith, eight, Mary Lee, five, Albert Ward, five, John Charles Graham, five, Hardy Stott, four, Mary Elizabeth Stott, eight, Ellen Swift, five, Edward Pickles, seven, Annie Johnson, four, Winnie Cousins, seven, Charlotte Whitworth (Norton), seven and William Parkin Goodall, six. Organisers would also like to hear from descendants of Mr Burkinshaw, Mrs Beardsall and yardmen from the Porter and Sons warehouse who helped with the rescue.