He’s Fallen in the Water!

This photo from about 1895 shows an outing of local licensed victuallers on the Erewash Canal opposite the Nelson Hotel (now called the Barge Inn).

Herbert Maltby of the Erewash Navigation, sitting at the rudder (on the far right) owned the boat, a converted lifeboat.  Second from the right is Edward Carter, then licensee of the Blue Bell who later ran Carters’ mineral water in Sawley.  Mr Beers of the Harrington Arms is just left of the engine in the middle of the boat. William Johnson (barman at the Erewash Navigation) is standing on the bow.  Next to him are Mr Tanser of the Nelson and then Tom Meakin of the Tiger Inn.

In 1894 the license to the Erewash Navigation Inn at Trent Lock was temporarily transferred from John Rice to Herbert Maltby, an agent for a brewery in Loughborough.  Herbert and his wife Emma were from Hoveringham (by the Trent between Nottingham and Newark). This advertisement appeared in the Long Eaton Advertiser in February 1895.

They stayed at the pub nearly 6 years, before leaving in early 1900.  By 9th March Emma and their children had already moved to a house in Long Eaton, while Herbert remained to complete the transfer.  He spent 9th March in Loughborough where, at around 6pm, he met a neighbour, William Mills, in the Bulls Head.  After ‘a glass or two’ in the pub, but nothing to eat, Herbert and William took the 10.30pm train back from Loughborough to Trent Station. 

William Mills lived at Red Hill Lock.  He was a basket maker/willow dealer while his sons looked after the lock. His older son (George) Amos Mills founded the boatyard at Trent Lock.

The train was running late and after walking back from the station to the Erewash Navigation they found the barman, William Johnson, waiting up.  Johnson was told he could go to bed while Herbert took William across the Trent on the ferry.  The Navigation staff were used to operating the ferry late at night when the regular ferryman was off duty.  Herbert dropped William on the far side, from where he could walk along the River Soar to his house.  

Horse ferry

Herbert started back towards Trent Lock but wasn’t seen alive again.  The night wasn’t dark but there was a stiff southerly breeze.  The ferry was propelled by a very long pole and the trip back to Trent Lock was against the stream.  The next morning the ferry was found at the Thrumpton weir, with the pole sticking up near the middle of the river.  Jabez Lewen of Trent Lock reported hearing shouts from the far side of the river around 20 minutes past midnight, though it didn’t sound like someone in distress.

Six weeks later Herbert Maltby’s body was found in the Trent near Thrumpton.  His watch had stopped at about 12:20. He’d not been in good health and had complained about a cart shaft hitting him at Loughborough that day.  The coroner stated that the cause of death was syncope (fainting).

Finally, for those confused by the title of this post, ‘He’s fallen in the water’ was one of Spike Milligan’s catchphrases in the 1950s radio programme ‘The Goon Show’

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