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Bancroft - Inquest 1964

Loughborough Monitor - 11th December 1964

Fire death – coroner commends publican for rescue attempt.

Quorn publican Mr Brian Overton who crawled on his hands and knees into a smoke-filled house in which an 89 year old widow died last Friday was commended by North Leicestershire coroner Mr H Moss for his “public spirited action” on Monday.

“I am sure it must have been a terrifying and a brave thing to do – you might have been asphyxiated yourself,” the Coroner told Mr Overton, licensee of the White Hart, High Street, Quorn.

The Coroner recorded a verdict that Mrs Sarah Anne Bancroft, of 41 High Street, Quorn died as the result of misadventure from carbon monoxide poisoning. Mr Overton told how, having noticed that Mrs Bancroft had not opened her curtains or taken in the milk, he was going across the road to see if she was all right when an elderly woman ran towards him shouting that the house was on fire.

After telephoning for the fire service, ambulance and police, he entered the front downstairs room, where Mrs Bancroft slept, crawling on hands and knees because of the smoke.

“The bedding was completely charred through but by poking with a piece of stick I was relieved to find that Mrs Bancroft was not on the bed,” he said.

The police then arrived and he went with them to the back of the house, where Mrs Bancroft was found on the kitchen floor.

“You did everything that ought to have been done in the circumstances,” Mr Overton was told by the coroner, who added, “it does you, and the village, very great credit.”

Police Constable Rutherford said he found Mrs Bancroft sitting on the kitchen floor. She was wearing a nightgown, which was slightly charred at the back. In the front room, on the table next to the bed, was a candlestick with some matches. He was told that it had been her habit to keep the candle lit night and day and that neighbours had advised her of the danger of leaving it near the curtains.

The officer said the most probable explanation of the fire was that the candle set light to curtains which fell on to the bed. Mrs Bancroft may have gone into the kitchen for a drink and collapsed because of the smoke.

The coroner added that Mrs Bancroft had been advised by her friends that she should go into an old people’s home and warned her about the candle.
“Old people are very independent and if Mrs Bancroft felt happiness lay where she had lived for so long I am sure I cannot blame her for staying there”, he said.

 Submitted on: 2010-12-15
 Submitted by: Kathryn Paterson
 Artefact ID: 1037
 Print: View artefact in printer-friendly page

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