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Gravel Pits, Stone Pits & Sand Pits

Northampton Mercury, 30th May 1789, transcribed by Kay Collins

Rushden Gravel-Pits

Whereas the Commissioners for inclosing the late Open Fields of RUSHDEN, in the County of Northampton, did by their Award set out and allot certain Parcels of Land as and for Stone and Gravel Pits, to be used in common by the Proprietors of Lands and Estates in the Parish of Rushden aforesaid, and their Tenants within the said Parish: AND WHEREAS is Defiance if an Advertisement inserted in the Northampton Mercury in the Year 1786, many Persons from the adjacent Towns have unlawfully and without Leave taken and carried away from the said Pits large Quantities of Gravel, which, if any longer submitted to, will ultimately tend to the great Prejudice of the Owners and Occupiers of Lands and Estates in the said Parish of Rushden:- THIS IS THEREFORE TO GIVE NOTICE, that if any Person or Persons shall in future be found trespassing in taking, and carrying away Gravel from the Pits aforesaid (other than those who are legally entitles to the same) and making Use of the same out of the said Parish of Rushden, will be prosecuted with the utmost Rigour of the Law.

Wellingborough News, 6th September 1884, transcribed by Kay Collins

ACCIDENT—On Monday afternoon Thos. Jacques, aged 77 years, was at work digging gravel in Mr. G. Tailby's pits, near Higham Ferrers, when about a barrow full of earth fell from the top (loosened doubtless by the heavy rain on Sunday), a distance of some twenty feet, and struck the old man, who was in a stooping position, across the shoulders, knocking him down and partly covering him. He was got out and taken to Mr. Tailby's and put to bed, but we are pleased to state, on examination by Dr. Bowridge, it was ascertained that no bones were broken or dislocated, and although severely bruised no more serious injury was sustained.

The Rushden Echo, 31st March 1967, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Boy’s escape highlights gravel pit danger

Last week a 12 year-old Rushden Boy was trapped helpless up to his waist in slimy mud at the disused gravel pits at the rear of St. Mary's Avenue and the Home Farm Estate, he could have died. In fact a smaller child would have had little chance of survival.

A dramatic 90 minute rescue operation saved Christopher Howsen, Ashridge Close, and at the same time brought to light other narrow escapes by children and adults.

Now parents are demanding that the area should be fenced off. The boy sank to his waist in the bog like soft clay at the bottom of one of the many deep ravines. The mud was a thick slime and he might just as well have been stuck to a giant suction pad. The more he struggled the more he sank.

The pit
The pit

His father Mr. Arnold Howsen, and another man, Mr. T. Roberts, 6 Hall Avenue, Rushden, struggled unsuccessfully for almost thirty minutes to free the boy. They could not budge him. Eventually three firemen were able to pull him out. He was a lucky boy. Christopher is quite tall for his age and he had a friend with him who was able to run for help.

Hidden Trap

A reporter went to the very spot where he was dragged out and was able to push a pole measuring between five and six feet into the mud with ease.

Two good dry days and the top surface hardens over — to all outward appearances safe, the thin layer on top cracks and gives way to filthy, sucking mud. But it is not only the bog areas that are dangerous; there are two quite large pools of water in the pit.

Being Filled

There is a gateway leading off Hall Avenue which is kept locked, but that is not to keep children out – it is to stop people tipping in the pit. It has not even stopped that, judging by the amount of rubbish that is scattered about.

The pit is owned by Rushden Sand and Gravel Ltd. and it is understood that it is in the process of being filled in – the sooner the better.

The strong feeling about the obvious danger to children among mothers on the adjacent Home Farm Estate was expressed to an "Echo" reporter when he visited the estate earlier this week. Mrs. J. Hadaway, a mother of three children under seven who lives at nearby Haddon Close, said: "It’s a scandal that a place like this is accessible to so many young children on the estate. I have told my children never to go near the pit but I know for a fact that on a number of occasions people from the corner houses have been asked to help people in trouble."

Another housewife and mother of two young children, living at 12 Haddon Close, Mrs. B. Dixon, had this to say.

Great Interest

“Something should be done about it. The children just have to go to the end of the road to get to the pit. Although my children are too young to go down there it is obvious that they will soon come of an age when it will be of great interest to them.”

A woman who has actually had the frightening experience of being stuck in the muddy morass is Mrs. G. K. Folder who said: “These pits are a source of constant danger. About ten years ago I myself was walking round the pits and fell in up to my knees,

“I know at least one other person who has had the same experience. It is possible that many children have fallen in but not in too dangerous a part of the area but have been afraid to tell their parents due to the fact that they were warned not to be down there.”

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