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The Rushden Echo, 20th February, 1914, transcribed by Gill Hollis
Rushden Children's Sad Plight
Locked Up for the Night
Parents' Fruitless Search and Grave Anxiety

Much alarm was caused to two Rushden families on Friday night when it was discovered that two little children were lost and had left no trace whatever of their whereabouts.

Ellen Rockingham, aged about five, and Willie Ayres, aged four, both of Dell-place, Rushden, were playing together as usual on Friday evening and walked off, the elder “taking Willie to see where she went to school.” It appears that the little girl had not been to school that day owing to her not being well. The boy was not old enough to attend school, but used to mix with the little scholars going to the Park-road Wesleyan schools (now being used temporarily as a day school for infants), and his little playmate Ellen knew the place as she attended there on ordinary occasions.

The two youngsters wandered into the schools and found their way into a lavatory, and it is assumed that when inside one of them must have leaned against the door, which closed, and as the latch was too high for them to reach they were to all intents and purposes locked in, although the door was not actually locked.

They soon became nervous and

Tried in Vain to Escape.

The little fellow, however, seems to have been far less alarmed than his playmate; he says “she got ‘frit’ and pulled her hair out” and he tried his best to comfort her. He says he called out for his father, and they tried to burst open the door. Finding their endeavours useless they prepared for the night there. [frit = frightened]

In the meantime the distracted parents made a systematic search of the neighbourhood and informed the police, but not a trace of the lost ones could be found. As the gates of the school were locked the searchers did not think they would find the missing children there. In the morning no sign of the wanderers had yet been found, although some had been looking around all night. Gladys Ayres, the little boy’s sister, suggested that her parents look in the “holes” (cellars) at the schools.

Mr. Ayres went straight there and heard the little girl

Crying Pitifully.

Evidently his own boy was asleep, for he made no noise, but soon woke up and told his father in his childish language how he had called for help, but, not being able to make anyone hear, had undressed for the night.

The girl was in a terrible condition. In her fright she had torn out huge masses of hair, so that one side of her head is almost naked of hair. She was in a very sad state for the whole of the week-end, but is now, fortunately, a great deal better. After a wash and a good warm meal the boy seemed almost his natural self.

No one is to blame in any way for the occurrence, which might have happed to anyone’s children. We are asked to contradict the absurd and wicked rumour that either of the parents were at any place of amusement that evening; as a matter of fact, they searched from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m., and a search was again started as soon as daylight appeared.

Rushden Argus, 20th February 1914, transcribed by Kay Collins

Lost - Two Rushden Children's Night's Lodgings

Two Rushden children passed a very unpleasant night on Friday, and were released from their involuntary prison-house at eight o'clock on Saturday morning in a very distressed condition.

The children, named respectively Willie Ayres, aged four years, of 6, Dell-place; and a little girl, named Rockingham, aged five years, of 7, Dell-place, were reported to the police as missing on Friday evening. Search was made in various directions, but no trace of the missing little ones could be found

About eight o'clock on Saturday morning, however, Mr. Ayres, who is the caretaker of the Succoth Baptist Chapel, and father of one of the missing children, heard cries of children coming from the lavatory of the chapel, which he had looked on the previous evening. On opening the door he found the two missing children, partly undressed, and crying pitifully.

The little ones were quickly restored to their homes, and comforted as soon as possible.

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