020 8530-8443Monday to Friday 10.30am to 4.30pm



The memorial plaque to Arthur Strange and Mark Tomlinson.


The tiled plaque that remembers Arthur Strange (1878 - 1902) and Mark Tomlinson (1877 - 1902) reads, "Arthur Strange, Carman Of London, And Mark Tomlinson, On A Desperate Venture To Save Tow Girls From A Quicksand In Lincolnshire Were Themselves Engulfed, August 25 1902."

What the plaque doesn't state is that one of the two girls, Ada Mumford, was, in fact Arthur Strange's fiancé, and she too perished that day, along with her close friend Ida Clayton - in a tragedy which, as one newspaper put it, had "plunged four families into mourning..."

A detailed account of the events as they unfolded appeared in the Lincolnshire Chronicle on the 29th of August 1902:-


"The treacherous sands of the East Coast have claimed four more victims.

On Tuesday within eight miles, as the crow flies, from the far famed Boston Stump, an accident occurred to a pleasure party which has plunged four families into mourning, and has cast a heavy gloom over the whole of South Lincolnshire.

Two girls, close companions, were "paddling" together on the sands at Kirton Skeldyke, secure, as they thought, from all danger, when they suddenly disappeared into one of the many deep channels that beset the feet of the unwary on this coast, and were carried away by the swiftly moving currents, and two young men who had accompanied them - one a sweetheart - were lost in heroically trying to save them.

The point at which the accident took place is well known to residents in South Lincolnshire, Kirton Skeldyke is an isolated spot between the Welland and the River Witham, on the Lincolnshire coast of the Wash.

It is a favourite resort with people in the district, and for a peculiar reason.

There, amid the vast stretch of marshland, which fringes the coast, grows a vegetable known as samphire. It has a great vogue in this district, and hundreds go there in the summer months to collect it.

But that is not the only charm of this spot, half sea, half land. The quiet it affords and the sport it yields appeal to large numbers beside.

If the neighbourhood has a reputation at all it is for the deceptive character of its sands. Shifting with every tide that comes in, these ands are intersected with channels of varying width, up which the tide forces its way as it rolls up the coast.

Naturally, then, all but the most experienced should frequent them with caution.

But the party that met with such a tragic fate never seem to have realised the danger, though some of the members of it lived only a few miles away.

It was a merry picnic party that set out of the farm-stead at Kirton Holme,

There was Mr Jebez Tomlinson, a well-known local farmer, and his wife; their son Mark, a fine young man of 25, home from Nottingham for the holidays; Miss Ada Mumford, of 5, Cornwall-road, Peckham, a niece of the Tomlinsons; Arthur Strange, a London carman, and Miss Mumford's sweet-heart; Miss Edith Goodman, a neighbouring innkeeper's daughter; and Miss Ida Clayton, a housekeeper in the service of the Tomlinsons.

Entering their own conveyance, the family party drove to Kirton Skeldyke, some four miles away, and on arrival there put up at the farm of Mr. Hudson.

After some refreshments they set out for the Marshes, there to while away a pleasant afternoon.

At that time quite a mile or two of vegetation covering the shore was visible, and, of course, not the least danger was apprehended.

Early in the afternoon the members of the party separated.

Miss Clayton and Miss Mumford wanted to paddle, and for this purpose they took off their boots and stockings and left them in the charge of their friends.

Young Tomlinson and Strange, Miss Mumford's sweetheart, walked behind some distance off, whilst Mr. and Mrs. Tomlinson and Miss Goodman seated themselves on the bank talking. All of them were as merry as possible.

The two girls on the sands, both of them just turned twenty, laughed and chatted gaily as they splashed in the water, when, suddenly, there was a scream, and immediately both of them were seen floundering in the water.

The girls had dropped, as if over a precipice, into a deep creek or channel, through which the incoming current was swiftly moving. They were off their feet in a second, struggling as if in a whirlpool.

The two young men, Tomlinson and Strange, were dumbstruck, but they went quickly to the rescue. The poor fellows tried to reach them, but in doing so only met their own death.

Mr. and Mrs. Tomlinson were actual witnesses of the sad spectacle. Attracted by the heartrending cries, they ran to the water's edge, and narrowly escaped the fate that met the others. They, too, entered the stream, wading right up to the neck in the hope of saving one or more, but it was of no avail. The quartet, including their own son, sank before their very eyes.

They themselves managed to get back to the bank, but is was with great difficulty, and when they did they were completely exhausted.

Meanwhile Miss Goodman, who had also been a witness of it all, raced off on her bicycle to Kirton, a village two or three miles away, for help.

Assistance came, but it was of no use then.

P.c. Smith, Messrs. Hall, Nash, and others made haste to the spot, but it was too late.

Three brothers named Hall, employed in the fishery, entered a boat, and wish their mullet net trawled the channel, but though the work went on for hours there was no result.

Attention was specially directed to the point where the party were engulfed, and a pole from 12ft to 18ft. long was used, but the helpers failed to touch the bottom of the creek with it.

Early next morning a Fosdyke pilot, named Adam, came across one of the bodies, that of Mark Tomlinson, in the Wash some distance away. The local constable had it removed to the farmhouse of Mr. Hudson, the homestead which the four young people left so lighthearted the day before.

The body of Miss Ida Clayton was found some hours later a long distance away, and that of Was Ada Mumford on the beach half-a-mile from Fosdyke Bridge. Near here was afterwards found the body of Miss Mumford's lover, Arthur Strange."


The Lincolnshire Chronicle also carried a full report on the inquest into the deaths of the four young people, which had taken place on the 27th of August 1902:-

"Dr. Arthur Tuxford. District Coroner, held an inquest on the bodies on Wednesday, at the house of Mr, Hudson.

In opening, he said he was informed two more bodies had been recovered, these being those of Miss Ada Mumford and Miss Ida Clayton.

Jabez Tomlinson, father of one of the deceased, said be was a farmer at Kirton Holmes. He identified the bodies just viewed as of Ada Mumford, 5, Cornwall-road, Peckham; Ida Clayton, 22, Kirton Holme; and Mark Tomlinson, aged 24, witness's son.

There were seven in the party, and they left the house about one p.m.

The girls changed their clothing at Mr. Hudson's. The men had also been in the water, but had dressed, and were on their way back, when the young ladies were paddling about, and kept following the tide, and got so far in that the water was up to their armpits.

Witness called them back, but they took no notice of his entreaties, but got further in, and all at once they appeared to fall into a deep hole, and went down.

Witness went into the water when he saw them struggling. All at once the son's arms want up. He did not think they could swim. Everything possible was done. Information was sent to the police, and an effort was made to recover the bodies.

Miss Edith Goodman, who lives at the Nag's Head Inn, Kirton Holme, stated: In the afternoon we went on the shore, and followed the tide as it ebbed. The two girls were paddling together, with Mr. and Mrs. Tomlinson and Strange looking on. I was paddling with Tomlinson about 13 yards away, when we heard the two girl shout for help, and looking round saw them struggling in the water.

Strange, who at once ran and jumped in, shouted to Ada to make towards him, and he succeeded in getting hold of both of them, for I saw him holding them up.

Tomlinson shouted to Strange to keep the girls' heads above water until he got to them.

He ran and jumped in, but he must have sunk at once, for I didn't see him again.

The others struggled together for a bit, and then disappeared.

I went into the water up to my neck, and so did Mr. and Mrs. Tomlinson, but we could not reach them.

I then ran to some men working near, but when they got to the water it was too late.

Wm. Hall, fisherman. said he recovered the body of Tomlinson about 300 or 400 yards from the place where they were drowned. It was washed out of the hole and carried out to the brushwork. He had all his clothing on at the time.

Samuel Hall, Fosdyke Bridge, also a fisherman, deposed to finding the body of Ada Mumford near some brushwork about half a mile from the Bridge. One arm was fast to the thorns. It was a very dangerous spot, and there ought to be some notice to that effect. Just at the spot there was something like a whirlpool, and the sand was continually shifting.

G. McKinley, coastguard officer at Fosdyke Bridge, said he was present when the body of Ida Clayton was found, about one-and-a-half miles from Fosdyke Bridge.

His opinion was that the sand was quite flat near the place, where a deep hole was caused by the whirlpool and the ever shifting sand. The Welland Trustees were the managers of the waterway.

The Coroner, in summing up, said the conduct of the young men was indeed vary heroic. They did all that mortal men could do to save their companions. They did a most noble duty, and died a noble death.

A verdict of "Accidentally drowned" was returned.

None of the four seem to have been able to swim, but if they had it is doubtful whether they would have been able to live in such a strong current as brought about their death.

It is pointed out that as the girls were walking in the water they would not be able to notice the channel which proved such a death-trap.

As recently as last week 500 persons, mostly children from Spalding, spent a day at Kirton Skeldyke without mishap.

But there have been several narrow escapes there, and not long ago either. In exactly the same place two young ladies were almost overwhelmed a short time ago, whilst a boy was rescued with the utmost difficulty.

Some twenty years ago, it is said, four men from Donington, who were out bathing, were caught in pretty much the same way.

But nothing so tragic as this accident has occurred since then in this part of the Lincolnshire coast."