Walking over from Sheffield to Kerris for his day’s work in the fields, young Willie Wallis hears something unusual. “I thought it was funny sound”, he will explain later. It’s coming from a distance, from way over by the old Snell’s quarry.
The sound is Mr William Maddern of Clodgey Moor, fighting for his life in the chilly January water. His horse – which weighs 15 cwt –is “plunging and rearing” in the water, as its master clings desperately to the cart, all too aware that the quarry sides are steep, that the place is deserted, and that he cannot swim. Perhaps he curses himself for his folly in taking his horse down onto that ledge to drink – but it’s his habit to do so. Until today, he has been lucky. Today? No. The horse has somehow “somersaulted” into the water, dragging the cart, with its unfortunate master, in with it.
Willie, alerted by the cries, spots the older man in the water just in time, runs for help, for a rope. The rope is secured round Mr Maddern’s waist, but as they starts to pull him in, it breaks, and the end drifts away. “This is Death” Mr Maddern says to himself. “I am going to die here”.
Mr Maddern does not, however, die that day. He is in the chilly water, numbed, for half an hour – but survives to tell the tale. The horse? In due course it will rise to the surface and be fished out. Alive, it was worth £55.
Cornishman 3rd February 1932