The Disappearance of Maria Whittaker (1866) | Dowsing | Haslingden


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On Saturday, 22nd December 1866, the body of a young woman aged 18 years was recovered from a lodge adjacement to Holden Wood cotton mill, that was owned by Mr. James Maxwell and situated in a place known as Holden Wood, near Haslingden.

At around half-past one in the afternoon, John Holgate, a spinner employed at Maxwell’s mill, whilst passing by his place of work, had noticed something bobbing about just above the water level in a lodge that was within yards of the mill. Upon making his way over to the waters edge, it was then he saw the head of a young girl which was just above the water, with the remainder of her body submerged.

Already knowing the depth of the water in the lodge was quite deep, reportedly around nine feet, he knew that trying to recover the body himself was an almost impossible task, so Holgate left to fetch for another worker, who in turn went off to search for a policeman.

By the time a police officer had arrived, water from the nearby Holden Wood reservoir had been slowly filling the lodge, which in turn was by now submerging the victims head.

And yet despite a struggle, all three men succeeded in retrieving the body.

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