10.17 – Edna Eastwood

This post will focus entirely on Edna and her story, which we felt deserved a telling.

Edna Eastwood was the daughter of William Eastwood and Mary (maidenly Taylor). In 1911, William was a cotton twister and Edna was a cotton weaver, Edna had three younger sisters called Gertrude, Mabel and Florrie. The only son of William and Mary (Wilfred), had died in 1903 at the age of one year. The Eastwood family were to live for many decades at 32 Cambridge Street, Todmorden.

On Tuesday 21st January 1913 at around 5pm, Edna disappeared. It would be a mystery that would last for 122 days. That’s 122 days of anguish for her parents, who firmly clung onto the belief that she had lost her memory and would eventually be found.

Below are the newspaper accounts that document her disappearance, emphasizing the long wait for any news, the whole town must have been following the story very carefully:

It is with a sense of pain and feelings of deep sympathy with the troubled family that we record the mysterious disappearance of a well-known Todmorden young woman named Edna Eastwood, who resided with her parents at 32 Cambridge-Street. Miss Eastwood, whose photo we reproduce above, is 22 years of age, and has disappeared in an unaccountable manner, leaving absolutely no trace as to her whereabouts. Despite the inquiries of the police and the help and investigations of numbers of friends and relatives, up to a late hour last night nothing whatever had been heard of the missing young woman.

Miss Eastwood had unfortunately not enjoyed the best of health for some considerable time , and for the past eight weeks had suffered from a severe nervous breakdown. She left home about five o’clock last Tuesday afternoon, saying she was going to York-street Wesleyan school. It is known that she called at that place but she did not stay long, and as to her subsequent movements once can only conjecture. It is said on the one hand, for instance, that a certain individual saw her walking in the direction of Sandholme; but another person avers that he saw a young woman answering her description going over the moor towards Bacup.

It appears that about a quarter past five on Tuesday afternoon Miss Eastwood called at York-street school (where a ladies’ sewing meeting was in progress) and asked the caretaker if her aunt (Mrs Saml. Crossley, Summerfield-road) was present. The caretaker answered in the negative (being unaware at the time that Mrs. Crossley had entered by another door) and the young woman walked away.

At the time of her disappearance Miss Eastwood (who is about five feet, two or three inches in height) was wearing a black hat trimmed with black ribbon, navy blue skirt, cream coloured blouse with lace collar, a long grey mixture coat, and black lace-up boots.


The strange disappearance of a young woman named Edna Eastwood (22) who resided with her parents in Cambridge Street, has been reported to the police. Miss Eastwood had been suffering from nervous debility for some time, and her parents fear that her absence is due to a lapse of memory. She has not been seen since about five o’clock on Tuesday afternoon, when she left home to go to York Street Sunday school. She was last seen near Keysyke Lane, Sandholme, about 5.25 on Tuesday afternoon. She has been under treatment by Dr. H. Thorp for nervous debility for about eight weeks, and drew her first sickness insurance money of 7/6 under the National Insurance Act on the day she disappeared. She was a weaver at Sandholme, and her approved society was the Weaver’s Union. The following description is being circulated by the police : “Twenty-two years of age; 5ft. 2 inches in height; stoutish build; pale complexion; blue eyes; dark-brown hair. Dressed in navy-blue skirt; cream-coloured blouse, with lace collar; black lace-yp boots; black hat, trimmed with black ribbon and was wearing long grey mixture coat.”


Notwithstanding the most stringent enquiries by the police and the earnest investigations of numerous friends nothing has yet been heard of Miss Edna Eastwood. As set forth last week, Miss Eastwood unaccountable disappeared on the afternoon of Tuesday, the 21st after calling at York-street Wesleyan School. The deepest sympathy is felt for the family in the awful suspense through which they are passing.


We much regret to state that no trace has yet been discovered of the whereabouts of Miss Edna Eastwood, 22 years of age, of Cambridge Street, who disappeared so mysteriously last Tuesday fortnight. The canal has been dragged several times, and on Saturday the higher lodge at Folly was run off, but without finding any trace of the unfortunate young woman.


No news has yet come to hand with respect to the disappearance of Miss Edna Eastwood on Jan. 21st. Last night we were asked to give publicity to particulars concerning Miss Nellie Ramshaw, a tall young girl of 17 years, who disappeared from her home at Altham, near Accrington, last Friday night and had not been traced. At the time of her disappearance she was wearing a dark blue shawl, black skirt and clogs.


Nothing has yet been heard of Miss Edna Eastwood of Cambridge Street, who disappeared so mysteriously now more than a month ago. The police have been diligent in their search, and ponds have been let off and the canal dragged, but not the slightest trace of her has been discovered.


The local police have received an intimation that the young woman, Annie Elizabeth Sunderland, who is referred to on page 7 of this issue as having been missing from her home at Mytholmroyd since the 20th inst., has turned up at Consett. How she got there or what she was doing there has not yet transpired. No news had been heard up to last night as to Miss Edna Eastwood of Cambridge Street, Todmorden, who has been missing for over five weeks.

The parents of Edna Eastwood, of 32 Cambridge Street, Todmorden, wish to contradict a rumour that is current that they had had information of her being alive. They regret that they had had no tidings of her since her mysterious disappearance on January 21st.


We regret to state that the case of Miss Edna Eastwood, who disappeared from her home in Cambridge-street ten weeks ago, remains completely enveloped in mystery. Owing to various persistent but groundless rumours current in some quarters, it is necessary to make this definite announcement, as the girl’s sorrowing parents – on whose authority the present assurance is given – should be spared needless addition to their painful burden.



The whereabouts of Miss Edna Eastwood, of Cambridge Street, cotton weaver, aged 22, who disappeared on January 21st, are still shrouded in mystery. Although the exhaustive efforts of search parties and the inquiries and dragging operations by the police have failed to reveal a single clue, the parents adhere tenaciously to the belief that their daughter is still alive, and they are circulating the following description, which has been sent to most of the hospitals and institutions in Lancashire and Yorkshire :- Height 5ft. 2in., of stout build; dressed in navy blue skirt, cream blouse, long grey mixture coat, black lace-up boots. Miss Eastwood unaccountably disappeard after attending a Sunday school tea-party on January 21st.

A very distressing local mystery was cleared up on Saturday afternoon by the finding of the body of Miss Edna Eastwood, of Cambridge Street, who had been missing since January last, in New Mills Dam, Causeway Wood. The deceased young woman, who was 22 years of age, had been suffering from nervous depression for several weeks, but had not exhibited any suicidal tendency. She disappeared mysteriously on January 22nd, and despite the most vigorous search by the police and by relatives and friends, not the slightest trace of her could be found. The very dam in which the body was eventually discovered was partly run off, but no trace of her was then discovered. At the inquest on Monday, the jury, after fully considering the case, felt justified in returning a verdict of suicide whilst in a state of temporary insanity.




A very painful Todmorden mystery was solved on Saturday afternoon, when the body of Miss Edna Eastwood (22), weaver, of Cambridge Street, who has been missing since the 22nd January, was recovered from the New Mills Dam, Causey Wood (the higher and larger of the two “Folly” dams). Owing to long immersion in the water, the features of the unfortunate young woman were quite unrecognisable, but her identity was clearly established by the clothing and other articles found on the body. The discovery was made by Mr. Alfred Moores, of Eagle Street, who happened to be on the dam bank, and he at once informed the police, who recovered the body, and had it removed in the Corporation ambulance to the public mortuary at Waterside.


The inquest was held at the Town Hall on Monday morning, by Mr. E. H. Hill, the district coroner, and a jury presided over by Mr. Thomas Davies, of Bridge End.

William Eastwood, 32, Cambridge Street, Todmorden, twister-in, father of deceased, was the first witness called. He said he had not seen the body, but he identified certain articles of clothing and ornaments, as belonging to his late daughter, Edna Eastwood, 22 years of age, cotton weaver. He identified a brooch, a pin, a side comb, a tie, a scarf, and a jacket. The last time he saw his daughter alive was on the 22nd January last.

The Coroner : What was she doing that day? – Witness : She was doing nothing in particular. She went out for a walk in the Park in the afternoon with her aunt, and came home about five o’clock. There was a kind of social at York Street School, and she was very undecided whether to go or not, but her mother persuaded her to go. She said “If I go I shall not stay unless my aunt is there, and if I don’t stay there I’ll go to another aunt’s, who lives at Oxford Street.” She went to the school, and saw the caretaker, and the caretaker, not being aware that the aunt was there, said she was not there. She then said “I am going home.”

What time did she go out? – From home? Yes. – Five o’clock. You have learnt this from the caretaker? – Yes. Did she call anywhere else after that? – The last evidence we had was that she was looking in a shop window on the other side of Sandholme Bridge. That would be about five minutes past five. The young woman did not speak to her, but was convinced it was her. What had her health been for some time? – She had been off her work eight weeks, and had been attended by Dr. Harold Thorp for nervous depression. Did she ever use any threats towards herself? – No. Never said she was tired of life or anything of that sort? – Never. Had she been overworking herself? – Yes, I should think so. When she saw the doctor at first, he said she was completely worked down. We got her to bed, and he came to see her. You informed the police, and made search for her at the time? – Yes. I believe, amongst other places, you searched this very dam? – Yes. How? – We had it drawn off. They started about two o’clock, and drew it off until dark, about 5-20. How much water was left? – A good lot. We did not get to the bottom by a long way, but the man who was in charge was convinced she was not there. We got it so low that he thought we should have seen her if she was in there. Was the water very clear when you left off? – Yes; very clear. Was there much mud? – No. Is the dam fenced round? – No. How could she get to it? – There is a bank at one side, and a kind of wood on the other side. She could get to it from the road leading to Lumbutts. There is no road goes immediately by it? – There is a road just above. I want to know if there is any possibility of a person walking along the road, and accidently falling in? – No. She had no business to be going in that direction? – No.

Alfred Moores, 39, Eagle Street, labourer, said he found the body about 2-50 on Saturday afternoon. He was on the embankment of Causey Mill dam, in company with his son, who was fishing in the goit close by. He turned round to light his pipe, and shield himself from the wind, when he saw something rise up in the reservoir. He did not know what it was at first, and mentioned it to his son. He then saw it rise again, and saw a bright shining hat pin. It would be about three yards from the side. He then thought it was a body, but was not certain. There were two men stood near some railings at the other side of the dam, and he called out to them to come, saying he was sure there was a body in the water. One of the men lived close by, and he asked him to fetch a clothes prop. He did so, and they drew the body to the side. Witness got hold of the hat, to lift it up, and a portion of the scalp came with it. He could then see that it was the body of a woman, and sent his boy for the police.

Did the body drop to pieces? – No; but when I lifted the hat the scalp lifted with it. Did you get it out of the water yourself? – No; I never tried, because I knew it was dead, and there was a possibility of getting drowned. It is very deep there. They tell me it is about nine yards deep. You were not there when the water was run off? – No. I don’t think I had been there for twelve months before. The Foreman : You did not see any marks on the body? – It was too far gone to see anything of that kind.

Elizabeth Cryer, who laid out the body, said she was able to undress the body, which was fairly well preserved. The face was the worst. She did not see any marks of violence on the body. The Coroner : Can you tell if the clothes were town? – They were not torn. Can you tell if the head had been knocked in? – No; it had not.

The following articles found on the body were lying on the Coroner’s table : A sixpence, 6 1/2d in copper, a purse, two side combs, brooch, and tie pin.

The Coroner said the question for the jury to decide was how deceased met her death. The puzzling thing was, if she had been in the water all that length of time, how was it the body had not come to the surface long ago, because as a rule bodies came to the surface – unless they were stuck fast, or held down by something – in from ten days to a fortnight, according to the state of the weather. In warm weather they usually came up in about ten days, in cold weather it was a little longer.

In reply to a question by the Coroner, as to whether there were trees growing on the edge of the dam, the jury said there were several, and that the roots went into the dam.

The Coroner : Something of that sort might account for it.

Several jurymen expressed concurrence with this view.

The Coroner went on the remark that deceased was apparently suffering from nervous depression, and it was well-known that that often led people to do rash acts. Deceased left home to go to a certain social gathering, or, failing that, to her aunt’s, and practically was never seen again until she was found in the dam some months later. The place where she was found was a long way from where she ought to have been, and the question was – had she any object in going there? On the other hand was there any possibility or probability that she was taken there against her will? Was it possible that she had been carried there after her death, and out into the water? She might have wandered there and accidentally fallen into the water, or on the other hand she might have been killed elsewhere and out into the water. If the jury thought there was not sufficient evidence to show how she got into the water, they would find a verdict of found drowned. If, on the other hand, they thought there was sufficient evidence to satisfy them that she had drowned herself, then it would be their duty to return a verdict to that effect.

The Foreman thought that the evidence of the witness who laid out the body – that there was no marks of violence on the body – pointed to deceased having done it of her own free will.

The Coroner said that on the whole no doubt it did, but whether that was sufficient to enable them to come to a decision was for them to judge.

A juryman said the place was one where somebody was always passing, and he did not think there could have been any foul play.

The Coroner asked if it was the place where there was a walk beside the dam, ending in some stepping stones?

The Jury said it was.

The Coroner : Is it possible she may have wandered there, and stumbled in accidently?

Several of the jury did not think so, but one juryman described the place as one of the most dangerous in Todmorden.

Another juryman remarked that it would be dark at that time of the year.

The Foreman thought that anyone walking along the patch between the dam and the goit would be more likely to fall into the goit.

A Juryman said the path was not protected on either side, and he had known a boy fall into the dam and get out by himself.

The Coroner : Well, gentlemen, are you satisfied, from what you have heard, how she got into the water, or will you return a verdict of “Found drowned?”

The jury unanimously returned a verdict of suicide whilst in a state of temporary insanity.

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