Overleigh Gallery 14

A Virtual Stroll Around the Walls of Chester

Some Notable Memorials in the Overleigh Cemetery

Overleigh Gallery 18

2 boys memorial
The memorial as discovered in 2008

2 boys memorial

Below we see a bright white obelisk, a moving, newly-restored memorial to two brave Hoole children who died in tragic circumstances in 1905. The memorial states:

"In loving memory of George Goodfellow, aged 11 years and Henry Berry, aged 8 years who were drowned by falling through the Ice trying to save a fellow playmate at Hoole on January 17th 1905. This memorial has been erected to perpetuate their memory by sympathising friends and playmates".

A contemporary newspaper records the following account:

"Two schoolboys gave their lives for a comrade at Hoole, Chester. After school hours, Henry Berry, eight, and George Goodfellow, eleven, visited a deep pit near their homes with a view of testing the ice covering it. There were a number of other lads present and one, Bertie Wright, a son of the Chester Police Court missionary ventured on to the ice as far as the centre of the pond. The ice broke and he went under, but Berry and Goodfellow pluckily went to his assistance. It was not long before all three were struggling together in the water. Wright, however, managed to keep afloat until rescued by some workmen, but the two little heroes who had gone out to save him sank and their lifeless bodies were not recovered until half an hour later".

Jill Belcher, who originally told us the story and sent the photographs, wrote on Memorial Day 2014, "George and Harry died trying to save Bertie Wright, who was my grandfather. That's why we decided it was up to us to restore the memorial. It's a great tribute to stonemason Stephen Blackwell whose family business is close by.

George and Harry both lived in Clare Avenue- Henry at 36 and George at 18- and the tragedy happened in 'a field adjoining Clare Avenue'. George Evans, who pulled my grandfather out, was working on 'some houses in course of erection in Clare Avenue.'

Bertie went on to fight in World War I in the Canadian Army and his son- my dad- was a Spitfire pilot in World War II so, as you can imagine, I've been thinking about them a lot today, of all days.. it's really quite amazing that I, my children and my grandchildren have had the chance of life.

We would love to trace George Evans' s family, because we owe him an equal debt. He really did put his life on the line to save Bertie and I hope his descendants know about this and are suitably proud of him."

Jackie Forrestal, a relation of George Goodfellow, told us, "It is a wonderful 'small world story' -- the sense of enormous gratitude carried down through the generations by descendants of Bertie Wright has now been felt deeply by descendants of George Goodfellow here in the United States. We find it truly incredible for the sense of gratitude to have been passed from generation to generation. Now we have to find Henry Berry's descendants".

Can anyone help? I'm trying to pin down further details of this story. The tragedy happened in 1905. I was under the impression that Clare Avenue was laid out in 1898, that being the date shown on the nameplate on the corner. The account says that the builder who rescued the surviving lad was "working on houses in Clare Avenue" at the time.
Lime Grove, at least my side, appeared in 1904 and the other side in 1910- where the big pond shown on the old OS map below once was. It could easily have still been there in 1905. I'm surprised, though, that the smaller, Clare Avenue pond hadn't been filled in and built over by then. Any thoughts dear readers? Does anyone have better quality maps of the area before it was developed? All information much appreciated, as ever.

The grave number of the brave boys' memorial in Overleigh Cemetery is 5043. As may be seen from the photographs above, the memorial was in a truly terrible condition before Jill's family stepped in. Just look at it now!

2 boys memorial
The beautifully restored memorial in 2012

2 boys memorial

1875 map

This small detail from the 1875 Chester OS map shows two ponds, one of which is likely to have been the fatal one; a small one on the curve of what is now Clare Avenue and a larger (and deeper?) one off the line of what is today's Lime Grove. The home of your guide, where these words are being written, is just across the road! The ponds disappeared when the area was built upon between 1898 and 1910. Below is a detail from an 1871 map showing the line of the future Clare Avenue and its pond and below that we see the site of the pond in Clare Avenue on a dull Autumn day in 2014..

pond 1871

clare avenue

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