Saturday, 9 April 2011

A Victorian Tragedy in Leeds

Memorial Wortley LeedsPicture of memorial cross in churchyard of St John the Evangelist church Wortley de Leeds.

From a distance or from any angle but the front this memorial cross in the churchyard of the church of St John the Evangelist in Wortley, Leeds would not rate a second glance, there are many similar memorials in most churchyards.

The words on the memorial give some small idea of the tragedy that befell this small community on New Years Day 1891. On that day there was to be a performance by children of the Wortley church school in the old hall, their costumes caught fire before the performance and 11 girls died in this terrible accident.

The cross in the churchyard was erected in their memory on the 19th July 1891.

Fire Memorial Wortley LeedsPicture of detail on fire memorial cross at Wortley churchyard, Leeds.

Even after 120 years the words on this simple memorial have the power to make this old soldier feel sad.

To the glory of god,
and in loving memory of eleven children,
who lost their lives through accident by fire,
In Wortley church school,
New Years Day 1891.

Emily Lister, aged 12 years
Harriet Riley, aged 11 years
Ada Whitteron, aged 11 years
Maggie Kitchen, aged 12 years
Emily Sanderson, aged 9 years
Elizabeth Tingle, aged 12 Years
Ethel Fieldhouse, aged 13 years
Clarissa Roberts, aged 11 years
Florrie Elwell Brookes, aged 9 years
Caroline Eveline Steel, aged 9 years
Julia Florence Anderson, Aged 9 years

This memorial was erected by members of the congregation and other friends.


  1. Dave Williams of Hyde, Cheshire10 April 2011 at 11:56

    You've only got to walk through an old churchyard and look at the gravestones to realise that in Victorian times so many children died at a very early age. To have survived those early years and then to die in such a way was tragic indeed.

  2. How terrible, so many families must have been affected.


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