Smith, Beverly: Charles Houghton - a Brave Man

by Beverly Smith

Charles Houghton, born 1861 in Haydock, Lancashire, was a mechanical and electrical engineer and partner with the firm Houghton, Burnett & Co. situated on the Wilderspool Causeway in Latchford, a suburb of Warrington, Cheshire, England.

Charles, his wife and two children, lived at number 546 Knutsford Road in Latchford, just down from where the Mersey River twists to the northwest, flowing towards Warrington. Around 7:00 on the morning of Thursday, June 5, 1902, Charles Houghton was walking to work up Knutsford Road, and as he passed the terraced houses adjacent to the river, he heard the screams of Mrs. Isherwood who lived at number 358. Alice Bebbington, who lived at number 384 with her husband and their adopted son, had climbed from a window, run across the street, scaled the barrier wall and thrown herself into the Mersey River. Her husband, Charles, ran out into the street just as Charles Houghton was preparing to jump into the water to rescue her... and so the two men entered the water together.

Alice Bebbington was eventually rescued in an unconscious state by Charles Gatley, a sluiceman, who was working on the river. She recovered and can be found in the 1911 Census living at the same address on Knutford Street with her husband, Charles. He made it back to shore safely, but Charles Houghton sank on entering the water and his body was recovered after about three hours. He left his wife, Margaret, daughter Elsie Vera and son Gerald Leighton. Margaret died in 1945, Elsie Vera married Albert Randle and had a daughter, Gillian and died in 1938 and Gerald Leighton died in 1916 while fighting in France and Flanders.

Charles Houghton was my great grand uncle.


1. The river and bridge where the drowning happened is a screen grab from Google Streetview.

2. The newspaper article was from the Manchester Evening News, June 5, 1902.