Prestatyn grave of children drowned in 1868

Grave of children drowned in 1868

Photo of children's graves at PrestatynIn the summer of 1868, tragedy beset Prestatyn when six local children, including two sets of brothers, drowned when the incoming tide trapped them on a sandbank. Four were aged eleven, the others just nine.

Two other boys managed to swim to safety and raise the alarm, but by the time assistance arrived it was too late for the six who minutes earlier had been happily playing on the sands. Three bodies were recovered that fateful Friday afternoon. The other bodies floated out to sea and returned to shore the following day.

Samuel and George Gilderoy were the sons of the colliery manager at nearby Greenfield coal mine, while Thomas and William Ellis were the sons of a local farmer. Walter Williams and Martin McMahon both lived at Prestatyn. An inquest was held at the Railway Hotel and a verdict of ‘accidentally drowned’ was recorded.

The six boys are buried together outside Christ Church, where five of them were choristers. They were due to attend weekly singing practice at the church in the evening of the day they died.

The tragedy occurred not long after churchwarden and businessman Edmund Hunt lost his daughter Elizabeth, aged 13. He instigated a stained glass window in the church’s south chancel, close to where the five choristers sat. The outer sections commemorate the boys who drowned and the central one is a memorial to Elizabeth.

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