Reference to the murder was made at the monthly meeting of Arlecdon and
Frizington Urban District Council on Friday night.
“At the beginning of the week,” said the chairman, Mr. William WATSON, “one
of the Council’s properties, the Arlecdon Reservoir, suddenly assumed an
unenviable notoriety and we could very well done without such widespread
advertisement as the tragic discovery of the body of Miss. CORLETT has
“On behalf of my colleagues and the people whom we represent we assure the
bereaved family, and those who may have unjustly suffered, of such a volume
of sympathy as seldom arises. The whole district is profoundly touched by the
“As the Council own the reservoir we have an added interest in the affair.
There are two aspects to this which it is necessary to make reference.
Extensive Press publicity has been given to a statement made by one of the
chief witnesses in an interview in which he blames the authorities (presumably
the Council) for the inadequate protection provided at the reservoir. This is a
serious charge, and the ratepayers, who are the owners of the reservoir,
are entitled to an assurance that their interests have not been culpably
neglected; and that anything over which we have control has not contributed to this
“ Protected or otherwise,” Mr. WATSON proceeded, “it has been convincingly
established that the reservoir had nothing to do with the girl’s death.
“Access through one of the manholes is in question. It is evident that this
cover has been lifted on various occasions by searchers during the past
month. In closing it, it is obvious that the nut would be screwed on by
hand on the following day. It is proven that the other three manholes are properly
secured by bolts, and there is no reason to suppose that the one in
question differed from these previous to it being unscrewed by key when the body was
admitted and then slackly screwed on by hand when closing.
“The fact is that every legal and moral obligation for protection has been
discharged, and there has been no neglect on the part of the Council and
its workmen. The reservoir is the best protected body of water in the district,
which is probably the reason it was chosen for this grim purpose.
“I am prepared to make full allowance for the erroneous statement I am
correcting, having regard to the grief and passion occasioned by such a sad
happening, but I have felt it necessary to correct the charge at its
inception, because of the harm that is being done by irresponsible and valueless gossip
which makes no contribution to the paramount issue.
CLEANED TWICE IN TEN YEARS.
The Chairman subsequently dealt with the cleaning of the reservoir and the
water being supplied to the inhabitants of the district. He said: -
“Immediately it was brought to the Council’s attention that this body had
been discovered we took extraordinary steps to ensure that the water
supplied to the people in this district was of the purest of character.”
(Note: Direct from Congra Moss, from which there was a nine inch water main
to the reservoir with a filter.)
“People need not have any fear,” continued Mr. WATSON, “on the quality of
the water being supplied to them.
“We have noticed in the public press a statement to which we take
exception. It appeared not only in the national daily papers but also a certain local
“The reservoir, according to the statement made to the ‘Times’ reporter by
a workman, has only been opened on two occasions in ten years. I would like
to say gentlemen, that all the Council’s workmen have been summoned before
the Council and have been very strictly questioned regarding the statement.
They have come here and all most emphatically deny having made a statement of
“Some of them have been approached by Press reporters and interviewed, but
the question of the reservoir not being cleaned or opened has not been put
to the workmen from High Lea, nor has it been put to Mr. ASHBRIDGE. A
statement like this, so far as we can ascertain, is without foundation, if it was
made at all, and we are unable to trace the person who made the statement.
“Regarding the truth of the statement I want to give figures which will
show the people of the district exactly the position. One paper had it that it
had not been cleaned out for ten years. Another said it had been cleaned out
twice in ten years. It was cleaned out in April 1919, May 1922, July 1926,
and November 1928.
(Note: the statement was actually made to the “:Times” reporter in response
of another reporter on the morning of the discovery. Excluding November, a
summary of Mr. WATSON’s correction means that the reservoir has been
cleaned out three times in nearly ten years and not “on two occasions in ten
year,” as stated to our representative.)
In further remarks Mr. WATSON said a register was kept of the work done at
the reservoir, and those were that facts it revealed to them. It was quite
probable when the statement was published it was without any malice or
forethought, but it was of special interest to the people of the district at
a time when they were most susceptible to suggestions that the water supply was
perhaps not of the quality which they reasonably expected. It was most
regrettable that a statement of that description should have been given such wide
OPENED IN ORDINARY COURSE.
The reservoir was opened for cleaning purposes in the ordinary course of
events. There was no special reason for it having been opened at that time.
It was in the carrying out of periodical cleansing arrangements. While there
were other things he would like to make reference to he was aware that the
inquest on Miss. CORLETT had not been concluded, and it would be more
discreet not to say anything about other matters of which some of them would like to
Regarding the alleged mistakes, the chairman concluded by saying the
chances were if they were not checked at the source they would be like the
snowball, which got bigger and bigger rolling down a hill.