Solved: mystery of deadly sands

THE mystery of Kearby Sands has been solved, writes Pannal correspondent Anne Smith.

The sign, pictured right, was put there in 1963 to warn of the hazards of Kearby Sands, near Harewood Bridge. Follow the public footpath on the left before the bridge, going towards Leeds, and take this path alongside the River Wharfe for just over a mile cross at a wooden bridge and you are at Kearby Sands.

The sands brought from Bridlington in the 1930s are still there.

It is quiet and peaceful now but in its heyday it was packed with 500 or more people.

Jackie Sedgewick from Harrogate was there on that fateful day and she rang to tell me about it and asked if I knew who the twins were.

After much research yes I do. The twins were Andrew and Stewart Nicholson and they lived at Tilbury Terrace, Leeds as did their grandfather Arthur Chapman of Willoughby Mount. The twins were taken there by their parents who then sunbathed near the river.

The children played and returned to them periodically.

The children went back to the water and when Mr and Mrs Nicholson went to see them playing they could not be found.

Police frogmen from Leeds found the boys in 25ft of water.

The area they were drowned at is called Netherby Deeps which has a whirlpool and a sudden drop not far from the edge of about 30ft.

Warning signs had been put up but they had been vandalised and thrown away.

The tragedy happened on June 9, 1963 a beautiful warm sunny day.

A misadventure verdict was recorded and the coroner said the tragedy of the twins rests on vandals.

A volunteer lifeguard Michael Willingale of Wortley, Leeds an experienced frogman and a former member of Leeds Underwater Swimming Club volunteered to be on Sunday duty all through the summer.

Sunday was the day of the tragedy and also Sunday afternoons saw eight more children rescued.

It is so quiet now just grass banks hard to imagine it was full of wooden chalets and caravans and hundreds of people. I think the last of the caravans went as recently as 2003.

By all means visit Kearby Sands, but do not swim there.