Arthur Strange was employed as a carman (delivery driver) by Whiteley’s in London, one of 6,000 employees of the department store which offered a delivery service up to 25 miles. Mark Tomlinson was an assistant at Nottingham Borough Asylum. However, both had connections to Kirton Holme in Lincolnshire: Tomlinson had been born there, and his family still lived there. His cousin Ida Mumford (herself a Londoner) was engaged to Strange.
On a visit to Lincolnshire, the three of them went with the Tomlinson family's housekeeper, Ida Clayton, to a popular but isolated bathing spot near the neighbouring village of Kirton Skeldyke. The area is one of salt marsh, with dangers including patches of quicksand - sand and clay which presents the appearance of solid ground but is in fact highly unstable due to salt water below the surface. Once stepped on, it becomes liquid and almost impossible to escape.
When the two young women went paddling in the river they fell into a deep ‘hole’ of quicksand. Strange and Tomlinson attempted a rescue but although Strange was initially able to hold onto the women, he soon followed Tomlinson who had sunk immediately. All four were drowned.
At the inquest, the coroner commented that the two men 'did a most noble duty and died a noble death'. Their efforts were later commemorated on the Watts Memorial:
ARTHUR STRANGE, CARMAN OF LONDON, AND MARK TOMLINSON, ON A DESPERATE VENTURE TO SAVE TWO GIRLS FROM A QUICKSAND IN LINCOLNSHIRE WERE THEMSELVES ENGULFED, AUG 25 1902.
That must be one of the most horrible ways to die imaginable !!
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