We have found evidence of six drownings (which includes one in Back Brook) and several dramatic rescues at the Reservoir (those in the Wendover Arm have been excluded) together with two Royal Humane Society (plus one for resuscitation) and one RSPCA award.

You might expect the incidents to all relate to swimming, but they don't.

Bucks Advertiser & Aylesbury News 07 Jul 1925

1856 - "Found drowned" Thomas Thorn, was found in the back brook, which runs from the reservoir. He is thought to have had a fit while cutting flags that he used to re-bottom flag-chairs. [10]

1874 - Two boys were on a flat bottomed boat. One fell overboard while attempting to drag in the anchor and he was drawn under the boat. His thirteen year old companion James Proctor, failed in an attempt rescue him. Eventually, James White, the Halton Game Keeper dragged them both back into their boat. (The White family lived in a cottage by the canal, named “The Dog Kennel”).[11]

1881 – A boy from Barton fell through the ice into the Reservoir. He sank twice, before being rescued by another boy.[1]

1914 - Eliza Philbey, "Suicide during temporary insanity", depressed following a operation [14]

1914-18 - During the Great War, Clara Payne, daughter of the bailiff took a punt to rescue some young soldiers from Halton Camp – but was reprimanded by her mother for unladylike behaviour.[2]

1915 - Drowning of Private Alfred Watson, aged 19. His death was assumed to be due to an epileptic fit while bathing.[3]

1917 - George Heels, aged 15, received the Royal Humane Society’s certificate for rescuing a soldier from drowning in the Reservoir. This starts a flourish is certificates and awards.[4]

1918 - Miss Florrie Piddington was awarded an RSPCA award at the Beeches in April 1918 for saving a dog in the reservoir. [2] [5]

1919 - 16 year old Norman Stewart was stationed at Halton with the RAF. His body was recovered by a professional diver the body and was in about 24 feet of water.[6]

1925 - Daphne Warren (18) of Halton Camp was teaching her younger sister, Nora to swim in the reservoir. Daphne seems to have panicked when she found herself in deep water. A Mercy Clarke who was also 18 was part of their group and plunged in after them. She was able to retrieve an unconscious Nora. Efforts to save Daphne were to no avail. The Bucks Advertiser described the event as “emphasising the reservoir’s reputation as a death trap”[7][11]

1928 - Francis Cook, canteen assistant Halton Camp, drowned while bathing. He was a non-swimmer accompanied by a weak swimmer.[8]

1953 - An odd incident. Victor Gibbs (accused of 6 indecent offences failed to turn up in court) but it was explained that he had just been rescued from the reservoir. He went on to be convicted and it seems he had previously been convicted for four similar offences. He was ultimately sent to prison for 5 Years.[9]

1967 - Ann Pollott, a 17 year old schoolgirl was taking part in a sailing race on the Reservoir, when her partner in the boat collapsed, capsizing the boat. She managed to free him from where he was trapped under the boat and then swam with him to the shore. She applied artificial respiration and revived him. She was awarded the Royal Humane Society Testimonial on Vellum and the societies’ Resuscitation Certificate.[13]


  1. ^ Bucks Herald 02 Feb 1881

  2. ^ Weston Turville a History by Hamish Eaton

  3. ^ Bucks Herald 24 Jul 1915

  4. ^ Bucks Herald 13 Oct 1917

  5. ^ Bucks Herald 20 Apr 1918

  6. ^ Bucks Herald 24 May 1919

  7. ^ The Standard 01 Aug 1925

  8. ^ Bucks Herald 15 Jun 1928

  9. ^ Bucks Herald 04 Sep 1953 & 09 Oct 1953

  10. ^ Bucks Advertiser & Aylesbury News 09 Aug 1856

  11. ^ Bucks Herald 05 Sep 1874

  12. ^ Bucks Advertiser & Aylesbury News 07 Jul 1925

  13. ^ Bucks Examiner 25 Aug 1967

  14. ^ Bucks Advertiser & Aylesbury News 08 Aug 1914