Considerable consternation was caused in Cheshunt on Monday, 23rd May, when it became widely known that Mr Frank Bray, the landlord of the Old Pond Inn, opposite the Police Station, had that morning met his death in painful circumstances.
It seems that just before five a.m., Mrs Bray awoke to find her husband was not in beside her so she went to look for him. Venturing into the yard at back of the house, she was horrified to find her husband with his head in a tank of water and clad only in his night attire. The Police were at once sent for and a doctor was summoned at the same time but the unfortunate man was beyond human aid; the body was removed to the mortuary to await an inquest.
The deceased, Frank Bray, was Second Officer of the Cheshunt Fire Brigade, of which he had been a member for over twelve years and held the Long Service Medal. Frank Bray was held in high esteem by his brother firemen and he formed part of the Guard of Honour at the recent proclamation of King George at Cheshunt. He leaves a widow and family for whom deep sympathy is felt.
In the afternoon of the 28th May, at the Courthouse in Cheshunt, Mr R.P. Longmore, Deputy Coroner and a Jury of which Mr E.G. Twyman was foreman, investigated the circumstances surrounding Frank Bray’s death.
Mrs Louise Bray, the widow, stated that the deceased was forty-two years of age. On Sunday night they went to bed at 11.45 p.m. On awakening just before 5 a.m., she realised her husband wasn’t in bed. Louisa said she came downstairs and going into their yard saw her husband with his head in a soft water, galvanized iron tank, which was about three foot square. His head was at the bottom of the tank but his feet and legs were sticking out of it. The tank would not have been in his path if he was on his way to the lavatory.
Louise Bray said she knocked on the door of her neighbour, Mrs Wilkinson; the Police were sent for. Louise said she had tried to pull her husband out of the tank but it was more than she could manage. Louise said PC Cassie and someone else had got her husband out of the tank.
The Coroner, Mr Longmore, asked Mrs Bray if her husband had seemed in good health recently and if he had shown any signs of being depressed about anything.
Mrs Bray said her husband had been his normal healthy self of late but had spoken of his concern about a large tax bill they had coming in. Mrs Bray said she hadn’t been concerned enough to be worried about the tax bill because they didn’t have any money worries and they weren’t in debt.
The Coroner asked Mrs Bray if her husband had ever mentioned the taking of his own life.
Mrs Bray said, “Oh no. He never spoke of such a thing.”
PC Cassie stated that he was called to the Old Pond Inn just before 5 a.m. The deceased was in the water tank in the backyard. PC Cassie said he helped to get the deceased out of the tank. PC Cassie stated he had known Frank Bray for fifteen years and he had not noticed any changes in his personality or demeanour in recent months.
In reply to questions from the jury foreman, Mr Twyman, PC Cassie said the deceased was in his night attire in the tank. His head was at the bottom of the tank but his feet and lower legs were sticking out of the tank. There was only about two feet of water in the tank.
Dr W.F. Clark, of Cheshunt, stated that when he arrived at the Old Pond Inn at 5.30 a.m., the Police were trying to revive Frank Bray using artificial respiration. The death had been caused by drowning. In his opinion, Dr Clark estimated that the deceased had been dead for nearly three hours on his arrival.
The Jury found the deceased had, “committed suicide whilst labouring under a fit of temporary insanity.”
The Coroner addressed the jury, “I am sure the gentlemen of the jury will join me in expressing sympathy with the widow.”
The foreman of the jury replied, “We deeply sympathise with the widow in her trouble.”