Notwithstanding the inclemency of the weather, the funeral of James Potter Schofield, a member of the Leeds and Liverpool Insurance Company's Fire Brigade, who was killed during the fire at the Leeds New Station the other day, was yesterday attended with such a display of symphany as has rarely been seen on such an occasion in Leeds. The shocking circumstances under which he met his death were, no doubt, the cause of a great portion of the sympathy which was expressed, but added to that must be added a large amount of that feeling which comes from acquaintances with one whose end has been so tragic. And SChofield was well known and highly respected in various spheres. As a firename he was always ready to obey the calls of duty, and as a member of the permanent staff at the Leeds Grand Theatre he was well-known as being thoroughly obliging and couterous on all occasions. The members of the Leeds Corporation Fire Brigade, with whom he was frequently brought in contact, also have nothing but praise for the man, who was always so kindly in his demeanour and so determined to do his duty under the arduous circmunstances in which firemen are often placed.
As a matter of fact, it is said Schofield would never have met his death as he did had it not been that he took the place of his brother William on the fatal day in order to allow the latter to take some refreshments. For to his other good qualities must be added that of always being thoughtful of others. When a man of such an uniformly kind disposition meets his death in such a manner it is only natural that his friends should wish to show in the only manner possible their respect for his character. And in this case they were supported by thousands who had no personal knowledge of Schofield, but were drawn to attend yesterday by that irresistable feeling which prompts men to show their appreciation of noble conduct in others.
The result of this combination of circumstances was that yesterday afternoon the principal streets of Leeds through which the funeral procession would pass on its way from the residence of the unfortunate man in Bee Hive Yard Vicar Lane, to Burmantofts Cemetery, were crowded with spectators.
Whilst the coffin containing the remains of the deceased was veing carried from the house and laid upon the manual engine of the Liverpool and London and Globe Brigade which was standing outside, the gentlemen of the chorus at the Leeds Grand Theatre sang most impressively Luther's beautiful hymn. The procession then proceeded on its way to the cemetery, the route taken being by way of Vicar Lane, North Street, New Briggate, Briggate, Kirkgate, Marsh Lane, Burnmatofts Street, and Beckett Street.
The following was order of processions :-
The presence of the band of the 14th Hussars at the funeral was regarded by the firemen as an act of great kindness, owing to the fact that a general order has been issued prohibiting military bands from performing until after the internment of the Duke of Clarence. However, special permission was given by the War Office to Colonel the Hon. G. H. Gough, commanding officer, to allow the band of his regiment to attend Schofield's funeral. Along the road to the Cemetery they played the "Dead March."
It may be mentioned that there were in the procession no less than 317 members of various fire brigades in Yorkshire, and that they were headed by Sir Charles Firth, President of the West Riding Fire Brigades' Friendly Society. The coffin was placed on the manual engine of the Brigade to which the deceased had been attached, and was covered with the Union Jack, on which was placed a large number of wreaths from the men of the Corporation and Insurance Companies' Brigades. There was also placed there the burn remnants of the deceased fireman's helmet, which was naturally the source of a good deal of mournful interest.
The following is a list of the different fire brigades represented and the number of officers and men who attended from each:
all in all a total of 317.
The band of the Leeds Atillery also proffered their services, but the arrangements were then complete. The arrangements were admitably conceived and carried out, the Chief Constable and Sir Charles Firth having great assistance from Superintendent McWilliam, Matthews, and Pullan. The private carriages which brought up the procession numbered nearly 40, and included that of the ex-Mayor (Mr. Alf Cooke), who was presented along with Mr. Wardle, the local manager of the Liverpool and London & Globe Brigade. There were also present Mr. H. Hastings, Mr. Polini, and Mr. W. Howarth, representing Mr. W. Barrett of the the Grand Theatre. Following these were the members of the Mountain Flower Lodge. of the Grand United Order of Oddfellows, with which the deceased was connected, and these were followed by private carriages. The Leeds Engineers were represented by many members of the company to which the deceased had belonged.
One of the prominent features of the processions was an open carriageway containing a beautiful floral cross over six feet in length, and bearing the following inscription:- "A loving tribute of respect and sympathy to a good comrade and brave man, James Schofield. From the staff front of the Grand Theatre, Leeds."
The procession to the cemetery occupied an hour and a half in its journey from Vicar Lane, and as an instance of its length it may be stated that it occupied 20 minutes in passing and given point. Fully 20,000 persons had gathered at Beckett Street, but only those who were attending funerals were allowed in the cemetery, the gates of which were kept by a force of police.
The firemen formed intoline and allowed the body to pass through to the church, whence it was afterwards born to the grave, which is in the consecrated portion of the cemetery. The burial rites inside the church and at the graveside were performed by the Rev. Wynn Healey, of the Leeds Parish Church, who gave a brief but very appropriate address. Before the mourners and friends and comrades left the side of the grave the chorus party previously mentioned sang the hymn, "Days and moments quickly flying". Amongst those present in the cemetery were Mr. James Walker, Counsillors Metcalfe, R. P. Brindley, and Batley, and other gentlmen.
At the conclusion of the burial rites the mourning coaches drove to their respective destinations, while the police and the firemen returned to the New Station, by way of Green Road, Kinner Lane, North Street, New Briggate, Upperhead Row, and Albion Street. On this occasion the Insurance Company's Brigade preceded, instead of following, the Corporation Brigade.
On arrival at the New Station a number of members of the Leeds Fire Brigade were told off to conduct the visitors in sections over the scene of the disaster, the railway company having consented to this course being adopted. A programme which had been drawn up in the Chief Constable's office, however, had included in it the following warning:- "All firemen are earnestly requested not to go without Leeds firemen accompanying, or otherwise there will be an accident, as the scene of the fire is very dangerous."
The whole affair was a most impressive one, and partook to a very large extent of the nature of a military funeral, and the spectacle, as witnessed from the room of the Leeds Branch of the Gasworkers and General Labourers' Union in Kirkgate (from which point our sketch was taken), was one which will not readily be forgotten.
Mr. Musgrave Wood, the assessor in the matter of the above fire, writes to contradict the report which has appeared in the press respecting the recent fire at the Leeds stations and "Dark Arches," which states that benzoline, tar, pitch and explosive oils were stowed therein? The only raw material in the arches occupied by Messrs. Joseph Watson and Sons were tallow, palm oil, and resin.
Amongst other wreaths which had been sent were one from the men employed in the front of the house at the Theatre Royal. They had been supplied by Messrs. W. Brotherton & Sons, Kirkgate Market.