The Lost Boy by Robert Close
Click on the image to read the poem

A boy's lonely death

Local historian Fred Wade recounted this sad tale in the 1960s...

"In 1860 an Irish boy 12 years of age ran away from his home at Blackhill and tramped up the Derwent Valley with the intention of going to Rookhope to seek work. He was last seen at Baybridge on a very stormy day and a few days later his dead body was found lying on a flue which carried the smoke and fumes from the Ramshaw Smelt Mill to a chimney situated on the hill top. In his pockets were found a crust of bread, two pennies and a woman's thimble. His mother had died shortly before he left home, and perhaps he took the thimble as a memento of her. The boy's body was not identified and he was buried in Hunstanworth churchyard in the clothes he was wearing when he met his death."

It was supposed the boy, cold and tired, had found a warm spot by the flue on the bleak and desolate moors above Ramshaw. While he rested, he had breathed in the deadly fumes escaping from a leak in the flue's stonework, never to awaken again. Robert Close, the then master of Hunstanworth School, was moved to write this poem about the tragedy. The simple, tender words must have echoed the grief of the whole community...