"Nipper" Parish

The catapulted boy

Nipper Parish - the one who got flipped over the roof when they were cutting the trees down.  I actually saw that, 'cause I was walking down the hill and I would have hung on to the other end of the rope and been with them, but it just went before I got there actually. I just thought it was a piece of bark flying through the air. And he finished up in the back garden. He was called Nipper Parish.  But when you think of the health and safety today - there was all these kids and a few adults all holding this rope - I suppose it was to stop it from falling the wrong way. And then there was quite a big funeral.  (Jack Law)

Photo:The scene of the fatal accident

The scene of the fatal accident

London Metropolitan Archives

Report from the inquest

There's a boy flying through the air

At the beginning of the Easter holidays in 1936, three workmen were felling a dead tree in Wrythe Lane.  Around 100 boys were watching excitedly.  Though asking the older boys to keep the younger ones back, one of the workmen encouraged some older boys to hold onto a rope, telling them to pull but let go when the tree fell. The tree fell almost immediately, the rope pulling the first boy under some railings and burning the hands of another. Someone shouted, "There's a boy flying through the air".  It was 12 year old Stanley Parish whose leg had been trapped in a coil of the rope.

His mother, Mary, saw the whole thing from the front upstairs window of their home on Wrythe Lane. She heard a crack as the tree fell and saw something fly into the air.  It seemed to float and then open out.  A few minutes later she was called to her neighbour's backyard where her son had landed.  He was taken to Carshalton Hospital, arriving at 11.15 and died half and hour later of a broken spine and other injuries.*

Photo:The funeral of Stanley Parish

The funeral of Stanley Parish

Alfred Smith, Funeral Directors

The funeral

His funeral cortege on 16th April was watched by several thousand people. 

Several thousand people watched the cortege.

All down Wrythe Lane for over a mile crowds lined the roadway including most of the scholars of the schools. A guard of honour was formed by the 1st and 2nd St. Helier Troops of the Brotherhood of Scouts of which Stanley was a very enthusiastic and much-liked member.  They wore black armlets and stood at the salute as the coffin was borne from the house to the hearse by Senior scouts... A touch of deep pathos was given by the presence on the top of the coffin of Stanley's Scout hat.  The procession halted for a moment at Winchcombe Road, close to the scene of the tragic accident and as it proceeded on its way to Carshalton Parish Churchyard a large crowd followed on each side of the road.

The service was conducted by the Rev. S.F.Tolley, priest-in-charge of Bishop Andrewe's Church, Wigmore Road, St. Helier. The internment followed in the churchyard where a large number of people not present in the church had gathered near the grave.  So thick was the crowd at one point that the coffin, borne by the Scouts, was almost separated from the family mourners, who included the boy's sorrowing father, mother and sister.  Strenuous efforts on the part of the police kept the crowd back at the graveside.  At the conclusion of the service, many women were overcome and sobbed openly.**

* The Times, 13th April 1936; **Wallington and Carshalton Times, 23rd April 1936 

This page was added by Cheryl Bailey on 25/06/2010.
Comments about this page

Sad story poor lad. Where was that poor lad buried? r.i.p

He is in the churchyard at All Saints, Carshalton. [Ed.]

By philipmaguire
On 02/02/2011

What a sad and tragic story of young Nipper Parish. The title of the article-"The catapulted boy"- immediately took my mind back to a story told in my childhood in the early 1930s by parents and neighbours on "our side" of the Estate (Garendon etc). That was that exactly the same thing had happened when a tree was being felled on the eastern corner of Glastonbury Road and Green Lane. My understanding at the time was that the lad had gone over the roof towards the Green lane Congregational Church. Sounds too much of a coincidence to me, but I guess that's how "urban myths" are born...?

By Bill Mallion
On 02/02/2011

Thank you for your article and kind comments. I am married to Joan (nee Parish) who is 'Nippers' sister. She was five years old at the time. I lived in Whitby Road, and attended the funeral which I still remember vividly. Little did I know then that I would meet Joan in 1949 - we married in 1953 and are still going strong. Many of Stanley's relatives still live in Sutton and we often talk about Nipper. We have a complete set of photographs of the funeral taken by a Daily Mirror photographer, and a large portrait photograph of Stanley taken shortly before his death. Peter Parish, who would have been Nipper's uncle, keeps an eye on Stanley's grave. Nipper's Mum and Dad, and his Nanny Starling are all buried in the same grave!

By Frank Bishop
On 22/06/2012

Thank you for putting this here. My Aunt, Sheila Macdougall, would never tell us all of the story of what she saw when she was 8 years old and Mummy was 6. It affected her for many years as she was very gentle-natured. She would warn us about ropes, and trees, but never quite finish the story of what happened and we always thought it was a cautionary tale, not really true. It was too sad. My Mum and Auntie lived at 30, Winchcombe Road, from when it was first built, and Winchcombe Road was the edge of the estate, and looked out across the lavender fields. 

By Sarah Macdougall
On 26/04/2016

As children we lived at 13 Winchcombe Road. We were called Brannan. My sisters who were a lot older than me used to play out and my sister tells the story about "Nipper Parish" the boy who was catapulted over the roof and landed in their friends garden. Such a tragic story although it haunts me.

By Wendy Kemp
On 28/11/2016

If you're already a registered user of this site, please login using the form on the left-hand side of this page.