Yarmouth Mercury 8th June 1912


An inquest was held on Saturday at the Town Hall upon the body of Ellen Elizabeth Guymer, aged 33, wife of David William Guymer, Corporation labourer of Pleasant Place, Caister Road whose death was due to ptomaine poisoning set up it is beleived by eating a "savoury duck".

The coroner said deceased was said to have eaten what was known as a "faggot" or "savoury duck" though he had never heard the latter term used before. When in bed on Thursday the deceased complained to her husband of feeling pain in her body. When he returned to his breakfast he found her lying on the couch downstairs, still suffering from pain and he advised her to have a doctor, but he said she would not do so. The same state of things continued when he returned in the afternoon and deceased went to bed early in the evening but had a good nights rest. On Friday morning deceased's husband again urged her to have a doctor, and she said she would after breakfast. When he went home to breakfast she was still on the couch and he gave her some brandy and milk. When he came back in the afternoon he found Dr Davies had been and left word that the deceased was dangerously ill. She died about seven o'clock the same night. It was not known whether the "savoury duck" was tainted or not and if the materials were not fresh they might have gone bad and caused ptomaine poisoning which unless attended to very quickly would cause death. It was a pity that the deceased did not send for a doctor, and also that her husband did not himself take the matter to hand and call a doctor in himself, because most probably if medical aid had been called in sooner deceased might have been alive now.

Deceased's husband, asked why he did not send for a doctor sooner, said he did not think his wife was so bad as she knew what her feelings were better than he, and the pain did not appear very severe. When he came home on Friday afernoon he found his wife in bed and his mother and sister there. He did not know that his wife had eaten a "savoury duck" and he had never seen one in the house. He did not know until the doctor told him that his wife had eaten such a thing. On Wednesday she was in good health and was employed in pulling radishes. Witness had had fish for his dinner on Wednesday. Deceased did not like pork, and she had a supper on Wednesday night.

Agnes Guymer, deceased's sister-in-law, said she was called to deceased's house on Friday afternoon and found her in bed, with Dr Davies attending her. Witness had asked her what was the matter, and the deceased stated that she had pain in her body and had been vomitting. She also said she had eaten a "savoury duck". Witness did not ask where or when she got it. Witness had not known her to have eaten such a thing previously.

The husband, recalled, said he began work at six, did not come home to dinner, and finished his days work at 3-15. He had questioned his children, but they could throw no light on it.

Dr A Davies said he was called to deceased, whom he saw a few minutes after noon on Friday. He found her alone in the house in bed upstairs. She told him she had had violent sickness and diarrhea which she attributed to eating a "savoury duck" the day before. Some time after she started being sick, and she said the vomit was as bitter as gall. She had a temperature of 103. There was no pulse at the wrist, but the heart was going very rapidly. There was some tenderness of the abdomen, but the deceased did not complain of any pain. On Friday morning she had not been sick. He considered her suffering from toxaemia, absorbtion of putrid material. She persisted that she had eaten a svoury duck. He did not know what the term meant then but had since found that it was identical with "faggots". Deceased's sister-in-law then came and he infromed her that she must not be left. He prescribed for deceased, who in evening, after vomitting some yellow material collapsed and died. He regarded the case as a serious one as soon as he saw it, but some people got over it. On making a post-mortem he found deceased to be a thin woman. The cause of death was ptomaine poisoning. Anything in a decayed condition was apt to set up ptomaine poisoning.

The coroner said he would like to have the eldest child called in order to ascertain more. The inquest was adjourned until Wednesday. The coroner told Guymer that he and the jury were very sorry that he should have lost his wife so suddenly.

At the adjourned inquest on Wednesday after the coroner announced that inquiries had been made and infromation had reached him which caused him to feel it necessary to have deceased's stomach and it's contents analysed. It was possible that death was not due to "savoury duck" but to some other cause which could not be traced.

The inquest was adjourned for another week.

Yarmouth Mercury 15th June 1912


The adjourned inquest relating to the death of Ellen Elizabeth Guymer, wife of a corporation labourer, of Pleasant Place, Caister Road was resumed at the Town Hall on Wednesday evening.

The coroner said he was afraid he could not carry the enquiry any further that day, and he would have to make another adjournment. An analysis had been made of the contents of the stomach, but it would be necessary to take further advice before he could conclude the inquest. He only got the analyst's report on Tuesday and upon it he wired for instructions, but had heard nothing since. He must therefore adjourn the inquest for another week.

Yarmouth Mercury 22nd June 1912


The adjourned inquest on the body of Ellen Elizabeth Guymer, aged 33, wife of corporation labourer, of Pleasant Place, Caister Road, who died after eating a "savoury duck," and whose death has been atributed to ptomaine poisoning, was resumed on Wednesday at the Town Hall.

The coroner said he had had an analysis made by Mr Sutton, of Norwich, of the contents of deceased's stomach, but there was nothing definate about his report, which was in fact purely negative. He thought he would try to obtain futher assistance through the Home Office, but found this department did not undertake these things except when foul play was suspected. As this was not suspected in this case, he would not carry it any further, unless he employed Dr Wilcox, the Home Office analyst, but that would involved considerable expense to the Borough. He thought it necessary to consult Dr H. Blake, wo had carefully gone into the evidence with him and Dr A.D. Davis, who made the post mortem. He had come to assist them, and he hoped with his aid to arrive at a conclusion that would be satisfactory. he had secured the attendance of one of the children who had fetched the "savoury ducks," and she would tell them that a number were divided amongst the family and eaten by all, including the baby, aged one year and nine months.

Ethel May Pike, a girl of 14, daughter to the deceased, said that about eight o'clock in the morning of, she beleived, May 29th, she went ot the camp on the North Denes with another girl to get some "pieces" (food). she got eight savoury ducks which she took home, and they were eaten by deceased and the family. Her sister Lena, aged 6, ate one, Leah aged 4, ate one, her brother John, aged 9, had one, her sister Emily, aged one year and nine months, ate half of one, deceased had the other half, and witness had two. Her father was not at home to dinner, and therefore knew nothing about them. None of them were ill afterwards except deceased. The baby was no worse. Prior to taking her dinner deceased appeared all right. After dinner deceased lay on the couch, but she was not ill till the evening. She used to go to work in a garden pulling radishes in afternoon, but she sent word to Mrs Carter that she could not come, as she thought she had a billious attack coming on. She sat up to tea. Deceased had been working on the garden in the morning, having started at six o'clock, came home to breakfast, then went back, and returned at one o'clock to dinner.

By a juror - The soldiers who gave her the savoury duck took them from a table.

Dr Davies, re-called, repeated his opinion that deathwas due to toxaemia from purulent peritonitus. Deceased told him she had eaten the savoury duck, to which she attributed her illness, and he found nothing to account for her condition.

In reply to Dr H. Blake, who sat with the Coroner, witness said purlent peritonitus might be due to natural causes.

The Coroner said Mr Sutton, the County analyst, certified that he had made an exhaustive analysis, and found no specific poison present. This did not necessarily exclude ptomaine poison, but no evidence of this was obtainable.

Dr Blake said that ptomaine poisoning would come under the head of natural causes.

The Coroner - Then the cause of death is toxicaemia from purulent peritonitus.

A juror said he would like to express the opinion that no blame attached to Dr Davies>

The Coroner said no one had ever suggested it.

Finally a verdict of "Natural Causes" was returned.

Yarmouth Mercury 29th December 1945


Elderly man Killed in Road Accident

David Guymer (66), a corporation pensioner, who lives on an allotment on Caister Rd Yarmouth, was fatally injured on boxing night when he was knocked down by a car driven by Donald Horace Harris, of Oak Villa, Second Ave, Caister.

The Yarmouth police ambulance took Guymer to hospital but he was dead on arrival.

Yarmouth Mercury 5th January 1946


Questions about the road lighting and whether the headlights of a car where on or off, were asked at the inquest on Friday into the death of David William Guymer (67) living on an allotment on Caister Rd. who was fatally injured by car on Boxing night.

The Yarmouth Acting Coroner (Mr Bracey) returned a verdict of "accidental death."

Mr Humphrey Lynde appeared for the driver of a car involved in the accident, Donald Harris, of Hope Villa, Second Ave, Caister, a commercial travellor.

Martin Edward Guymer, of 86 Harley Rd, a pensioned Corporation bus driver said his brother was suffering from a cataract in one or both eyes, which was developing rapidly, so that he had difficulty in recognising anyone over five yards away.

"Felt a bump"

Harris said he was driving his employer's car along Caister Rd at about 28 m.p.h. towards Caister. He was on the nearside and switched on his headlights on passing out of the lighted part of the road into dark portion at Jellico Rd, but felt a bump and saw an object jump up in front of his car. Immediately he applied the brakes.

The Coroner - What do you mean by something "jumping up?" Witness - I just saw a shadow in the headlight. I could not see what it was.

There was nothing in the beam of your headlight? - No.

Harris added that in his opinion the man must have been lying on the roadway because if he had been walking or standing he would have seen him in the bright headlights. The street lights were off at that point.

P.w.r. L. Mattocks said that there were multiple injuries of Guymer's head, body and legs. The car stopped 17 yards north of where the body was lying. The nearside headlight was smashed and plate and bumper bent.

Street Light Questions

The Coroner - Do you know why the street lights were not alight? Witness - They have not been on since the blackout restrictions were put into force.

The Coroner - It is extraordinary to leave a dark patch like that.

Witness added that there was no definate sign of the body being dragged.

Pc G. Beck said the brakes of the car were in perfect order, and in answer to the Coroner said the street lights were off owing to an economy order by the Ministry of Fuel and Power.

Son's Suggestion

A son of Guymer, on being asked if he had any questions to put to the constable, suggested that Harris was driving through the dark patch without headlights.

Pc Beck said one headlight was smashed and the other one did go on. He was of the opinion that the lights were on. Harris told him that he switched off the headlights afterwards to avoid dazzling oncoming traffic.

Guymer - I myself am a driver. I fail to see how a driver could proceed at 28 to 29 m.p.h. with powerful headlights on and not see any objects in the road. My point of view is, and I must stick to it, that the headlights were not on.

The Coroner - You have evidence that they were.

Addressing Harris the Coroner asked - You are quite certain the headlights were on?

Harris - Yes Sir.

Dr B Adlington, the police surgeon, said death was due to a fracture of the skull, and was almost instantaneous.

Questioned by Mr Lynde, Dr Adlington said he thought Guymer might have been hit in an upright position.

Two Accidents Suggested

Mr Lynde - Do you think it possible that he was a victim of of an accident prior to that time, or do you there was one accident? Witness - One accident could have been sufficient, but I could not give a definate assurance that two accident did not happen.

Harold Stephen Maxtead, a Corporation employee, of 10 Coniston Square, St Nicholas Rd, said he gave Guymer permision to sleep on his allotment and visited him every day to see if he was all right. Guymer ever went out after 3.30 pm as he was partially blind.

Returning his verdict the Coroner commented that he was quite satisfied it was an accident and said from the evidence of the driver and police officers, he thought the lights were on. In his opinion, supported by the evidence, he did not think there was any blame attached to the driver.

Yarmouth Mercury 12th January 1946 (Letters)


Sir - It is shameful to note that it has taken the life of a man to point out to the officials a street lighting condition which, unaltered may cause future accidents. It was asked at an inquest that the Coroner was unaware of a so called "dark patch" on Caister Rd. May I point out that the last lights along this road is directly opposite the 30 m.p.h. speed limit sign therefore outgoing traffic can accelorate on entering this black-out.

Being a user of this part of the road late at night I have seen several near accidents at the junction of Caiter Rd and Freemantle Rd, which is in complete darkness. When the black-out was first lifted, all the lights all the lights along the road were in action, and with all due respect for the economy order made by the Ministry of Fuel and Power, in veiw of the increasing number of road accidents I would suggest the illumination of at least two standards between the junctions of Jellicoe Rd and Freemantle Rds would lessen the danger to all concerned especially alottment holders, who are compelled to use the road at night in order to feed their stock.

If economy is still to be considered surely two bulbs could be removed from the continous string of lamps in the built up area and placed at regular intervals on the dark patch without involving such a great interferance to the switch system.
Yours faithfully A W FUTTER (2 Perebrown Way)