top of page

1945: Sisters accidently gassed in Broad Street

Updated: Dec 27, 2022

West Sussex Gazette - Thursday 27 December 1945



A verdict of "Death by misadventure" was recorded by the East Sussex Coroner at an inquest in Broad Street on Mrs. Lillian Pepper Norris Gardiner (69) and her sister. Miss Violet Norris Hobson, stated to be 68. They were found dead there from coal gas poisoning. but the Coroner said he found that what occurred was purely accidental. Dr. Farr said he was called to the house and found that Miss Hobson had been dead for about an hour, and Mrs. Gardiner for considerably longer.

Mrs. Gardiner was lying in a bed room in which there was a considerable escape, almost noiseless, of gas. The house stank of gas. although the windows and doors had been opened. Dr. Farr said he had attended the ladies for some years. Mrs. Gardiner was devoted to her sister, an invalid, and from his knowledge of them and of the conditions he found he had no doubt that what occurred was accidental. Miss R. Ross-Turner said she had lived with the sisters for some years. occupying a back bed room down a little flight of stain. Deceased were absent-minded.

Broad Street c1945

On the morning of the tragedy she was awakened by a neighbour, who asked her to open the back door. When she opened the door on the landing she was more or less overpowered by the effect of gas. Witness said she was in the habit of blocking up her own door on account of a draught. The Coroner: “Very fortunate for you." Mrs. Martin. the next door neighbour also said the sisters were absent-minded.

On the morning of their death she saw that the windows of Mrs. Gardiner's house were shut and the curtains drawn and, as this was unusual, she and her husband roused Miss Ross-Turner. who let them in. They found Miss Robson dead in bed and Mrs. Gardiner dead in her bed— she was in night attire—in her own room. Mr. Martin said that in both rooms the gas was alight and night lights were burning. He went for the police and met Dr. Farr.

Upon returning to Mrs. Gardiner's room he heard a slight hissing noise and, pulling aside a small table, found it came from a ringed tube hanging over the gas bracket. The gas was slightly on. Ps Monger said he assumed that Mrs. Gardiner entered the room in the dark and turned the wrong tap on first and forgot to turn it off before going to bed. Preparations for the morning had been made in the scullery. Witness said there had to be silence before the hissing of the escaping gas could be heard, and when Mr. Martin' went into the room the first time traffic might have been passing.



bottom of page