On this day in Yorkshire

Nostell Priory housemaids trapped in lift: Rescued by police

February 3, 1953

Trapped in a lift from which there was a strong smell of burning, two housemaids at Nostell Priory, near Wakefield, were rescued by police last night, after being suspended for 45 minutes between the second and third floors of the 18th-century mansion.

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A fire alarm was given and units were sent from Featherstone, Wakefield and Castleford, but they were not called into use. The Priory, which was recently offered to the National Trust, is renowned for its collection of Chippendale furniture.

The girls who were trapped were Vera Fretwell (19), second housemaid, of Mulberry Place, Ryhill, and Joan Andrews (15), third housemaid, of West Street. South Kirkby.

Two West Riding police patrolmen caught the girls on their shoulders as they squeezed between the lift and the shaft side.

“We felt cold and a bit shocked,” said Miss Fretwell.

“There had been a smell of burning rubber for some time, and it got very bad as went up in the lift. I stopped the lift and then it would neither go up nor down again,” she added.

The firemen found that a blown fuse was causing the smell of burning.