Punch Magazine – December – 1931 (This has been restored from an original print.)
One of the less unpleasant cartoons lampooning Lord Brightwater and his work for the people around Black Meadow.
Published in December 1931 it deliberately uses a print from David Copperfield and casts Brightwater in the role of Mr Peggotty (a Yarmouth Fisherman). This is not a simple lazy use of old prints (Punch often did this) Peggotty is seen as being of pagan descent and Brightwater’s investigations were seen by some as meddling in the old religions.
The text is simplistic and plays on the old prejudice that London had of the North. Using the phrase “going native” when talking about Yorkshire recasts the north as a foreign landscape. Having the returned Brightwater cast as a pauper and speaking in northern dialect also suggests that he has changed “for the worse” and has lost his intellect.
This is a blunt piece of satire and one that caused a lot of upset for the Brightwater estate for some time.
In 1968 Professor Roger Mullins of the University of York gained access to the Brightwater Archive. The archive contains a wealth of material on the Black Meadow disappearances between 1911 and 1930. Following Lord Brightwater’s resignation in the early 1930’s the files were seized and held by the Home Office until the late 1960’s when they were opened up at the request of Professor Mullins for a research project. When Professor Mullins disappeared whilst exploring Black Meadow in 1972 the files were closed. Under the Freedom of Information Act the public are now allowed access to these files. Over the next few years we will be sifting through and publishing pertinent information on one of the greatest cover-ups of the 20th century.