The curious case of the dog and the manhole

Billy the dog near another manhole in Dansfield Square.
Billy the dog near another manhole in Dansfield Square.

An Amble woman has spoken of her horror after her dog was stuck in a manhole for four hours on Boxing Day.

And now, no authority is claiming ownership of the hole, despite it being fixed on Monday night.

Heather Hall, 58, cut her Boxing Day celebrations short when her son informed her their dog, Billy, had gone missing.

The uncovered manhole was concealed by grass beside Dansfield Square and Heather claims it was broken five weeks ago by workmen building the nearby affordable homes.

“The dog always wants out about half 11 at night,” Heather said. “My son Christian turned his back for one minute and he was gone.”

“I came straight back and I hunted and hunted for him. Christian was down at the house and we couldn’t find him anywhere.”

It wasn’t until around 3am that Christian heard the Staffordshire bull terrier’s cries.

Heather said: “Christian then ran over and shouted, ‘Mam, he’s down a manhole’, so I got my daughter’s boyfriend to come help, even the neighbours.”

Using phones as torches, Billy was freed by Christian, who jumped into the manhole and pushed the dog up as others pulled it to safety.

Heather is now facing costs to have Billy, who sustained cuts and bruises, checked over by a vet, which will cost her £30 for the consultation alone.

Despite this, Heather was more concerned about having the manhole covered up, adding: “There would have been more of an uproar if it was a child.”

On Monday, she contacted the Gazette after failing to get through to Northumberland County Council.

The Gazette spoke to the county council and within hours the manhole had been repaired, although the local authority denies it carried out the work.

A spokesman said: “We have made a number of inquiries into this manhole, but have no trace of it belonging to the council or any work having been carried out by the authority.”

The spokesman added that the new manhole cover was not one which the council would have installed as it is raised from the ground and would pose a trip hazard.

It was suggested that the manhole may belong to Homes for Northumberland, which is working on the land. However, no one from Homes for Northumberland was available for comment and the office is closed until Friday, January 2.

The Gazette also contacted Northumbrian Water. It too was unaware of any call-out to a manhole in Amble, but said it is looking into the matter and liaising with the customer.