Tag Archives: Betty Cooper

A BOOK ABOUT TUNSTALL MARKET

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TUNSTALL INDOOR MARKET CELEBRATES ITS 160th ANNIVERSARY THIS YEAR

Tunstall’s indoor market was opened in 1858. To celebrate the 160th anniversary of its opening, historical geographer, Betty Cooper and international heritage lawyer, David Martin are writing a book about the market.

HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION

Tunstall’s historic Market Hall is one of the few remaining Victorian covered markets in the country.

The covered market cost £7,651 13s 1d. It was designed by Wolverhampton based architect George Thomas Robinson, who created Burslem’s old town hall. The market hall was opened by the chief bailiff, Thomas Peake on the 2 December 1858. Trading commenced there on the 4 December 1858 and customers could buy meat and fish, poultry and game, fruit and vegetables, groceries and dairy produce, clothing and manufactured goods.

In the early 1880s, one-third of the covered market, including its main entrance in High Street, was demolished to make way for a new town hall.

Built in the free Renaissance style, the town hall was designed by North Staffordshire’s leading architect, Absalom Reade Wood.

While the town hall was being constructed, Wood regenerated the remaining part of the market hall giving it a new glazed roof. New stalls were erected. The floor was relaid and the building was redecorated. Tunstall’s chief bailiff, John Nash Peake, opened the new town hall on the 29 October 1885. To celebrate its opening, a luncheon was held in the town hall. Afterwards, the band of the 4th Royal Irish Dragoon Guards and the members of Burslem Prize Choir gave a Promenade Concert in the covered market. In the evening a football match took place in Phoenix Park and the day ended with a grand ball in the market hall.

BETTY AND DAVID NEED YOUR HELP

Many people who shop in the market today must remember the covered market before it closed for regeneration in the 1990s and the temporary market hall that was erected in Woodland Street.

If you were a child in the 1970s, 80s and 90s, your mother could have taken you to the market on Saturdays when she did the weekend shopping. You may even have had a part-time job working on one of the stalls when you were at school or college.

If you have memories or photographs of the market which you would like to share with Betty and David please contact them at daymar727@talktalk.net

St. Saviour’s (Part Two)

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ST. SAVIOUR’S THE HISTORIC “TIN CHURCH” IN THE ROOKERY

Until it was demolished in 2013 St. Saviour’s the “tin church” in The Rookery was one of the oldest corrugated iron buildings in the world. In this post, first posted in 2011, historical geographer Betty Cooper, who was born in The Rookery, writes about the local miners who built the church.

St. Saviour’s (Part Two)

A mission church, St. Saviour’s was constructed from a self-assembly kit manufactured in London by Messrs Vavasour. The kit was bought by the Parish of Talke in 1867 and erected in Congleton Road, Butt Lane on a site called the Hollins, which had been given by Mrs Marsh Caldwell who lived at Linley Hall.

Local landowners, including Mrs Marsh Caldwell and her daughters, subscribed to the building fund.

“Tin Churches” which the Victorians called “Tin Tabernacles” were easy to erect by volunteers. When the “self-assembly kit” arrived at Butt Lane it contained an instruction booklet and everything needed to construct the church including numbered corrugated iron sheets, pre-cut wooden strips, doors and windows.

Working in the evenings and at weekends, colliers from Butt Lane and Talke cleared the site, laid the foundations, erected the timber frame and bolted the prefabricated corrugated iron sheets, the doors and the windows to it.

St. Saviour’s cost less than £350 although an additional £300 had to be raised to pay a local builder who was employed to construct a wall around the site.

A single storey building, the church could accommodate 120 worshippers. The interior was lined with stained wood. There was an inscription over the chancel arch and a stained glass window above the altar which depicted “Christ the Saviour of the World”.

St. Saviour’s was opened by George Selwyn, the Bishop of Lichfield, on April 1st, 1868.

At 2.00pm a procession, containing the bishop and local clergymen, was formed at a nearby farmhouse. Led by Chesterton Church choir, the procession made its way to St. Saviour’s.

The bishop entered the church, and the service began. Admission to the service was by ticket only. Tickets cost £3 – a price the colliers, who had built the church, could not afford to pay.

A large number of colliers and their families had gathered outside the building. While the hymn before the sermon was being sung, the Bishop surprised everyone. Instead of making his way to the pulpit, he walked down the aisle to the main entrance. After the hymn, he stood in the porch and preached to the crowd standing outside.

During the service a collection was held which raised £12 to support church missions in New Zealand where George had been a bishop for ten years before coming to Lichfield.

St. Saviour’s served Butt Lane until 1879 when it was replaced by a mock Tudor timber-framed building. The redundant “tin church” was acquired by Mow Cop parish. The building was dismantled and taken to The Rookery where it was reassembled.

Copyright Betty Cooper 2011

Focus on Kidsgrove – The Kitcrew Bugget

Brindley's Harecastle Tunnel (Chatterley)

The Rev. Frederick George  Llewellin, the Vicar of Kidsgrove from 1922 until his death in 1941, wrote a book “The Lighter Side of a Parson’s Life” about his ministry in the town.

In this edited extract from the chapter which looks at the lives of the boat people who worked on the Trent & Mersey Canal, he tells the story of the Kitcrew Bugget – a ghost that haunts the Brindley Tunnel which runs under Harecastle Hill.

The Kitcrew Bugget 

“Lor, bless yer, lad, don’t yer know? Did yer never hear tell o’ it? Well, gaffer, years ago, in the very middle o’ the tunnel right atween Tunstall on the one side and Kitcrew (Kidsgrove) junction on the other, two men murdered a woman and threw her body inter the tunnel and because it wor a deed o’ violence and her life wor taken from her before it wor asked for, that there ‘oman have never lain quiet.

“But years ago as it wor, she’d appear, sometimes in the form o’ a white horse, sometimes like a female without a head, but whenever her comes, trouble’s sure to foller. Never wor there an accident at the collieries but the Kitcrew Bugget wor sure to come to tell o’ it. Somebody ‘ll die, or be murdered or drowned in the cut (canal) or coal mine when that there ghost appears.”

Note: The Kitcrew Bugget is sometimes called the Kidsgrove Boggart or the Kidcrew Buggett.

The photograph taken in 2012 shows the Chatterley entrance to the Brindley Tunnel – the home of the Kitcrew Bugget

Alexander Scrivener (1852-1921)

Albert Square - Fenton

Albert Square, Fenton

Alexander Scrivener, the architect who designed Fenton town hall, was born in Shelton on April 19th, 1852.

His father, Robert, and his elder brother, Edward, were architects. During 1868, Robert and Edward went into partnership and formed Robert Scrivener and Son whose offices were in Howard Place, Shelton. The firm designed the Mechanics Institution in Pall Mall and the Queen’s Hotel in Albion Street which later became Hanley Town Hall.

Alexander was educated at Hanley Art School. He became an architect and joined the firm. When their father died in 1878, Edward and Alexander acquired the practice.

Alexander married Anne Twyford. They had five children. The family lived in Endon where they worshipped at the parish church.

Alexander’s hobbies were music and archaeology. He conducted the Endon Choral Society and was choirmaster at the parish church.

A member of the North Staffordshire Field Club, he took part in archaeological digs and led field trips to historic buildings. The club made him its president for the year 1895-96. He undertook historical research and wrote articles for its journal.  In 1904, the Field Club awarded him the Garner Medal for services to archaeology and made him its president again a year later. During 1914, he excavated Castle Hill, at Audley proving conclusively that the de Audley family had built a castle there in the Middle Ages.

Politically, the Scriveners were Conservatives. They designed Hanley’s Conservative Club in Trinity Street which opened on February 25th, 1878.

Edward and Alexander were astute businessmen who used their professional skill and expertise to make Robert Scrivener and Son the area’s leading architects.

Sanitary ware manufacturer, Thomas Twyford employed the firm to design his Cliffe Vale factory. The practice built churches and schools throughout The Potteries and designed The Sentinel’s office in Foundry Street, Hanley. It designed numerous buildings in the town including the Roman Catholic Church in Jasper Street, the Higher Grade Elementary School, the Freemasons Hall in Cheapside and the telephone exchange in Marsh Street.

The buildings in Fenton which the firm designed included Queen Street Board Schools, the Cemetery Chapels and the Temperance Coffee Tavern in City Road. It built shops and offices in Christchurch Street, laid out Albert Square and designed the town hall.

Alexander designed St. Paul’s Church in Victoria Road, Newcastle-under-Lyme whose foundation Stone was laid by Sir Lovelace Stamer, the Bishop of Shrewsbury, on June 15th, 1905. Edward died while the church was being constructed and Alexander became the senior partner in the firm.

Consecrated by the Bishop of Lichfield in 1908, St. Paul’s was built of stone. A perpendicular style building, the church cost almost £700. The building, which could accommodate over 500 worshippers, had an octagonal spire. It had central heating and was lit by gas lights.

Alexander remained in practice until his death. Taken ill suddenly, he died aged 69 on December 17th, 1921 and was buried in Endon churchyard.

Copyright Betty Cooper – The Phoenix Trust 2013

Focus on Burslem: John Ward (1781-1871)

St. Paul's Church, Burslem (640x409)John Ward, the author of “The Borough of Stoke-upon-Trent” published in 1843, was born at Slawston in Leicestershire on June 22nd, 1781.

John who became one of North Staffordshire’s leading lawyers served his articles with an attorney in Cheadle.

Qualifying in 1808, he moved to Burslem and set up his own practice.

At the time, Britain and her allies were at war with France. Napoleon’s army had defeated the Prussians. English troops, commanded by the Duke of Wellington, were fighting a rearguard action in Portugal and John joined the Longport Volunteers, a unit formed to help defend The Potteries if the French invaded.

In 1811, John married Anne Rice from Ashby-de-la-Zouch. They had one son, William, who died of pleurisy in 1847.

An able lawyer, he quickly established an extensive practice and acted for leading industrialists and large landowners including Admiral Smith Child and his grandson Sir Smith Child. Like all successful lawyers, John made enemies. Burslem pottery manufacturer Enoch Wood accused him of professional misconduct. John sued for defamation and Wood was ordered to pay him £100 damages.

A devout Christian, John was churchwarden at St. Paul’s in Dalehall, a church he helped to build. Erected on land given by William Adams, the church was consecrated by Henry Ryder, the Bishop of Lichfield, on January 19th, 1831. Costing £2,000 the medieval Perpendicular style Hollington stone building was designed by London architect Lewis Vulliamy who also built Christ Church, Cobridge.

The Reform Act 1832 made Stoke-upon-Trent a Parliamentary Borough giving it two Members of Parliament. Tunstall, Burslem, Hanley, Longton and Fenton were included in the constituency.

In 1837, local historian Simeon Shaw, using John’s archives, began writing “The Borough of Stoke-upon-Trent” which he hoped to publish in monthly instalments.

Rewritten and edited by John, the first eight parts were printed under Shaw’s name. A financial dispute arose between Shaw and his publishers. They refused to publish any more instalments until John agreed to take over the series and complete the work. He wrote the last 12 parts, and all the instalments were made into a book called “The Borough of Stoke-upon-Trent”. John was acknowledged as the author, but all profits from its sales were given to Shaw.

Politically a Conservative, John was one of Burslem’s improvement commissioners who were responsible for providing street lighting and policing. The town’s market trustees made him their clerk. He arranged for them to buy land in the town centre where they erected a meat market. Opened on October 1st, 1836 the market hall was a Romanesque-style stone building designed by architect Samuel Ledward.

Large-scale riots took place in Staffordshire during August 1842. Armed troops were used to maintain law and order. Men and women who had been arrested were taken to Stafford Gaol. The Crown employed John to help prosecute them. They were tried by Special Commissioners, who were High Court judges, sitting at Stafford.

John remained in practice until he died at his home, Furlong House in Burslem, on June 3rd, 1870. He was 89 years old. His funeral took place at St. Paul’s, Dalehall and he was buried in the churchyard.

Copyright Betty Cooper – The Phoenix Trust, September 2010

Stoke-on-Trent’s First Art Schools

Great Exhibition Crystal_Palace_interior (640x436)

Stoke-on-Trent’s first art school, The Potteries School of Design, was opened on January 25th, 1847. It held evening classes in Hanley, Stoke and Longton. Students were taught elementary drawing, basic design, freehand painting and modelling.

The school’s first headmaster, John Murdock, and his successor, John Charles Robinson, made it a centre of excellence. Students won national prizes and were awarded scholarships enabling them to continue their studies at the Government School of Design in London.

During 1851, pottery designed by students from North Staffordshire was exhibited at the Great Exhibition, held at the Crystal Palace* in Hyde Park. Their designs impressed Prince Albert who had helped to organise the exhibition. He persuaded the government to devise a scheme to build a regional College of Art and Technology in Hanley which would have university status and branch schools in Tunstall, Burslem, Longton and Newcastle-under-Lyme.

The government’s proposal to build a regional college in Hanley was made public at a meeting held at the Wesleyan School in Burslem on January 19th, 1853.

During the meeting, Smith Child, who was North Staffordshire’s most generous philanthropist, and leading pottery manufacturer Herbert Minton offered to help finance the college. The scheme was rejected by civic leaders and pottery manufacturers who wanted each town to have its own art school. Prince Albert’s attempt to bring higher education to The Potteries had failed.

Shortly afterwards, small design schools were established in Newcastle-under-Lyme and Burslem.

Monthly fees for students attending classes at the Burslem school were 1/9d (9p) for men and 1/6d (7.5p) for women. The school’s headmaster was William Jabez Mückley, an artist whose work had been exhibited at the Royal Academy. It held classes in the assembly room at the Legs of Man, an old coaching inn frequented by thieves and prostitutes. Despite the venue, William was a popular teacher who attracted and retained students. Although the school gave Burslem well-trained pottery designers and skilled crafts persons, local firms refused to help it find more suitable premises.

The school closed when William left Burslem in 1858.

*The illustration shows The Great Exhibition in the Crystal Palace

Copyright Betty Cooper – The Phoenix Trust, September 2010

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Postal services in North Staffordshire

Established in 1635, the Royal Mail used despatch riders, mounted on fast horses, to carry letters between major towns and cities.

Post offices were opened at Stafford, Stone, Leek, Lichfield and Newcastle, which was on the main post road linking London with Chester, Liverpool, Manchester, Preston and Carlisle.

By 1734, Newcastle’s post office was in the Swan Inn and everyday post boys delivered letters to The Potteries and neighbouring villages.

Black, maroon and red painted mail coaches, whose average speed was six or seven miles an hour, replaced despatch riders in 1784. Protected by scarlet-coated guards armed with blunderbusses, pistols and cutlasses, these coaches became familiar sights in Tunstall and Burslem, where the postmaster was the landlord of the Legs of Man Inn.

When the Grand Junction Railway opened in 1837, the post was brought by train to Whitmore and taken by horse-drawn wagon to the main post office at Newcastle for distribution throughout the district. Mail coaches ceased to run and in 1854 the main post office was moved from Newcastle to Stoke Station.

Until 1840, when the prepaid penny post was introduced by Rowland Hill, postal charges averaging six pence a letter were paid by the recipient, not by the sender.

The penny post increased the number of letters sent and the Post Office developed new services including a special cheap rate “book post” and the Post Office Savings Bank. Towards the end of the 1850s, pillar boxes where letters could be posted were erected in Hanley, Longton and Stoke.

Small sub-post offices were opened at Chell, Kidsgrove, Chesterton, Norton and Wolstanton.

At Silverdale, where Mr J.H. Wrench was the postmaster, the post office in Church Street was open between 9.00am and 8.00pm six days a week. It closed on Sundays, although the telegraph service opened for two hours in the morning. When the post office was open, letters were delivered twice daily at 7.00am and 5.00pm and the mail was collected three times a day at 9.45am, 7.00pm and 8.45pm.

Very few post offices were purpose built and many postmasters had other occupations. Tunstall’s postmaster, Benjamin Griffiths was a watch and clock maker who had a shop in the Market Place (Tower Square). When he retired, newsagent Samuel Adams, who was also the parish registrar and church clerk became the postmaster.

Hanley whose population was 32,000 had a small post office in Fountain Square. When the borough council asked the government for a second post office, the Postmaster General said: “It was not usual to have two post offices in a village.”

The illustration shows an artist’s impression of a mail coach caught in a thunderstorm.

Copyright Betty Cooper – The Phoenix Trust 2013

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The Caldon Canal

Springs Bridge

A major tourist attraction, the Caldon Canal, which passes through Hanley Park, links The Potteries with Leek and Froghall.

Branching from the Trent and Mersey Canal at Etruria’s Summit Lock, the Caldon Canal was constructed by Scottish civil engineer John Rennie.

John, who designed London Bridge, Southwark Bridge and Waterloo Bridge, was born at Phantassie near Edinburgh on June 7th, 1761. He began his career building flour mills and constructing drainage systems on the Solway Firth. Moving to England, he worked on projects to drain East Anglia’s fens and built roads, bridges and canals, including the Kennet and Avon Canal, the Lancaster Canal and the Rochdale Canal.

Opened in 1779, the Caldon Canal meanders for 17 miles through the Trent and Churnet valleys.

Canal boats brought coal from Kidsgrove to forges in the Churnet Valley and flint stones to flint mills where they were ground, bake-dried and turned into slop, which the pottery industry used to make earthenware more durable.

The canal terminated at Froghall Wharf, where a tramway had been laid to limestone quarries at Cauldon Lowe.

Between 1779 and 1797 two thousand boats were loaded at the wharf with 40,000 tons of limestone, which was used as a flux to smelt iron ore, to make fertiliser or to build houses, town halls and churches.

Towards the end of the 18th century, the Trent & Mersey Canal Company, which owned the Caldon Canal, decided to build a reservoir at Rudyard and construct branch canals to Leek and Uttoxeter.

The Leek branch opened in 1802 but work stopped on the Uttoxeter branch in 1809 when the company ran out of money. It borrowed £30,000 to complete the branch which opened on September 3rd, 1811 when six or seven boats took the directors and their guests from Uttoxeter to Crump Wood Weir (between Denstone and Alton) for a picnic lunch.

Large wharfs and dry docks were constructed at Uttoxeter where canal boats were built and repaired.

The branch to Uttoxeter, which carried coal, copper and brass from Alton, Kingsley and Oakamoor, was not a commercial success. It closed in 1847.

The canal was drained and its bed was used by engineers who were constructing the section of the Churnet Valley Railway that ran between Uttoxeter and Froghall.

Like the Uttoxeter branch, the Leek branch of the canal was not economically viable although it continued to carry coal until the late 1930s.

Copyright Betty Cooper – The Phoenix Trust 2012

The first passenger train from Stoke

Stone Station

Isolated from the main railway network that was constructed in the 1830s, North Staffordshire’s pottery industry had to rely on canals for raw materials and to distribute its products.

During 1835, leading industrialists made plans to build a railway linking The Potteries to the national network.

These plans were forgotten when North Staffordshire was hit by a recession. Factories and mines closed. There were strikes and lockouts culminating in the Chartist Riots and the Battle of Burslem in 1842.

Two years later, pottery manufacturer William Copeland, who was a Member of Parliament, called a series of meetings to discuss building railway links to Manchester, Liverpool and Birkenhead.

The North Staffordshire Railway Company was formed to construct the Churnet Valley Line and lines running from Macclesfield and Crewe through The Potteries to Norton Bridge, Colwich and Burton-on-Trent.

The company’s first line ran from Stoke to Norton Bridge. Opened for goods traffic on April 3rd, 1848, the line started carrying passengers shortly afterwards.

Between 7.30am and 8.00am on Monday, April 17th about 80 people made their way, by carriage and horse-drawn omnibus, to the 18th-century mansion in Fenton built by Thomas Whieldon which had been turned into a temporary railway station.

They entered the building and bought tickets to travel on the first passenger train from Stoke-on-Trent to Norton Bridge which stopped at Trentham and Stone.

Just before 8.00am, a bell rang. The passengers got on the train. The engine driver blew the locomotive’s whistle. He opened the throttle. Clouds of steam engulfed the platform. Smoke poured out of the locomotive’s funnel and the train began to move slowly. It quickly gathered speed and was soon travelling at 25 miles an hour, terrifying cattle and sheep grazing in trackside pastures.

A temporary station had been built at Stone, where the train stopped for several minutes enabling passengers to get out and view the construction work taking place there. They saw men constructing a line from Stone to the Trent Valley Railway’s mainline at Colwich that would provide a direct route for express trains running between Stoke and London. At the junction, where the Colwich line joined the Norton Bridge line, an Elizabethan style station, with corn and cheese warehouses, coal yards and cattle pens, was being built.

A bell rang and the passengers rejoined the train. The train left Stone and arrived at Norton Bridge just half an hour after it had left Fenton. Passengers got off and caught a mail train that took them to Stafford which they reached before 9.00am.

Copyright Betty Cooper – The Phoenix Trust 2012

Photograph © Copyright Maurice Pullin and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

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Spotlight on Kidsgrove – The Avenue Villa Murders

L0004829 Asylum for Criminal Lunatics, Broadmoor, Berkshire.

THE CRIMINAL LUNATIC ASYLUM AT BROARDMOOR

On October 2nd, 1911, people living in North Staffordshire and South Cheshire were shocked when they read in the Sentinel that a burglar had murdered widow Mrs Mary Weir, her four-year-old daughter, Margaret, and Mary Hambleton, the family’s 17-year-old maid.

The victims lived at Avenue Villa, a large detached house in Liverpool Road, Kidsgrove which stood in its own grounds overlooking the Victoria Hall and the cemetery. Surrounded by trees, the secluded villa (now demolished) was approached by a long, winding drive. At about ten o’ clock in the morning, Mrs Eliza Stanfield, who lived across the road, was looking out of her window and saw a man walking up the drive towards the house.

Two hours later, Mrs Weir’s eight-year-old daughter Jennie, came home from school for dinner. She saw an empty cash box lying on the floor in the hall. Going upstairs, she found the three bodies lying in pools of blood. They had all been stunned by blows to the head before being stabbed four or five times with a chisels or a stiletto – a short dagger with a tapering blade.

The cash box belonged to William Lehr, a German civil engineer who was erecting a battery of German designed Carl Still coke ovens at Birchenwood Colliery. He had been living with the Weirs for eight days when the murders were committed. The burglar took £30 in gold sovereigns and silver coins from a draw in William’s bedroom where he kept the cash box and a leather bag containing £15. The bag was missing and suspicion fell on Karl Kramer, a German construction worker at Birchenwood, who had helped William move his possessions to Avenue Villa a few days previously.

A keen cyclist, Kramer who was 28 years old had been an infantryman in the German army. He cycled all the way from Wakefield to The Potteries looking for work. He came to Kidsgrove, where German workers were building a battery of 72 Carl Still coke ovens at Birchenwood, on September 14th, 1911. William gave him a job and he found lodgings with Esther Shufflebotham, an elderly woman who kept a shop in Goldenhill. Kramer left Birchenwood on Wednesday, September 27th, after a row with William and two days later walked out of his lodgings owing Mrs Shufflebotham eleven shillings (55p) rent. Everyone thought he had left the district but on the morning of Monday, October 2nd, he cycled from Red Bull to Kidsgrove. Leaving his cycle at a stonemason’s yard near the Harecastle Hotel, he walked into town. When he returned about an hour later to collect his cycle, Kramer seemed agitated and anxious to get away quickly.

When the murders were discovered, Staffordshire Police organised a nationwide manhunt for Kramer. A watch was kept on ports in case he tried to get back to Germany. His description was given to the newspapers and the public was asked to help find a 5 foot 7 inches tall German in his early 30s, with nut brown hair and a bristly moustache, wearing a green striped peaked cap, a dark green suit and black shoes.

On leaving Kidsgrove, Kramer cycled to Macclesfield. Stopping for a drink at the Bleeding Wolf, an old coaching inn on the A34 at Hall Green, he kept going outside to see if anyone was following him. By two o’ clock Kramer had arrived in Macclesfield and went to a hairdresser, where barber Samuel Rider shaved him and took off his moustache. Taking his bike with him, he caught a train to Leeds. Arriving there at about five o’ clock, he purchased a rolled gold chain from a jeweller. Realising that his suit was bloodstained, Kramer went to a clothes shop and bought the first ready to wear suit the assistant showed him. The suit needed altering and he left the shop while the alterations were made. When he collected the suit two hours later, Kramer paid for it with silver coins and purchased a hat. He changed into his new suit and left the shop carrying the bloodstained one in a box, which one of the assistants had given him. He booked a room for the night at the Phoenix Temperance Hotel paying four shillings (20p) for bed and breakfast.

Before going to bed, Kramer went to a public-house, the Prince of Wale, and started buying drinks for everyone in the smoke room. He bought several rounds and paid for them with gold and silver coins taken out of a leather bag that he kept in his hip pocket. A woman, Dora Goldstone, approached Kramer. He bought her a drink and asked if she would like to dance. While they were dancing, Goldstone put her hands in his pocket and stole the leather bag which contained £27. She left the public-house and shared the money with two men who followed her out. When he realised the money was missing, Kramer reported the theft to the police saying his name was John Reuter.

The following day, Kramer made his way to York where he offered to sell his bicycle to George King a cycle dealer. King was suspicious. He believed the cycle had been stolen and called the police. Kramer told them his name was Alfred Woltman and that he had travelled by bicycle and train from London to York looking for work. The police believed him and King bought the cycle for fifteen shillings (75p).

Kramer left York the next morning and went to Bentley, a small mining village near Doncaster. Saying he was a fitter from Glasgow who had come to work at a local colliery, Kramer found lodgings at William Bradshaw’s fish and chip shop. That evening, Bradshaw read a report of the murders in his newspaper which gave a description of the wanted man. Realising that his lodger was the murderer, Bradshaw informed the police and Kramer was arrested. He said his name was Ainfred Woltmann and when charged replied, “Me no understand”. The West Riding Constabulary, who had made the arrest, handed him over to Staffordshire Police and he was brought back to Kidsgrove where bloodstains were found on his underclothes.

On Saturday, October 7th, Kramer was remanded in custody by the Magistrates and taken to Stafford Prison. A few days later an inquest was held at the Victoria Hall, Kidsgrove into the deaths of Mary Weir, her daughter Margaret and the maid Mary Hambleton. The jury said they had been wilfully murdered by Kramer and the Coroner committed him for trial to Stafford Assizes.

While he was awaiting trial, the prison authorities discovered that Kramer was mentally ill. He became withdrawn and lost interest in everything. On Tuesday, November 14th, two prison officers carried him into the dock at Stafford Assizes and placed his seemingly lifeless body on a chair. He sat with his head in his hands while the court clerk read the indictment. Kramer remained silent when asked whether he pleaded guilty or not guilty. Two doctors told the court he was insane and unable to understand the proceedings. Accepting their evidence, the jury found that he was unfit to plead and the judge, Mr Justice Pickford, ordered him to be detained in custody during His Majesty’s pleasure. Kramer was taken back to Stafford Prison and shortly afterwards transferred to the criminal lunatic asylum at Broadmoor.

Copyright Betty Cooper 2010