Huddersfield Chronicle (22/Aug/1891) - Horrible Tragedy at Linthwaite: A Young Woman Brutally Murdered

The following is a transcription of a historic newspaper article and may contain occasional errors. If the article was published prior to 1 June 1957, then the text is likely in the Public Domain.






A murder of horrible brutality was committed on the outskirts of the borough of Huddersfield yesterday evening, which in its revolting details furnishes only too sad a parallel to other cases that have gone to make up a perfect epidemic of shocking outrages reported during the last few months. The scene of the tragedy in this instance is no obscure district, impenetrable to good government and incapable of being effectually ruled by the police, but all open and busy thoroughfare in Linthwaite. The time is not the dead of night, but broad daylight. And the exact site is not an obscure court or alley, but the public-house known as "The Ivy." In spite of all these circumstances, however, a murder, or to be strictly accurate what it appears impossible can be other than a murder, and that accompanied with accessory brutality, was committed upon a young girl, left alone in charge of the house, without anyone having been yet found who can provide more than circumstantial evidence as to its commission.

As far as they had been ascertained up to a late hour last night, the following appears to be a narrative of the facts.

Mrs. Margaret Brook, who has been the tenant of " The Ivy," Linthwaite," for nearly two decades, has been managing her house with the assistance of one girl, Catherine Dennis, aged 16, a native of Flint, in Flintshire. In Mrs. Brook's absence, this girl has been in charge of the house. Yesterday afternoon Mrs. Brook left her home and came to Huddersfield for domestic purposes, leaving the girl alone. At the house John William Iredale was refreshing himself at three o'clock in the afternoon, the girl being hale and well then. Two men, whose names at that time were not known, but who were known at the house, were seen to come in, and Iredale left them alone with the girl while he proceeded about his business in the ordinary way. Then there comes a blank. The next ascertained fact is that at four o'clock approximately a lad named Beevers, who is in the service of the Linthwaite Co-operative Society, called at the house for the purpose of delivering some meat. It appeared deserted to him, and he went outside again and made enquiries among the neighbours. A Mrs. Sarah Ann Bailey, wife of a weaver, who lives in the vicinity, came to his aid and stated that she knew there ought to be someone there. Together they retraced their steps to the house, and the woman, on finding no one, as the lad had done before her, proceeded to make a search about the premises.

On going upstairs an appalling sight met her eyes. Stretched on the floor, on her back, with a pool of blood around her neck, lay the poor girl, with a minute gash in her throat. After a cursory examination the woman hastened outside again, and raised the neighbourhood.

The news spread like wildfire, the residents and passers-by quickly thronged the premises, the police were summoned, a doctor was fetched, and, owing to the position of the wound and of the blood that had flowed from it, and the appearance of the body of the unfortunate girl, it was clear that the notion of suicide must be cast aside, and that of murder, possibly accompanied by a foul dishonour, must be substituted for it.

Here, for a moment, we must leave the scene of the tragedy and revert to the actors who have been already introduced.

John William Iredale, the young man who left the house at 3-15, heard among others, so he states, what had since happened. For some reason, he proceeded along the highroad past the "Ivy," and in the direction of Slaithwaite, taking another young man along with him. He at once came upon the two men he had left at the house, and steadily dogged their steps right along a mile or two of highroad, until he met two policemen in Slaithwaite. To these two officers, Sergeant Ramsden and Police Constable Downs, he communicated his suspicions that the two men — whom he had now left, trusting to his companion to keep them in sight — were the murderers. The constables listened to the story and finally decided that they ought to arrest the men on suspicion, before they proceeded further. They were, however, now on ahead, and with Iredale the officers followed. The men were found leisurely drinking in the Dartmouth Arms, the one conversing quietly with the landlord, the other ensconced comfortably in the taproom.

Both were allowed time to finish what they had before them, and then the officers communicated their requirements. The men were arrested, coming quietly away from the house, although protesting their innocence.

By this time, however, the news of the occurrence had spread throughout the locality. The police were in possession of the house at Linthwaite, which was surrounded by a large crowd anxious to ascertain the details of what had happened, and a similar gathering began to collect at Slaithwaite when it became known what further developments had taken place. The two prisoners had to be removed to the Central Office, at Huddersfield, last night, and still larger crowds were waiting to catch a sight of them at Slaithwaite Station when they started, and again at Huddersfield when they arrived. They were taken handcuffed to the cells, and there, until they have been brought before the court, this morning, the history of the matter temporarily ends.


During the course of the evening our representative visited the scene of the terrible outrage. All along the road knots of people were discussing the details as far as they knew them, and the Ivy Hotel itself was surrounded by enquirers. To judge from the expressions used it would have gone hard with the perpetrator or perpetrators of the deed if the crowd had got him or them into their clutches. The house is a big roomy building, standing on the Golcar side of the Manchester Road, at Smith Riding, Linthwaite. It is a detached house and the nearest places of abode are some distance away, so far indeed as to render it exceedingly improbable that any cries for help from the inside of the house could have been heard by the residents going about their ordinary duties. On the lower floor there are three or four rooms in addition to the kitchen and bar. The latter faces a person entering by the front door, and just before reaching it, the staircase branches off to the left at richt angles to the broad entrance hall. The first flight of stairs, consisting of about a dozen steps, leads to a small landing, from which three or four steps built parallel with the lower staircase lead on to the bedroom landing. Three bedrooms open on to this landing, two on the left hand side and one opposite the staircase, whilst to the right is a door leading into the larger or "band room," so called because the Linthwaite Band hold their practices in it. It was on this landing that the unfortunate victim was found. She was lying on her back, with her head towards the door of the bedroom where her mistress sleeps (the one facing the direction of the staircase) and her arms outstretched. The scene in the house was one to touch the heart of anyone who witnessed it. Poignant grief was depicted on the countenances of the landlady and the friends with her, some of whom had just completed the last sad offices for the dead. Indignation at the dreadful character of the crime was also apparent, and the women who laid out the body expressed most decidedly the opinion that the girl had been outraged, and very badly treated too, before the fatal blow was struck. "It's not been the work of one man either," said one of the women, who also added "she was such a hard working girl too. and she and the landlady seemed to think the world of one another." Deceased was described as an inoffensive girl of a cheerful disposition, who had no sweetheart, and of whom no one appeared to have anything but good to say. Further enquiries at the scene of the tragedy elicited the information that as soon as the shocking discovery was made, Beevers, the butcher's boy, rode off for the police on his bicycle or tricycle. Police Constables Kempston and West were quickly on the spot. The latter went across to Golcar to inform Sergeant McCawley of what had happened. Superintendent Pickard was telegraphed for from Huddersfield, and he drove over and directed the operations of the police.


Mrs. Brook, who was naturally more distressed than anybody else at the shocking occurrence that had taken place within the walls of her house, said her name was Margaret Brook. She had been a widow for nearly nine years, and would have lived at the Ivy Hotel for 20 years on the 2nd of March next. The deceased whose name was Catherine Dennis, had been in her service for 11 months She was 16 years of age last month, and came from Flint in North Wales, where her father (who is a stoker at some chemical works) and mother reside. Mrs Brook said she left the house at a few minutes to two , to go to Huddersfield. The deceased had just served two stone-cart men with beer. Mrs. Brook did not get home until between 5 and 10 minutes to 5, and was, as may be imagined, horrified at the news that was communicated to her! The deceased had said to Mrs. Brook just before she left for Huddersfield, "Well, Mrs. Brook, we have done cleaning the long chamber, but the windows want cleaning." Mrs. Brook replied that deceased had better leave them until the following day. From what transpired subsequently, it seems that the deceased, anxious to get the work done, was cleaning upstairs, and, according to one statement, was actually seen cleaning the windows at four o'clock. Deceased was a cheerful girl, Mrs. Brook said, always singing over her work. In fact, she added, "I told her this morning if she did not give over singing she would drive me off my head. She did nothing but laugh at this, and replied that singing would keep me from going wrong in my head." In answer to further questions, Mrs. Brook said that the aunt of the deceased — Mrs. Ramsden, who resides with her husband at Ramsden Mill, not far from the Ivy Hotel — had telegraphed to the parents of the deceased to acquaint them with the shocking end to which their daughter had come.


After leaving the Ivy Hotel our representative proceeded to the house of Mrs. Bailey, who is the wife of Thomas Bailey, woollen weaver, residing at Smith Riding, and her house is the first going towards Slaithwaite after leaving the Ivy, and stands on the opposite side of the road. He there found Mrs. Bailey and Mrs. Carter, a neighbour, and in the course of conversation with them he elicited the following :— The first I noticed (said Mrs. Bailey) was seeing the butcher boy going down on his bicycle with his meat to the Ivy. Mrs. Carter was in my house, and whilst speaking to me her little one went outside and ran down the road on to the Ivy "door stones." Mrs. Carter went after the child, and as she was returning she called out to me, "There is no one in the Ivy," and added that the butcher was seeking them. We then went out and looked at the house, and saw the butcher inside passing the window at the end nearest to us. Mrs. Carter saw the butcher boy go to the head of the cellar steps and heard him call out for the people of the house. After that the butcher came out and came back up here with his bicycle. He asked us if we knew anything about them, and stood talking. Whilst he did so another neighbour came out, and said that she had seen Mrs. Brook going off to Huddersfield. Then we sent a little girl up to a neighbour's house (which stands back from the road on the opposite side, and is partially hidden by a bank), to see if anything was known there, but she returned and said that the door was locked, and there was no one in. There was a farmer man named Ned Hoyle working in the field behind the Ivy, and we asked him if he had seen anyone there. He said he had not, although he had been there a "dacent while." We thought something was wrong, and myself, Mrs. Pearson, Mrs. Carter, Hoyle, the butcher, and Robert Bedford, a greengrocer, went to the house. Bedford said he had seen the girl washing windows upstairs at four o'clock. At the time we went to the house it was about half-past four o'clock. I went upstairs and had got on to the first landing, and was just turning to go up to the second flight of stairs when I saw the girl lying on the landing. I screamed and came back, feeling very much upset, although I only thought at that time that the girl had fainted. She was lying on her back with her feet towards the stairs, and her hands stretched straight out. Ned Hoyle and Bedford then went up, and came back and said the girl was dead. After that the butcher got on his bicycle and went for a policeman. A large crowd assembled very soon.

Mrs. Carter said that she went upstairs with the men and saw the girl lying on the landing. The blood had flowed from her neck in two streams, and she was lying with her head between them. Her clothes were slightly disarranged. All the neighbours describe the deceased as a nice, quiet, cheerful girl, and a good worker. Her aunt, Mrs. Ramsden, lived with her husband at Ramsden Mill, near the Ivy. Mrs. Carter further stated that on the eve of the murder she went to the house for some beer, and had a talk with the deceased. The girl expressed a strong wish to go to Belle Vue Gardens, Manchester, on the first Monday in September, on the occasion of the band contest there. The members of the Linthwaite Band have practised at this house for a long time, and they have entered as contestants at Belle Vue. On hearing that Mrs. Carter and her husband intended to go to Manchester on that day, the deceased asked if she might go with them, and permission to do so was at once cheerfully accorded. Deceased was wishful to have someone to go with, and seemed to have a great desire to be in Manchester on that date. Both women were greatly distressed during the interview, and seemed to feel the sad end of the girl they had known so well very keenly.


The two prisoners, on their arrest, gave the names of Joshua Lockwood and George Farnham, and stated that they were employed as "photographic agents" by Mr. J.B. Law, photographer, of Ramsden Street, Huddersfield. This is to some extent corroborated by the fact that they had some photographs in their possession when arrested. In appearance Lockwood is a tall and burly man, who looked tall even among policemen. He looks to be about 35 or 40 years of age, and is respectably dressed. He also speaks as though he was a man of some education, but for the most part when in the office maintained silence. Farnham is a young man of from 25 to 30 years of age. He also is tall, but is of much slighter build than the other man. He too is fairly well dressed, and speaks like a man of education, and when in the Huddersfield Station spoke with great volubility. When arrested he had not a farthing upon him, whereas Lockwood had money in his possession as well, it should be mentioned, as a small penknife.

A cab was driven up to the office containing Sergeant McCawley and Police Constable Downs and the two prisoners. A crowd followed them along the street, many of them running, and at once collected around the entrance gates to get a sight of the men. During the time that he was in charge of the police, and before being placed in a cell, Farnham said : I protest against being here in this way. It is a serious thing for us. It will be all over the country. This was understood to refer to the manner in which he had been brought through the town handcuffed to the other prisoner. Continuing, Farnham said he wished to know if he could be allowed out on bail, and asked if they looked like men who would want to run away from a charge like this.

Superintendent Pickard pointed out the responsibility resting with the police, and said it was impossible that the men could go.

Farnham : I protest against this. I protest against these (the handcuffs). I have nothing to say against you, sir (to Superintendent Pickard), except putting these things on. This is the first time I have had these things on, and I hope it will be the last.

In reply to questions the men stated that they had been searched, and had given up all they had with them except a watch, which was then handed over by Lockwood.

Farnham, speaking rapidly and excitedly, then asked if his friends had been communicated with, and on being replied to in the negative asked if they might be.

Asked who it was that was to be communicated with, he said his wife, who lived at 22, Fair Street, Lockwood, near the Bath Hotel. He also requested that she might be allowed to see him as soon as possible.

Lockwood, who had remained entirely silent, then asked that his wife and family might be communicated with at Emmanuel Terrace, Salford, Lockwood.

The two prisoners were then removed to the cells.


It may be mentioned in this connection that when the two prisoners were brought to Huddersfield they were wearing "plain clothes" coats belonging to the police at Slaithwaite. These were given to them immediately on their arrest, their own being taken from them. This was done because each of them had a green mark on the back of his coat, such as would be produced by leaning against a wall on which there was some green material. Subsequent enquiry, it is stated, showed that the landing outside the bedroom doors where the girl was found, and the walls of the staircase were coated with green wash, which would adhere to clothing rubbed against it. On the ground floor where the men were left when Iredale went out, the walls were coated with green paint, which would not come off if rubbed. The coats were of course preserved in exactly the condition in which they were removed from the prisoners