Old Moll Road, Honley
The road was originally a private one, built to provide access to the Moll Spring Mills and Dye Works.
On a Saturday in late June 1873, eight-year-old Ruth Ann Bates, daughter of Enoch Bates of Netherton and niece of cloth finisher William Donkersley of Honley, was killed after being thrown from the cart she was travelling in on Old Moll Road. The driver, Thomas Birkhead, had attempted to check the horse pulling the cart after it had slowed down, but it shied backwards and pushed the cart off the side of the road. Birkhead jumped clear, but the young girl was killed after the cart tumbled around 8 feet down the hill. A verdict of "accidental death" was recorded.
In 1898, George William Oldham of Moll Spring Dye Works brought a trespass prosecution against Messrs. Eastwood Brothers of Thirstin Mills after workmen building a new chimney for the latter had stored "bricks and other building materials" on the road. The two parties eventually reached an amicable settlement in court.
The Murder of Joy McKenzie
Late on the afternoon of Sunday 12 July 1981, 23-year-old fitness instructor Joy McKenzie of Scotgate Road, Honley, was sexually assaulted and murdered whilst out jogging along Old Moll Road. Her body was found the following day in the Mag Brook, where it had been concealed by her killer under a sheet of corrugated iron. The police identified an area of flattened undergrowth close to the road where they believed she had been assaulted and killed.
Several witnesses reported seeing a motorbike stood by the side of the road, close to the area where Joy was attacked. Around the estimated time of the attack, two local teenagers walked past the spot and saw the bike, as well as the motorcyclist acting suspiciously in the undergrowth. One of the teenagers was able to give the police a highly detailed description of the Yamaha motorbike.
Around two months later, 21-year-old Neil Edginton was arrested after his motorbike matched the description given by some of the witnesses, although it was claimed that he had only acquired the bike after the murder. He initially denied being in the area on the date in question, but his alibi proved false. He then admitted to having stopped on Old Moll Road on the afternoon of the murder, after his Honda developed engine problems, and having seen a jogger.
Despite the fact that Edginton's bike was a Honda rather than a Yamaha, that his description did not match that of the motorcyclist seen in the undergrowth, and the location where he claimed to have stopped around 300 yards away from where the attack took place, the jury found him guilty of the murder of Joy McKenzie.
Subsequent research by Peter Hall and Tom Sargant has cast doubts on the safety of the conviction.
Notes and References
- She was born 14 June 1865 and baptised on 30 July at Holy Trinity, South Crosland. She was buried on 1 July 1873 in Honley.
- "Honley: Fatal Accident" in Huddersfield Chronicle (05/Jul/1873).
- "Local Law Case: Oldham v. Eastwood" in Huddersfield Chronicle (02/Apr/1898).