The first being Owen Mcgill who was aged 39, an Irish born farm labourer who had beat his wife to death at Birkenhead. He was eventually hung for his crimes on February 22nd 1886. The next unlucky felon was that of Thomas Henry Bevan aged 20 who was an apprentice iron moulder from Crew. Thomas was charged of battering his aunt to death and was hung on August 8th 1887.
Richard Davies aged 18 was convicted along with his 16 year old brother George for murdering their bullying father on the outskirts of Crewe. Both were sentenced to death, but shortly before their executions, George was reprieved on the account of his young age. The hangman James Berry recalled later that the face of Richard Davies repeatedly came back to haunt him. Davies was hung on the cold spring morning of April 8th 1890. Felix Spicer, and elderly man was the next to be hung. He had murdered two of his children and was caught in an attempt to kill his wife whilst living in New Brighton. Spicer was hung with grief on August 22nd 1890. Followed by William Hancock's aged 35 who had stabbed his daughter to death and was caught fleeing his home in Birkenhead. Hancock's was hung in family audience on August 9th 1905.
Edward Hartigan was captured after battering his wife to death in brothers home in Stockport. Hartigan was hung at the age of 58 on November 27th 1906. James Phipps was convicted of a despicable crime. He was caught after sexually assaulting and murdering a young girl. Phipps was rather disliked and members of the community from Winsford visited Knutsford Gaol so to curse him as he was led to the gallows. Phipps pleaded innocent even though found guilty by witness and was hung on November 12th 1908. The last execution to take place in Knutsford was that of John Williams, a 38 year old farmer from Birkenhead. He had pleaded guilty to murdering his wife after an argument and was hung on March 19th 1912.
So... A nasty bunch of felons. But was any of them responsible for the strange goings on in the supermarket? It true to state that only 8 felons were ever hung at Knutsford, not a lot considering the crimes of the day. I would presume many prisoners were relocated whilst Knutsford Gaol tried to concentrate on lesser crimes.
It is interesting to note that investigators came across some written accounts from inmates which had written about one particular gaol officer. He had apparently made it a ruling that no whistling was ever aloud, and so to mock the prisoners, he would often do his rounds whistling loudly. It is possible that the supermarket was not haunted by the felons of Knutsford Gaol, but that of the gaol officer himself? Maybe we'll never know...
After conducting several days of research and discussing our findings with the local press, it was decided that we move on with the investigation. It was now time for us to arrange a visit to the store at night so to take environmental readings and monitor of any possible disturbances. However... This is where we came to a stand still.
We met with Pauline on February 9th 1996 and she was quite happy for us to carry out our active investigation. Pauline just wanted rid of this thing. Unfortunately, word had come down from above putting the brakes on our proceedings. After three days of discussions, it was clear we were not going to be aloud to advance with our active investigation. Someone wanted to keep this quiet, even though it had already reached the local press before our involvement.
Our last resort was to write to Mr. Booth himself, granting us permission to carry out an on site investigation.... Unfortunately... We were denied. As to what exactly is going on at Booth's supermarket is anyone's guess. The staff and security officers certainly seemed sincere and we had certainly discovered some interesting historical information. I guess we will just have to leave it with them and see how they go on. But just remember, when shopping at Booth's in Knutsford, keep an ear out for someone or something whistling...
The Newsclippings can be seen in full on our Newsclippings Web Page.
Special thanks to the Knusford Guardian, David Tierney and Alicia Leigh.
Steve Mera BSc.