Unsolved Murders

Charles Gilks

Age: 46

Sex: male

Date: 16 Oct 1911

Place: Spring Cottage, Orphanage Road, Erdington

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Charles Gilks died from a head injury.

A woman was charged and tried but the indictment was thrown out.

He had been found dead outside of the woman's house on Orphanage Road, Erdington. They had had an acquaintance with each other that had been going on for 3-4 years. The woman was married to a Captain. On the night of the murder he had been away from home.

The Captain said that he thought the acquaintance between his wife and Charles Gilks had started just after he had discharged Charles Gilks's daughter from his service after he had caught her fetching drink into the house for his wife.

The woman said that she had been out and had seen Charles Gilks at around 7pm on the Sunday evening come out of one door of the Cross Keys pub and go in at another. She said that she was walking home when Charles Gilks overtook her and asked her where she was going and she had told him that she was going home. She said that he was not sober and asked him where he was going and he had told her 'Off my blooming head'. She said she advised him to go home but he told her that he was going to go back to the Cross Keys pub.

The woman said that she went for a walk and when she got home she found Charles Gilks sat on her step inside the lobby with blood on his face. She said that the back door to her house was not locked. She said that she asked him how he had got in and that he had told her that he had got over the wall. She said then that she told him to leave and that he did so with his coat over his arm and his hat in his hand and that was all she knew about it.

She later said that after her husband, the Captain, had left at 10.30pm she had gone to the kitchen to feed the cats but they were not in and she opened the back door and called them but they didn't come. She said then that she put the light out and went to bed and then later got up at 5.15am on the Monday morning and feeling thirsty went downstairs for a drink of water and found a man at the bottom of the stairs. She said that his head was towards the front door and his arms were stretched out with his feet on the lower stairs.

She said that she tried to pick him up but couldn't and that she tried called to him and asked him to wake up but got no response from him. She said that there was blood on his face and that knowing the consequences to her of having a man found in her house she tried to pick him up but couldn't because he was too heavy. She said that she then went to her gate and saw that there was no one there and by a supernatural effort she managed to drag him into the street and along the footpath where she left him.

She said that she then went back into her house where she saw some blood on the carpet which she said she thought was from a nosebleed she had had the previous night in the dining room when she had put the light out in the vestibule. She said she found a floor cloth in the scullery which she used and then rinsed and hung up.

She said then that she went outside and found the back door undone and by the corner of the stables she found a coat and a hat which she threw over the stable gate into the road and then went back to the kitchen and bolted the door. She said that she then went upstairs to dress and then fainted. She said that when she came round she heard her husband come in and went downstairs to open the door. She said that her bedroom door had been bolted all night.

The doctor said that Charles Gilks's skull was rather thin and below the average. Another doctor said that the injury could have been made by being pushed down some stairs and also said that the marks found on his chin were similar to the marks that knuckles would make.

An architect made a plan of Spring Cottage where the woman lived including the stairs. He stated, 'There are double gates at the side leading to the garden. They appear to have been permanently closed for some time past and immediately behind them is a privet hedge about 7 feet high. There is an opening round the end of the privet hedge sufficient for a person to pass. The staircase has a wall on each side and a handrail on the right-hand side looking up. There are 9 steps, the top one being the landing. It is steep, the elevation of the top step is 6ft 7.5in from the floor below. Coming downstairs at the bottom of the stairs to the left there is a doorway leading to the dining room but no door. There is a stepdown into the dining room of 10.5in.'

Charles Gilks had been a labourer and was a widower with a family the youngest of whom was 14 years of age.


*map pointers are rough estimates based on known location details as per Place field above.


see Leamington Spa Courier - Friday 17 November 1911

see Aberdeen Journal - Wednesday 25 October 1911

see National Archives - ASSI 13/41