Unsolved Murders

Herbert Bennett

Age: 48

Sex: male

Date: 3 Aug 1906

Place: Ravensdale, Cressbrook

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Herbert Bennett was found at the foot of a precipice near Ravensdale, Cressbrook.

He had been drinking with three or four other men at Wardlow and on their way home had got into a quarrel. They had left Wardlow between 9pm and 10pm on the Saturday evening heading in the direction of Cressbrook by a footpath which went through Ravensdale

He was later found by two Wardlow farmers who had been shepherding and heard his groans. They went straight to his assistance, but he died within twenty minutes.

One of the other men that had been with him attended his inquest with a black-eye but there was no evidence to show how Herbert Bennett had fallen over the rock and an open verdict was returned.

Herbert Bennett was found at the foot of a rock some thirty feet high between Wardlow and Ravensdale.

Herbert Bennett had been an overlooker at the mills and was a widower.

A plasterer that knew Herbert Bennett said that he had met him on the Saturday when the scholars were walking round and that he had gone off with him to have a cup of tea and that they had both then gone off to Wardlow. He said that they had had no drink up until that time and that when they got to Wardlow they went to the Bull's Head, arriving at about 6.30pm and staying until closing time. He said that he had had two glasses of ale and two small glasses of rum at the Bull's Head and said that he was not at all drunk.

He said that Herbert Bennett left a few minutes before him and that after he left, he overtook Herbert Bennett who he found lying on the ground. He said that Herbert Bennett had seemed alright when he was at the Bull's Head but thought that when he had got out that the air must have got the better of him.

He said that when he was picking Herbert Bennett up, another man, a weaver, that had also been drinking at the Bull's Head came along and who told him that his other friend was ahead of him. However, he said that as he was picking Herbert Bennett up, the weaver hit him a heavy blow to the eye.

Herbert Bennett's friend said that Herbert Bennett then asked the weaver why he had hit his friend and the man said he would do the same to him and said that he then saw the weaver grab Herbert Bennett by the coat and swing him against the wall, but said that he didn't see him strike a blow.

Herbert Bennett's friend noted that he, Herbert Bennett and the weaver had always been on good terms.

Herbert Bennett's friend said that he then went home, leaving Herbert Bennett with the weaver.

At the inquest, Herbert Bennett's friend said that there had been no quarrelling at the Bull’s Head and that there had been some singing going on. He had a black-eye at the inquest, and said that the weaver had caused it when he had hit him whilst he was picking Herbert Bennett up.

At the inquest, the weaver said that on the Saturday Herbert Bennett had come to his house in Cressbrook and had asked him to go with him to Wardlow on business. He said that they got to Wardlow at about 6.30pm, noting that the plasterer was with them. He said that they stayed in the Bull's Head until a few minutes before 10pm when they left.

He said that before he got to the 'Wold', he heard the plasterer shouting out, 'He is a pig to leave us'. He said that he then went back to the plasterer and pulled off his jacket and then hit the plasterer for using the offensive expression.

He said that he didn't see Herbert Bennett on the ground. He said that Herbert Bennett denied that the plasterer had used the bad expression and so he got hold of his coat and shook him.

The weaver said that he then went on to Cressbrook and that Herbert Bennett followed him, but said that he then went back to search for his jacket, and that as he could not find it he went back to the Bull's Head to get a lantern, but said that they didn't have one, but gave him a big candle. He said that he then remained looking for his jacket for about a quarter of an hour and then went home.

He said that he went the 'Pingle' part way home alone, but that near to a style his feet went from under him three times in succession and that a little further on he slipped off the path and rolled down the slope and lay there for some time. He said that a dog then came by and barked and that he thought that there were poachers about and that he eventually got up and made his way to Stye Gate where a man came up to him and accompanied him home. When the man came by, he had admitted to him candidly that he was drunk and that his legs would not carry him and that he had had some bother with Herbert Bennett and the plasterer.

The weaver said that he had had two or three glasses of whisky before finishing up but that he was not incapable until his legs went from under him whilst walking along the path.

He said that he had not seen Herbert Bennett since leaving him at Wardlow. He said that his wife later found his jacket in a hedge on the Sunday morning.

Herbert Bennett was later found by a farmer from Wardlow and his friend who said that he found him in the dale bottom lying on his left side with all his clothes on with the exception of his hat. The farmer said that his friend then went off for help. He said that at that time Herbert Bennett was still alive, but that by the time assistance arrive he was dead and he was taken away on a stretcher. The farmer said that Herbert Bennett  had probably lived for about 30 minutes after being found.

He concluded that Herbert Bennett had fallen down from a rock, stating that the rock was 25 or 30 yards from top to bottom and that it was a dangerous place for anyone on a dark night.

A mineral water bottle lay a short distance from where Herbert Bennett was found.

The policeman that saw Herbert Bennett's body said that he had several wounds on him and plenty to have caused death. He said that there was a slope of 130 yards with a narrow footpath from the top to the bottom of the dale but said that Herbert Bennett didn't roll all the way to the bottom as he had been caught by a bush. He added that the path was a very dangerous one.

The landlord of the Bull's Head said that several Cressbrook men had been at his house on the Saturday night and that when they left none of them were the worse for drink. He said that within half an hour of them leaving that the weaver came back and asked for a lantern but said that he was supplied with a candle and some matches. He noted that Herbert Bennett had been supplied with some whisky in a bottle to take home with him before he left. The landlords wife said that Herbert Bennett came to the bar on the Saturday night and asked her to put a gill of whisky in a ginger beer bottle for him and that after he was supplied the whisky he had had bade them good night and had left for home.

The jury found that Herbert Bennett died from injury to the spine of the neck caused by a fall over a cliff but said that there was not sufficient evidence to show how the fall was brought about.


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


see Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Friday 03 August 1906

see Cheltenham Chronicle - Saturday 04 August 1906

see Derby Daily Telegraph - Tuesday 31 July 1906

see Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal - Friday 03 August 1906