Unsolved Murders

Winnie Ballard

Age: 8

Sex: female

Date: 17 Feb 1914

Place: River Kennet, Reading

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Winnie Ballard was found dead in a tributary of the River Kennet.

She had been sent out by her parents on the Monday evening but didn't return.

A party of Boy Scouts went out looking for her with bicycle lamps and lanterns around the neighbouring fields and buildings but found nothing.

However, her body was found the following morning in the water by a man.

When it was pulled out of the water a bangle or band used by men to keep up their shirt sleeves was found on her wrist and her mother said that she had never seen the item before and that it wasn't Winnie Ballard's.

One of Winnie Ballard's friends said that shortly before Winnie Ballard disappeared he had seen a strange 'big black looking man' beckon to her friend. He said that the man woe a cap and was carrying an empty sack on his back. the man was described as being about 40 years of age and rather tall.

The autopsy found a small abrasion on the centre of the upper lip and a bruise on the right shin and stated that death was due to drowning. the man who had found her body said that it would have been impossible for her to have been where it was unless she had been thrown from the river bank.

Her father said that she would never have gone to the spot alone as she was nervous of strangers.

A skipping rope, her hat and money given to her by her parents were all missing.

She had lived on Elgar Road in Reading and her father was a drayman at the brewery.

Some time after her death a friend of her father's disappeared. He was employed by Messrs. Simonds, the Reading brewers and had taken great interest in the case although he had always appeared rational enough when referring to it. When he left home on the Saturday morning he appeared in good health but later in the day when he met a friend he appeared to be greatly depressed and when they parted had said 'Goodbye, old man. You will not see me again', after which he was never seen again. It was thought that his mind had become affected and that he was wandering the country.

Later in February a blue knitted woollen cap was found by a corporation worker in a slum less than half a mile away from where she was found. Although many girls had such caps in Reading it was thought to have been Winnie Ballard's as a facsimile was made at the same time for her sister and a distinctive button had been put on it that had come from the makers own coat.


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


see Portsmouth Evening News - Monday 09 March 1914

see Beverley and East Riding Recorder - Saturday 21 February 1914