Unsolved Murders

Thomas Starkie

Age: 70

Sex: male

Date: 13 Oct 1923

Place: Cairo Mill, Burnley

Thomas Starkie died after receiving a head injury at Cairo Mill in Burnley.

He was an engine tender at Buccleuch Mill but also acted as day watchman on Saturday afternoons and Sundays at Cairo Mill. Both Cairo Mill and Buccleuch Mill were owned by Messrs. Robert Pickles Ltd.

On the Sunday morning he went to work as usual and came back home at about 9am with two cauliflowers. After he left to go back to the mill and was seen going along Tunnel Street about 40 minutes later without his cap but otherwise looking normal.

The next that was seen of him was in the mill yard where he was seen to be in a dazed condition. All he could say was, 'Oh, my head', and was unable to answer any questions.

He was then taken home and then taken to the hospital where he died on the Tuesday. The post-mortem stated that he had a cerebral laceration and compression as well as a fractured skull.

A stove attendant who worked at Cairo Mill said that he saw Thomas Starkie at 7am on the Sunday in the time office and bade him good morning saying that he looked alright them. He said that he saw him again at 8am when he went home for his breakfast and when he returned at 8.30am Thomas Starkie was still in the time office.

Shortly after the stove attendant said that Thomas Starkie asked him to attend to the time office while he went home to take two cauliflowers adding that he had to call for the cauliflowers first at a draper's shop near the end of Tunnel Street. The stove attendant said he would do so and Thomas Starkie left the office and the next he saw of him was about an hour later when he saw Thomas Starkie come into Capetown Mill which abutted the same yard as Cairo Mill.

He said that Thomas Starkie passed him and then sat down. He said that neither one of them spoke to the other. The stove attendant said that he noticed that Thomas Starkie was rubbing his head but could not say whether he had his cap on or not.

About 15 minutes later a mechanic at the mill asked the stove attendant to take Thomas Starkie home. The stove attendant went to the time office where he saw Thomas Starkie in a dazed condition and noticed that his head was bleeding.

A tape labourer at the mill said that he had first seen Thomas Starkie in the timekeeper’s office at the mill on the Sunday a few minutes before 8am and saw him a little later in the same place. The tape labourer said that he had asked Thomas Starkie if he had been up to Buccleuch Mill to light the fire and that Thomas Starkie said that he had. The tape labourer said that he next saw Thomas Starkie in the yard at Cairo Mill without his hat and said he asked Thomas Starkie, 'What are you doing with your lid off in a draughty place like this?' and that Thomas Starkie had replied 'I know all about that'. The tape labourer said that he didn't see any injury to Thomas Starkie's head and that he appeared quite normal.

The mechanic said that he saw Thomas Starkie at about 9.57am on the Sunday morning walking across the yard between Cairo Mill and Capetowen Mill and said that he thought Thomas Starkie looked strange. He said he said good morning to him but got no reply and said that he was not wearing his cap but had his walking stick. He then asked him if he was ill but got no reply and then asked again if he was poorly and said that Thomas Starkie then said, 'Oh, my head'. He then took Thomas Starkie to the time office and sat him down and then noticed that he had ashes on his coat sleeve and also ashes down his left side and left sleeve. The mechanic then asked Thomas Starkie if he had fallen and Thomas Starkie muttered, 'No'. The mechanic then looked at Thomas Starkie's head and noticed that it was bleeding, and called for assistance and then took him home.

It was noted that it would have been impossible for him to get ashes on his clothes at the mill as there were no ashes there.

A search was made for Thomas Starkie's cap but it could not be found and it was said that if it had been in the time office or mill it would have been found.

His post-mortem found that there was a bruise, not an open wound, on the left side of his head just above the ear and that his skull was fractured from the seat of the injury forward in a circle. It was stated that the injury had certainly been caused by some violence, either falling against some hard substance or being struck.

His cap was not found.

Cairo Mill and the surrounding mills have now been demolished. Cairo Mill was where Arundel Close is today.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Burnley Express - Saturday 13 October 1923

see Burnley News - Saturday 13 October 1923

see Red Rose Collections

see National Library of Scotland