Unsolved Murders

Arthur Thomas Umfreville

Age: 37

Sex: male

Date: 14 Nov 1924

Place: Empire Club, Piccadilly Circus, London

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Arthur Thomas Umfreville died under suspicious circumstances at the Empire Club in Piccadilly Circus on Armistice night.

The manager of the club was remanded at Marlborough Street Police Court charged with killing Arthur Umfreville by striking him with his fists. However, the manager said 'I deny emphatically that I have ever raised a hand or finger against this man'. He was tried for manslaughter on 20 January 1925 at the Old Bailey but was found not guilty and discharged.

The manager said that Arthur Umfreville had been acting in a somewhat hilarious manner at the club and that he had said to him 'Why don't you sir down!' and that Arthur Umfreville had started to walk backwards and that before he could realise it Arthur Umfreville had fallen backwards. The manager said that he then gave instructions for a doctor to be sent for.

The manager later said that he did not tell the Coroner's officer the whole truth earlier as he did not want the publicity and said that when he threatened to have Arthur Umfreville thrown out he didn't desist from making a disturbance and that Arthur Umfreville then followed him, pushed him and struck him in the face. The manager said that he then caught hold of Arthur Umfreville's coat and that Arthur Umfreville then fell on the floor.

A barmaid who worked at the club said that she heard the manager say to Arthur Umfreville, 'I will not allow anyone to insult me' and saw the manager then pick up a jug of water and throw it over Arthur Umfreville. She said then that Arthur Umfreville slapped the manager across the face with his open hand. She said that the manager then took hold of Arthur Umfreville's lapels and that it appeared that Arthur Umfreville then caught his leg against a table and they fell, with the manager landing on top of Arthur Umfreville.

The barmaid said that later the manager invited her to tea and she told him what she had seen  and said that he then told her 'I don’t think it right that you should say that. You heard a thud, and looking up, you saw a man stretched out on the floor, I then immediately ran to him and unfastened his collar.' The barmaid said that she later went to Vine Street police station and on the way the manager reminded her 'Don't forget what I told you'.

A man for the Director Of Public Prosecutions said that the Empire Club was an underground club and that Arthur Umfreville had been very friendly with the manager and that there was no bad blood existing between them. He said that their evidence showed that at about 1.30am an altercation took place between them during which Arthur Umfreville fell back and hit his head cracking his skull from which he died. He said that he would readily admit that if Arthur Umfreville had fallen down under the influence of drink and had not been unlawfully assaulted then a mere accident would be the proper verdict, and the manager would not in any way be responsible. However, he said that it appeared that Arthur Umfreville had struck the manager with his open hand and that if the evidence of witnesses were true, that the manager then struck Arthur Umfreville under the jaw.

A doctor said that there was nothing to show the cause of Arthur Umfreville's fall.

The club was described as being a luncheon club with billiards and so on.

Arthur Umfreville was described as a wealthy man from Hove.


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


see Aberdeen Press and Journal - Wednesday 21 January 1925

see Gloucester Citizen - Friday 14 November 1924

see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Friday 21 November 1924

see Dundee Courier - Saturday 15 November 1924

see Lancashire Evening Post - Friday 14 November 1924

see Derby Daily Telegraph - Thursday 27 November 1924

see Hull Daily Mail - Thursday 27 November 1924

see Edinburgh Evening News - Monday 22 December 1924

see Larne Times - Saturday 06 December 1924