Unsolved Murders

James Harbour Nurse

Age: 74

Sex: male

Date: 27 Jan 1928

Place: Awsworth, Ilkeston

James Harbour Nurse was found dead in a ditch.

He was a furnace labourer who worked at the Bennerley Iron Works in Ilkeston.

He was found lying dead in a ditch containing six inches of water a little distance from the works.

A furnace labourer who had lived with him for six years but had moved to other lodgings a year earlier said that he saw him walking towards the Bridge Inn at 3.30pm. He said that James Nurse didn't appear to be sober and that they exchanged greetings and passed.

The same furnace labourer said that the next day he left his home at about 8.30am and went for a walk around and that later at about 3.30pm he was passing through the works yard and went up the railway siding on the public footpath as far as the old weighing machine where he saw a pair of boots protruding from the end of the wall of the building. He said that he didn't investigate any further but went straight away to Eastwood to report what he had seen and about 5pm he reported it to a constable there. At the inquest, the Coroner asked the furnace labourer if he didn't think to look to see if there was anyone there as the man might have been alive and the furnace labourer replied 'Well, the shock at the time-' and the Coroner then said 'Surely there would not be much of a shock at seeing a pair of boots. You did think there was something the matter when you went off to report?'. The furnace labourer then replied 'When I got to Digby I thought there was something amiss'.

The Coroner said that he was like a person that upon seeing a man hanging would go off to find a policeman to cut down the body instead of doing it themselves. He then asked the furnace labourer if he had been in James Nurse's company the previous day but he said that he hadn't. The Coroner then asked the furnace labourer if when seeing the boots, he had thought that they had belonged to James Nurse but the furnace labourer said that he didn't.

The Coroner then asked the furnace labourer why he didn't go back to the yard as there would have been plenty of people there who could have helped him pull out the body and the furnace labourer replied that he didn't because he was going on his route. The Coroner then said 'But you were not in a hurry. You had nothing else to do?' and the furnace labourer replied 'No'.

A man that had lodged with James Nurse for nearly a year said that he had seen him at a bout 1.45pm on the Thursday afternoon at the works where James Nurse had gone to tell the foreman that he would not be in in the afternoon and that he was going to have a holiday. He said that James Nurse had drawn his wages on the Wednesday and when he had left his house after paying his board he would have had about £3 in his possession.

A police sergeant said that he received information from Eastwood by telephone on the Friday about 5pm about the body of a man found in a ditch in a field near the Bannerley Iron Works in the parish of Awsworth. He said that he made a search with another policeman and found James Nurse face downwards with his head in about 6 inches of water. He said that his body was tightly wedged between a strong thorn bush and the wall of the old weigh-house. He said that James Nurse was in his shirt sleeves although his jacket, cap and muffler were missing and no trace of them could be found. He said that there were slight abrasions on his hand and a bruise on the left side of his head on the forehead which might have been caused by him struggling in the water, especially as there was a big stone nearby. He said that there was a sum of 18s in silver in his trouser pocket. He also noted that there were marks of blood on the wall near the ground.

The police sergeant said that after some inquiries he had found that James Nurse had had drink on the Thursday morning and that he had also purchased a quart of rum. He said that he also found out that James Nurse had been refused drink at one pub.

A open verdict was returned stating 'That deceased was found dead in a dyke at Awsworth.'.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Nottingham Evening Post - Monday 30 January 1928