Unsolved Murders

Ivy Humphrey

Age: 24

Sex: female

Date: 18 Jul 1927

Place: Childsbridge, Kemsing

Ivy Humphrey was found cut in two on a railway line.

She was a parlour maid and had been employed at the residence of a silk merchant where she had been for two years at Rodway Road in Bromley.

The silk merchant said that Ivy Humphrey had just left for a fortnight's holiday. Her body was later found on the line near her home in Kemsing.

Before returning home Ivy Humphrey had told her mother that she would be getting back sometime after 6pm but asked her not to meet her. Her mother said that sometimes Ivy Humphrey came home by bus.

At her inquest Ivy Humphrey's mother showed the Coroner a latter that Ivy Humphrey had written to her a week earlier but the Coroner said that it seemed like quite a natural latter which a girl might write to her mother, detailing her holiday arrangements etc and that there was nothing in it to throw any light onto the incident that they were considering.

The mother also showed a postcard that had arrived on the Sunday that read, 'I shall be coming home Saturday afternoon. Ern has promised to see me and I don't quite know the time myself'. When the Coroner asked the mother who Ern was she said that she didn't know. The Coroner said that he would have thought that she would know else Ivy Humphrey would not have referred to him in that way. the mother then said that she didn’t know his name and when asked if he was Ivy Humphrey's young man the mother said, 'Just a friend' and added that she thought he lived in Bromley North. The mother also said that she was sure that her daughter was not walking out with anybody else she would have told her. She also said that there was no man in Kemsing that Ivy Humphrey was particularly friendly with.

The mother also said that Ivy Humphrey had had a child four years earlier which was then in a home and that she didn't know who the father was although he was paying for the child.

Ivy Humphrey's body was found by an engine driver of a goods train from Dover to London at 5am on the Sunday. He said that it was cut in two and that he saw no signs of a struggle.

The guard on the goods train said that the body was lying under Childbridge which was on the road between Seal and Kemsing and on the Otford side of the Noah's Ark bridge. He said that as they started up again he was looking out of his brake when he saw a lady's hat, umbrella and dress case inside the fog-man's hut all placed in an orderly manner.

The engine driver said he found hair on the tie-rod and more hair and skin adhering to the bogey wheels. However, he was sure that he had not run over anything saying that he would have felt it. He said that he had driven the train from Maidstone East to London and passed Kemsing at 9.48 when his speed would have been between 45-50mph. He said that his speed when passing under Childsbridge would have been 45mph and that he would have slowed to 20mph for the curve at Otford Junction.

A Permanent-way Ganger said that he had left the fog-mans hut at 9.30am on the Saturday morning and that when he had left everything was in order. However, he said that when he left there was a fogman's devil weighing more than half a hundred weight in the hut and that when the body was found it was outside the hut. He said that the hut was about 50 yards from where the body was found and that there was a footpath about a quarter of a mile away.

The Coroner asked how Ivy Humphrey might have got to the hut considering that she had gone there for shelter but it was not known although it was pointed out that it would not have been difficult to have got over the fence.

The Silk Merchant said that Ivy Humphrey had been in his employ for two years and said that she was rather happy and that her work was satisfactory. He said that she was due to go on holiday on Saturday and received £3 wages and 30s for two weeks’ board-wages and that she had left the house at 4pm on the Saturday.

The silk merchant said that he had heard that Ivy Humphrey had seen a young fellow who was in the army and that they were supposed to have met some time back but that he had not turned up. He also said that recently the rumours were that she was supposed to be seeing a chap called Ern who worked for a builder who was working on some houses in Grove Park although he himself had never met him.

When the police went to the line they found Ivy Humphrey's body under Childsbridge. They said that the body was completely severed, the limbs injured and her skull smashed at the back. They said that her left hand was tightly clenched with the thumb in between the first and second fingers. They said that her left shoe and a piece of flesh were found 86 feet away from her body towards Otford. They said that she appeared to have been struck about 9 feet from where she was found.

The police said that they also found her hat, umbrella, dress case, handbag and a late night extra copy of a London paper with Saturday's date. They said that there was a sum of money in her handbag totalling 17s 3d in silver and 9¾d in coppers. There was also a purse with £8 in £1 treasury notes, a postal order for 10s stamped Bromley 7th July and six 1½d stamps. In her suit-case there was also a quantity of lady's clothing. They also found a timetable with crosses opposite several trains from Bromley South to Kensing.

The Coroner said that the devil in the hut was a thing that a girl could have moved. He also said that they knew that Ivy Humphrey had been on the line at 9.45pm and that she had left the house in Bromley at 4pm. He said that if she caught the 4.27pm train which was marked in the timetable then she would have been in Otford at about 5.36pm. He then asked 'What was she doing from 5.30pm until 9.30pm?'. He then added that she had had plenty of time to have gone home if she had wished and that there was no evidence to say that she had had any business off of the road which disposed of the theory of an accident. He also said that the idea that she had been looking for Ern was thought unlikely as there was no reason why he would have been in Kemsing. He also said that she had written a cheerful letter to her mother two or three days before which tended to rule out suicide although they had then had a postcard saying 'Don't trouble to meet me'.

The Coroner said that there was also the significant fact that she had been in the fogman's hut for some little time, long enough to make it worthwhile moving a fairly heavy portable fireplace out of the hut an on to the cess outside and deposit her hat and umbrella etc in the hut. He then asked what was she doing there, and whether she had been waiting for someone. He then considered whether she had been in any trouble and said that if the jury felt she had been then a post-mortem could be ordered.

When the Coroner summed up he said that there were three possible verdicts, accidental death, suicide or found dead, but also added that there was a fourth possible verdict and that was that Ivy Humphrey had been assaulted, possibly rendered unconscious and then placed on the line although he added that there was at present no evidence of that.

The jury retired for about five minutes and returned with a verdict of Found dead but not sufficient evidence to show how she got there.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Kent & Sussex Courier - Friday 22 July 1927

see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Monday 18 July 1927