Unsolved Murders

James William Edmundson

Age: 63

Sex: male

Date: 24 Aug 1931

Place: Clitheroe Road, Sabden

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

James William Edmundson was found with a fractured skull on the moorland road leading over the Nick o' Pendle.

An open verdict was returned at his inquest.

He was a general labourer and had lived at 107 Padiham Road in Sabden.

His wife said that he was an active man but that from time to time he had drinking bouts and had recently been taking a good deal of drink. She said that on the Thursday evening he had gone out for a walk and when he didn't return when she expected at about 9pm she went out to look for him but didn't find him. However, she said that the next morning he was brought home unconscious with a wound on the back of his head.

He was taken that day to the Blackburn Royal Infirmary but died later the same day.

The licensee of the Well Springs Inn in Pendleton said that James Edmundson called at the inn just before 8pm and that he had two pints and then left sober at about 9.45pm. She said that she thought it was about a twenty-minute walk to Sabden from the inn and said that there were no other licensed houses on the way.

A man that lived at the Well Springs Inn said that he was motor-cycling home along the Clitheroe Road near Sabden at 11.45pm when he saw a man lying on the road. He said that he got off his machine and saw James Edmundson who he said smelled of drink and appeared to be asleep. He said that he then went off to get assistance and brought back another man. He said that when he got back the position of James Edmundson's walking stick, which James Edmundson had in his hand, had changed. He said that they thought that James Edmundson was asleep and so they carried him across to the left-hand side of the road and left him there. He noted that he had been down the road at 11pm and had seen nothing then. The man added that it was about a quarter of an hours walk from the Well Springs Inn to the place where James Edmundson was found.

The Coroner asked the man, 'Do you think it the proper thing when you find a man as you believed smelling of drink and asleep to pull him to the side of the road and leave him there?', but the man made no reply. The Coroner then said, 'I don't know what the jury think, but I know what I think'.

James Edmundson was found early the next morning by a man that was going to work on his motorcycle. He said that he found him at about 6.10am on the side of the road and said that he appeared to be asleep and made no response to his shouts. He said that there was a wound to the back of his head and he went back to Sabden and reported the matter and got assistance for James Edmundson before going back off to work. He said that he formed the idea that James Edmundson had slipped on the loose surface of the road and had gone to sleep where he lay.

The Coroner complimented the man on his conduct.

A policeman said that the road surface where James Edmundson was found was steep and covered in loose material. He said that he found no signs of a struggle or any markings indicating that James Edmundson had been run over or pushed down. He said that although there was blood on the side of the road where James Edmundson had been lying, there was none in the middle from where it was said that he had been moved.

The doctor that carried out James Edmundson's post-mortem said that James Edmundson's cause of death was a fracture to the vault of the skull. When asked if the injury could have been caused by a fall he said 'Yes'.

When the doctor asked whether the exposure of him being left out all night had affected James Edmundson the doctor said that it would have done him some harm but that in any case there would not have been much hope.

The Coroner told the jury that if they were not satisfied as to how James Edmundson came by his death they could return an open verdict, which they did.

James Edmundson had carried on a coal business for some time but latterly had been on the dole.

His funeral took place on 25 August 1931 at St. Nicholas' Churchyard.


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


see Lancashire Evening Post - Monday 24 August 1931

see Burnley Express - Wednesday 26 August 1931