Unsolved Murders

Florence Goodedge

Age: 18

Sex: female

Date: 6 Aug 1915

Place: Grand Junction Canal, Berkhamsted

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Florence Goodedge was found in a canal. She was said to have gone off with an unknown man at the pictures a day before.

She was found by an employee at the Berkhemsted Gas Works who heard screaming from the canal and rushed down to find her struggling in the water and pulled her out. He said that when he pulled her out she was alive and that he ran off for help, but by the time he returned with another person, she was dead.

The gas works employee said that when he rushed down to help Florence Goodedge out of the canal he noticed a bicycle against the hedge but said that when he got back the bicycle had gone.

Inquiries were made, and it was determined that Florence Goodedge had been in Berkhamsted during the day in the company of a soldier from the Northumberland Fusiliers. It was also found that a soldier had taken a ticket for himself and his bicycle on the last train at 12.45am from Berkhamsted to Tring. It was heard that although the soldier had been seen at both stations, it was not thought that officials at either station would have recognised him again.

Later, on the Sunday morning, the Northumberland Fusiliers were paraded at Halton Park to give a lad who had seen Florence Goodedge and the soldier together on the Friday the opportunity to identify the soldier, but he was unable to pick anyone out.

When Florence Goodedge was examined at her post-mortem a doctor said that she had had had froth coming out from between her lips and had weed in her hair. He said that there were no external marks of violence and that when he opened her body up he found that her air passages were filled with froth. He said that her lungs were dark red and that one section was filled with dark froth and blood. He said the symptoms pointed towards her cause of death being drowning.

He noted that her heart was normal but that the cavities on her right side were filled with fluid blood while the cavities on her left side were nearly empty, which he also said pointed to death by drowning.

He said that her stomach was in a normal condition and found in it water and the remains of food, including traces of cheese and biscuits.

He said that her other organs were all healthy and said that there was no sign of any violation.

He said that he concluded that her death was due to drowning.

The boy that the identity parade by the Northumberland Fusiliers was held for said that he recognised the body of Florence Goodedge as the girl that he had seen with the soldier on the afternoon of 6 August between 3pm and 4pm as well as later between 6pm and 8.45pm. He said that he had seen them sitting in a ditch behind the bushes and later on on some logs at the end of East's Wharf. He said that he also saw a bicycle against the fence nearby and later saw the soldier get on the bicycle and ride down Billet Lane. He also said that he noticed that the soldiers shoulder badge said NF. He also said that his friends reminded him that the soldier had not been wearing a cap badge and also added that he thought that the soldier had been wearing trousers and putties and not breaches.

The boy also saw the soldier that Florence Goodedge had been previously seeing and said that he was not the man that he had seen Florence Goodedge with on the Friday.

The man that kept the grocery store at Gosson's End said that a soldier came in on the Friday night and asked for some sandwiches, but he said that he had nothing to cut sandwiches from and so the soldier bought two lots of bread and cheese, some biscuits, and two bars of chocolate, and two packets of cigarettes. However, he said that he didn't think that he would be able to recognise the soldier again. He also said that he saw no bicycle.

The man that kept the grocery store also saw the soldier that Florence Goodedge had previously been seeing and said that he was not the soldier that he had seen and sold the food to.

Florence Goodedge's mother said that Florence Goodedge had been a domestic in service in Watford as a housemaid but that she had left her situation on 8 July 1915. She said that Florence Goodedge had left her situation because her employer was reducing his establishment.

Her mother said that Florence Goodedge was a bright girl and that she would never go out when she was at home unless it was with her except when she went down to see her sister in Northchurch when Florence Goodedge and her sister would go to the Berkhamsted Picture Palace together. Her mother said that Florence Goodedge would normally ride her bicycle.

The mother said that Florence Goodedge left her home on the Thursday, 5 August 1915 between 3pm and 4pm and walked to her sister's in Northchurch in order to go to the pictures. The mother said that she expected Florence Goodedge to stay the night in in Northchurch with her sister but expected her back again on the Friday morning. However, she said that she was not alarmed when she didn't return as she knew that Florence Goodedge was going to meet her sister from Woodford on the Saturday morning at Berkhamsted station. However, she said that when her sister returned home on the Saturday and said that she had not seen Florence Goodedge she wrote to her daughter in Northchurch.

The mother said that Florence Goodedge had been seeing a soldier earlier on but said that that had all been broken off about six weeks earlier.

The mother said that she thought that Florence Goodedge must have been drugged. She said that the soldier must hve been a total stranger to her as she said that Florence Goodedge had never been anywhere near were any Northumberland Fusiliers were.

Florence Goodedge's sister in Northchurch said that Florence Goodedge came to see her on 5 August 1915 in the early evening and they talked about going to the picture house, but she said that she was not able and suggested that she ask another woman they knew. She said that Florence Goodedge left her house at about 6pm saying that she would be back no later than 10.30pm. The sister said that she had always been to the picture house on with Florence Goodedge previous occasions.

The sister said that when Florence Goodedge failed to come home she thought that she had got a ride home. She said that when she first read about a girl being found in the canal on the Saturday, it didn't occur to her that it might be her sister.

A policeman that went to the canal on the night at 1.25pm on 6 August 1915 said that when he found Florence Goodedge on the bank he tried artificial respiration without effect. He said that he found no money or purse on her body and said that there were no signs of a struggle on the towing path but noted that one large piece of turf close to the water was very loose and that anyone stepping on it might have fallen into the water. He said that the night of 6 August 1915 was very dark.

The policeman said that he went back on the Sunday, 8 August 1915 with an inspector and examined the place where Florence Goodedge was found. He said that the canal there varied in depth from 1 foot to 4 feet 7 inches. He said that on the Monday, 9 August 1915 the canal was dragged, and her black handbag was recovered and found to have been open and empty.

The Coroner said that it was a very extraordinary case and that it left in all their minds a feeling of suspicion. He said that it was inconceivable that a quiet and respectable girl such as Florence Goodedge should suddenly go off with a man that she met at a picture palace and then remain with him for a night and a day.

The jury returned a verdict of found drown but stated that there was not sufficient evidence to show how she had got into the water.


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


see Bucks Herald - Saturday 28 August 1915

see Bucks Herald - Saturday 14 August 1915