Unsolved Murders

John Lumley

Age: 33

Sex: male

Date: 1 Dec 1911

Place: Bradford Beck, Thornton Road, Bradford

Frank Greenwood, Jonathan Bartle and John Lumley were killed in two explosions in Bradford Bek which ran beneath several mills at about 7am on the morning of 1 December 1911.

The explosions, which were separated by about a minute, were thought to have been caused by petrol that was allowed to drain into the beck.

The first explosion took place at in the roadway of Norcroft Street which ran between two of the mills. The explosion caused a manhole cover flying up four storeys into the air and tore a huge hole in the road. Huge paving stones were also sent thirty or forty feet into the air and crashed through windows of the adjoining mills. The beck at that point had been about four feet below the road level and caused a crater about 15 yards in diameter. The roof above the beck itself also collapsed for a distance of about 50 yards beneath the mills and sent a large amount of machinery and masonry down into the beck itself.

The second explosion was described as being much worse than the first and wrecked most of the Water Lane shed. However, the first explosion had acted as a warning and many people that had been in the building had been able to get out of the building before the roof collapsed. It was noted that hundreds of mill workers fled their mills, with 800 people alone being in the Ashfield works. However, it was heard that the lights went out and 400 people had to flee the mill in the dark through one staircase, however, it was said that they managed to get out unharmed.

It was noted that every window at every height in the mills within a 300 yard radius of the first explosion had been blown out. It was similarly noted that all the spinning an combing machinery in a 300 yard by 100 yard area had been twisted and distorted and that even heavy boilers had been dislodged from their beds. It was also said that at the Water Lane Works, heavy pieces of loth that had been on rollers had been furled from the ground floor and were found resting on the roof. The explosion also casued a hole in the floor of the Water Lane Works through which Bradford Beck could be een running by through.

Five large factories on the Thornton Road were damaged in the explosion. Factories damaged in the explosion were:

  • Water Lane Dyeworks Company.
  • Messrs John Priestman and Co.'s Ashfield Spinning and Weaving Works.
  • Norcroft Dyeworks.
  • Richard Hardaker's Spinning Works.
  • William Clayto's Spinning Works.

At the inquest, an open verdict was returned stating that the explosion was due to the ignition of petrol vapour in a confined portion of Bradford Beck, but that there was not enough evidence to show at what point the petrol had entered the beck or whether it was accidental or otherwise.

Frank Greenwood, Jonathan Bartle and John Lumley had been working at the Water Lane Dyeworks Company at the time.

Ten other people were also injured in the explosion.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Yorkshire Evening Post - Wednesday 17 January 1912

see London Daily News - Thursday 08 February 1912

see Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Saturday 13 July 1912

see Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Saturday 02 November 1912

see Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Saturday 21 December 1912

see Northern Whig - Thursday 08 February 1912

see Wells Journal - Thursday 07 December 1911

see The Scotsman - Friday 22 December 1911

see Hansard

see Bradford Timeline