Unsolved Murders

Catherine Hilda Norman

Age: 50

Sex: female

Date: 19 Jul 1935

Place: Great Western Railway Line, Stoke Canon

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Catherine Hilda Norman was found dead at the side of a railway line having fallen from a train.

She was found on the Great Western Railway Line between Stoke Canon and Rewe.

Her body was seen by the driver of the 6.50pm up train from Exeter beside the line.

When her body was examined four hours after her death she was found to have had fractures on the left side and base of her skull and other fractures of the body consistent with her having fallen from a train. Her death was given as being due to the fracture of the skull. Her right leg was also practically severed just above the ankle.

It was said that it was unlikely that she could have fallen out with the door shut.

A policeman that saw her body on the line said that it was about six feet from the down line and about 100 yards from the Silverton side of the Rewe Bridge. He said that he found her handbag and shopping bag lying beside her body and that there were two letters in her handbag, one of which contained a blank piece of paper.

He said that it was possible that when she had fallen from the train she had struck one of the iron stays through which the signal wires ran, noting that there was a small piece of flesh on one of them.

When her possessions were examined, she was found to have had the return half of an Exeter to Taunton summer ticket on her.

Her home was in Tangier, but she had been holidaying annually in the country, initially with her brother who was a farmer in Bridgwater but later staying in Kingston, and then wintering in Morocco.

At the time she had been staying in Kingston Cottage in Kingston, Taunton and had been travelling on the 6pm train from Taunton to Exeter when she fell. The landlord of Kingston Cottage said that Catherine Norman had been staying with him for two months as a paying guest and said that he could not see anything wrong with her. He said that she had not been away until the Thursday night and said that she had just received a latter by the afternoon post from a friend in Exeter who had wished to consult her about setting up house together. He said that Catherine Norman then told him that she would be away that night and was going to Exeter and would be returning the next day between tea and supper. He said that he motored her to the railway station at 5.45pm and that on the way she had told him that if anyone telephoned that he was to tell them that she would be available on the Saturday.

Her inquest returned a verdict of found dead. The verdict stated that there was no doubt that she had lost her life by falling out of the train but that how she got out of the train remained a mystery with the comment being made that it was not thought that she had wanted to take her own life.

A carriage inspector with the railway said that the coach was fitted with a standard door lock that could only be opened from the outside. He added that if the door was opened that it was impossible for it to be fastened again with that kind of lock. He said that the pressure of draught might have kept it closed, but not fastened.

The train was a non-stop train to Exeter and the district traffic inspector in Exeter said that when he made inquiries of the signalmen, they had seen nothing amiss with the 6pm train from Taunton.

Her inquest also heard that her health was excellent, both physical and mental. It was also heard that she had a substantial income and no financial troubles and that she had a house and property in Tangier.

Her estate was valued in December 1935 to be worth £8,098 12s 3d gross with net personalty £8,049 11s 3d.

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

see Western Times - Friday 19 July 1935

see Exeter and Plymouth Gazette - Friday 19 July 1935

see Western Daily Press - Tuesday 24 December 1935

see Western Morning News - Saturday 13 July 1935

see Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser - Wednesday 17 July 1935