Unsolved Murders

Grace Robertson

Age: 20

Sex: female

Date: 1 Aug 1937

Place: Preston-Kendal Canal, Garstang

Grace Robertson was found in the Preston-Kendal Canal at Garstang.

She had been a weaver and had lived at Wyre Cottages in Bonds, Garstang.

An open verdict was returned. It was said that it was not thought that she had committed suicide or that she had gone into the water accidently.

Her father said that she had enjoyed good health all her life and that she was always a good and cheerful girl. He added that as far as he knew she had not been keeping company with any other men but did say that he knew that she had met young men at dances with other girls.

Her father noted that a fortnight earlier on Sunday 18 July 1937 Grace Robertson had been out in the sun and had been scorched on one side of her face and on one arm. He said that since then she had complained about headaches and her eyesight and had talked about going to the doctor but had not done so. However, the doctor later said that he had found nothing to suggest sunstroke and said that her sun-burn was not so serious to have affected her brain.

The father said that on the last Sunday he had seen Grace Robertson sat on the garden wall in the sun during the afternoon and said that when she later had some tea she seemed to be in her usual spirits. He said that she later went to church with her mother and said that when he came back to the house at 9.50pm she was again sat on the wall in front of the garden with a young man who he said was a stranger to him. He said that when he went in they both said goodnight to him.

He said that Grace Robertson later came into the house at about 10pm and they chatted and then she kissed him goodnight and went upstairs. He said that she then came down again about 8 or 10 minutes later and went out through the back door.

The father said that he didn't notice her come back before he went to bed and said that when he got up at 5am to go on duty, he learned that she had not been to bed.

He said that she had never threatened suicide and that as far as he knew, she was in no other trouble and could not explain how she came to be in the canal.

The man that she had been with, a carpet dealer of no fixed address who had been staying temporarily in a caravan off of the Preston Road said that he had spoken to Grace Robertson on the Sunday afternoon and had arranged to meet her that night. He said that he met her at about 8.20pm and they went for a walk by some castle, without stopping anywhere, noting that there seemed nothing the matter with her. He said that he then went back with her to her home between 9.30pm and 9.40pm and he left her there at about 10.05pm and went straight back to his caravan.

A policeman said that he and two other officers were in a wireless car on the canal bridge in Dimples Lane at about 11.05pm when he saw Grace Robertson's body in the water. He said that they then pulled her out and a doctor was called and artificial respiration was tried for about two hours until about 1.30am.

The policeman said that they had been in the vicinity of the can for about 15 minutes and said that if there had been any altercation or struggle, that they would have heard it.

There was a mark on her cheek, but the policeman said that he thought that that had been caused while they had recovered her body or while artificial respiration was being carried out on the towpath.

He also said that there were no signs of a struggle on the bank, nor any of her property there, noting that she was fully dressed.

The doctor that later examined her said that there were no signs of a physical struggle or injury before drowning that might have been the cause of her death, and that there was no sign of any interference.

The Coroner concluded that they must assume that Grace Robertson had gone straight from her house to the place where she was found but said that he was not satisfied that she had committed suicide or that she had fallen in accidently and an open verdict was returned.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Lancashire Evening Post - Wednesday 04 August 1937