Unsolved Murders

Walter Bellamy

Age: 64

Sex: male

Date: 10 Sep 1938

Place: Common Hill, Tatworth

Walter Bellamy was found lying injured on the side of the road at Common Hill in Tatworth.

He was a workman employed by a firm of road contractors and had been working on the road at the time.

He had lived at 15 Mary Street in Taunton.

He was found lying on the Axminster to Crewkerne Road at Tatworth near to the Golden Fleece Inn with head injuries.

He had been sweeping the road in preparation for tar-spraying, about 100 yards ahead of his fellow workmen.

It was thought that a motor-car had been involved. A lace mender said that she had been walking up Common Hill towards the Golden Fleece in Tatworth on the left-hand side near the hedge when she had seen a man sweeping the road close to the grass verge, and facing down the road. She said that as she went on up the hill, a dark car came on from the other direction and passed her going towards Axminster. However, she said that she could give no further particulars of the car, or how fast it was going, or whether the driver had been a man or woman.

The woman said that that was the only vehicle that passed her until a green lorry came along, heading towards Crewkerne and stopped and then turned around and went back. She said that as it did so the lorry driver called to her and said that when she went back, she saw Walter Bellamy lying in the road.

The lorry driver, a fruit salesman, said that he had been driving a motor lorry from Seaton to Crewkerne at about 3.30pm on the Friday when, about 100 yards from the Golden Fleece at Tatworth, he saw a stiff brush in the road and fancied he saw a man's foot on the off-side of the road. He said that he continued on for about 300 or 400 yards, but not being hardly satisfied, he decided to stop and turn around and go back and that when he did so he found Walter Bellamy lying on his face on the grass verge.

He said that he first thought that Walter Bellamy was asleep but said that when he turned him over he found that his face was covered in blood and that he was dead. He said that he then saw the lace mender who was 50 or 60 yards up the road and asked her to come back an when she did a doctor was sent for.

The driver of the lorry said that the point at he had found Walter Bellamy was wide enough for about three cars to pass. He added that as he had been driving along he had seen a small private car proceeding ahead of him up the hill about 50 or 60 yards in front of him and noticed nothing else pass him going in the opposite direction.

A doctor that happened to be passing stopped and examined Walter Bellamy who he said had a cut on his head about 6 to 8 inches long. He said that it was a deep cut and he could see that his skull was fractured.  He said that he didn't notice any other injuries and formed the opinion that Walter Bellamy was dead and had died instantaneously.

A car-driver said that he had driven from Chard, leaving at about 3pm and had motored to a man's house which was about 150 yards on the Crewkerne side of where Walter Bellamy was knocked over. He said that as he had been passing up the hill he had seen a man working in the road with a broom, sweeping down the hill. He said that when he returned about 10-15 minutes later he saw Walter Bellamy lying on the verge and a number of other people in attendance, saying that a doctor had already been called for.

A policeman that arrived at the scene at 4.10pm said that he found blood on the verge, but none on the road. He said that the road was straight at that point with about a quarter of a mile clear visibility in either direction and noted that the weather was fine and the road was dry. He said that he saw no skid marks, or any sign that Walter Bellamy had been dragged. He noted that the grass and hedges were cut in a search for any parts of motor-cars or vehicles, but that nothing was found.

At the inquest he said that he formed the opinion that Walter Bellamy had been struck by a passing motor-car.

The doctor that later carried out his post-mortem said that Walter Bellamy's cause of death was a fractured skull and laceration of the brain.

The police made an appeal for anyone that had seen any cars driving by and a broadcast was made by the BBC.

The Coroner concluded that Walter Bellamy must have been struck by a car, and not run over, and that assuming it was a car, that it must have been moving very fast.

The police inspector asked the pathologist whether if a car had been travelling at 40mph and was a ton in weight whether it would be possible that the driver would not know that he had struck a man and the pathologist said that was possible. The police inspector also asked the pathologist whether, if the car had been travelling fast, whether it was possible that there would be no blood in the road and the pathologist said that it was.

An open verdict was returned. It was concluded that he had been knocked down by a car and that it was possible that the driver of the car had not been aware that they had knocked him down. The verdict found that Walter Bellamy's injuries were caused by him being struck by a motor-vehicle while he was sweeping the road but that there was not sufficient evidence to show the identity of that vehicle.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser - Saturday 10 September 1938

see Western Morning News - Saturday 30 July 1938

see Shepton Mallet Journal - Friday 05 August 1938

see Western Daily Press - Monday 01 August 1938

see Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser - Saturday 06 August 1938