Unsolved Murders

Arthur Davenhill

Age: 33

Sex: male

Date: 27 Mar 1939

Place: Pocket Nook, St Helens, Lancashire

Arthur Davenhill died in a fire in a petrol store.

An open verdict was returned.

His body was recovered from beneath a heap of empty petrol tins.

The petrol store was owned by Shell Mex and BP and was a wholesale supply depot.

His wife had earlier visited over the weekend him from Market Drayton, where she lived and cared for her relatives, for their second wedding anniversary and they had made arrangements to meet at 3pm so that he could see her onto the 4.10pm train. Arthur Davenhill usually went to see his wife in Market Drayton each weekend.

However, Arthur Davenhill sent his assistant to tell his wife that he would meet her a few minutes after 3pm and when the assistant returned he found that the store was on fire.

The assistant said that when he returned to the yard he called out for Arthur Davenhill but could not see him. He said that he then ran into the storeroom and, assisted by two other people, started to throw out full tins of petrol.

The police said that after the fire was extinguished they found Arthur Davenhill's body in the shed under a number of petrol tins which they said had no doubt exploded and fallen on him.

A driver from Acacia Grove in Farnworth said that he had gone to the Shell Mex store for petrol on the Monday afternoon and was served by Arthur Davenhill who left his office to go into the shed for two tins of petrol. He said that a few minutes later he drove away.

He said that there was no one else about and said that neither he nor Arthur Davenhill had been smoking and that he had no recollection of a back fire or of hearing or seeing anything that he thought was likely to have caused a fire.

When the fire brigade arrived two and a half minutes after the fire was reported they said that they were informed that Arthur Davenhill was missing but said that even if they had known immediately upon their arrival, it would have been impossible for them to have entered the shed as it was blazing so furiously and added that no one would have survived more than a few seconds inside.

It was heard that the cause of the fire could not be ascertained and that the only indication of what had happened before the fire was that a small tap that was connected with the overhead petrol tanks was open and that it was thought that he must have opened it, possibly to draw off some petrol for washing purposes. It was thought that it was probable that the fire had begun then as when it was found it was stuck fast in the open position. His body was found two feet from the tap.

However, the fire brigade said that there was no evidence to say how the fire had begun.

Arthur Davenhill had lodged in Hall Street, St Helens, where he had lived for the last five years and his landlady identified part of his clothing and other articles found on him that were shown to her by the police.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Liverpool Echo - Wednesday 29 March 1939, p7

see Portsmouth Evening News - Tuesday 28 March 1939

see Liverpool Echo - Tuesday 28 March 1939

see Grimsby Daily Telegraph - Tuesday 28 March 1939

see Manchester Evening News - Monday 27 March 1939

see Liverpool Echo - Wednesday 29 March 1939

see Liverpool Evening Express - Tuesday 28 March 1939

see Belfast News-Letter - Tuesday 28 March 1939