Unsolved Murders

Benjamin Ward

Age: 68

Sex: male

Date: 1 Jan 1963

Place: Wynford Road, Caledonian Road, Kings Cross, London

Ben Ward was found battered to death in his shed on a building site in Wynford Road, Islington in the early hours of Tuesday 1 January 1963.

He had been a watchman on a London County Council building site at Wynford Road off Caledonian Road.

It was thought that he might have been murdered 'for kicks' by a New Year’s reveller.

He was battered to death in a wooden hut. His body was found slumped in a chair by the relief watchman at 8am. It was thought that he had been struck from behind as he sat in his swivel chair. The murder weapon had been a scarifier, a metal instrument used in the building trade which weighed at least 20lb.

When the relief watchman arrived at the site, he went to look in a secret hiding place for the key to open the gate, but it wasn't there. He then looked through the window of the hut and saw Benjamin Ward sprawled  in his chair with blood all down his face.

He then ran off and told a passer-by to ring the police.

It had been snowing at the time and footprints were found in the snow circling the shed that were made by a man wearing square-toed shoes and photographs of them were taken by the police. The footprints were said to have been a size 9½ to 10½.

A pathologist was called to examine his body before it was removed.

His murder was described as motiveless as there was no sign of a struggle, and that nothing was missing and Ben Ward had not been robbed.

A timekeeper at the site said:

I saw Ben at 4.40pm on Monday. As I left the site he called 'cheerio, a happy New Year’. I can see no motive for this. Ben had no enemies. Everyone on the site liked him. He was a toolmaker by trade, and took this job because he wanted late work. I got Ben the job at the site. He was a wonderful man. He would not harm a soul. I can't understand it, as there is no money in that hut and nothing worth stealing.

The police questioned hundreds of people in the Caledonian Road area, including tenants on local housing estates. They also carried out a reconstruction of the murder and said that they were certain that his killer had been a tall man of great strength, noting that it appeared that he had wielded the scarifier with one hand, striking Ben Ward with it several times.

Benjamin Ward had lived with his wife, daughter and son-in-law in Allison Road, Turnpike Lane, Hornsey.

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

see blackkalendar.freeforums.net

see National Archives - MEPO 2/11530, MEPO 2/11531, MEPO 2/11532

see Daily Herald - Wednesday 02 January 1963

see Daily Herald - Thursday 03 January 1963

see The Scotsman - Wednesday 02 January 1963

see Coventry Evening Telegraph - Tuesday 01 January 1963

see Belfast Telegraph - Tuesday 01 January 1963

see Torbay Express and South Devon Echo - Tuesday 01 January 1963

see Holloway Press - Friday 04 January 1963