Unsolved Murders


Age: 0

Sex: male

Date: 3 Apr 1947

Place: Damside Street Bus Station, Lancaster

The body of a newly born male child was found in a public convenience on the Damside Street Bus Station in Lancaster on 3 April 1947.

An attendant at the lavatories, who had lived in De Viter Street in Lancaster, said that when she had inspected the premises before finishing her duty at 1pm on 3 April 1947 she saw nothing unusual.

Another attendant, who had lived in Alfred Street, Lancaster, who took over from the previous attendant at 6pm on 3 April 1947 said that when she did so, there was no mention of anything unusual and that when she did her rounds at 7pm, all the lavatories appeared to be in order. She said that she paid several periodical visits, but that it wasn't until 10.30pm when she was making her last visit that she noticed that the lid of a bin in one of the cubicles was slightly raised. She said that she noticed some brown paper inside and said that when she raised the lid of the bin, she found a brown paper parcel which she then took out and laid on the floor. She said that she then opened it and found that it contained the body of a full-sized child, adding that the body was cold and dead. She said that she then examined the lavatory carefully but found no signs that the child had been born there, and that she then locked the door and sent for the police.

The mouth of the child had been plugged with cotton wool.

It was noted that there had been a great number of people using the convenience on the day, many of them having had parcels and cases with them and many apparently going on holiday. It was also noted that a large number of long-distance travellers as well as local people used the conveniences.

A policeman that saw the body said that it was that of a fully developed child and that its legs, chest and head were of a blueish colour. He noted that its mouth was plugged with cotton wool, and said that there were no marks of injury on its body. He added that the child's umbilical cord had not been severed, although he noted that it had been tied with a piece of gauze.

He said that the child's body was covered with a piece of white calico, a piece of shirting material, and a pad of cotton wool. He said that the wrapping comprised of two pieces of brown paper and a brown paper bag, noting that the outer piece of brown paper was in good condition.

The doctor that examined the child's body said that the child had been well nourished and had weighed 8lbs 2oz.. He added that he also found a plug of cotton wool protruding from the mouth and that there was another plug of cotton wool right down at the back of the baby's throat, covering the entrance to its windpipe. He said that when he placed the child's lungs in water that they floated and were not in a collapsed condition and concluded that the child had breathed of its own free will, adding that the child’s lungs were in an aerated condition as would be found in a live child and concluded that the child had had a separate existence but said that he thought that the child had lived for less than 24 hours.

He then said that he thought that the cause of death was asphyxia caused by the obstructions in the mouth and gullet.

When the coroner summed up, he said that there was no doubt that the child had been born alive and had had a separate existence and that the two plugs of cotton wool could not have got into his throat unless someone had put them there and concluded that if the jury agreed that the child had had a separate existence and that the cotton wool plugs had been put into its mouth and gullet by some other person, then their verdict would have to be one of 'Murder against some person or persons unknown'.

A verdict of murder by some person or persons unknown was then returned by the jury.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Lancaster Guardian - Friday 06 June 1947