Unsolved Murders

Henry Parker

Age: 77

Sex: male

Date: 5 May 1957

Place: Bay View Hospital, Lancster

Henry Parker died from burns after his pyjama trousers caught fire.

He was a hospital patient at Bay View Hospital and his pyjamas caught fire in a ward there on 24 April 1957 but it was not known how. He later died on 5 May 1957.

He had formerly lived in North Edward Street, Lancaster.

The pathologist that caried out his post mortem said that in his opinion the burns contributed to his death. The post mortem stated that his death was due to myocardial degeneration due to coronary occlusion and blood pressure, contributed to by the severe burns to both legs and the hand.

After hearing the evidence the Coroner returned an open verdict, noting that no remains of anything capable of causing the fire could be found.

His son, who lived in Harrowgate Street in Barrow-on-Furness, said that Henry Parker had been in Lancaster for 30 years and had lived alone and that he last saw him in the Hermitage Hostel in Caton about two weeks earlier before he was taken back to hospital after his lung complaint became worse. He noted that he had not seen Henry Parker for ten years before that, but said that he saw him in 1944 when he sustained a broken leg.

He noted that Henry Parker had been gassed during the First World War, but said that that didn't seem to incapacitate him too much.

The deputy warden at Bay View said that Henry Parker had previously been at the hospital from 1946 to 1956 but that he had been transferred to the Hermitage in Caton in July 1956. He said that whilst in hospital his health had been fairly good but that periodically he had suffered with his chest.

It was said that patients were allowed to smoke at certain times and that normally the patients had matches in their lockers.

A ward cleaner at Bay View Hospital who lived in Ulleswater Road in Lancaster said that at 2pm on 24 April 1957 that she saw flames at the top end of a side ward and then shouted for a nurse and said that two nurses then came and dealt with the situation.

One of the nurses, an assistant nurse, said that when she came she saw Henry Parker sitting in a chair at the foot of his bed with his pyjama trousers on fire. She said that she put the fire out using a sheet and then put Henry Parker into bed and treated him for shock. She said that he had burns on both of his legs and on his left hand.

She said that smoking was not permitted at that time and that the period for smoking was between 12.30pm and 1pm. She added that she had never seen Henry Parker smoke before at all and didn't know whether he had any matches.

She said that there were five or six other patients in the ward at the time but said that they had been asleep at the time and had only woken up when they heard the commotion and didn't see the fire.

She said that she didn't see any match box there, but said that the fire was bad enough that if there had been one that that it would have been burnt entirely. She added that there was nothing else in the ward that might have caused the fire.

When the Coroner asked the assistant nurse if there had been anything else in the ward that might have caused the fire she said, 'No we have no idea. It is a mystery'.

She added that Henry Parker had been confused after the fire and said that they had been unable to find out from him how the fire had started.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Morecambe Guardian - Friday 17 May 1957, p5