Unsolved Murders

John McGowan

Age: 37

Sex: male

Date: 16 May 1958

Place: Kensington High Street, London

John McGowan fell down a lift shaft in a block of offices in Kensington High Street.

He had been with a work colleague in the office at the time when he fell down.

An open verdict was returned at his inquest on Friday 16 May 1958 after it was heard that it was not known how he came to fall down the lift-shaft.

He was an American sales manager and had lived in Harris Gardens Terrace in Kensington.

Lift experts that examined the lift said that what puzzled them was the fact that the cage had risen six feet above the platform, thus leaving a gap but that even though repeated tests were made, that the cage could not be made to 'creep' more than nine inches or a foot.

A lift and crane engineer for a City insurance firm said that he could find no defect in the mechanism and explained that 'creeping' was usually caused by the control rope not being in its proper position or not applied thoroughly.

Another expert, a senior supervisor with the London Hydraulic Power Co. who had 35 years’ experience with hydraulic lifts, said that he couldn't find any faults either. He said, 'I made a thorough examination but could get no explanation as to what went wrong'.

A lift attendant that had lived in Goodge Street, said that he had previously noticed that the lift had 'crept' but said that he had always been able to stop it by means of the rope. He said that on the night in question he noticed that it was 'creeping' a little but did not tell the engineers as everyone had gone.

A man that John McGowan worked with, the firm's European service supervisor, said that he had left the premises with John McGowan at 7pm and they went to the Strand to have a meal and that they afterwards they returned to the offices at about 9pm.

He said that John McGowan went to the lift shaft and pulled up the shutter and then said, 'See how the elevator works'. John McGowan's work colleague said, 'He fell down. I called him, but I receive no answer'.

When the Coroner summed up it was noted that none of the experts could give any reason as to why the lift had risen and due to the insufficient evidence an open verdict was returned.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Kensington Post - Friday 16 May 1958