Burrows' trial by Glossop Magistrates for the murder of Tommy Wood (second day).

Glossop Advertiser 6 April 1923

Mining Inspector Descends Air-shaft.
Frenzied Women Join in Hostile Demonstration.
Tells Bench the whole thing is Ridiculous.
Remarkable Scenes in the Streets.

With the mills closed tor the holidays, a big crowd assembled near Glossop Station yesterday (Thursday) morning to await the arrival by train from Strangeways Gaol, Manchester, of one of their own townsmen, Albert Edward Burrows, of Kershaw Street, who was on remand charged with the murder of little Tommy Wood, the three years’ old son of Mr. and Mrs, Fred Wood, also of Kershaw Street, whose lifeless form was recovered from a pit airshaft at Simmondley, after having been missing for nine days.
Burrows, on arrival at Dinting Station in charge of two warders, did not attempt to board the branch train to Glossop with the alacrity which has characterised him on previous occasions, appearing a little diffident and somewhat uncertain about entering the compartment. At Glossop, when he left the platform to enter a waiting taxi in Howard Street, the big crowd hissed and booed with much vehemence, and here Burrows hesitated again, and almost halted, as though he intended to reply to the incensed crowd. The warders, however, saw him in the taxi, and he was quickly driven to the Town Hall, where the magistrates on the Bench were Coun. S Bamforth (presiding), Ald. Jas. Malkin, Ald. W. Holdgate, and Coun. T. Swire.

Mr. G. R. Paling, the public prosecutor, opening the proceedings, said that since the last, hearing the prosecution had been put in possession of one or two further facts which he thought it only right to mention to them. One of these was that the prisoner was seen by a gentleman who lived in Glossop, at a point quite close to the air-shaft down which the body was found, only a few minutes before Burrows was seen by the witness Burgess at Hargate Hill Stone quarry. That evidence connected prisoner a little closer with the air-shaft than he (Mr. Paling) had been able to do in presenting the case at the last hearing. The other new fact was that Divisional Inspector of Mines, Mr. Nicholson went went down the air-shaft on Tuesday, and the Inspector would tell them there was no inlet to the air-shaft, along which it was for the body of a child to pass along.

Mr. Arthur Darling Nicholson, H.M. Divisional Inspector of Mines for Lancashire, Cheshire, and North Wales, of Astley, Manchester, stated: On the 3rd of April I, in company with Mr. T. D. Davies, inspected the disused mine shaft near Simmondley. I was informed that prior to my inspection the water had been lowered from 8˝ feet deep to 7˝ feet deep. Down to the waters edge I did not find the slightest inlet or outlet. There was no sign of water flowing from the shaft, but there was a quite slight percolation of water from the shaft. I tested under the water for an inlet or outlet. I stood in the water on the debris at the bottom, and poked all round the side of the shaft with a pole, and I could find no indication whatever of any opening.
Mr. Paling: How would you describe this debris? .
Witness: I think it is loose stone from previous wallings round the shaft top which had fallen in.
Could you test at all with your pole round the debris? — Yes, I was able to test for quite a foot down below the top of the debris, and could find no opening.
Did you subsequently measure the depth of the shaft from the ground surface to the top of the debris? —- Yes.
And may I put it to you that the measurement was about 18 inches less than had previously been reported to you? — Yes; it was 104 feet; and it had previously been 105 feet 6 inches.
Therefore, it would appear that the amount of debris which had fallen in since the body was recovered was about 18 inches? — Yes.
From your examination do you consider it possible that a passage, an inlet or outlet existed at the time the body fell down the shaft? — I don’t think it possible for there to have been in existence a passage to allow a body 3 feet long to come into the air-shaft on the 4th of March except from the surface.
In your opinion, can you see any other way for a body to have got into the shaft except from the surface? — I can see no other way.
By the Mayor: It is a circular shaft, and the diameter is the same all the way down. The shaft is in very good order.
The Clerk (to prisoner) : Have you any questions to ask the witness?
Prisoner (promptly): No,sir.

George Woodhead, 141, Victoria Street, Glossop, butcher, was a new witness called, and he stated: On Sunday, the 4th of March, I was returning to Glossop from Charlesworth through Simmondley, and was with my wife. When I got just past the lane which leads down to Hargate Hill, the two of us stopped. It would be 20 to 25 minutes past 12. We were looking in the direction of Hargate Hill and Simmondley Lane.
Mr. Paling: Did you see anybody at all?
Witness: There was a man crossing the field immediately behind Hargate Hill Farm.
What direction was he going in? — Towards Hargate Hill Lane.
Suppose he had come in a straight line — about from where do you suppose he had come? — From the hedge and some trees of the field boundary.
Would he be coming from the direction of Cloud Farm if it had been a straight line? — Yes, from the bottom end of Cloud Farm. He appeared to have crossed the field (indicated on plan).
Did you recognise who it was — I was 200 yards away, but from his walk, and stature I should say it was Mr. Burrows.
How long have you known him? — About seven years. He lives near me.
The Clerk (to prisoner): Do you wish to ask him any questions?
Prisoner: No, sir.
Mrs. Laura Woodhead, 141, Victoria Street, Glossop, deposed: I am the wife of the witness George Woodhead. On Sunday, the 4th of March, I was going with my husband to Glossop along Cloud Lane. When we reached a point just past the lane leading to Hargate Hill we stopped. As near as I can say it would be between a quarter and 25 Minutes past 12. We were looking down towards Hargate Hill.
Mr. Paling: Did you see anybody? — I saw a man in a field below and to the left of the air shaft; that is to say, to the left from the position where I was standing.
Which direction was he going in? — Towards Hargate Hill.
From what direction did he appear to have come? — He appeared to have come from the field marked L on the plan.
Did you recognise who it was? — No, I didn't.
When you were standing there did you see any other man? — No, only one man.
The Clerk (to prisoner): Do you want to ask the witness any questions?
Prisoner: No, sir.

Sergeant G. Clayton, of the Glossop Borough Police Force, was called as the next witness, and stated that on Tuesday, the 6th of March, he was on duty in Victoria Street, Glossop, and he there saw the prisoner Burrows. “I asked him,” said witness, “if he knew anything about the missing boy?” and he said “I will tell you all I know about the boy.” I asked him to go to the Police Office, and told him I would take a statement from him. Later I saw him at the Police Station, and took a statement from him, and he signed it in my presence. The statement (produced) was the one he made, and was dated the 6th of March, 1923.
Prisoner: I would like to read the statement.
The Chief Constable handed it to Burrows, and he eagerly scanned it, and then handed it back with the remark, “Thank you.”
The Clerk: Do you want to ask the witness any questions?
Prisoner: No, sir!

P.C. S. Roe, police constable in the Glossop Borough Police Force, stated that on Monday, the 5th of March, at 8-15, he was on duty at the Glossop Police Station and whilst he was there the prisoner Burrows came into the office. He handed witness a document (produced) dated Sunday, March 4th. He did not say anything to witness, but merely handed the statement to him, and then went out. On March 12th he (witness) grappled the Simmondley top air shaft. After two hours' working, the grappling iron broke. They measured the shaft, and it is 135ft. 6in. to the bottom. There was water in 16ft. 10in. deep.
On Tuesday, the 13th of March, witness grappled the air shaft on the other side of the road. Inside the wall surrounding the air-shaft witness noticed a number of bramble bushes, and they were bent and broken as if something heavy had fallen through. There was a hole in the wall, and the broken bushes were opposite the hole in the wall. “About half-past-one” proceeded witness in reply to Mr. Paling, “my grappling iron brought up a body. The grappling iron was attached to the body through the trousers about the right hip. It had not touched the flesh. The body was then identified by James Wood as being that of his nephew, Thomas Wood. The body was conveyed to the Police Mortuary. The depth of the shaft is 105ft. 6in. to the ground surface, and 112ft. to the top of the surrounding wall; therefore, the wall was 6ft. 6in high. The depth of water in the shaft was 8ft. 5in. On the 16th of March (proceeded witness) I grappled the upper or Simmondley air-shaft, and at my first attempt I recovered the lost grapple.

Albert Crossland, 22, Gladstone Street, Glossop, metal driller, gave evidence of being on Simmondley Moor on the 13th of March, about five minutes past two, with George Barber and some other men. He saw the prisoner Burrows running in crouching attitude from the direction of the top of the moor. From the top of the moor a person could easily see the Dinting air-shaft. When he saw prisoner he was about 30 yards from him. Witness described how Burrows, as soon as he saw them, dropped flat in a marsh of bullrushes and water. Witness went to him, and Burrows was panting and exhausted, out of breath, and perspiring. Witness asked him what he was doing there, and added, “Have you no more sense than lie in water?” and prisoner replied “I thought it was the gamekeeper”.
Witness told him that a gamekeeper could not touch him on there, and prisoner said “he can touch me, I have been after rabbits.” George Barber afterwards came up, and Burrows asked him “which way they had come” and Barber told him. Burrows then said “Which way are you searching now?” and witness replied “Over towards Hargate Hill,” and Burrows said “Why not go down the gully here?” and witness said “No, we are going over here” (indicating the direction), Burrows then said “Why not go straight up and over Monks Road ?” Witness did not speak to him any more, but Barber afterwards had a little conversation with him, and they then went away towards Hargate Hill, and prisoner went over the Nab towards Chunal.
Prisoner had no questions to ask the witness, and evidence corroborating the last witness was given by George Barker, 63, Gladstone Street, Glosop, who detailed the conversation which took place with Burrows, whom witness saw in a ditch hole, knelt down. “Prisoner” said witness, “was wet”. He did not get off his knees whilst he was talking to me, and he looked as if he was trying to hide from something.”
Mr. Paling: Did he appear as if he had been running?
Witness: No, but he ran after. (Laughter in Court).
Proceeding, witness stated that prisoner asked him it he had seen anything of a hare, and witness said “No,” and prisoner then said “Have you got your gun with you” and witness said “a gun is no use to me”. Prisoner asked them where they were going to, and witness replied “To the air-shaft”. Prisoner then suggested that they ought to go down the gully, leading to Cranmer's farm and afterwards suggested that witness and the others should go over the top of Monk’s Road. Witness then went towards Hargate Hill, and on turning they saw prisoner running and walking, the best he could, hurrying along, towards the Nab.
Prisoner stated that he did not wish to ask the witness any questions.

John William Ambrey, 47, Whitfield Cross, general labourer, spoke to taking part in the search for the missing boy on Tuesday, 13th of March. At half past one witness saw the boy’s body recovered from the air-shaft at Simmondley. As they were subsequently going up the brook side witness saw the back of a man, which proved to be Burrows, under a holly bush and sprang on him, and held him until others came up. Prisoner, when the others came up, said “Have mercy on me, chaps.” Witness replied “Tha didna show little Tommy much mercy.” and prisoner replied “I don’t know what made me do it.” Two men then got him and tied his hands, and he was afterwards taken towards Glossop and they met Detective Sergeant Wilson, and prisoner was handed over to him. When Sergeant Wilson came up a number of people were jeering at the prisoner and Burrows said “he had a brother in the asylum.” Coming down Chunal Road, prisoner said to the crowd generally “I shan’t be like Charlie Peace; I shan't tremble when I go to the scaffold.”
The Clerk (to prisoner): Do you want to ask him any questions?
Prisoner (quickly): No; I will leave it to my solicitor.

Ralph Hinchcliffe, 31, Whitfield Cross, Glossop, cotton worker, gave corroborative evidence to what transpired when Burrows was discovered under the holly bush. Prisoner, he said, kept begging for mercy, and said “Dunno do, dunno do; I'm done.” He afterwards said “I don’t know what made me do it”. Witness replied “Tha will have to know.” Prisoner was subsequently handed over to "Detective Sergeant Wilson.

Herbert Wood, 60, Wood Street, Glossop, labourer, grandfather of the deceased little boy, Tommy Wood, gave evidence of taking part in the search for the prisoner on the day the little boy’s body was recovered from the air-shaft. They saw the prisoner under a holly bush. Prisoner said to witness several times “Don’t strike me, Herbert; don't strike me.” He afterwards said “I don't know what made me do it,” and as they were taking him away he turned to witness and said he had a brother in the asylum.
The Clerk asked prisoner if he desired to ask any questions, and he replied “No, sir — not at present.”

William Newton, 102, Back Kershaw Street, Glossop, labourer, spoke to seeing the body recovered from the air-shaft. Witness took part in searching the moors for the prisoner, and he substantiated the statements of previous witnesses as to what occurred when they came upon Burrows under the holly bush. Prisoner said several times “I don't know what made me do it.” They tied him up, and witness then noticed a flask sticking out of his right hand pocket and he said to prisoner, “Hello, you b— premeditated, eh?” and prisoner said the flask belonged to a man called Bill Redfearn. Prisoner made a remark to the effect that he had a brother in the asylum. “He was absolutely terrified, agitated, and didn’t know where he stood” said witness. When prisoner was going down Chunal in custody of Sergeant Wilson he said “I shan’t be like Charlie Peace, trembling on the scaffold.”

Inspector J. E. Chadwick gave evidence bearing on his interview with the prisoner at the Police Office, on Wednesday, 7th March, when the latter made a statement which was put into writing and signed. On 9th March he saw prisoner in Victoria Street, who handed to him a written statement (produced). In pursuance of his enquiries about the missing boy on the 10th March, he saw the Dinting air-shaft surrounded by a wall six feet high, on one side of which was an aperture, three feet six inches from the ground and about a foot broad and eighteen inches high, with jagged edges. On removing some of the stones and looking through the aperture, he noticed some bramble bushes, which had the appearance of having recently been broken as if something had been pushed through them.
The witness then detailed the story of his search for the boy, along with Burrows, and explained how the latter showed him two different places, where he said he left the boy whilst he went after a rabbit. When witness suggested they should search the air shaft in Mr. James' field, on the lower side of tho road leading to Charlesworth, Burrows repeatedly said, “The boy is not in there. I never crossed the road with him.” He later showed witness how he had carried the boy across a small stream, and said they rested twice during their journey. The whole of the time prisoner was with him, he was continually appealing to me and saying “Inspector, you don’t think I have done the boy any harm, do you?” and repeatedly said “Remember, I never took the boy across that road”.
By Mr. Paling: In his opinion it was on absolute impossibility for a boy of Tommy Wood’s size or age to have got through the aperture (as he saw it on March 10th), or over the top of the surrounding wall at the air-shaft, unaided. On the 21st March, at 8-10 p.m., in Glossop Police Station, he (the officer) preferred against Burrows the charge he was facing that day, and Burrows, in reply, said “I have nothing to say.”
Have you any question to ask the Inspector?
Prisoner: Is he the last witness?
Mr. Paling: I have other witnesses.
Prisoner: Then I ask no questions.

Detective Sergt. Wilson stated that when he received Burrows into custody from some men, his hands were tied behind him with rope, he was sweating heavily, perspiration running down his face and neck; he was breathless and exhausted; his eyes were staring and appeared to be protruding; his trousers front and knees were wet from the pockets downwards, as also were his coat sleeves from the elbow down. Witness handcuffed Burrows, and then untied the rope binding prisoner's hands, after which he searched him, finding a leather purse containing five pence, a thermos flask which had contained tea, and still had some tea in it. In the pockets also were a number of bread and meat sandwiches and an apple, and a rough walking stick was handed to witness by a civilian. As witness put the handcuffs on, Burrows said “I have a brother in the asylum” and a little lower down the road he said “I shan't be the same as Charlie Peace. I shan't tremble when I get on the scaffold.

Mr. Paling (addressing the Bench) said that was all the evidence and upon that he asked the magistrates to commit prisoner on a charge of murder to the Assizes for the County of Derby.
Prisoner was then formally charged with the murder of Thomas Wood, on the 4th of March, and was asked if he wanted to say anything in reply.
Prisoner: I have nothing to say except this: That the whole of the charge is ridiculous, and I ask for legal aid.
The Clerk: The magistrates have no power to certify for legal aid unless you open a defence. If you don't say anything here in defence, your application will have to wait until the case goes to the Assizes.
Prisoner: I have this much defence. I had someone with me all the time, besides the boy, from George Storah’s field, and I have told the Police before of this but they would not even fetch the people from Pikes Lane, though they had only to go to the Council School, but they contradicted my statements. They wouldn't fetch the father, they wouldn't fetch the mother or the daughter, but they could find everyone else.
The Mayor enquired of the Police if prisoner had suggested the name of anyone to be called as a witness.
The Chief Constable said he would put Inspector Chadwick in the box to answer that.
Inspector Chadwick entered the box, and in reply to the Clerk said the only witness that prisoner suggested were there in Court, and was sent for at the inquest.
Mr. Paling; Were there a number of witnesses at the inquest whom prisoner asked to be called?
Inspector Chadwick: Yee.
Mr. Paling. Were they so called?
Inspector Chadwick: Yes.
Mr. Paling: Was there any other person, either male or female, that prisoner has asked you or, to your knowledge, the Police, to be called and you have not done so?
Inspector Chadwick: None whatever.
The Magistrates then retired, and after an absence of four minutes, returned into Court. After having resumed their seats the Chairman, turning to the prisoner said: The Magistrates have decided unanimously to commit you for trial at the next Derby Assizes.
Prisoner: Thank you!

Awaiting the removal of Burrows from the Town Hall to the Railway Station was a huge crowd, who thronged the street and crowded the doors of the building, the Police having great difficulty in keeping a clear passage-way to the taxi at the top entrance, in which prisoner was to be conveyed. Twenty minutes elapsed from the finish of the trial to the removal of Burrows from the Court room, and during this period the crowd had worked itself into a state of great excitement, and contained all the elements for a serious and hostile demonstration against the prisoner. A strong posse of police who guarded the taxi and the entrance to the Town Hall, however, were successful in preventing any attempt at a rush, and when Burrows made his appearance, handcuffed and between a couple of warders, the crowd had to remain content with jeering and booing. As soon as the taxi left the precincts of the Town Hall there was a tremendous rush to the vicinity of the Railway Station, and as Burrows descended from the taxi, he was quickly escorted by the police into the Station premises to await the arrival of the 4-45 train for Manchester. People flocked into Howard Street in hundreds, and as the train steamed out of the Station another and final tremendous outburst of booing rent the air.

In the calm of a Spring evening, with the Nab, the scene of the tragedy, in the distance, the accused man still handcuffed to his warders, was borne onward to the silence and solitude of Strangeways Prison to await his trial at Derby.

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Last updated: 29 September 2023