The Hednesford Murder

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Date:1919 - 1921 (c.)

Description:A postcard with four views of places associated with the murder of Mrs Gaskin in Hednesford in 1919. The murder of Mrs Gaskin is not Hednesford's only murder but it is still probably the most infamous.

Henry Gaskin was hanged at Winson Green prison on the 8th August 1919 for the murder of his wife. Gaskin had been in trouble with the authorities as a juvenile and there is some evidence that he had psychiatric problems through childhood. Whilst in prison immediately prior to World War 1 his wife had a child by another man. He was released from jail to join the army and served throughout the war in the Royal Engineers, including time as a tunneller. Demobilised in January 1919, he arrived home on the day his wife was giving birth. He had previously been on leave was in October 1918 when his wife was said to be in London earning an immoral living. The father of the child was believed to be one Monty Harris, a soldier at the Cannock Chase camps. Gaskin had requested a meeting with his wife at Hednesford Pool (later filled in to make Hednesford Park) and after a confrontational argument brutally killed her whilst in an angry rage. He left her dying in the wooded area situated between today's Museum of Cannock Chase and the War Memorial, known colloquially as 'Gaskin's Wood'. Later that day he returned to the scene and dismembered his wife's body. He dragged the headless corpse to a culvert near the Valley Pit and took the head and clothes to the gasometer in nearby Victoria Street. With the police now making enquiries about his missing wife, he removed the the corpse from the culvert and placed it in the water at the base of the gasometer together with the head and clothing. Whilst on remand, Gaskin confessed to the crime and took Police to the gasometer where the body was recovered. He then took them to the scene of the crime. He provided a written confession. He was tried at Stafford and found guilty and after an unsuccessful appeal on the grounds of temporary insanity he was executed at Birmingham.

Postcard copyright J.A. Snape, Bridgtown.

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Image courtesy of: Mr Jake Whitehouse

Donor ref:10_155r (219/36878)

Source: Mr Jake Whitehouse

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