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Two Unsolved

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The Last Customer

Queens Court, Ramsgate , Kent

Margery Wren, a maiden lady of eighty-two, kept a small general shop in Church Road, Ramsgate, and lived there by herself. On a Saturday evening in September 1930 she was found lying grieviously injured on the floor of the shop. "I have just had a tumble, that's all," she gasped. This was plainly untrue - something more sinister and terrible than an accident had happened. Miss Wren had, in fact, been savagely beaten about the head with a pair of fire tongs; there had also been an attempt to strangle her. Whatever the motive it was certainly not robbery; all Miss Wren's small possessions were intact. The old lady was removed to hospital. As her life ebbed away there were times when she was not only conscious but was able to stammer out a few disconnected sentences. She said enough to convince the police that she knew the man who had atacked her, and could have given them the name had she wished. She died the next day without uttering it. In her last moments Miss Wren murmered, " You say I am dying - well that means I am going home." After a long pause she added, "Let him live in his sins." At the inquest a verdict of "Wilful murder by a person or persons unknown" was returned. Miss Wren had carried with her to her grave the secret of the murder. There it has remained ever since

work cited:
E. Spencer Shew, pub. 1962, Alfred E. Knopf

Will The Owner Of A Green Bicycle

Annie Bella Wright

Ronald Vivian Light, one of the two central figures in the celebrated 'Green Bicycle' case, offers an instructive example of how a man innocently involved in a murder inquiry ought not to behave. From the following account of the case it will be seen that there is nothing in his conduct which disturbs the perfect pattern of folly. At about 6.30pm on the 5th July 1919, Annie Bella Wright, the other central character, set out on her bicycle to visit her uncle, George William Measures, a roadman who lived at Gaulby, a peaceful hamlet then typical of the hunting country around Leicester. Miss Wright lived with her parents at Stoughton, about five miles away.She was a strong, good looking girl, twenty-one years old, quiet and sensible; formerly a domestic servant, she had been working for the past two years at St Mary's Rubber Mills in Leicester. At about 7.30pm she arrived at Mr. Measures' cottage. With her was a young man on a green bicycle, who waited outside whilst she went in to see her uncle. It happened that Mr. Measures' son-in-law, a miner named James Evans, was there on a visit. Both he and Mr. Measures were naturally curious to know who the mysterious stranger was. Miss Wright said she knew nothing at all about the man; he had overtaken her on the road and she had passed the time of day with him in a casual way. Perhaps if she waited a little while he would go away. But when the time came for her to leave, the man was still there. As Miss Wright came out he made a remark to her which somewhat startled Mr. Measures. " Bella, you were a long time," he said. "I thought you were gone the other way."  Both Mr. Measures and his son-in-law were quite certain the the man said "Bella" - not "Hello", as was afterwards suggested. The point was to assume some importance, since, on the face of it, the use of her Christian name would seem to contradict Miss Wright's statement that the man was a complete stranger to her. The two of them rode away together. Both Mr. Measures and Mr. Evans put the time as 'about a quarter to nine', but it was probably somewhat later than that. What is indisputable is that at about 9.20pm, the dead body of Annie Bella Wright was found lying in the middle of the Gartree Road, the old Roman road - also called the Via Devana - rather more than two miles from Gaulby. Miss Wright's body was moved to the nearby chapel in Little Stretton where it lay overnight, thus destroying valuable scene-of-crime forensic evidence.

It was first assumed that Miss Wright had met her death as the result of a bicycle accident, but the local constable, P.C. Hall, was not entirely satisfied. Early the next morning he returned to the scene of the supposed accident, and after a close search discovered a revolver bullet half embedded in the roadway. A closer medical examination revealed that Miss Wright had been shot through the head, and from the character and direction of the wound it appeared that she might have been lying on her back in the road when she was shot. There was no scorching of the face, which argued that the bullet had been fired at a range of not less than five feet. This discovery transformed an ordinary routine inquiry into a nation-wide murder hunt - for the man with the green bicycle. Scotland Yard was called in, but despite the most exhausting efforts, more than seven months passed by without bringing a solution any nearer; both man and bicycle had effectively vanished. Then on 23rd February 1920, a boatman who was taking a load of coal through the canal at Leicester noticed his tow-rope slacken, dip, and then, as it tautened again, drag up from below the surface the frame and front wheel of a green bicycle. It hung suspended from the rope for a moment then slipped back in. The next day the boatman went back to the spot and fished it out. Subsequent dragging by the police recovered other parts of the machine, and also a revolver holster with live cartridges in it. All the usual marks of identification had been scraped off the bicycle - that is, all except one, the serial number 103,648 on the pillar of the handlebar bracket. By means of this number the purchase of the bicycle was traced to one Ronald Light, who had formerly been living with his mother in Leicester, but who was now an assistant master at a school in Cheltenham.

To the police officers who went there to question him Light denied (1) that he had ever owned a green bicycle; (2) that he had ever been in the Gaulby district on the day of the murder; (3) that he had ever seen Bella Wright. Light was taken back to Leicester, where he was identified by Mr. Measures and Mr. Evans as the stranger who had called at the cottage with Miss Wright. He was put on trial at Leicester Assizes before Mr. Justice Horridge in the following June, where he was defended by Sir Edward Marshall Hall KC. and by Mr. Norman Birkett
(afterwards Lord Birkett). During a five-hours ordeal in the witness box, Light told a detailedstory of how he had spent the evening of 5th July. He said that after calling upon some friends of his mother in Leicester he had gone for a bicycle ride in the country. Having gotten as far as Little Stretton, he had made to return home by the Upper Road; this was not the quickest way back, but he had not been in any particular hurry. It was then that he had encountered Bella Wright - a complete stranger to him. He went on:

As I got up to the young lady she was stooped over her bicycle and she looked up at my approach and asked me if I could lend her a spanner. I had no spanner with me, and I just looked at her bicycle. As far as I could see, from what she pointed out to me, there was a certain amount of play in the free-wheel. I could not do anything to it as I had no spanner. After that we rode on together. We came to a village. I asked her the name of the village, and she said it was Gaulby.... She told me that she was going to see some friends there. She said "I shall only be ten minutes or a quarter of an hour", so we rode into the village together, and I went with her, as far as far as the house where she was going"

Ramsgate Harbour and Town

related internet links

the museum was started as
a collection of police memorabilia
and history 

and other places.
a lovely collection, and you
can buy them too

Kent - Nord Pas de Calais
maritime history along the
Channel coasts of
England and France

a civic society and historical group
which aims to take care of the town
 to help make it a better place in which to live
work and enjoy life

Ronald Vivian Light
.

related internet links

An account by H.L.Adam
in The Fifty Most Amazing Crimes
of the last 100 years.
published in 1936

an overview of the case from
the Leicester Chronicler, a website
dedicated to the historic heartbeat of
the City of Leicester and its environs

 the scene of the crime as it looks today
Gartree Road. Bella Wright was found in the road, her bicycle lying a short distance from her.

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