Farewell Starman


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I was just 19 when I first became aware of David Bowie’s music in the  summer of ’72. His hit record “Starman” was being played constantly on the radio. Then I heard “Life on Mars” and I was hooked. I avidly bought up all of his existing  LPs and then every new one during the 1970s. He was not always the popular artist he will be remembered as. In  the early 1970’s he was dismissed by some as yet another glam rock artist. The musical press did not originally like him  either, with cynicism about his “final” performance as Ziggy Stardust. Many people just did not get him at first. Then again he was doing something no artist had done before. He tore up the rule book and did whatever he liked. He explored new musical genres and invented new persona’s. He succeeded brilliantly with every thing  he tried. He invented countless new riffs and melodies.  He could play a host of musical instruments.

Not content with singing he also successfully explored mime, film and theatre. David Bowie was incredibly talented but never stood still,  he was always changing, embracing new ideas. Now, already a legend, he has boldly gone where no-one has gone before. He has stage-managed his own death which happened just two days after his 69th birthday and two days after the release of his final album Blackstar. He appears to have written, sung  and performed his own epitaph and of course only one person was required for this, his last video. This haunting work is going to be talked about forever. He clearly knew he was going and left behind one amazing final performance for his fans. How lucky we were to have  witnessed so many great performances and so much great music. Thanks for the music David and thanks for the memories. I will leave you with the first line of one of his last songs and which he performs in a video..

“Lazarus”

“Look up here, I’m in  heaven”

What an incredible life and what an incredible way to end it. RIP Starman

 

 

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Murder Mystery and Mayhem on the Railways – 1 day to go!


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Hello Readers. Here is my final blog concerning my third and newest true crime book which should go live on  Amazon on  Christmas Day ( and if not then on Boxing Day!) It is a very different kind of book to  my first two. It does not concentrate on one single story as they do.  It is actually a casebook of railway crime, calamities and mysteries from 1830-1899 and contains 12 chapters.  The final chapter is devoted to railway mysteries and there were many of those. One of the greatest mysteries was the frequent discovery of bodies on the railway lines throughout the country. In such circumstances the law dictated that a county or town  coroner should convene an inquest. The most important task was to identify the individual and  determine the cause of death. Take this actual example which is mystery number 2 out of 32 in my final chapter, produced verbatim here…

“A coroner’s inquest was held August 13th 1867 in the Canterbury Arms in Brixton. It was tasked with discovering the cause of death of railway guard Louis Williams Masson, aged 24 years. His body was found in a very odd place, on top of the 11.45 pm train from Victoria to Ludgate Hill. He was found flat on his back with his feet towards the engine. His wounds were severe. He had a fractured skull and cuts about the head and face. It was believed he had been killed by walking or crawling about on the roof of the train and had been struck by a bridge. The court considered two theories to explain how he died. The coroner pointed out that on some lines society had been outraged by guards watching a man and a woman when they got into a compartment believing they were going to do wrong. Only the previous week a guard had been killed whilst standing on the running board, watching a lady and gentleman. They were shocked at seeing him killed with his face pressed close to the glass. The other theory concerned a 10 shillings reward offered by the railway company for apprehension of felons who had been cutting carriage linings. They climbed onto the roof, cut the roof material, removed the horsehair then put their hands into the compartments to steal curtains and brasses. The court considered the possibility the guard was on the roof trying to catch the felons. Inspector Harris pointed out it was a breach of duty for the guard to leave his brake for any purpose. The jury could not decide which was the correct theory but reasoned this was an accident and recorded such as their final verdict. The mystery of what the guard was really doing on the roof was never solved.”

Here there were two possibilities that might explain how the guard died. Was the  guard a peeping Tom spying on  the couple in  the compartment? Or was he doing his duty trying to catch felons damaging the train? The jury certainly could not decide. When  passengers jumped or were thrown out of a train they usually died quickly of terrible injuries. If the fall did not kill them they could be knocked unconscious and then be  run over by a train. Both men and women often seemed  to be falling out of trains. Inquests considered many possible reasons including some odd ones like sleepwalking. Drink or should I  say too much drink seemed to be involved on some occasions. Men would get into arguments or fights or lose their inhibitions about their behaviour with a lady in the carriage. Physical assaults would drive some  men  out onto the running boards and sexual advances would do the same to most ladies. In  short the mystery of why a body came to be lying dead upon the rails often remained a mystery – despite a coroner’s inquest. My final chapter is full of these odd mysteries and I invite my readers to read and  solve them……if you can!

Well my book is complete and should be available very soon. For those who have been  following and reading my blogs or who may be interested in my work I now have a very special offer. For  a very short time on Christmas and  possibly Boxing Day 2015 YOU can  help yourself to  a free download. Just click on  the hyperlink below and if my book is showing a zero price it will be free to download. DONT MISS it, I have no plans to offer it free again in  the near future.

This is researcher and writer Mike Sheridan signing off for Christmas 2015 .BEST WISHES and a MERRY CHRISTMAS to YOU ALL!!

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Murder-Mystery-Mayhem-Railways-1830-1899-ebook/dp/B019MZ67NC

 

 

Posted in Coroner, Coroner's Court, Coroner's Inquest, Court Case, Crime accounts, Crime and Murder, Crime on the Railways, Crime story, crime writer, Crime Writing, Death on a Railway, First Great Train Robbery, Historical crime, Ideas for writer, Liverpool to Manchester Railway, Mayhem on the Railways, murder mystery, Murder on the Railways, Murder stories, Murder Story, Railway accident, Railway Crime, Railway Criminal, Railway History, Railway Robbery, Railways, Tragedy on the Railways, Train Robbers, Train Robbery, Writer, Writiing true crime, Writing, Writing about Railways, writing ideas | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Murder Mystery and Mayhem on the Railways 2 Days to GO!


 

2 days to launch.....

Hello again Readers, almost time for my new book, just a few more days. Herewith some information and this time it gets serious. In the last blog I detailed how robbers took to the rails and how some went armed. It would only be a matter of time before a robbery went wrong and this happened in 1864 with the murder of Mr Briggs,  the first ever railway murder. Sadly he was not the last and in almost all cases the assailant had entered a carriage intent on robbery, not planning just to kill someone. By 1881 it was common knowledge that those travelling in a first class carriage were the  most like to be  carrying large sums of money. This attracted robbers to stations to seek out a likely victim, then slip into their compartment just before the train departed. They would then threaten violence, rob their victim and often then thrown them out to their death on the tracks. Occasionally things did not always go to plan. Here is an excerpt from chapter 7 of my new book,

“On Monday June 27th 1881, Richard Gibson, a ticket collector was on duty at Preston Park Station near Brighton. The 2.00pm down train from London Bridge had just arrived and he saw a man leave a first class carriage covered in blood and walking unsteadily. The man had no collar and tie or hat and was very distressed. Ticket collector Stark was nearest to the man and approached him. He noticed a piece of watch chain was hanging from his boot. The man claimed he had put it there for safety.  Watson the guard was standing by the man and pulled the chain from his shoe. There was a watch attached to the chain. The guard gave the watch and chain back to the man. The man spoke, “I am faint and I want some water.” The station master arrived and ordered Gibson to get into the carriage and go on to Brighton with the man. Gibson found a high silk hat in the carriage and passed it to the man who put it on. He asked for his ticket which he produced, a first class single ticket from London Bridge to Brighton. He then asked for his name and address which he gave as “Mr Arthur Lefroy, 4 Cath Cart Road, Wallington.” The man took off his hat to show a wound on his head. “I have been fired at three times and struck on the head with a pistol”. The ticket collector asked by who. “By a countryman” he replied. He explained the man had got out on the road. There was also an old gentleman in the carriage and he too got out on the road. This puzzled the ticket collector as he knew this train was an express.  The man kept asking for a doctor. On arrival at Brighton he took the man to the Superintendent’s office. A clerk summoned police constable Martin and he took them both to the Town Hall. Here the ticket collector provided a statement for the police, taken down by Mr Thompson. The man called Lefroy also gave a statement explaining his business in Brighton, claiming he had an appointment to see the proprietor of a Brighton theatre. He kept complaining about needing to see a doctor.”

There was a really serious problem with this account.  It was a tissue of lies. The man pretending to be the victim of the robbery proved to be the robber and even worse….. a murderer! Almost every word he uttered was a lie. Despite some serious misgivings the Brighton Police let this man go not once but twice. Eventually there was a nation-wide hunt for the murderer of the old man mentioned in the account above. It is an amazing true crime story and you can read the full details in my new book. No-one has every previously printed the full details of “The Brighton Railway Murderer” before but it will soon be available to read in  my upcoming book.

 

Posted in assizes court, Book about early railways, Coroner, Coroner's Court, Coroner's Inquest, Court Case, Crime accounts, Crime and Murder, Crime in London, Crime in Victorian London, Crime on the Railways, Crime story, crime writer, Crime Writing, Death on a Railway, First Great Train Robbery, First murder of a female on the railways, First Railway Murder, First Train Robbery, Historical crime, Ideas for writer, Law and Order, Mayhem on the Railways, murder mystery, Murder on the Railways, Murder stories, Murder Story, Railway accident, Railway Crime, Railway Criminal, Railway History, Railway Robbery, Railways, Theft on a Train, Tragedy on the Railways, Train Robbers, Train Robbery, True Crime, Victorian Crime, Victorian murder, Writer, Writiing true crime, Writing, Writing about Railways | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Murder Mystery and Mayhem on the Railways 3 Days to Go!


3 days to launch

Hello again Readers. My third true crime book will soon be  available on  Amazon.Herewith some more information about what the book will include…

Robbers on the Rails..

The first railway passengers were content to pay for their tickets and their purpose was to travel from point to point, often on business. Within the first year a new type of rail travel began with special trains taking excited passengers on excursions, sometimes to race meetings. These trains attracted a different type of passenger and crowds of people always attracted criminals. The first type of robberies on railways were carried out by pick-pockets and these felons soon realised that passengers travelling up in first class or second class had money on them. Here is an excerpt from  my upcoming book of one true railway crime…

The Bradford Observer; and Halifax, Huddersfield, and Keighley Reporter (Bradford, England), Thursday, July 20, 1843 reported a most unusual robbery in its edition under a heading of “Railway Robbery Recovery

“On Wednesday last information was given at the Leicester station of a robbery that had been committed upon a lady while travelling along the London and Birmingham Railway. The lady in question was returning to Leicester when she found, upon feeling for her ticket, that she had been robbed of £40. An engine was immediately despatched to Rugby, where it was ascertained that the party suspected had taken a ticket for Hampton and thence to Derby, at which station he took another ticket for Rugby again. The engine continued its course and came up with the train at Loughborough, following it to Leicester, where an examination of the passengers took place, and the lady identified one of them as her late fellow traveller, whereupon he was searched, and the whole of the missing property was found upon him. The lady conjectures the robbery was effected in Kilsby tunnel.”

This was quite a typical example of of the  crime,perpetrated against a favourite target ( a lone  female) and in a favourite location ( a tunnel) where the felon took advantage of the confusion of the dark and smoke.  At least the  lady  was not threatened or harmed by a weapon.

It was not so easy to relieve a man of his wallet or purse but this problem was solved by carrying a weapon. Again targets were usually travelling alone and preferably elderly and travelling in first class. Most men threatened  by a knife or revolver would hand  over their valuables and there are numerous examples recorded. That said some gentlemen were not so easily scared and a few were prepared to put up a fight. It was such a circumstance that resulted in  the very first railway murder and this incident is recorded in my upcoming book. Some thieves sought out the property of railway travellers,  often left lying around for hours on  station platforms.Some  gangs plundered entire contents of railway goods wagons Soon even railway stations became targets as thieves realised large amounts of money was taken in  fares and in the large London stations the cash was left on the premises overnight.

Some enterprising gangs of burglars even used railways to travel the length and breadth of the country, seeking out rich  country estates where their target was the great wealth of  the landed gentry. They could plan and execute their robberies very quickly and within hours be back on an  express train London where the local bobbies could not possibly trace them.

From 1830-1899 the number and types of robberies increased enormously and sadly lives of the travelling public and police officers were lost in the process. My new book will  detail a good selection of these……..

Ok that is all for now folks, two more blogs before my book is launched on  Christmas Day……..

 

Posted in Book about early railways, Coroner's Court, Coroner's Inquest, Court Case, Crime accounts, Crime and Murder, Crime and Punishment 1844, Crime on the Railways, Crime story, crime writer, dead bodies, Death on a Railway, First Great Train Robbery, First murder of a female on the railways, First Train Robbery, Gold Robbery, Great Gold Robbery, Great Train Robbery, Historical crime, Ideas for writer, Liverpool to Manchester Railway, Mayhem on the Railways, murder mystery, Murder on the Railways, Murder stories, Railway accident, Railway Crime, Railway Criminal, Railway History, Railway Robbery, Railways, Theft on a Train, Tragedy on the Railways, Train Robbbery, Train Robbers, True Crime, Victorian Crime, Writing about Railways | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Murder Mystery and Mayhem on the Railways….4 days to go


Blog design 4 days to go

Hello again Readers

Here is my second blog revealing more about my  third true crime book about to  be  released on  Amazon.  This blog takes material and a quote from  the  second chapter of  the book.

Life and Limb

The Liverpool and Manchester Railway proved to be a runaway success.it was the first railway to run exclusively on steam power, the first to have double track throughout its length and the first to have a signalling system. It was also the first to be fully timetabled and the first to carry mail. In another first it introduced excursions or day trips and for many people this was their first introduction to railway travel. In short the new steam railways revolutionised commerce and changed the fabric of society. More people were able to travel much further, much faster and for a lower price than the old stage-coaches.

With the good came the bad and the safety of railway passengers and railway staff was at times put in peril. Within twelve months of the inaugural opening day there had been a number of accidents and deaths. Locomotives and carriages were coming off the lines risking life and limbs. Some locomotives were being driven too fast and sometimes in bad weather. Signalling and the changing of points was introduced and sometimes mistakes were made that cost lives. In August 1831 came the first footplate deaths, the details printed by the Blackburn Morning Post,

“We are sorry to mention a very serious accident which occurred on Saturday on the railway between Kenyon and Bolton. The locomotive engine was going up the lower inclined plane with a heavy load of goods and at the turn off of at Colonel Fletcher’s collieries, ran off the road and was unfortunately overturned against the bank, and fell upon the engineer and fireman who were both killed on the spot; two other men were riding on the tender, one of whom was dangerously hurt, the other scalded. The engine we understand was the only one which ever worked on a railway with wheels of six feet diameter and on that account had never been allowed to take the coaches.”

In November 1832 came the first death of a fare-paying passenger. As railways spread throughout Britain the number of railway injuries and deaths increased. It was discovered that locomotive and carriage wheels were breaking up. This was because they were made of brittle cast iron. This discovery resulted in wholesale replacement of wheel-sets but did not stop the carnage. Sometimes accidents were the faults of the engineer driving the train or the railway policeman controlling the signals.  Railways were quickly developing a very dangerous reputation. This did not deter the many travellers and passenger numbers kept on increasing.

The crowds of passengers drew another type of customer to the railways, one whose interest lay not in travel itself but more in the money and valuables carried by passengers in the first and second class compartments. The criminals had arrived and started using trains for purposes not foreseen by their owners and developers……………….

4 DAY to the release of MURDER MYSTERY & MAYHEM ON THE RAILWAYS 1830-1899 by researcher and  crime writer Mike Sheridan

Copyright@Mike Sheridan 2015  All Rights Reserved

Posted in Coroner, Coroner's Court, Coroner's Inquest, Crime accounts, Crime and Murder, Crime on the Railways, Crime story, crime writer, Crime Writing, Death on a Railway, First Great Train Robbery, First murder of a female on the railways, First Railway Murder, First Train Robbery, Historical crime, Historical Fiction, Law and Order, Liverpool to Manchester Railway, Mayhem on the Railways, murder mystery, Railway accident, Railway Crime, Railway Criminal, Railway History, Railway Robbery, Tragedy on the Railways, True Crime | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

5 Days to NEW TRUE CRIME BOOK


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Hello Readers.My third true crime book  is almost ready for publishing and all being well should be available for downloading on Christmas Day. For the next five days I will be providing some information about it via this blog including excerpts and quotes. This is a casebook of Victorian railway crime and will record all of the major incidents on the  railways for the period 1830-1899.  It will also investigate the shocking number of dead bodies found frequently on the lines. Some were undoubtedly suicides yet others seemed to be murder victims.  The brutal truth is that the mangled bodies were too damaged for a coroner’s inquest to get at the truth. The book or should I say novella will also look at the design of  the  railway carriage  which actually facilitated crime including serious assaults and murders yet stayed mostly unchanged. There is a delicate chapter concerning  the dangers faced by lone female passengers.  In all twelve chapters are provided and the final one contains a a cornucopia of railway mysteries.

The first chapter details the first day of the railway age in September 1830. It was supposed to be a proud day for the Liverpool and Manchester Railway.  It was marred by a terrible tragedy when one of the principal and local guests was run over at Parkside by the locomotive Rocket, winner of the Rainhill trials. The invited guests included the Prime Minister the Duke of Wellington and assembled Lords and Ladies. They made the difficult decision to carry on to Manchester,  a decision they would regret. A large and  angry mob of millworkers and  weavers were waiting for them at Liverpool Road,waving flags and banners.Few of the wealthy patrons left the train and decided on a hasty retreat to Liverpool. The inaugural dinner in Manchester was a thinly attended event and the Lords and Ladies had a nine and a half hour journey back to their starting point. Their train  was pelted with bricks and stones as it crawled home. In the evening the unfortunate man run over by locomotive Rocket succumbed to his injuries, entering the history books as both the first railway accident and death. From the very beginning the railways had a dark side. Within 12 months came more  deaths,  the first railway staff to die and the first ticketed passenger. This was just the beginning.As the railways spread across the country more deaths followed.  It seemed the railways were an accident waiting to happen. Yet worse was to follow. Criminals of all types soon found the railways to be a new opportunity and  new place to ply their trade. As the number of passengers increased so did the number and types of crime.

This casebook will bring you all the big stories of the period. You may at times think they seem  far-fetched. Rest assured reader they are all true. Please come back and read a few more snippets in this blog series  and then final blog  will provide a link to Amazon where you should be able to look inside and read the first few chapters free of charge…….until tomorrow this is Crime Writer Mike Sheridan whose dinner is calling…….

Posted in Assassination Plot, Book about early railways, Coroner, Coroner's Court, Coroner's Inquest, Crime accounts, Crime and Murder, Crime on the Railways, Crime story, crime writer, dead bodies, Death on a Railway, First murder of a female on the railways, First Railway Murder, First Train Robbery, Gold Heist, Gold Robbery, Great Gold Robbery, Great Train Robbery, Historical crime, Mayhem on the Railways, murder mystery, Murder on the Railways, Murder stories, Murder Story, poison murder, Railway accident, Railway Crime, Railway Criminal, Railway History, Railway Robbery, Railways, Theft on a Train, Train Robbers, Writer, Writiing true crime, Writing, Writing about Railways, writing ideas | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hathersage: A Walk Through Jane Eyre Country


Brilliant little blog about Charlotte Bronte and some of her inspirations for writing Jayne Eyre… and they are just down the road in Hathersage Derbyshire! I am fascinated by the lives of writers, how their upbringing, their environment, their experiences helped to shape both them and their writing. Now I can use this handy guide to follow in the footsteps of Charlotte Bronte. What did she see in Hathersage? What was she thinking about? Why did certain buildings fire her imagination? I have already walked in the hills around Haworth and can see similarities between that location and the Dark Peak where I now live. Both have a rugged beauty all of their own. Both have the haunting cries of curlews. But both can also be dangerous and spooky when the mists come down. This blog has inspired me to go look at Hathersage in a very different light…. and maybe even to write about it!

These are the mumblings of writer Mike Sheridan who is currently writing his third book…….

Visit Peak District & Derbyshire

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë is a much-loved and classic Nineteenth Century novel, the roots of which are embedded deeply into the lands of the Peak District!

In 1845, Charlotte travelled by caoch to a part of the Peak District that would influence her book tremenously, the village of Hathersage.

We are here to tell you which parts of the book you can still visit today, so you can lose yourself in a Charlotte Brontë’s world to a much greater extent!

First stop on Jane Eyre’s walk of Hathersage is:

The George Inn

After a long and weary stage coach trip up to the Peak District, Charlotte Bronte would have arrived at her final destination- The George Inn. The name of this Inn’s Landlord was none other than Mr Morton, a name we would recognise from being the name of the novel’s fictitious village where Jane becomes a school teacher.

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