Friday, 18 December 2009

Ian Bott - Local History with a frequent 'Ghostly' and 'Ghastly' twist!!!

Ian M. Bott is a well known Wednesbury antiquarian with, it can certainly be said, more than a slight interest in the 'macabre' side of history. Within the last couple of decades, Ian has conducted a series of walks around his home town, many with either a ‘ghostly’ or ‘ghastly’ theme to them, and his repertoire of popular, local talks and lectures include one on ‘Black Country Spooks’ and ‘Black Country Graveyards’.....

An accomplished author, he has previously produced a number of ‘In Old Photographs…’ volumes, though a more recent work – some 12 months in the making – is dedicated to the grisly subject of Black Country Murders…..

In April of this year, Ian spoke to the ‘Express and Star’ newspaper about this impressive volume of original, gruesome tales:

‘Dark Secrets From Murder Casebook’

“From bustling high streets to quiet, leafy parks – it is never easy to know where some of the Black Country’s most gruesome murders have taken place.

“We are often blissfully unaware of the darker secrets that are hidden in the past of housing estates, town centres and parks,” says historian Ian Bott.

“For 12 months I have been digging into the Black Country’s history and have uncovered some murders that will surprise a lot of people.”

Ian Bott’s new book ‘Black Country Murders’ focuses on 10 horrific murder cases – two of them were triple murders and six of the victims were children.

All 10 took place between 1900 and 1958 in spots such as a house in Brockmoor High Street, a stable yard in Lye, a steelworks in Tipton, a barber’s in Walsall and a secluded spot in Warley Woods.

“The first chapter is about a nine-year-old girl called Matilda Coleyshaw who was sent out at 11pm to look for her sister who hadn’t returned home from work at the local pub, which is now The Junction,” says Ian, aged 46, who works as a nightclub bouncer in Walsall and at the town’s Leather Museum.

“She lived in the slums at Rydding Square and was found dead on Ball’s Hill Field, known locally as the Hilly Piece.”

Ian says Matilda was abused and killed by a local widower Joseph Lowe.

“It was difficult to find out Matilda’s age. I went around a lot of cemeteries in the hope of finding graves with dates on them,” he says.

“But sadly a lot of the victims are in pauper graves.”

All of Ian’s stories have come from old newspapers and the first thing he did was eliminate all the well-known murder cases.

“I wanted unknown murders that haven’t been publicised since they happened,” he says.

“I’ve spent a year going through Sandwell and Dudley’s archives where the staff were very helpful and helped me scan through newspapers from 1850 to 1950. In the end I wrote about murders from 1900 to 1958, and all of them are gruesome.”

Ian, who lives in Wednesbury, says there are places that he has been to all his life and he was shocked when he discovered what had happened there.

“One of the most moving stories is the murder of three children in 1903 in a little cottage near where Morrisons in Bilston is now,” he says.

“They were brutally murdered by their father with the butt of a shotgun – it is a very sad tale.

“I have been to the sites of all the murders and some of them are quite spooky, especially at night.

“I went to the site of the Bilston murder and I was so on edge that whenever a twig snapped it made me jump.”

Ian says he enjoys investigating each murder and following it in the old newspapers from the start through to the final day in court.

“The newspapers really sensationalised the murders with words like “outrage” and “horror”,” he says.

“Our ancestors would have been shocked at the murders as today we have become a bit more de-sensitised to it.

“People often give me tips about murders they have heard of as they hope I will do the research for them.

“It was often the case that when they were younger Mum and Dad would be talking about things that were not meant for their ears.”

Ian says it is difficult to find photos of the murderers or the victims as the people who had their photos printed in the paper were usually the judges and coroners.

“In eight out of the 10 cases, the murderer and the victim knew each other and they are all male murderers – I struggled to find a female killer,” says Ian.

“While out visiting the murder sites people have asked me about the killings that have taken place there.

“They often tell me that there was a rumour about a murder but over time, the story had changed and people had got confused about the location of the crime.

“If the house still stands where a murder has taken place I haven’t revealed the number in my book, as the present owner might not want to know about its dark past.”

A brief video of Ian speaking about the volume was included with the above article and can be viewed on the Express and Star web site, via this LINK.

A selection of Ians books - including his latest volume 'Wednesbury Through Time' - can be obtained via any of your popular high street outlets, as well as via the usual net based sources, such as Amazon, E-Bay and so forth. Word of his forthcoming – and ever popular - talks and lectures, on a variety of topics, can usually be gleaned via a web search on the subject.


The W.M.G.C.


Anonymous said...

would like a contact address/ number for Mr Ian Bott... am very intrigued by "Black Country Murders" am a proud Black Country girl and very interested in local history...

Kit said...

I too am interested in contacting Ian Bott to in particular with regard to the Joseph Lowe case. My interest lies in the fact that I recently found a copy of a letter written by Joseph Lowe whilst in Portland Prison in 1906.

Kit said...

I too am interested in contacting Ian Bott to in particular with regard to the Joseph Lowe case. My interest lies in the fact that I recently found a copy of a letter written by Joseph Lowe whilst in Portland Prison in 1906.