Local newspapers stored on microfilm in Hammersmith and Fulham’s archive can provide useful information about events not normally reported in the national media. They can also reveal the local impact of national stories.
Back in 1910 the public was urged to watch out for Dr Crippen, wanted for murder and on the run with his mistress Ethel le Neve. There were sightings all over the country including at the iconic (and now defunct) public convenience beside St John’s Church, Walham Green.
The attendant there William Agar was convinced that the fugitives had visited his Gents on Thursday 10 July.
The older of the pair ‘seemed cool and collected’ and was talking about North America and Iceland. Later on Agar saw a picture of Dr Crippen:
‘The photograph was exactly like the man that I talked to for ten minutes. I couldn’t mistake him.’
The supposed Ethel entered separately, dressed as a smart young man, and took off a sage green overcoat and a dark jacket,‘I did not take much notice of him’ admitted Agar,Subsequently I found a pair of lady’s black cashmere stockings.’
It is just possible that the attendant was right. Crippen and Ethel were indeed making for North America, and she was disguised as a young man, though less flamboyantly than the person seen by Agar.
But Crippen may already have removed his distinctive moustache in order not to resemble the man in the police photographs. Presumably no-one ever claimed the black cashmere stockings.
The Fulham Chronicle published the story but headed it: HE WAS AT WALHAM GREEN – PERHAPS.
Morgan Phillips re Fulham Chronicle 22 July 1910