Crime and punishment walks to reveal town's grizzly history

East Street in St Neots around 1900.

East Street in St Neots around 1900. - Credit: ST NEOTS MUSEUM

St Neots Museum is launching a new spooky town walk for the winter months.

The Crime and Punishment series of events will run alongside the popular Ghost Walks this autumn.

Participants can walk down the dark streets and uncover a series of grim historic crimes which shocked local people when they took place and are still distressing today.

Some of the stories may be partly known to local people but recent research has uncovered new details to help people understand old crimes.

Starting in October, the walks will be led by local historian, Chris Jones and Liz Davies, the museum curator, both of whom have been busy with research."

This research has thrown up many new questions which we will explore on the walk," says Liz, including, "was the St Neots poisoner a serial killer?

Why did John Hollis brutally attack his wife in St Neots on Valentine's Day in 1865.

Why did John Hollis brutally attack his wife on Valentine's Day in 1865. - Credit: ST NEOTS MUSEUM

"Also, why did John Hollis brutally attack his young wife on Valentine’s Day in 1865 and why was Emma Gates sent to a Birmingham Reformatory school for three years in 1875?"

Find out why Emma Gates was sent to a Birmingham Reformatory school for three years in 1875?

Find out why Emma Gates was sent to a Birmingham Reformatory school for three years in 1875? - Credit: ST NEOTS MUSEUM

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These and other shocking crimes and the punishments handed down will be revealed on the walk.

"As always, we have been grateful for all the work done by the St Neots Local History Society, whose monthly magazines are a treasure trove of local knowledge.

"But we have also been delving into the St Neots Advertiser, ourselves with the help of two local university students.

"Some of the most serious crimes such as the murder of a local woman by the man who became known as the ‘St Neots poisoner’ (1898) are also reported in a wide range of national newspapers and we have consulted these online through the British Newspaper Archive," explains Liz

As well as revealing some of the crimes committed by local people, the walk will also explore the types of punishments that were handed down to local people.

Use of the local stocks and the whipping post, the birch, transportation to Australia and the death sentence will all feature.

Find out much more about local crime and punishment on the walks this autumn, still only £6pp. Visit the museum website for full details: www.stneotsmuseum.org.uk

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