Where is the most dangerous place to live in Great Britain? Obviously, that's a hard question to answer as it depends what we're basing it on; most murders per capita (#1 being Boston in Lincolnshire), places with the highest burglary rate (#1 is Ilford, East London) or the most crimes in general per square mile (#1 being Oxford Street in London... obviously).
For this blog post I've decided to focus on a little known fact that I've accidentally stumbled across whilst researching the lives of 25 of the UK's most notorious serial killers. And that is the fact that at least 8 of them were either born, raised or committed murders in West Riding (Yorkshire).
Although it is a term rarely used, West Riding was a historic council boundary which comprises cities such as Bradford, Leeds, Huddersfield, Halifax, Sheffield and the surrounding villages and districts. It currently has a population of 3.2 million people, a relatively small number compared to London's 8.67 million people, out of the UK's 64.1 million. But this area has a disproportionately high number of the UK's most notorious and infamous serial killers - a place they called home.
Peter William Sutcliffe "The Yorkshire Ripper" was born on the 2nd June 1946 in Bingley (West Riding of Yorkshire), educated locally and worked in a series of menial jobs as a production line worker at Baird Television factory, Britannia Works of Anderton International and upon gaining his HGV licence started driving for T & W H Clark Ltd (all in Bradford). Being a regular user of prostitutes in Leeds and Bradford, over a five year period Sutcliffe murdered 13 women (many of whom were sex-workers), attempted to kill 7 others and was arrested in January 1981. Although he spent 26 years in Broadmoor Psychiatric Prison, Sutcliffe was declared "sane" and was transferred to HMP Frankland (Durham) where he is serving a whole life sentence.
Ian Brady & Myra Hindley "The Moors Murderers" - Born in Crumpsall on 23rd July 1942 and raised in Gorton (both in West Riding), Myra Hindley would later meet her soul-mate Ian Brady and between July 1963 and October 1965, they lured, sexually assaulted and murdered five young children on Saddleworth Moor (also in West Riding); aged between 10 and 17, they were Pauline Reade, John Kilbride, Keith Bennett, Lesley Ann Downey and Edward Evans. Although the body of Keith Bennett has never been found.
Myra Hindley died on 15th November 2002 aged 60 of bronchial pneumonia. So vehement was the anger at Hindley that even 35 years after the murders, twenty undertakers refused to handle her corpse for cremation. In February 2003, Patricia Cairns – Hindley’s ex-partner – scattered her ashes in Stalybridge County Park, less than ten miles from Saddleworth Moor.
Gordon Frederick Cummins "The Black Out Ripper" - Although very little is known about the background of The Blackout Ripper - with much of his history either unknown or a complete lie crafted by himself to disguise his murderous actions - we do know that he was born in 1914, in York (West Riding). By 1942, he was in training as a leading aircraftman in the RAF, stationed in Regent's Park, when during his the darkness of London's blitz he went on a six-day killing spree, in Soho, murdering four women and attempting to kill two others. So graphic and horrifying were the details, that the British Press kept the story under wraps for fear of unsettling an already terrified London public. Want to know more? Book onto Murder Mile Walks.
Donald Neilson "The Black Panther" - Born on 1st August 1936 in Bradford, Donald Neilson (who changed his name from Donald Nappey, for which he was bullied and some believe drove him to kill) served in the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and as a jobbing builder in Bradford, before turning to a life of crime, during which time he burgled over 400 houses, making him so notorious he was dubbed The Black Panther, The Phantom and even Handy Andy. In 1974, theft turned to murder when he shot and battered to death three sub-postmasters. In 1976, Neilson was sentenced to a whole life tariff, totalling five life sentences with an extra 61 years for kidnapping and blackmail.
Stephen Shaun Griffiths - "The Crossbow Cannibal" - Born on 24th December 1969 in Dewsbury (West Riding), Stephen Griffiths dubbed “The Crossbow Cannibal” by himself, as when asked by the judge at his own trial for his name, this was what he gave (although there’s no evidence he ever ate any parts of his victims or owned a crossbow). Between June 2009 and April 2010, Stephen Griffiths murdered three local prostitutes – Susan Rushworth, Shelley Armitage and Suzanne Blamires - in Bradford, with the body parts of the final two victims found floating in the River Aire. No remains of Susan Rushworth have been found.
Harold Shipman "Dr Death" - Although born in Nottingham, Harold Shipman studied medicine at Leeds School of Medicine, began his medical career in Pontefract general Infirmary, became a local GP in the Abraham Ormerod Medical Centre in Todmorden as well as the Donneybrook Medical Centre in Hyde (all of which are in West Riding). His twenty-five year career as a family doctor ended on 31st January 2000 when Dr Shipman was convicted of the murders of 15 pensioners (mostly elderly female patients who he “euthanized”), although a later inquiry concluded he killed at least 215, possibly as many as 457, making him one of the most prolific serial killers in history.
And of course there is also Trevor Hardy, dubbed "The Beast of Manchester".
Of course, I'm only working from a small list of Britain's most notorious serial killers, I haven't even begun to include regular murderers, but )as big names go) that's a pretty impressive list.
If you "enjoyed" this blog post, why not take a peek at; Serial Killers & Murderers Who Were Never Caught, London's Deadliest & Often Forgotten Disasters, Are More Serial KIllers Born During a Full Moon, Killer's Birthdays / Star Signs, Serial Killers Who Were On TV, Celebrities Who Have Killed, London's Railway of Death, Serial Killers as Kids and the World's Weirdest Death Rituals
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a writer, crime historian and tour-guide who runs Murder Mile Walks, a guided tour of Soho’s most notorious murder cases, hailed as “one of the top ten quirky & unusual things to do in London” and featuring 12 murderers, including 3 serial killers, across 15 locations, totalling 75 deaths, over just a one mile walk.
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a crime writer, podcaster of Murder Mile UK True Crime and creator of true-crime TV series.
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Note: This blog contains only licence-free images or photos shot by myself in compliance with UK & EU copyright laws. If any image breaches these laws, blame Google Images.