clgc clock rainbow


20181211 The Deeming Murders 

The members and visitors much enjoyed an illustrated talk on the (probable) 'first global serial murderer' given by Dr Tom Preston, a local historian,  former teacher and library archive publicist.

The murderer had married a number of women and had killed them and in some instances their children while also being a fraudster obtaining money to afford his lifestyle and inter-continental travel.

The audience were enthralled and horrified at the numerous aliases and 'easy' deception of law authorities by use of aliases, and travel to new areas, which the speaker illustrated by numerous census entries and other documents with a major one being a long 300 or so page 'scrap book' held in St Helens Archives. Where he wasHeritage Outreach Officer for St Helens Local History and Archives Library.

The 'popular press' view of the connection.


Paper illustration CCby2.0 450px DeemingRipper


Paper illustration CCby2.0 450px DeemingRipper


Rather than repeat or attempt to repeat in newer words the story of Deeming I quote the Wikipedia summary below the two references.
For the longer article I recommend reading both the two website articles:
A) The Wikipedia one (remembering that it is never ‘authentic’ as no one checks Wikipedia)


B) A website with many of the illustrations used by Dr Tom Preston.

The illustrations cannot be reproduced as many are not in the public domain.
The daily mail article is much recommended for its use of illustrations and somewhat graphic storytelling under the title:
“Mystery of 100-year-old skull and Australia's first serial killer and one-time Jack the Ripper suspect, Frederick Deeming who entombed his victims in concrete”

The House of Murder.

Dinham Villa where murder took place 980x

Dinham Villa where murder took place


Frederick Bailey Deeming (30 July 1853 – 23 May 1892) was an English-born Australian gasfitter (white-metal-smith) and murderer. He was convicted and executed for the murder of a woman in Melbourne, Australia. He is remembered today because he was suspected by some of being the notorious serial killer, Jack the Ripper.

Deeming was born in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire, England, son of Thomas Deeming, brazier, and his wife Ann, née Bailey. He was a "difficult child" according to writers Maurice Gurvich and Christopher Wray. At 16 years of age he ran away to sea, and thereafter he began a long career of crime, largely thieving and obtaining money under false pretences. He was also responsible for the murder of his first wife Marie, and his four children, at Rainhill, England, on or about 26 July 1891, and a second wife, Emily Mather, at Windsor, Melbourne, on 24 December 1891.

Less than three months elapsed between the discovery of Mather's body in Windsor, Melbourne, in March 1892, and Deeming's execution for her murder in May 1892; a remarkably short time by comparison to modern western legal standards. This was not only due to efficient police work, but also a result of the considerable international media interest the murder attracted. For example, it was an English journalist working for the Melbourne Argus who first approached Mather's mother in Rainhill, delivering the news of her daughter's murder. Another factor was Deeming's behaviour in public; for while often using different names, he usually drew attention to himself with behaviour variously described as aggressive, ostentatious, ingratiating and overly attentive to women.



The memorial in Melbourne

418px Emily Mather Grave Melbourne General Cemetery


Emily Mather Grave Melbourne General Cemetery

Dr Tom Preston has put many hours of work into his researches on the matter and included many census reports to track down Deeming’s many aliases and world wide places of residence, this enthralled our audience that he travelled so widely and had the funds to do so. The funds being mostly from fraudulent activities obtaining other peoples moneys, but these crimes were not covered as little is known about them.

Dr Tom has presented his talk to other societies and their is a picture of him giving it to  WI meeting at Rainhill.



Dr Preston Rainhill WI March 2013

The Rainhill WI President and Dr Tom Preston. Rainhil being most appropriate to this tale.


13th September 2018 talk. Notes by Eion MacDonald. Photos in Public Domain or CC by SA

Our meeting had 29 members and 8 visitors to a

Talk by Dr Diane Leitch MBE on:
 The History & Development of the Chemical Industries in Runcorn & Widnes.

Catalyst Museum of the Chemical Industry Widnes 640px Catalyst Science Discovery Centre
Catalyst Discovery Centre & Museum

Dr Diana Leitch took us through two centuries of the chemical industry's development, highlighting the key role that both Runcorn and Widnes and the surrounding area played when populated by ‘incomers’ and locals in the history of the chemical industry.
Dr Diana Leitch is a trustee of the Catalyst Discovery Centre in Widnes and has a background, as a local person, and is an eminent historical librarian to the chemical industry. While on her way to us she visited Croft Church where her great grandparents were married.

It is a story of new incoming people developing an industry with all the trials of invention, partnerships (often broken), using the area resources in travel, transport and raw materials, all of which playing a part. The ‘wastelands of Widnes’ was a relatively cheap place to erect a works and import labour from anywhere.

Before the industry came.

Refer website

From website files. Copyright acknowledged.

no mans land sm


 Rural to Industrial.

Liverpool and Manchester people went to the rural villages of Runcorn and Widnes for the good of their health, sea bathing and ‘taking the waters’ in the eighteenth century. But within 50 years there were complaints about 'acid rain' killing trees, bad odours and ill health. Building of taller factory chimneys was a way to mitigate the pollution but it was ineffective, and living conditions deteriorated. The difficulty to get work meant the towns continued to attract people as they offered employment. The raw materials were obtainable by new transport arrangements then under development: salt from Cheshire, coal from Lancashire, lime from Buxton and North Wales obtained by canal or railway, and labour from Ireland, Russia, Lithuania, Romania, Scotland and Wales. New innovations including French developments (as some French patents were not enforced due to lack of funds to re-new them) assisted English use of the French new chemical knowledge. Immigrants have been constant in UK development over the last 2000 years or so.


PD Taken from Charles Nicksons History of Runcorn published in 1887. It shows the Bridgewater Canal with Hazlehursts factory on the left and Johnsons640px Runcorn soapworks

Factories on Bridgewater canal.


PD Runcorn Dock Engraving by Hedley Fitton died 1929 Date 1880s Source Nickson Charles 1887 History of Runcorn London and Warrington Mackie Co. Author Scanned and enhanced by Peter I. Vardy800px Runcorn Dock


 (PD) Runcorn Dock Engraving by Hedley Fitton died 1929 Date 1880s Source Nickson Charles 1887 History of Runcorn London and Warrington Mackie Co. Author Scanned and enhanced by Peter I. Vardy800px Runcorn Dock




The factory developers came from far afield. Johnson, Hazelhurst, Hutchinson, Gossage (an apothecary from Skegness), Gaskell, Mathieson and McKechnie (from the Mull of Kintyre) and Wigg (from Suffolk) became famous local names. Some of them lived in fine mansions in Runcorn, but others lived further away, e.g. Holbrook, Gaskell in Woolton and Neil Mathieson near Sefton Park. These people made the ‘must have’ products of the time (soap and bleach) which changed the health of others if not their workers.

Soap was regarded as a brilliant product because it made people and clothes clean. Heaps of the notorious waste product [galligu] were regarded as a necessary evil. The usual age range of workers were: children of say 12 years to “old” men at 40 years due to industrial ill health. 12-year-old boys made packing cases, and women cut up and packed the soap, with heavy labour on the vats by men.

PD Henry Brunner chemist scanned and enhanced from Hardie D W F A History of the Chemical Industry in WidnesHenry Brunner

   Henry Brunner
( PD )Henry Brunner, chemist  scanned and enhanced from Hardie, D W F, "A History of the Chemical Industry in Widnes"    Henry_Brunner


PD John Hutchinson scanned and enhanced from Hardie D W F A History of the Chemical Industry in Widnes 524px John Hutchinson

John Hutchinson
(PD )John Hutchinson scanned and enhanced from Hardie, D W F, "A History of the Chemical Industry in Widnes" 524px-John_Hutchinson


CCby SA NicholasLeblanc

The process developer.
CCby SA NicholasLeblanc





 Gossages Dry Soap Wheel Brand enamel sign now in the cafe at Catalyst Science Discovery Centre Widnes England by Andy Mabbett640px Catalyst 2015 08 08 Andy Mabbett 06

The product, soap

Gossage's Brand




The talk was extremely well illustrated with many old photographs which showed the bad working conditions and the separation of labour for jobs, light work for children, medium work for females and heavy work by males.

Photographs of 'bleach men' swathed in cloth, whose bare hands suffered chemical burns.

Worker in Bleach 800px Catalyst 2188



Small companies and amalgamations.

The small initial companies went through the normal (industrial revolution) process of fighting each other, lawsuits, amalgamation, bankruptcies, and people going off to try their own thing, and do better than their previous masters, some emigrating to do so.

The Salt Union was founded in 1882, piping brine to Weston Point. Where still salt products are made.

The United Alkali Company was founded in 1890 as an amalgamation of small firms, to try to survive and fight off competition. The Hurter Laboratory was established in Widnes by a Swiss chemist. The Castner Kellner works was set up in Runcorn to produce chlorine . Chlorine is stil produced at Runcorn y the technical descendant of the old firms under the Ineos Group facilities “INEOS Enterprises / Inovyn” making chlorine derivatives in Runcorn some 120 odd years after starting.


20th Century.

The 20th century saw more mergers. Lever Brothers took over Gossages, and soap making in Widnes ceased. ICI was created in 1926, as a combination of United Alkali, Brunner Mond (of Northwich), British Dyestuffs (of Blackley) and Nobel (of Ayrshire). ICI was a philanthropic employer. Rose Queen festivals and pensioners' parties were recorded in the staff magazine; the copies held at Catalyst are now a major and useful historical source for these activities. The company name “ICI” has now disappeared, as the various divisions were sold off one by one, in order for some parts to survive under different ownership.



War activities.

World war I saw production of chemicals for munitions.
World war II saw Widnes play a key (though it was then a “top secret”) role in the development and manufacture of poison gas, and research on uranium isotopes. The workers at the Hurter Laboratory and the 'Hush Hush Works' on Wigg Island had to sign the Official Secrets Act. Which produced silence but locals all knew it as the “Hush Hush” plant, somewhat similar to the atomic bomb plant in USA where new arrivals at local town told to ask for a specific innocuous name were advised by local bus company “oh, you mean the new weapons plant”.

After the war, the research continued. Dr Charles Suckling, who lived in Woolton, invented Halothane, the first non-flammable anaesthetic. This was a major step in health, (and safety) and is used still in some low income countries while its derivatives are used in major economies.


340px Halothane container

Halothane container. (Catalyst photo)



INEOS salt in Runcorn today.

INEOS vacuum salt plant at Runcorn, Cheshire supplies a range of quality products that fit most applications and industry needs including food salts, water softening salts, animal feed, industrial and chemical, and de-icing salts and operates to ISO9001:2000 standard.

Picture on website:


geograph 1693236 by Alan James

Todays bridges at Runcorn-Widnes


Spike Island Widnes Winter Scene 291468

Spike Island today


Catalyst Discovery Centre

The modern extension Catalyst 1024px Catalyst 2149 



This is now a major museum and record centre as it holds among other things the old ICI records which are important for their social history as well as their technical records. Genealogy takes a major interest in people’s life with computer searches and the social newspapers of ICI now are a ‘mine’ for social historical research.

The Catalyst Discovery Centre was founded in the former Gossages building in 1987 to preserve artefacts and archives and to promote teaching of the 'STEM' subjects in schools. This helps the local area and enables incoming industry to get human resources from the local population.

It is a superb place for youngsters to visit and activities for them include ‘sleep overs’ which can be arranged. [This adult was very jealous on visiting and seeing schoolchildren building a working child-carrying-bridge modelled on suspension bridge joining Runcorn to Widnes.]

We were told a Manchester Ship Canal cruise was a way of seeing what is left today, as the industry was based on the river and canals for transport the view from the water shows the old and new developments.

Please visit.

The author recommends a visit by members, some have already visited the Catalyst Discovery Centre




John Hutchinson

Duncan McKechnie

Dr Diane Leitch MBE announcement in RSC Historical newsletter

2012 view on Uk chemical industry manufacturing.
Sites still operative, but ownership is diverse and not UK

Foreign Comment by The George Washington University, Columbian College of Arts and Sciences,
History News Network. “6/12/18”

Local notes
Chemical Manufactories in Cheshire - Nitre Beds, Northwich Salt, Le Blanc & Brunner Mond

Outside The Weaver Refining Company notes & GIF
The Weaver Refining Co Ltd
Riparian Manufactory, Acton Bridge & Witton Brook


Halothane note Wikipedia (low cost still in use in undeveloped countries)

successor in developed countries.


Photos CC by SA

Runcorn Widnes Gap Bridge


Chlorine production



Future Programme.  

Next meeeting for 2021-22 session will be in October  2021

Talks cancelled in session 2019-20 due to Coronavirus may be re-scheduled for
session 2021-2022.
All talks and speakers are to be arranged and announced.


 Meetings  for 2021-2022 session.


[Thursdays ]





 Phillip Jeffs

The Burgaries Register, WarringtonArchives.


(Postponed due Coid 19) A.G.M.



 T.B.A.  To be announced.




 September 2022     2022-2023 program to be advised.













































Enquiries about meetings to Zoe Chaddock Tel. 01925 752 276


  2020 - 2021 session meetings:

Our first physical meeting in Autumn 2021  was a visit on 2nd September to Leigh Archives followed on 9th September by a talk on the "Burglaries Register" in Warrington archives by Phillip Jeffs  at our first regular   meeting including our delayed AGM for 2019 to 2021  covering our 'closed period' when Covid-19 regulations did pot permit physical meetings of groups of people.


Further Meeting dates will be available as soon as arranged.s.

Please continue to takeCovid-19  precautions in group meetings.

Wearing a mask or face covering reduces the severity of infection in you by up to 80%, so you do not get hospitalised or severely ill, per many reports as of 01 Sept 2020.
Your own imune system may cope without hospitalisation.
Refer: Reduced Severity of SARS-CoV-2 in mask wearers.

Edit 20201002: If necessary, take vitamin D suppliment, high levels are necesary to trigger the imune system "T Cells" to fight the virus.

Quote Scientists at the University of Copenhagen have discovered that Vitamin D is crucial to activating our immune defenses and that without sufficient intake of the vitamin, the killer cells of the immune system -- T cells -- will not be able to react to and fight off serious infections in the body. Journal reference:  von Essen et al. Vitamin D controls T cell antigen receptor signaling and activation of human T cells. Nature Immunology, 2010; DOI: 10.1038/ni.1851  

One of Dr John Campbell's regular reports.


Please wash your hands thoroughly and wear a face covering (scarf or mask) before attending public gatherings or public places in accord with current UK Medical instructions during this Cononavirus time.
Please "Stay at Home" while advised to do so.

Question: Would members like to record in words and images their experience of the "Lockdown" time. If so send as email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and in the sole opinion of your webmaster some may be recorded as reports on this website.

Local history is of our making. So let us make some.
See recent poem in Guardian and on Our Daily Read:


20200506 Record and thanks for actions in and around Culcheth and Leigh.

In this time, when the 'lock down' of people to their homes during the Covid-19 disease caused by a coronavirus SARS-COR-2 emanating from P.R. China has incapacitated many firms and persons from normal activity, we should record the past actions of a local charity that is  now closed  which gave good support to ex-service-people in the area over the past few years.

Please see our report  20200506 StoS.

Meetings are held at:
Culcheth Community Centre, 2 Jackson Avenue, Culcheth, Warrington, WA3 4EL, UK.
(See map and parking details under location heading in top menu.)

Starting time 7.15 pm for 7.30 pm.  Tea from 7.15 pm to 7.30 pm  at a small donation.

Group Publications.
Some members of the Group  and others have written scholarly articles on
local history subjects, which have been published by the group or in other publications.
Details can be given on request.


The Raven Inn.
CLHG gets action in other places : British Archaeology

The magazine of the Council for British Archaeology ["CBA"] "British Archaeology"  in their May/June 2019 issue have considered the Raven Inn to be similar to Carlton Tavern, York case and discuss both in their article 'casenotes 43 ' by Bob Sykes, the CBA's listed buildings caseworker for  England. The CBA considered the original planning application for the Raven Inn flawed (with a considerable number of mistakes) and would result in "total loss" and the "harm" would be considerable. Thus they lodged an objection. They noted that the original planning application was withdrawn just as they went to press. This was as a result of a CLHG member advising them of the application to demolish the Raven Inn.

"Facebook Group".  (Applicants need to join the group as it a "closed group".)

The campaigners have set up a "closed group" on Facebook. Where only members of the group may read  entries. Should you wish to join the campaign group, you can register to join on the group page.


Culcheth Local History Group  [ CLHG]. 

Culcheth Local History Group, founded at Culcheth local library in 2006, is an all age group who meet monthly in Culcheth, Warrington, England to hear speakers on wide ranging matters of interest, visit local (and not so local) sites and events.

Visitors are very welcome.
Members pay a small annual fee.  Annual fee  of £10.00 payable in September.
Visitors pay a visitors fee per meeting. A fee £3.00 is payable at each meeting.

The Group meets on the Second Thursday of each month in 

 Culcheth Community Centre, 

2 Jackson Avenue, Culcheth, Warrington, WA3 4EL, England.

Starting time 7.15 pm for 7.30 pm. 

Refreshments available.

Parking is available at nearby council car park and local shopping centres. 

See 'location tab'.


Meetings for 2021-2022 session.


[Thursdays ]





 Philip Jeffs

 Warrington Archives,

The Burglary Register 
and (postponed due Covid-19) AGM. 



 To be announced. 





 To Be Announced.





T.B. A.

   To Be Announced.


January 13th, 2022



 To Be Announced.

February 10th, 2022


  To Be Announced.


 March 10th, 2022



 To Be Announced.


April 14th, 2022



T. B. A.



 To Be Announced.

May 11th, 2022




To Be Announced.




 Future Meetings


Future Meetings will be notified when arrangements are made in autumn of 2022.



 Autumn 2022


  2022-2023 program to be advised.

















































Links to other pages below this on small screens.