Murder on the Tracks - Thomas Briggs

Come on a journey, a journey into the past. Travel to a time when Britain ruled much of the world and London was its beating financial heart, Join Simon J. James in the discovery of the incredible and true story of the first murder on the British railway. A murder of a well respected banker that left a city in shock and led to an international chase that took criminal investigators over an ocean. This is, Murder on the tracks, episode one: Thomas Briggs.

Achtung! History is produced by The Berlin Tour Guide and presented by Simon J, James. You can follow Achtung! History on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram or support Achtung History and gain early access to the next episodes on Patreon for as little as 1€.

Listen Now


London 1864. Almost 200 years had passed since the great fire of London had stolen the old St Paul’s from the city skyline but the city was once again resplendent with the new dome of St Pauls rising higher than any landmark in the land. A symbol London was on the rise. And it truly was. Britain was the largest empire in the world, with dominions across the globe, and their populations, enslaved to the British crown. Wealth was funnelled from India and Africa amongst many other nations and brought back to the manors where cold drafts always blew of the Lords and Ladys of Britain.

But Britain at home was also changing. Industrialisation had taken a hold in the previous century. The poor who had struggled upon the lands, where ancient feet had tread, were brought forth with the promise of work to those dark satanic mills that nestled within the valley bottom. Enslaved to the loom six and a half days a week their toil brought great wealth to the masters. Villages grew into towns and towns into cities and soon there was a need to draw lines on maps connecting those cities together.

The first was in 1830, Liverpool, the great port, the great point of departure for those to America, drawn by iron rail to Manchester where the looms weaved cotton day and night and the great brick chimneys spewed their black soot across the land. So here it was, the birth of intercity rail travel.

Spurned on by the dividends paid by those who had invested in the first line more and more grew a liking to the idea. Financiers and investors from across the land began plotting and purchasing making way in the British countryside for new projects. Within twenty years many of England’s towns and cities were served by the steam locomotives.

London was a terminus for many of these new lines. Bristol, York, Liverpool, all were connected to the capital. But the city of London was already built up by 1850, the railways could not penetrate. So stations grew at the fringes of the city. Victoria, Paddington, Euston and Frenchchurch, amongst others, became the terminus.

But for these years of great expansion the Railway had remained safe to travel upon. There were no Dick Turpin’s of the robbery of stage coaches fame for the rails. People travelled with ease. That was until the 9th of July 1864 when a murder was reported on the 9:50pm train from Frenchchurch Street.

This is an account of the events leading up to and after that murder. Although the story is told as a narrative, the conversations, the names, times and locations are all taken from the original investigation, statements, reports and court proceedings, of the investigation into the first murder on British rail. An investigation that turned into a cross Atlantic chase.

Welcome to Achtung! History. A weekly podcast produced by The Berlin Tour Guide and written and presented by myself Simon J. James. This is part one: Thomas Briggs.

Thomas Briggs was a known man. Respected amongst society and his peers. For many years he had worked hard, rising from lowly stature to now occupy a well respected job as chief clerk at Robarts and Co. of Lombard Street London. Robarts and Co. was no small enterprise.

Occupying space on Lombard street meant it was connected to an aged tradition as well as displaying its importance to the capital of an Imperial Empire. Lombard street took its name from the granting of a plot of land by Edward I, the brutal King also known as Longshanks whom had conquered Wales and initiated a bloody war in Scotland, to goldsmiths from Lombardy who had relocated to the then modest city and would give their name to the street. Through the centuries the goldsmiths and their descendants worked away and the area became a seat of wealth within the expanding in size and importance city of London.

By the 16th century such prize was put on the wealth of Lombard street that it was suggested that it ought to become the seat of merchants and bankers. It was as Thomas Brigg’s walked through Lombard Street that the resultant history of this decision always was visibly apparent.

From the suggestion the Royal Exchange was founded. The founding of the Royal Exchange was followed by Lloyds Coffee House, the place for merchants, sailors and shipowners to gather to collect and share news. From here the dominoes kept falling and Lloyd’s of London was founded which spawned a volley of merchants to establish their own ventures all vying for stature on Lombard Street.

Brigg’s could turn his head and see the competition and partners which Robarts and Co fought with and against. It brought him satisfaction to know he had risen so high within the ranks, and, in coming from a lower stature, not having the affixed titles of his business peers, to walk proudly along the street with such historic names.

Every morning, except Sunday’s of course for it was a day to be spent in pray in one of London’s thousands of churches, he departed his home elegant regency home on Clapton Square and made his way to the station. Dressed in his fine business suit, his funnel hat placed upon his head, he walked, cane in hand, although even at 69 years of age he did not require it, and carried the handles of his black leather bag in the other.

He walked to the local station of the Northern London Railway at Hackney and took the line that went in the direction of Frenchchurch Street and served the financial hub of London. It was only the little things that portrayed to the keen eye that he was not just a clerk to the others on the street. His prince-nez glasses that pinched at his nose were, in some ways honouring the heritage of his working district, made from gold, as was the pocket watch that he kept within his pocket and the chain that elegantly attached it to a button hole of his waistcoat. Other than this, he was just another well-to-do man in a city growing in wealth.

On this day, a Saturday, the skies were clear and the sun beat down, not even the smog of the factories clouded the day. It was on days like these the Thomas Briggs, as almost every man, woman and child in London was, was glad for the great public works that had taken most of the sewage of the city from the open river into new lines that ran underground. It was still a recent memory the year that London had become a great stink. So on this day Thomas Briggs took to work with the professional manor with which he always carried. Polite, curtious and dedicated to his role.

Saturday’s, although they were working days, were only half days. Finishing at three in the afternoon it afforded Mr. Briggs the opportunity take some time for himself and little pleased him more than visiting his niece.

Mr. Briggs left Robarts & Co, shortly after three, walked along the roads busy with the afternoon traffic of those taking in the delights of the city and other Clerks, such as himself, taking leave of their work. He walked south to King William Street, where he climbed the steps onto one of the many Tilling Omnibusses that filled the streets and had begun their route connecting the southern town of Peckham with the city of London. Soon the omnibus with Mr. Briggs on board was trundling over the Thames.

Twenty-five or so minutes after his departure he stepped from the Omnibus onto the paving of the Old Kent Road in Peckham. The Lord Nelson pub stood before him, but he wasn’t in for a tipple at the establishment, even a quick one. Taking the Trafalgar Road, past Nile terrace he walked confidently forward with his cane. For a man of five feet and nine inches he carried himself well. He was not heavy, nor was he broad, but he was rigour-sly determined and it showed in his figure. Soon he arrived at 23 Nelson Square and knocked upon the door.

The husband of his niece, David Buchan opened the door almost exactly at 5 o’clock and invited the expected guest in. Caroline, Mr. Briggs’ niece was waiting.

Caroline had prepared a full meal for her uncle he she loved dearly. The trio sat at the dinning room table and wine was poured. All were in good spirits, including Mr. Briggs who took the opportunity to relax at the end of his six day working week, but still he savoured the half glass of wine poured for him for most the evening.

The three hours that he spent with his niece and husband seemed to pass all too quick and before long Mr. Briggs pulled the gold pocket watch from inside the pocket where it lay attached to the gold chain and announced that he must leave otherwise he might miss his train. David and Caroline walked him to the door where he was helped on with his coat. David then announced he would accompany Mr. Briggs to the Omnibus where it began its journey at the Lord Nelson Pub and the two departed.

As they walked David noted how Mr. Briggs was in good spirits but perfectly sober. They laughed as they walked along the rows of terraced housing that was rapidly expanding in the lands that were once expansive fields. Soon they were on the Old Kent road and Mr. Briggs checked his pocket watch once more.“I do hope I won’t miss my train,” he spoke pensively to David as his eyes gazed at the minute hand of the watch. But with the imminent arrival of the horse drawn Omnibus he relaxed.

In paying his six pence to the conductor he stepped once more up steps onto the original Omnibus route that had been established thirteen years prior by Tilling. In good health and spirits he waved to David as the horses pulled the carriage off and began the return journey to the city.

Along the Old Kent road they travelled before soon turning toward London Bridge. As they crossed London Bridge the city, normally a gleaming white in its stone cladding was warm with the last rays of the sun as it set far to the west, the long rays skipping off the surface of the murky waters of the Thames.

Alighting when the buildings once again towered over and the streets narrowed Mr. Briggs jumped from the final step of the carriage, cane in hand, leather bag in the other, and funnel hat still on head he made a charge with gusto toward Frenchchurch Street Station, checking his gold pocket watch once again.

The day was also coming to a close for Thomas Fishbourne. He stood at the bottom of the steps that led from the entrance way and before the long set of steps that rose towards the station platform. He smiled politely at those approaching him and requested to see their tickets. He could easily tell if there was a train about to depart without the use of his issued timepiece. He needn’t wait to here the steam whistle of that of the platform conductor. No, in fact it was easier to tell if a train was due to leave by the sudden increase in pace of step of all those who approached him as they dashed for the train. That, and the increase in frustration of those who believed he, in doing his job, might deny them the time required to jump aboard the train before it departed. It was in the former that Thomas witnessed Mr. Briggs running down the steps before him.

Mr. Briggs, up on seeing Thomas reached for his billfold as he hurried and pulled it from his pocket. Quickly bringing it out and scrambling to open it with hands full of his cane and bag he managed somehow to draw a first class ticket from inside. Thomas only needed to check it through duty, he knew Mr. Briggs by sight, although not by name. With a cursory glance at the ticket he nipped the edge and waved Mr. Briggs past, whom still maintained a jovial mood and scampered up the long flight of steps to the platform. Thomas took the opportunity to check his watch at this point and noted that it was 9:45 and a train was indeed about to depart.

His 69 years meant he wasn’t as fit as he had once been and the steps had left him somewhat winded in the chase for the train but he had made it. It would not be long now until he was home and he was ready to fall asleep.

Some of the doors to the cabins were still open as he approached the first class carriage. He noted that ones with their doors already closed were normally occupied and there was somewhat a level of discretion that if the door was already closed one did not open it so long as others still stood open. So he walked along the carriage looking in the windows. It was predominantly men that occupied the seats. Some were making the use of the time and the light provided by the gas lamps that were fitted throughout the trains to read the black and white pages of the evening edition of the papers.

After a short walk along the platform and the warning whistle of the engine he jumped into a carriage with an open door.

There, in the plush carriage, a harmony of polished wood and cushioned seats he settled down. Placing his back toward the engine, what would be called on the near side of the carriage, he lowered the window a little. Sitting in this manor allowed to not feel the wrath of the engine exhausting its fumes. He check his watch once more. 21:50. The train was five minutes late he noted. Unusual he thought. Soon, however, he felt the slip of the great iron wheels beneath him as they fought for traction against the smooth rails. A shudder followed as they found their grip and the train trundled out of the Frenchchurch Station Terminus.

Tiredness now began to settle in. The enjoyment of the evening combined with the rush only added to the weariness he began to feel in his advanced years and soon the gentle rocking of the chain carriage as it slowly drew out from the city of London and the old walls of the Roman settlement dropped away, he found rest against the window of the carriage.

At Hackney where Mr. Briggs was due to alight, unbeknownst to him as he slept away against the window, two of his subordinates waited. Standing upon the platform they, Henry Vernez and Sydney Jones peered along the lines for the train that was now over five minutes late. Both Vernez and Jones were Clerks working for Robarts & Co and both were in possession of a first class ticket. In the warmth of the summer night they talked jovially away. The air always seemed fresher on a Saturday evening, with many of the smaller factories having shut down for the lords day of rest and a stiff wind blowing in over the rivers and heaths one could almost breath freely in a city that often felt stifling.

A sense of relief arrived when, five minutes late the lights of the distant train came into view growing steadily larger. Soon came a soft whistle announcing its arrival followed by the screeching of the breaks working hard against the momentum of the trains great weight to bring it to a steady but sure standstill alongside the platform.

Vernez with an open outstretched hand reached for the handle to a first car carriage. Being not at the beginning of the line there was not the option to be picky about which of the cabins they selected, but on twisting the handle Vernez felt a sense of relief that the cabin was indeed empty. With good manners and grace Vernez held the door open for Jones who promptly stepped in and took the seat to the left, the nearside, Vernez followed taking the seat opposite. Vernez looked across at his colleague with curiosity for a strained look of contemplation seemed to have taken over his features. Jones looked at his feet.“There’s a bag,” he spoke as his hand reached into the shadows.“Leave it,” Vernez said, “we’ll report it to the guard when we leave.” Jones had already placed a grip upon the handles. With a small amount of effort he slid it away from where his feet should rest and moved it out of his way. “Nevertheless stange someone to have forgotten it,” Vernez continued.“I don’t think someone forgot it,” Jones replied his face having dropped in colour and wide eyes starred from white complexion at his hand. He raised his hand higher to catch the yellow glow of the gas lamps. There in the dim light his hand shone black with a thick trickle like substance.“What is it?” Vernez asked. Jones began looking around, and soon his eyes began noticing more of the thick black in appearance substance.“I think,” Jones stammered, “I think it’s blood.”


The last vestibules of the days sun had completely faded. It was only now the light of the forward lantern of an engine that sat with empty carriages behind that lit the tracks ahead. The yellow glow of the gas burning glinting off of the cold iron polished to a mirror by the heavy traffic that made use of the growing public transport network of London.

William Timms, a guard, Alfred Ekin the driver and their fireman had began fuelling the furnace of the train’s engine a little before the clocks had struck ten. With the door open the experienced hands could feel through the heat produced by the glowing coals how close the engine was to being able to produce the steam required to move forward. Their journey was only to be a short one, they were after all just manoeuvring the engine and its carriage for the next days service, but in doing so they had to use the least amount of coal they could. Timms shovelled the coal, spreading it with a flick of the wrist of the other coals that burned. An even heat was more efficient against the steel plate on top of which the water of the boiler sat.

Shortly after the hour when the hands of the guards watch read ten they saw the light of the approach of another train. It was the regular service train, albeit running slightly behind. They paid little attention. The train pulled along side. Passengers exited and entered and soon the train was gone again. A few minutes later Timms read the gauges.“Good to go.” Timms said with confidence. Ekin nodded. Timms released the brakes and Ekin turned the wheels to release the pressure to the pistons and soon the engine began to creek forward.

With Ekin and Timms in charge the train joined the mainline where the track curved south. Slowly they moved forward. Along both sides of the tracks were lined with houses, some still had the flickers of candle flames and oil lamps burning in windows but otherwise the night was dark.

Ekin had his face to the forward window peering into the night, staring at the pool of light that washed over the tracks from the engine. Ahead the canal was nearing. The lines would take them over the narrow bridge past Old Ford. But as Ekin peered through the forward glass his eyes caught sight of something dark laying between the tracks.“What’s that?” He shouted over the noise of the engine to Timms. “Laying there, between the tracks?”“I don’t know,” cried Timms in retort.“Pull the brakes!” Ekin ordered and Timms instinctively reacted. He pulled on the lever and the brakes bit at the wheels and the train fluctuated between slowing and skidding. Forth until it came to a rest on the bridge across the canal.

* *

“Call the guard!” Jones asked, with a degree of panic, Vernez. Vernez jumped from the first class cabin on to the platform and ran forth to the engine hoping as he ran that the guard of the engine would hear his shouts to delay the trains departure.

Benjamin Ames was preparing to call for the driver to bring the train out of the station when the cries of a voice hit his ears. He peered from the cabs door and witness a finely dressed man running toward him. Ames jumped from the engine and ran to Vernez.“What’s the matter?” He enquired.“Blood,” came Vernez exasperated response, “blood in the cabin.”“Blood?” Ames replied puzzled.“There’s a black bag covered in blood and blood across the cabin” Vernez iterated.“Hold on, wait there.” Ames replied before running back toward the brake van. Reaching in he grabbed the hand lamp contained inside. Lantern in hand in ran to meet Vernez once again and continue to the carriage.

The two continued. Light flashed over the train illuminating the faces of the curious passengers within as they were caught in the lanterns’s beam. Along the rows of doors that were now popping open as they saw the finely dressed gentleman walk with the train’s guard with purpose forward.

Jones had exited the train and was still looking at his hands when Vernez and Ames returned. Ames shone his lantern toward the brass plaque above the door.“Cabin number 69,” he muttered to himself. “In here?”“Yes,” Vernez reconfirmed.Ames stepped forward with the lantern held in front of him. Vernez and Jones fell in behind him, wishing to see what the beam of light might reveal in the dark of the carriage.“Did you see anything else?” Asked Ames.“A black bag, I moved it as it was partly in the way, it’s where the blood came from.” Jones replied.“Where is it now?” Ames said as he poked his head through the narrow doorway.“I moved it away, under the seat on the near side.”Ames took a cautious step in. Lowering the lantern it quickly became evident that the bag was still there. He cast the lantern’s glow onto the nearside and peered close. The cushion under the light revealed that it was spotted with stains of blood. From the cushion, Ames brought the lantern to the wooden panels above the seat, there was blood here also. On the quarter-light blood had congealed.“It’s everywhere,” Ames spoke exasperated. “Hang on, what’s this?” He brought the lantern low to the ground. “There’s a hat, and a cane as well as the bag. And here,” he pointed to the cushion, “there’s a finger print wiped in blood ‘ere as well!” He placed the hat, cane and bag on the cushioned seat. “There’s blood on everything!”“Question is,” said Jones, “where’s it come from.”

* *

The train wheels gripped once again at the lines, but this time the motion was slow and in reverse as Timms and Ekins brought the locomotive toward the shadowy shape they had witnessed laying within the 2 meter wide section between the tracks before the bridge that would take them over the canal and on toward Frenchchurch Street Station.

Before the train had come to a halt Timms, the guard, had jumped from the cab and onto the track bed. As he approached it quickly became evident that his night was not going to finish at the usual time at Frenchchurch Street Station. As there, between the lines, lay a body. The black suit which the person who tragically lay between these lines had done well to hide its form in the night and only the eagle eyed vision of Ekins had been able to discern it as anything different from the ground on which it lay.“What is it?” Shouted Ekins who was peering now over the edge of the locomotive.“Its a body!” Timms retorted.“Dead?”“Looks it.” Timms approached. The body was laid out, feet towards the city and head toward Hackney, there was no motion. “I’ll get help!”

With that Timms darted from the lines and down the steep embankment to the street level below. From the train lines it was only a short run along the water’s edge to the Cadogan Terrace. There, at the end of a row of terraced houses stood the Mitford Castle.

The Mitford Castle was one of the many drinking establishments of a London where it was safer to drink the beer than it was the water. It was a fairly grand three storey building. Built in the classic london brick on the upper half and tiled along the bottom so the grub of the workers of the day might be washed away after a leaning pint. It was here that Timms ran.

The public-house was still open, the lights still burning dimly within and the workers of the east end of London still propped up the bar mugs of ale in their hands. Timms ran through the wooden doors, “I need help! There’s a body on the lines can someone help me! Please!” A few of the faces of the bar nodded and followed Timms from the bar.

* *Police Constable K71 Edward Dougan was walking his usual beat along Wick lane when he noticed running out of the Mitford Castle a gaggle of men toward the railway line. With the sky being dark he could only witness their silhouettes move against the background of the embankment. Curious as to what was occurring on his watch he followed.

He was quite a distance behind the men, but he need not worry about having to hunt them down. From the bottom of the embankment he could hear voices, all awash with concern. Slowly he heaved himself up the embankment and onto the lines of the railway. Once atop he saw the men gathered around.

“Do you think you should be on the tracks?” Constable Dougan spoke as he approached. The men jumped. Eyes were all wide upon the uniformed officer. They appeared to be carrying something. “What’ve you got there?” He demanded to know, “and why’s this train stopped ‘ere.”“We found a body,” Timms spoke from the dark.“You found a body?” Constable Dougan enquired with concern.“Laying between the tracks.”“And what are you doing with him now?” Enquired Dougan sternly.“Taking him to the public-house.”“Right, bring him along!”

Together, under the eyes of Dougan the men broughthe body gently down the embankment and to the street. Ekins stayed with the train as did the fireman.

“Put him on the table,” commanded Dougan. “Let’s have a look.” He could see the man had wounds to his head. He was an older gentleman. Dressed finely but his clothes were scraped and torn in parts. He took a closer look. “Gentlemen, he ain’t dead” Dougan announced as he held his fingers to the mans jugular. “Someone get a surgeon!” With haste one of the men quickly departed. “Now let’s see who you are.” Dougan spoke softly to himself and the unconscious man. He rummaged in the man’s pockets. Within the left side he found, four sovereigns, some keys, a florin and half a railway ticket for the North London railway. He moved to the right side. There he found ten schillings and six pence, more keys, a silver snuffbox and a number of letters and papers. Dougan looked closely at the mans hands, there was a diamond ring still on his finger, he wriggled it off and placed it in his own pocket for safe keeping. Then he looked at the waste coat. There was a gold fastening attached to one of the button holes but nothing else.

Dougan took a step back. There was nothing he could do for the man. There he was, laid out on a table, the positions from his pockets neatly lined out as if he were some exhibition within the British Museum. A contemporary piece of modern man.

* * *

Vernez, Jones and Ames stood on the platform looking at the bag, cane and hat. The hat was crumpled and splattered with blood, the bag was also splattered with the cane was also covered in blood except for the top six inches which were, in comparison, remarkably clean. “What do we do now?” Asked Vernez.“I’ll give em to the stationmaster Mr. Greenwood at Chalk farm. But I’d better clear the carriage first.” Ames left Vernez and Jones briefly in charge of the bloodied possessions and set about informing the passengers they had to leave the carriage and join one of the others. He then disappeared.“They look familiar to you?” Jones asked of Vernez.“The bag and cane, yes, the hat I don’t know. But a black bag and cane could belong to any gentleman in this city, as could the hat, even if it is a little on the worse for wear.”

Ames returned. “I’ve telegraphed Chalk Farm. We’ll take the train on from here and have a look at the carriage when we get there. Thank you Gentlemen.” Vernez and Jones nodded and bid a farewell as they went to join the other passengers in filling up the other cars. Ames then locked the doors and wound up the windows of the first class carriage, and proceeded to the brake van. Once on board he blew his whistle and the train began its journey once again.

* *

It was past eleven when Alfred Henry Brereton was disturbed at his home on the Old Ford Road by a gentleman knocking on his door. The gentleman in a fluster wished for him to gather his equipment and rush to the Mitford Castle.“What the heavens for?” Brereton asked, to which he was informed a man was found unconscious and needed a doctor. Brereton took the large black bag that he had always prepared and ready and joined the man in the rush to the public-house from which the man had claimed to run.

A quarter of an hour later the Surgeon Brereton and the gentleman arrived at the public-house. There, Brereton immediately set about inspecting the man who lay upon the table.

It was evident that no one else had examined him. Brereton scanned over the man. Noticing the contusions to the head and the mans unresponsive state he quickly concluded he was suffering a concussion. When he listened, he could hear the man groan.

Brereton took a sweep of the room with his eyes. The men drinking at the wooden bar and smoking heavily on their pipes were filling the air with chatter and a denseness that filled the room and led to it feeling close. Brereton took the decision, therefore, to ask of the landlord if they might use another room within the building where the air might not be so thick and stale.

The men gently heaved the body of the unconscious man up again and carried him up the stairs to a room the landlord had pointed out. The room was small but the air was clear. There was not bed but a table. Brereton asked if perhaps one could be brought to which the Landlord nodded and soon there was one laying on the table and the unconscious man on top of that. Now, with the clear air Brereton began a more careful examination.

There was a jagged gash across the cartilage of the left ear and another in front of the ear. Brereton prodded further. Another jagged edged wound above the ear and a swelling. On the vertex where the plates of the skull meet two deep wounds lay. He quickly judged that the jagged wounds were from the fall of the body onto the track bed.“Can you wake him Doctor?” Asked on of the men.“I can try,” Brereton spoke in response.

He reached into his bag and began fiddling inside. Then he set to work wafting glass vials of substances beneath the nose of the unconscious man. He tried and tried, but the most he seemed to be able to arouse within the man was some murmurs and groans, eventually he had to concede defeat.

As the time ticked on the men of the public-house began to disperse. Slowly the room below that in which the body rested in its unconscious state became empty as did the one in which it rested, until it left only Brereton and another surgeon who had arrived, Vincent Merton Cooper to oversee the man and the state in which he lay.

* *

It was six in the morning by the time that Brereton left. During the night another doctor had arrived, a fellow of the Royal Collage of Surgeons by the name of Francis Toulmin. It had been Toulmin who had clarified whom the injured party was, for the man was a patient of his, he confirmed it was indeed Mr. Thomas Briggs respected chief clerk of Robarts & Co.

For Brereton he night was not over. As the light of the new day rose over the city the police had asked him to make an inspection of the no. 69 compartment which had been sided at Bow. So it was to Bow, only a short distance from where Mr. Briggs now lay that Brereton departed.

At Bow he found the train carriage as it had been the night before still splattered with blood. Blood lay on the panels of the carriage on the offside, he noted as well that there was blood upon the iron step and footboard as well. As he looked closer he even found blood on the outside panels of the carriage.

Stepping into the compartment he took a closer look at the fabrics and the floor. He searched as best he could beneath the seats and then between the nearside cushion he found something that glittered gold. A small golden chain link.

Meanwhile, as Brereton was inspecting the carriage, a constable Lewis Lambert was walking to Clapton square. He had been that morning to Chalk Farm and seen a Stationmaster by the name of George Greenwood who had been charged with the previous night in looking after some items that were found in the compartment number 69.

He now walked in the fresh air of a quiet Sunday London morning with a hat, bag and cane that belonged to the injured Mr. Briggs as far as he was aware, but he and his superiors needed to be sure. So they sent him to investigate. Upon his arrival he knocked upon the large front door and a man shortly thereafter appeared.

The man was the son of Mr. Briggs, who had been made aware in the previous night of his father’s condition. Constable Lambert then presented him with the items. The younger Mr. Briggs took a careful look, he could almost instantly claim that the cane and the bag were, in fact, his own and he and allowed his father their use, but the hat was neither his nor his fathers.“Are you sure?” Constable Lambert asked. Mr. Briggs the younger looked carefully at the crumpled hat.“Quite sure,” he replied, “I do not own, nor does my father, a hat from J.H. Walker of Crawford Street” he said as he read the label within the funnel of the hat that had been stitched to the lining.

Constable Lambert thanked him for his time and left.

* *That evening, Sunday the 10th of July 1864, surrounded by his family and the Surgeons who had cared for him, Mr. Briggs passed away as a result of the injures that had occurred against him.

* *

Monday saw a return of the working day. Streets were busy with the carts of those wishing to flog their wares to the passing public or traders alike, shop fronts were being opened up to the fresh day and the streets of the city of London were full with Omnibusses taking those to their places of work.

For John Death and his brother it was time to open their shop. The brothers ran a jewellers. They opened the doors and let the stuffy air of the weekend flow out. They dusted the counters and laid out the window displays and then sat back and waited, eager for custom to walk through the door.

It was not long after ten that a man clean shaven, with a strong jaw and hair fashionable of the day wandered in. He approached the desk where one of the Death brother’s stood and laid before him a singular golden chain.

Join us next week for the continuation of Murder on the 21:50 from Frenchchurch, when the hunt for the murder turns into a cross Atlantic chase and a trial that gripped the city.

Thank you for listening to Achtung! History, written and presented by myself, Simon J. James and produced by The Berlin Tour Guide. You can support Achtung! History on from as little as 1€ a month and gain access to exclusive content. If you wish to keep up-to-date with this podcast visit the website at or follow on twitter and istagram at @acthunghistory.