The Craziest Ever Day of English Football

The hectic goal-fest of Boxing Day, 1963 when 66 goals were scored in 10 games in the English top flight Division 1 is probably the most epic day in English football history. Read about the time records were broken and legends were made.

The beautiful game has a reputation in some quarters for not being the most exciting sport because it’s perhaps the only sport where matches can sometimes be played without a single game point being scored.

Yet football often throws up games of breathless action and Boxing Day 1963 served up a whole day of them with 66 goals in just 10 games.

It was the day after Christmas in 1963, still three years to go before England’s first and, to date, only World Cup triumph. Everton were the English Division 1 (precursor to the Premier League) title holders and AC Milan were the current European champions. On that day 20 of the 22 Division 1 clubs were going to attempt to warm the hearts and bodies of spectators across the land, numbed as they were by artic temperatures during the ‘Big Freeze of 63’, with an exhilarating 90 minutes.

Firstly, Liverpool, who would go on to be crowned league champions that season, thrashed Stoke City 6-1 at home with club legend Roger Hunt scoring four goals. Hunt went on be a record goalscorer for ‘The Reds’ and played an integral part of England’s 1966 World Cup campaign.

Matt Busby’s Man United, meanwhile, were thrashed 6-1 away by Burnley with four of their goals coming from striker Andy Lochhead. The Guardian wrote: “The Clarets were organised and compact as they set about dismantling the FA Cup holders, and it was down to ‘Morgan’s mastery’ that a series of frustrated fouls ultimately resulted in a red card for United defender Paddy Crerand.”

Entertaining draws were played out by Sheffield Utd, who fought back to draw after going 3-0 down to Nottingham Forest, and cross-town rivals Wolves and Aston Villa also played out a 3-3 draw.

West Bromwich Albion and UEFA Cup Winners Cup holders Tottenham Hotspur fought out an eight goal thriller after Spurs let a 4-2 lead slip from their grasp to end the game even-stevens. Days earlier, West Brom’s players had gone on strike when they were told that they had to wear shorts to train in freezing conditions during the exceptionally artic winter of that year, but peace was reached ahead of their Boxing Day fixture and the Daily Mirror wrote that “the only crisis at the Hawthorns [West Brom stadium] was in the Spurs defence.

Chelsea’s away victory over Blackpool meanwhile was won at a trot, with ‘the Blues’ scoring five goals to Blackpool’s one.

Then there was the game with West Ham v Blackburn. ‘the Blues and Whites’ showed why they were current league leaders by demolishing the London side a whopping eight goals to two which is their highest ever away win. Both England footballer Fred Pickering and Republic of Ireland international Andy McAvoy scored hattricks that afternoon and McAvoy went on to be the joint top goalscorer for that season. A reporter summed up the game thus: “Everything West Ham did was tinged with misfortune. Everything Blackburn did was coldly calculated and correct.

West Ham goalkeeper Jim Standen trudges away as he conceded eight against Blackburn (dailymail.co.uk)

Even that game was topped, however, when Fulham destroyed visitors Ipswich Town 10-1. ‘The Tractor Boys’ had been crowned English champions just 18 months prior, but in this game Bobby Howfield scored a hattrick and Scottish International Graham Leggat scored four goals including a hattrick chalked up in an incredible three minutes. That was a record fastest hattrick in Division 1 history. Fulham boss Bedford Jezzard said after the game: “It must have been those lovely turkeys we gave ’em for Christmas. From now on, they get one every week.” Ipswich chairman John Cobbold could only retort: “It could have gone either way, until the match began.” That result is both Fulham’s best, and Ipswich’s worst ever result respectively to date.

Newspaper report of Fulham’s historic win (fulhamfc.com)

The two other results were Leicester City’s 2-0 win over Everton and Sheffield Wednesday’s 3-0 defeat of Bolton Wanderers.

That afternoon’s incredible haul of 66 goals scored in a single round of league fixtures compares to a Premier League record of 44 goals. It was a crazy day. Tottenham centre forward Terry Dyson, who played in his side’s 4-4 draw with West Bromwich Albion, remarked: “It was a bizarre afternoon of football, without a doubt.

Even more remarkably, two days later the reverse fixtures were played out and some of those badly mauled teams turned the tables on their tormentors.

Despite how dominant their opponents had been on Boxing Day, West Ham would hit back at Blackburn with a 3-1 win, Ipswich overcame Fulham 4-2, and Man Utd retaliated against Burnley with a 5-1 thrashing. And Bolton Wanders also bounced back to beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-0 to cancel out their previous result.

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England’s 10 Most Successful Football Clubs, Ranked (May, 2022)

ARL Football Success Ranking System

Any club which remotely thinks it deserves the label ‘big’ should be playing in the top league of its association, buying the best players and, ideally, holding down a global brand presence. It is the trophy cabinet, however, which really sorts the economy class clubs from the business class, or even private jet ones.

The ARL Football Success Ranking System for men’s European club football establishes for certain which clubs are the most successful of each nation and in the whole of Europe. It is a system of scoring points to clubs based on what trophies and how many have been won. Different trophies score different points and are based on a ‘glory’ criteria. Only ‘competitive football’ trophies are considered.

English Football and its Premier League

England, alongside it’s northern neighbour, is the cradle of football civilisation. A sport played since medieval times and now played in every corner of the globe, the rules of modern Association Football were written up in the Freemasons’ Tavern, London in 1863 and have changed little since. Club football served to channel the fierce regional identities and rivalries of places like Merseyside, Tyne and Wear, Greater London and Greater Birmingham. The English also became highly consumerised and these and other factors explain the rise in the popularity of the ‘beautiful game’ and why England’s Premier League is rated as the biggest and most competitive league in the world.

English clubs have earned 232.5 points in international competitions.

Competition KeyPoints
SC: Domestic ‘Super Cup’ (FA Charity Shield / Community Shield)1 (0.5 points per ‘shared’ trophy)
UEFA SC: UEFA Super Cup2
FIFA CWC: Intercontinental Cup / FIFA Club World Cup3
LC: League Cup (EFL League Cup)4
UEFA ECL: UEFA Europa Conference League4
AC: Association Cup (FA Cup)5
UEFA EL: UEFA Cup / Europa League6
UEFA CWC: UEFA Cup Winners Cup6.5
UEFA CL: UEFA European Cup / Champions League8
T: Top Tier League Title (Division 1 / Premier League)9

Scroll to the bottom to see the full table of England’s 25 Most Successful Clubs!


Here, is the ARL countdown of the Top 10 Most Successful Football Clubs in England:

10. Sunderland AFC

Sunderland players hold aloft their 1937 FA Cup win

Success Points: 65

Earliest Trophy Won: FL Division 1 Title, 1892

Latest Trophy Won: FA Cup, 1973

Most Successful Manager: Tom Watson – 27 points (Aug 1889 –1896)

Most Successful Decade: 1890-1900 – 27 points

Sunderland AFC enjoyed its main period of glory the decade before its Tyneside rivals, grabbing 3 of its 6 Titles before the 19th Century’s end. During the late 19th Century, it was declared to have the “Team of All Talents” by William McGregor, the founder of the league, after its 3rd Title win in the 1894–95 season – ending the season five points ahead of Everton. Sunderland then went up against Heart of Midlothian, the champions of the Scottish League. Winning that 5–3, they were announced to be “Champions of the World”.

It has only managed to win the second of its 2 FA Cups since WW2’s end. With its vintage years of ruling English football, Sunderland takes the bottom spot of the ten most successful clubs in England.

9. Newcastle United FC

…whilst Newcastle likewise celebrate their FA Cup triumph in 1951

Success Points: 67

First Trophy Won: FL Division 1 Title, 1905

Latest Trophy Won: FA Cup, 1955

Most Successful Manager: Frank Watt – 47 points (1892 – Dec 1929)

Most Successful Decade: 1900-1910 – 33 points

The next place is taken by Sunderland’s fierce Tyne and Wear rival Newcastle, which comes in at 9th – its 4 more FA Cups trumps Sunderland’s 2 extra league Titles.

With a team known for their artistic play, combining team-work and quick, short passing, the club dominated English football in the 20th Century’s first decade when Newcastle won 3 Titles and an FA Cup, and 33 of its 69 points. It bagged a further 3 FA Cups in the 1950s.

8. Tottenham Hotspur

A proud Spurs team pose with their Title/FA Cup ‘double’, 1961

Success Points: 96

First Trophy Won: FA Cup, 1901

Latest trophy Won: FL Cup, 2008

Most Successful Manager: Bill Nicholson – 47 points (1958–1974)

Most Successful Decade: 1960-1970 – 33.5 points

The ‘Lillywhites’ have achieved much for a club with just two Titles to its name. Spurs’ credentials are underlined by the fact they achieved a number of firsts in English football. Tottenham was the first, and likely, only non league club to win an FA Cup, in 1901; the first club in the 20th Century to win the ‘Double’ and in 1963 it was the first English club to win a UEFA trophy (The UEFA CWC). Spurs also won the first ever edition of the UEFA Cup in 1972.

Regular trophy success with attractive, pioneering tactics in the decades after WW2 meant Tottenham was regarded as the 5th biggest club in England by the time the Premier League was launched at the start of the 1990s. The club failed to exploit the commercial value of a league that went on to be the most wealthy in the world however, going on to win just one trophy – an FL Cup – in the 21st Century to date.

7. Everton FC

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Very pleased: Everton teammates pose with the UEFA CWC, 1985

Success Points: 121

First Trophy Won: FL Division 1 Title, 1891

Latest Trophies Won: FA Cup and Community Shield (CS), 1995

Most Successful Manager: Howard Kendall – 37 points (May 1981 – 87)

Most Successful Decade: 1980-1990 – 37 points

Although Everton’s global profile is overshadowed by that of its city rivals Liverpool, it has an impressive trophy cabinet in its own right and, except the ’50s and ’70s, has managed to win Titles and trophies every decade back from the 1890s up until the 21st Century.

The ’80s was Everton’s best period under manager Howard Kendall. They won 2 Titles, a handful of FA Cups and a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup (CWC). But the Heysal Stadium Disaster and the ensuing 5 year English club ban from UEFA competitions gave English football a hard jolt, hitting both Everton and Liverpool particularly badly. The Merseyside two lost their ascendancy to Manchester and London clubs in the ’90s, and Everton has since failed to win a Title in the Premier League era.

6. Aston Villa FC

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Joyous Aston Villa holding the UEFA European Cup in 1982

Success Points: 135

Earliest Trophy Won: FL Division 1 Title, 1894

Latest Trophy Won: FL Cup, 1996

Most Successful Manager: George Ramsay – 84 points (Aug 1884 – May 1926)

Most Successful Decade: 1890-1900 – 61 points

Despite struggling in the PL in recent years, the Villans are the original giants of the English game, having won 5 Titles and 3 FA Cups before the the 20th Century even kicked off.

From after WW1, the club found success much harder to come by, although this did include winning its latest Title in ‘81 with its first ever European Cup the following year. It also bagged a number of FL Cups and its latest FA Cup in the 2nd half of the 20th Century.

Aston Villa is the most successful club in the Greater Birmingham area.

5. Chelsea FC

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Chelsea’s CL and FA Cup ‘double’ in 2012

Success Points: 149

Earliest Trophies Won: FL Division 1 Title and FA CS, 1955

Latest Trophy Won: UEFA SC and FIFA WC, 2022

Most Successful Manager: Jose Mourinho – 45 points (2004 – 2007 and 2013 – 2015)

Most Successful Decade: 2000-2010 – 53 points

Chelsea comes in at 4th place. Chelsea had won 32 of its present 136 Success points before Roman Abramovich, Russian multi-billionaire extraordinaire, seized a majority share of Chelsea in 2003 and started pumping tens of millions of pounds into the squad. He appointed the ‘Special One’ Jose Mourinho, who they rode a wave of dominance under, winning two Titles plus other trophies, and 32 success points in three seasons.

This club, with its new money, has bought a place at the top table.

4. Manchester City FC

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2017 English Champions, Man City FC

Success Points: 151.5

First Trophy Won: FA Cup, 1904

Latest Trophies Won: PL, 2022

Most Successful Manager: Pep Guardiola – 54 points (Jul 2016 – Present (May 2021))

Most Successful Decade: 2010-2020 – 69 points

From the ‘Grand Old Ladies’ to upstarts, Manchester’s 2nd club comes in at 5th and has rocketed into the bigtime.

A club sports fans maybe deride even more than Chelsea for its trophy ‘buying’, Manchester’s mega wealthy Adu Dhabi backers took over in 2008, instantly spending a PL record sum on Brazilian striker Robinho. It actually won 69 of its 142.5 total points before its takeover yet, since then, its owners have amassed a squad packed with talent in every position, winning 5 PL Titles and 10 other major trophies under a revolving door of managers.

Its glory days show no sign of stopping so expect it to rise further up the table.

3. Arsenal FC

Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’, 2003-2004

Success Points: 215.5

First Trophy Won: FA Cup, 1930

Latest Trophies Won: FA Cup, 2020

Most Successful Manager: Arsene Wenger – 69 points (Oct 1996 – May 2018)

Most Successful Decade: 1930-1940 – 55 points

Breaking the 200 Success Point mark is Arsenal. Under the leadership of Herbert Chapman, a manager who had already managed to win 3 consecutive Titles with Huddersfield Town FC in the ‘20s, Arsenal won its first ever trophy in 1930. With a new home and First Division football, attendances more than doubled, Arsenal’s budget grew rapidly and Arsenal quickly became known as the ‘Bank of England club’. Record breaking gate receipts meant it was able to lavish its extra income on stars like David Jack and Alex James. It then went on a winning spree throughout the ’30s and picked up from where it left off straight after WW2 and for a few years thereafter, winning Titles every decade except the 1960s and the 2010s.

A second icon of the club’s was Arsene Wenger in the PL era, winning 3 Titles and 7 FA Cups to make it the most successful club in the FA Cup. Although a powerhouse of the domestic game, Arsenal’s prestige is limited by having only a single international trophy – the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, won in 1994.

Arsenal is the most successful club in London.

2. Manchester United FC

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Man United famously achieved the European Treble in 1999

Success Points: 320.5

First Trophy Won: FL Division 1 Title, 1908

Most Recent Trophy Wins: FL Cup and UEFA Europa League, 2017

Most Successful Manager: Sir Alex Ferguson (SAF) – 204 points (Nov 1986 – Jun 2013)

Most Successful Decade: 1990-2000 – 93 points

One of the biggest clubs in England, with its ubiquitous fanbase, it won its lion’s share of trophies in the PL era under the epic stewardship of Sir Alex Ferguson.

Manchester United won 2 Titles before WW1 under manager Earnest Mangnall, but didn’t win its 3rd until 1952 under Matt Busby, with the ’60s and ’70s also a fallow period of no Title wins while Liverpool was dominating English football. Yet, the only decades in its history it hasn’t won a single trophy were the 1920s and ’30s. Man U really ruled football from 1986 – 2013 when the club won 13 of its 20 Titles under SAF.

Despite the Munich Air Disaster of 1958 claiming the lives of 23 staff including 8 players, it rose from the ashes, managing its next major trophy win just 5 years later by winning the FA Cup. It would win its, and English football’s, first European Cup in 1967 and won 2 more under SAF.

1. Liverpool FC

We've been waiting a long time' - Liverpool celebrate Premier League glory  in style
Top of the world: PL champs in 2020, having won the CL and World Cup in the 12 months prior.

Success Points: 338.5

First Trophy Won: FL Div. 1 Title, 1901

Most Recent Trophy Won: FA and FL Cup, 2022

Most Successful Manager: Bob Paisley – 116.5 points (Aug 1974 – July 1983)

Most Successful Decade: 1980-1990 – 100.5 points

Liverpool won its first trophy whilst Queen Victoria was still on the throne. Its many Titles were won in the ’20s, ’40s and ’60s decades and particularly during the ’70s and ’80s as well when, in the 14 years between 1976 and 1990, it amassed a total of 10 Titles, 4 European Cups and 7 other major trophies.

Iconic managers during the glittering period of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s were Bill Shankley, Bob Paisley and Joe Fagan.

The Heysel Stadium disaster blighted the glow around the club and its community for a short while as Fagan retired shortly afterwards and the disaster led to a five year ban from European competition. However another club icon, Kenny Dalglish, picked up where his predecessors left off continuing the trail of success at home.

Like Everton, ‘The Reds‘ wilted in the PL era but managed to win other trophies including 2 more Champions’ Leagues (CL). This means Liverpool holds the record for CLs won in England. Liverpool then ended its 30 year wait for its first PL Title by topping the table in 2020. Its impressive trophy haul puts Liverpool on top as England’s most successful club!

Competition KeyPoints
SC: Domestic ‘Super Cup’ (FA Charity Shield / Community Shield)
1 (0.5 points per ‘shared’ trophy)
UEFA SC: UEFA Super Cup
2
FIFA CWC: Intercontinental Cup / FIFA Club World Cup
3
LC: League Cup (EFL League Cup)
4
UEFA ECL: UEFA Europa Conference League
4
AC: Association Cup (FA Cup)
5
UEFA EL: UEFA Cup / Europa League
6
UEFA CWC: UEFA Cup Winners Cup
6.5
UEFA CL: UEFA European Cup / Champions League
8
T: Top Tier League Title (Division 1 / Premier League)
9

Top 25 Most Successful Football Clubs in England

PositionFootball ClubPoints SubtotalsPoints Total
1Liverpool FCSC: 10 + 2.5 (5 shared) x 1 = 12.5

UEFA SC: 4 x 2 = 8

FIFA CWC: 1 x 3 = 3

LC: 9 x 4 = 36

AC: 8 x 5 = 40

EL: 3 x 6 = 18

CL: 6 x 8 = 48

T: 19 x 9 = 171

2 (Treble) 
338.5
2Manchester United FCSC: 17 + 2 (4 shared) x 1 =19

UEFA SC: 1 x 2 =2

FIFA CWC: 2 x 3 =6

LC: 4 x 4 = 16

AC: 12 x 5 = 60

EL: 1 x 6 = 6

UEFA CWC: 1 x 6.5 = 6.5

CL: 3 x 8 = 24

T: 20 x 9 = 180

+1 (Treble)
320.5
3Arsenal FC15 + 0.5 (1 shared) x 1 = 15.5
2 x 4 = 8
14 x 5 = 70
1 x 6.5 = 6.5
13 x 9 = 117
216.5
4Manchester City FC6 x 1 = 6
9 x 4 = 36
6 x 5 = 30
1 x 6.5 = 6.5
8 x 9 = 72
+1 (Treble)
151.5
5Chelsea FC4 x 1 = 4
2 x 2 = 4
1 x 3 = 3
5 x 4 = 20
8 x 5 = 40
2 x 6 = 12
1 x 6.5 = 6.5
2 x 8 = 16
6 x 9 = 54
149
6Aston Villa FC1 x 1 = 1
1 x 2 = 2
5 x 4 = 20
7 x 5 = 35
1 x 8 = 8
7 x 9 = 63
135
7Everton FC8 + 0.5 (1 shared) x 1 = 8.5
5 x 5 = 25
1 x 6.5 = 6.5
9 x 9 = 81
121
8Tottenham Hotspur FC4 + 1.5 (3 shared) x 1 = 5.5
4 x 4 = 16
8 x 5 = 40
2 x 6 = 12
1 x 6.5 = 6.5
2 x 9 = 18
96
9Newcastle United FC1 x 1 = 1
6 x 5 = 30
4 x 9 = 36
67
10Sunderland AFC1 x 1 = 1
2 x 5 = 10
6 x 9 = 54
65
11Blackburn Rovers FC1 x 1 = 1
1 x 4 = 4
6 x 5 = 30
3 x 9 = 27
62
12Wolverhampton Wanderers FC1 + 1.5 x 1 = 2.5
2 x 4 = 8
4 x 5 = 20
3 x 9 = 27
57.5
13Sheffield Wednesday FC1 x 1 = 1
1 x 4 = 4
3 x 5 = 15
4 x 9 = 36
56
14Nottingham Forest FC1 x 1 = 1
1 x 2 = 2
4 x 4 = 16
2 x 5 = 10
2 x 8 =  16
1 x 9 = 9
54
15Birmingham City FC2 x 4 = 8
4 x 9 = 36
44
16West Bromwich Albion FC1 + 0.5 x 1 = 1.5
1 x 4 = 4
5 x 5 = 25
1 x 9 = 9
39.5
17Leeds United FC2 x 1 = 2
1 x 4 = 4
1 x 5 = 5
3 x 9 = 27
38
18Huddersfield Town AFC1 x 1 = 1
1 x 5 = 5
3 x 9 = 27
33
=19Preston North End FC1 x 1 = 1
2  x 5 = 10
2 x 9 = 18
29
=19Sheffield United FC4 x 5 = 20
1 x 9 = 9
29
21Portsmouth FC0.5 x 1 = 0.5
2 x 5  = 10
2 x 9 = 18
28.5
22Leicester City FC2 x 1 = 2
3 x 4 = 12
1 X 5 = 5
1 x 9 = 9
28
23Wanderers FC5 x 5 = 2525
24Burnley FC1 + 0.5 x 1 = 1.5
1 x 5 = 5
2 x 9 = 18
24.5
25Derby County FC1 x 1 = 1
1 x 5 = 5
2 x 9 = 18
24
26West Ham United FC0.5 x 1 = 0.5
3 x 5 = 15
1 x 6.5 = 6.5
22
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Sarah Ann Henley’s Unplanned Parachute Jump, 1885

Unlike the hundreds before and after, one woman survived jumping into the chasm of Avon Gorge from the bridge that spans it. Find out what quirk of fashion saved Ms Henley from her attempt to end her life.

The city of Bristol, UK, is a charming place in England’s West Country. It’s famous for a number of things; Massive Attack, Concorde, Banksy, Aardman Animations and… the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

This iconic structure was designed by the great engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel and completed in 1864. It spans the craggy Avon Gorge and thousands of ships have passed under its grand arch, sailing along the river Avon over the decades since.

Unfortunately, it also acquired a reputation as a place to end one’s life, with around 400 despairing souls who’ve scaled the railings before plummeting to their deaths 75 m (245 ft) below.

And so, Sarah Ann Henley’s story comes to light: On a Summer’s day in 1885 this distraught young woman made her way up through Clifton’s streets of fine townhouses to make her way along to the middle of the bridge, sobbing as she went. She stopped and peered down, contemplating her next move with a deep gulp.

Earlier she had got a letter from the man she loved and was engaged to marry, a porter for the Great Western Railway. In it, he announced his intention to break off their engagement and, in the depths of despair she made the rash decision to end it all. She climbed over the railings and onto the parapet and, before onlookers could rush to intervene, she flung herself off.

Fate had a twist for her however. As was the style of the time she was wearing a crinoline skirt — a stiff petticoat designed to hold out a woman’s skirt. Witnesses claimed that a billowing effect created by an updraft of air beneath her skirt acted as a parachute of sorts to slow her fall, misdirecting her away from the water and instead onto the river’s muddy banks. Two passers-by rushed to her assistance and found her in a state of severe shock, but alive nonetheless.

They escorted her to the refreshment rooms of the nearby railway station and from there she was taken to hospital to recover. Sarah Ann put the incident behind her and went on to marry Edward Lane in 1900 and lived to the age of 85.

Ms Henley, the bridge she leapt from and the crinoline skirt which acted as her parachute (thevintagenews.com)
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UK’s Terrible Twin Town, 2006

It was an awkward moment when Mantao representative George McLauchlan crossed the Atlantic to present a commemorative clock to Bideford town’s officials, only for them to not have a clue why. Find out what happened here.

Before Mr Riley’s visit… (eveningstandard.co.uk)

The sky above was white and seagulls could be heard in the distance being a nuisance. David Riley was wearing his best suit and his best smile and cradled a fine wooden case in one arm. He strode jauntily along the pavement, a bespectacled American with a ready smile for anyone willing to meet his eye along the way.

He approached Bideford Town Hall entrance, an elizabethanesque building fronting the River Torridge.

This should have been a special day for the resident of Manteo, N. Carolina. His small city of little over a thousand residents had been twinned with Bideford, England for some quarter-century and announced this on large billboards to every visitor. Today Riley’s mission was to present Bideford Town Council with a commemorative clock to celebrate the link. Manteo’s town manager had emailed Bideford council heralding Riley’ visit a few weeks prior.

He was scheduled to meet town clerk George McLauchlan and was a little disconcerted with the secretary’s embarrassed greeting. Riley took a seat to wait. McLauchlan, a sandy-haired man in a crisp white shirt and light green tie, invited his visitor in, a bemused curl on his lips.

McLauchlan recalled: “He seemed like a nice guy and gave me a clock. It was a very nice clock. He said he was very proud to be twinned with us and offered a sincere thanks on behalf of the town’s population for representing them in the UK.

Yet Bideford’s officials didn’t have any idea what Riley was on about; the only town Bideford was twinned with was one in France.

They’d never even heard of Mantao. “I said thank you but had to let him down gently. It seemed even more cruel not to. He seemed a little puzzled and said our name was on all their road signs. I couldn’t really offer any consolation so he said he was going home to look into it.

The only explanation for the mix-up could be that a resident of Bideford visited Manteo in the 1980s and said or did something which led the townsfolk to believe an official tie had been established.

In 2010 Bideford officials reciprocated the affection sent forth from the good folks of Mantao by formally twinning the two towns.

…and after. (bbc.co.uk)

The Aristocrat Who Painted the Town Red, 1837

The legend of a Marquis’ drunken antics resulted in an epic night in town… painting it red despite the townsfolk’s spluttering rage. Read about the chaos this posh wild child caused.

One day in spring 1837 at the Thorpe End tollgate in the fine old English market town of Melton Mowbray, with its half-timbered Tudor townhouses and bustling square, a tollgate keeper lay a wary eye on an approaching party of men.

The scene was at odds with itself. Their veneer of clean, tailored clothing, fine riding boots, well-groomed moustaches and strong jawlines made the tollkeeper conscious for a moment of his own grubby stubble. Yet, from their cultured tones, boozy banter spewed. Laughter and shouts echoed down the narrow carriageway and the band of staggering, swaggering men jostled after it.

The tollkeeper hailed hopefully to a young man he took to be the ringleader but the big droopy eyes which met his twinkled with mischief and he wore an ominous, leery grin. To the side were some ladders, brushes and pots of red paint to effect repairs. The leader turned his gaze to them and, before the tollkeeper could step in between, the party leapt and scooped up the paint and brushes.

They set upon the tollkeeper who, dismayed, shrieked calls to wrest them away, but to their whoops and cackles they doused the poor man in red paint. A sputtering, red-faced constable rushed over… and he was turned even more red-faced!

Like a crazed troop of monkeys the men now rampaged into the town, smashing, kicking and pulling down pieces of property. They sploshed doors, a carved swan and anyone who tried to halt them in red paint while indignant townsfolk looked on, mouths agape. They vandalised the Post Office and the Leicestershire Banking Company and tried to overturn a caravan in which a man was fast asleep.

The time the Marquess of Waterford and his cronies went crazy in Melton Mowbray gave rise to a common idiom (leicesterchronical.co.uk)

Help was called in and, finally, to the clacking thrum of nail soled boots on street cobbles, constables clamoured into the street and set upon them. Clubs cracked and thumped and swang through the air and the scoundrels were finally subdued. Now for the biggest shock; as onlookers gawped, the party’s leader was identified to be a nobleman no less – Henry Beresford, 3rd Marquess of Waterford.

The noble was sent to sober up in the local gaol but that wasn’t even the end of it.

Marquess Henry’s cronies came to his rescue, beating up two guards and holding a sharp blade to a guard’s throat for the cell key.

So the Marquess escaped …but scot-free?

Aristocrats stand as exemplars of grace, class and decorum. The Marquisate of Waterford is no exception; rows and rows of windows festoon the grand, Georgian facade of Curraghmore House – the family estate – and their noble lineage goes back to the 17th Century. At some point, an impish streak seeped into the bloodline when Henry entered the world; the trouble in Melton Mowbray is not the only time he brought his peerage into disrepute.

Once Marquess Henry sobered up he hastened to shell out for the damages but the townsfolk wouldn’t be placated so easily. Eventually Henry and his party were fined a considerable £100 each and ordered to contribute an idiom to the English language.

London Beer Flood, 1814

What occurred to cause a tidal-wave of beer to slosh down the slums of London? Read on to find out the devastation caused.

If we’ve all got to meet the reaper some day or other, some folks might say that drowning in beer isn’t the worst way to go.

It was 1814 and the Meux Brewery was one of the largest in London, UK, and its owner, Henry Meux Jr, had built a huge wooden vessel at the Horse Shoe Brewery 6.7m (22 feet) tall in order to store porter, a dark beer that was London’s most popular drink.

This giant vat was held together by no less than eighty tonnes of iron hoops, but on the afternoon of 17 October it was noticed that one of these hoops had slipped. This happened occasionally and when the storehouse clerk reported it, he was told “that no harm whatever would ensue” and that it would be fixed later.

Yet the vat was almost full and, an hour after the hoop slipped down, the vessel burst asunder without warning.

Some of the massive beer vats of London’s breweries (history.com)

The force of the liquid’s release damaged a neighbouring vat and several hogsheads of porter were also destroyed, and their contents all added to a terrific flood. Between 3600 and 9000 imperial barrels (600,000l to 1,500,000l or 150,000 to 390,000 US Gallons) were released.

The resultant tsunami of beer 4.6m (15 feet) high destroyed the rear wall of the brewery and swept into a street in St Giles Rookery.

Slum-dwellers were crushed or smashed by a violent mass of liquid and masonry. Others were drowned as the wave destroyed two houses and badly damaged others.

In the second destroyed house, a wake was being held by an Irish family for a two-year-old boy; Anne Saville, the boy’s mother, and four other mourners were tragically killed.

Furthermore, the land around the brewery, being low-lying and flat and with insufficient drainage, the beer flowed into many inhabited cellars.

A total of eight adults and children sadly perished.

Several hundred spectators came to view the scene, and stories later arose of hundreds of people collecting the beer and getting so drunk that one person died from alcohol poisoning.

When England’s Queen Met a Pirate Queen, 1593

What kind of pirate would sail to London to parley with her arch nemesis, the Queen of England? Her name was Grace O’Malley, she was Irish and a queen in her own right

In the 16th Century, whilst Ireland’s eastern coastline was controlled by the English, its hinterland to the west was frontier country.

On the wild Atlantic coast, where great rollers pounded the raw, verdant coastline, the Uí Mháille noble family held sway over the pasturelands there and surrounding seas. Into this family Gráinne Ní Mháille (Grace O’Malley in English) was born.

A woman whose name is shrouded in legend, Grace O’Malley grew up to become the matriarch of her clan and followed in her family’s footsteps. The O’Malleys drew power by ‘taxing’ passing ships — a euphemism for piracy — and fighting rival clans, and Grace led from the front.

Yet this was a time when the English were a growing force to be reckoned with; the great English Queen Elizabeth I sat on the throne and she was tightening her grip on the ‘Emerald Isle’.

(takebackhalloween.org)

Elizabeth I’s man in Ireland Sir Richard Bingham was more than a match for O’Malley. As Governor of Connaught Sir Richard squeezed O’Malley’s domain so much that by 1593 he had captured her two sons, Tibbot Burke and Murrough O’Flaherty, and half-brother Dónal na Píopa.

O’Malley was reduced to desperate straits. What could she do?

She certainly wasn’t going to just give up. O’Malley was going to attempt something so audacious it might just win the Queen of England’s respect and therefore clemency.

This was risky to say the least; they were political enemies and cages hung from the Tower of London with rotting corpses in them, testament to the usual fate of pirates. Yet the Queen agreed to meet O’Malley in London so she could plead her case.

The two women were the most powerful in the British Isles. Despite being opposed in many ways they had much in common.

They were both courageous and charismatic leaders; Queen Elizabeth had earned huge respect for leading her nation to defeat the mighty Spanish Armada in 1588 and O’Malley has been described as a fearless leader and able negotiator, not to mention other less salubrious credentials.

O’Malley’s black sailed ship entered the Thames estuary and sailed upstream to Greenwich Palace where it docked.

The lady was then searched and the queen’s guards found something on her… it was a dagger!

The Queen’s henchmen were furious; it was bad enough their queen was meeting with a brigand, yet O’Malley explained it was for her own protection and the queen accepted this.

O’Malley was brought into the queen’s presence surrounded by Her Majesty’s guards and courtiers, wearing a dress rumoured so fine it drew not a few admiring glances.

They greeted each other as queens, if not equals. O’Malley declined to curtsey, and when the Irish Lady sneezed and was given an embroidered handkerchief she infuriated the courtiers even more by using it then throwing it on the crackling fire.

Yet, Elizabeth was intrigued by the woman. The two conversed in Latin and Elizabeth I warmed to Grace as she regaled the English queen with tales of her daring exploits and grievances towards Sir Bingham. The only thing now was would Elizabeth let a perennial nemesis of hers just sail off after coming into her clutches?

She did. O’Malley’s gamble paid off. As the serious troublemaker to the English which she had been, she entered the lion’s den and left with not only her life and liberty intact but her son Tibbot released.

Sir Bingham would continue to make her life difficult though. The two feminist icons of their age would both pass away in 1603.

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The Wise Men of Gotham, 1200s

When the King of England wanted to build a road through Gotham village’s locale, the rustics knew there was only one way to get rid of his men; to play insane… Find out what absurd tasks they came up with acting fools.

It is difficult to determine the veracity of tales from such historical, murky depths as 13th Century England yet there’s likely truth to a tale mentioning Gotham village’s ‘foles’ (fools) or later ‘wise men’.

The villagers gained this sobriquet by displaying such cunning they warded off the attentions of the most powerful man in the land.

The story goes that King John I wanted to pass through the village and have a royal highway established in his wake, or that he wanted to build a lodge nearby – both needing the locals to contribute for its upkeep.

Faced with a stark choice between increasing their financial burdens or defying the king’s will, they took a third route; to dupe the King and his henchmen into believing they were a village of fools, or rather, infected with insanity. It was common belief at the time that madness was contagious so the notion of a village populated by lunatics was perfectly feasible.

So, on the day a royal herald turned up at Gotham’s bucolic locale in advance of the king, Gotham was ready for him. Wherever the man went, he saw the rustics engaged in some absurd task.

The men of Gotham tried to entrap a cuckoo with a hedge (projectgotham.org)

He first came upon some villagers embroiled in trying to drown an eel in a pool of water.

Bewildered, he then observed others dragging carts to a large barn to shade the wood from the sun.

His unease heightened as he then came across others tumbling their cheeses down a hill, that they might find their way to Nottingham for sale.

The king’s man recoiled at being in the midst of such imbeciles and the last straw came; he watched as villagers hedged in a cuckoo which had perched on an old bush: ‘The Cuckoo, as soone as she perciued her selfe incompassed within the hedge, flew away. “A vengeance on her!” said they “We made not our hedge high enough”’.

The king’s official withdrew. He reported that the settlement was brimming with lunacy and to avoid it like the plague, and so the ruse worked. “There are more fools pass through Gotham than remain in it.” Gotham’s ‘Wise Men’ boasted triumphantly.

The later ‘Merrie Tales of the Mad Men of Gotham’, inspired 18th Century American writer Washington Irving to label New York ‘Gotham’ and further gets referenced in the ‘Batman’ comic book series.

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Birmingham, Gloucester, Plymouth, and their Trans-Atlantic Twins

Birmingham 

Birmingham, Alabama’s towering skyline (elements.envato.com)

The ‘Magic City’ was founded in 1871 and was planned from the very beginning to become the massive manufacturing hub it burgeoned into. Today, it is Alabama’s premier metropolis and is regarded as one of the US’s best places to earn a crust. Because the city was always planned to be a centre of industry, it was named in homage to Britain’s own hub of enterprise and industry.

Across the pond in England’s West Midlands, Birmingham city vies with nearby Manchester as Britain’s ‘2nd City’. Outside of the heady superlatives of London, Birmingham is the country’s powerhouse of economic diversity which is why it’s dubbed ‘The City of 1001 Trades’.

The name ‘Birmingham’ (pronounced ‘Birming’um’)  comes from the Old English ‘Beormingahām, meaning the home or settlement of the Beormingas – an Anglo-Saxon tribal name meaning literally ‘Beorma’s people’. Founded in 1154, its profile rose as Britain’s profile burgeoned throughout the world, being but a market town until the Industrial Revolution plugged it in to England’s vast canal and rail network and propelled it into a teeming metropolis.

Today (2021), Birmingham is a city of a million people known as ‘Brummies’. It hosts a royal ballet company, the Repertory Theatre and Hippodrome that are all nationally renowned. Its National Exhibition Centre (NEC) is 190,000 m2 (over two million square feet) large and its library is the UK’s largest. The city also hosts no less than four top football clubs. Birmingham gave the world music bands Electric Light Orchestra, Black Sabbath and UB40. Formula One World Championship and the CART Indy Car World Series winner Nigel Mansell; Prime Minister Nevil Chamberlain and Homeland actor David Harewood all hail from Birmingham too. 

Iconic canal boats moored up in the city’s 35 miles (56km) of waterways (birminghammail.co.uk)

Although Birmingham is not exactly festooned with Renaissance architecture, the city likes to boast that it has more miles of canal waterways than Venice in Italy. So, if you’re ever in the neighbourhood you should absolutely take a tour the city in a traditional canal boat. Birmingham also boasts five Michelin starred restaurants and numerous festivals, including one of the world’s largest St Patrick’s Day parades. A stay in the city should also include heading to Victoria Square, with the Council House, Symphony Hall and Town Hall, all built as triumphs of Victorian architecture. There are top museums and galleries throughout the city and visitors can also stroll through Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter or satisfy their sweet tooth at Cadbury World.

The grand Victoria Square, Birmingham, England (en.wikipedia.org)

Gloucester

This hardy Massachusetts city is synonymous with the North Atlantic deep sea fishing industry and it’s where Rudyard Kipling’s Captain Courageous and movie The Perfect Storm were set. Gloucester is one of the USA’s most historic settlements, founded way back in 1623. Today, it is still a working fishing port but also a popular tourist destination. 

Gloucester, Massachusetts’ bustling harbour (tripsavvy.com)

England’s namesake is similarly a smallish, historical port in an out-of-the-way corner of the country. Gloucester, England sits on the river Severn, close to the Welsh border. And it is the UK’s furthest inland port. Its docks are accessed by the Gloucester and Sharpness Ship Canal connecting it to the Severn Estuary then the seas beyond.

The City’s original Roman name was ‘Glevum’ but later took the Welsh name ‘Caer-loyw’ meaning ‘fort-bright/light/glowy’. ‘Loyw’ pronounced ‘gloyw’ by some had the Anglo-Saxon ‘cester’ (old fort) added later to become ‘Gloyw-cester’, then Gloucester. This ancient city was founded in 48 AD as an important fort and Roman colony. It remained strategically important during the Dark Ages, with St Peter’s Abbey being built in 680 AD and King Edward the Confessor holding court there in 1051. Later, it was in this strategic hub King Henry III was crowned and Gloucester’s significance in the Middle Ages is underlined by the fact that many monastic orders flocked to the city. Gloucester grew during the 16th-17th Centuries and construction of its canal began towards the end of the 18th Century, but was only completed in 1827. By that point, however, shipping of the industrial Age had largely outgrown Gloucester’s port facilities.
In the 20th Century, Gloster Aircraft Company would manufacture the UK’s first jet aircraft. In 2007 the city suffered biblical flooding that ironically disabled its water supply for 17 days.  

Famous residents of Gloucester include Methodist Church founder George Whitefield and the founder of Sunday Schools, Robert Raikes. The composer of America’s national anthem John Stafford Smith, Comedic actor Simon Pegg, not to mention the infamous serial murderer couple Fred and Rose West also called Gloucester home.

Gloucester Cathedral, opened in 1089 (gloucestershirelive.co.uk)

This city, within easy reach of the Forest of Dean to its west, and the quaint Cotswold Hills to the east, is a modest one of about 130,000 people but its rich history can be seen throughout its streets. The city centre street layout is the same one the Roman legionnaires laid down all those centuries back and visitors can view half-timbered Tudor shops, the tailor’s house from Beatrix Potter’s The Tailor of Gloucester, and the city’s very fine 11th Century cathedral where scenes from the Harry Potter movies were filmed. Gloucester’s best place is its Historic Docks where you can explore the bars, shops and eateries nestled among the renovated red-bricked warehouses around the harbourside. With so much history there is as much to discover within this ancient city’s borders as there is in the bucolic splendour beyond.

Gloucester Docks (aboutglos.co.uk)

Plymouth

Another Massachusetts city, dubbed ‘America’s Hometown’. Although a small city on the fringes of America’s economic development, Plymouth is at the root of its cultural development.

Downtown Plymouth Massachusetts (joesretirementblog.blogspot.com)

It was at Plymouth Rock the fabled Mayflower Pilgrims made landfall in 1620 and, after surviving that first brutal winter, celebrated Thanksgiving the following Fall after a successful harvest restored their vigour and durability. This signified the moment the newborn USA came off of life support to begin its own baby steps. 

Of course, it was England’s port of Plymouth that the Mayflower set sail from. This longtime home of the Royal Navy is all the way down in the south west of the country and now hosts the largest naval base in Europe aside one of the world’s most impressive natural harbours.

Plymouth’s etymology derives from its position at the mouth of the River Plym; ‘Plym’ meaning ‘plum tree’ in Old English (and ‘ploumenn’ in Cornish). Plymouth was an important trading port for tin from prehistoric times well into the Middle Ages. Meanwhile, it managed to retain its Cornish culture distinct from the rest of England. It wasn’t until England’s coming-of-age when the Spanish Armada swept up the Channel that the city came to be an important base of naval operations, and the Naval Dock was established in 1689. From then on, its long seafaring tradition flourished. It was from this Cornish bastion in the late 16th Century Sir Francis Drake made a name for himself on his many voyages and forays. The Plymouth Company was issued with a royal charter by James I of England to establish settlements on the coast of North America, and the Pilgrim Fathers aboard the Mayflower set sail for the New World in 1620 to found the 2nd permanent colony in N. America. The city became ever more economically dependent on the Royal Navy thereafter which certainly kept the city busy over the centuries. On 28 May 1967, another intrepid Francis – Sir Francis Chichester – returned to Plymouth after the first single handed Clipper Route circumnavigation of the world and was greeted by an estimated crowd of a million spectators.

Today Plymouth is a city of over 250,000 whose citizens are called ‘Jenners’. Famous residents includes the great globetrotter Francis Drake as well as actor Donald Moffat, known for his portrayals of US presidents real and imagined.

It is rapidly diversifying its economy from one servicing the ‘Fleet’ to one that services its ballooning numbers of visitors instead. Visitors who are fascinated by aquatic creatures really should spend a few hours at Plymouth’s National Marine Aquarium, the deepest in Europe. Just a short walk away is the historic Barbican area of town. There, explorers can visit Plymouth’s very own Gin distillery, grab a bite to eat at Jacka – the oldest bakery in the UK, or simply wander the cobbled streets and take in Barbican’s old-world charms.

The Old-World narrow streets around the Barbican district

The place where Admiral Drake finished his game of bowls as the Spanish Armada crested the skyline is a bracing and awe-inspiring park that offers panoramas of Plymouth’s vast natural harbour; gateway to the deep, blue sea beyond. Plymouth Hoe is the no.1 spot to crash out on the grass with a picnic. Perhaps even take a dip in the Tinside Lido – Plymouth’s landmark outdoor, art deco swimming pool.

Plymouth Hoe on which Admiral Sir Francis Drake infamously finished his game of bowls before sailing out to attack the Spanish Armada (historic-uk.com)
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Derrick Bird and the Cumbrian Massacre

Why a friendly, sociable local killed 12 people was a mystery to most. Here, his life is scrutinised to expose how it unravelled before its fatal climax

A puzzling episode of Cumbrian history that bewilders locals to this very day. After an angry confrontation with some colleagues, a man named Derrick Bird shot dead his twin brother, his solicitor, then 10 mostly random victims as he sped 45 miles (72km) around West Cumbria before finally killing himself.

Yet, ‘Birdy’ as many affectionately referred to him, was well-liked, sociable and friendly up until that fateful day. Then something inside him snapped and his hidden demons took hold.

The Shooting Rampage

The route of Derrick Bird’s shooting slalom (murderpedia.org)

It was in West Cumbria this horror story played out. Sandwiched between the Irish Sea to the west and the Lake District to the east, West Cumbria is a tight-knit and quaint rural region. It was the kind of place with few strangers.

It was the last weekend of May in 2010 and Derrick was in the pub, as was his way, for a pint and joke or two before he headed off home. ‘Birdy’ was unusually drunk both that Friday and Saturday, however. One onlooker recalled that Derrick was “bouncing off the walls” and “that wasn’t Derrick”.

The next week on the 1st of June a low-level feud between Derrick and a few other taxi drivers, which many dismissed as banter, flared up when someone crossed a line in something they said to Birdy. A witness said Bird “shook his colleagues by the hands to say his goodbyes and said there’s going to be a rampage in this town tomorrow. They just laughed and didn’t take him seriously.

In the early hours of the next day, Bird drove to his twin-brother, David Bird’s, house, let himself in through the unlocked back door, crept upstairs and shot him 11 times with his rifle. Yet, someone recalled that just the week before Derrick and David had enjoyed a day at a scramble track “laughing their heads off like you’d expect warm brothers to do.”

By sunrise, he was seen washing his Citroen Picasso outside his house.

Then at 10:13am Derrick drove to his solicitor’s house. Attempting to leave home in his car, 60-year-old Kevin Commons found his driveway blocked by Bird’s car. Bird fired his shotgun at Commons and hit him in the shoulder. As he then staggered back up his drive, Bird shot him in the head.

From the ‘targeted phase’ of the shootings, what began now was the ‘rampage phase’ in which Derrick — armed with a 12-bore sawn-off shotgun and rifle — shot dead 10 more people.

Bird would call victims over to his car to ask the time before shooting them or he’d take potshots from distance, shooting a total of 21 people. With little rhyme nor reason, Bird cut down friend, foe and stranger alike

As an example, Bird returned to the taxi rank and executed one of his main antagonists, Darren Rewcastle, at point-blank range. Yet, Bird also shot three other drivers, including his good friend Paul Wilson whose cheek he grazed. Fortunately, the three survived.

Other locals came eyeball-to-eyeball with Bird but he let them be, such as Barry Moss, a cyclist who came face to face with Bird as he stood by the side of his taxi, having just murdered Susan Hughes as she walked home with her shopping.

He remembered “He just stared at me, and just had a very blank expression… he didn’t say or do anything really… Then he scurried into his car and drove off.

On Bird went, randomly shooting, killing and injuring some whilst letting others be.

The end came soon after midday; Bird’s car was running out of fuel as the Lake District’s fells (hills) and forest loomed up around him. Trying to pass another car, Bird skimmed a wall and damaged his tire.

This forced him to a stop and he abandoned the Picasso. Bird then headed into woodland with his rifle to kill himself in solitude.

Derrick Bird’s 12 victims, including David Bird, centre-left (bbc.com)

The Enigma

Make no mistake this crime ultimately showed Derrick Bird for what he was — a malicious and deranged gunman.

Yet, he was also an enigma.

A friendly man, Derrick was referred affectionately to as ‘Birdy’ (mirror.co.uk)

52-years-old and fair-haired, ‘Birdy’ was ‘quiet’ ‘friendly’ ‘sociable’, and time and time again referred to with warmth, even after his horrific crime.

This was a man who would pay his local greengrocer a pound for the 85p milk carton and would go out of his way to rustle up a couple of quid for the local church collection.

Derrick also had good reason to be content, having just become a new granddad by one of his two sons with whom he had a good relationship.

He was a taxi driver who worked hard through the Christmas period to pay for scuba-diving holidays in Thailand, he enjoyed motorsports and was very much a regular local.

And yes, he owned a twin-barrel shotgun and rifle, though gun ownership was not uncommon in this rugged corner of Britain.

He was so well regarded, people in the community when later interviewed almost refused to associate the Derrick they knew with the one who went haywire and attacked dozens of innocent people.

So, why did this innocuous member of the community blow up the way he did?

An examination of a number of events and developments in this 52-year-old’s life reveals a man who was actually grudgeful, highly anxious, depressed and who’d grown paranoid also.

Let’s look at what led to this horrific massacre.

Sellafield Job Resignation

The first nail in the coffin was hammered back in 1990.

Derrick had worked as a Joiner at the nearby Sellafield Nuclear Facility but resigned after he was accused of stealing wood from the powerplant.

Bird was subsequently convicted and given a twelve-month suspended sentence.

It’s funny that the idiom to ‘have a chip on one’s shoulder’ originates from 18th Century working practices in the British Royal Dockyards where shipwrights were allowed to remove surplus timber (chips) on their shoulders for firewood or building material, and this was a substantial perk of the job for the dock workers.

A later rule change made it only what they could carry under one arm which limited the amount of timber they could carry, so the shipwrights went on strike.

Ironically, this was the first of Derrick’s own chips on his shoulder for trying to remove timber, in turn.

His long-term partner at the time went on to recall how Derrick had also been really apprehensive about the prospect of going to prison, which was unfounded but would have ramifications later.

Assaulted by Fare Dodgers

18 years later, Derrick was brutally assaulted when he tried to stop some fare dodgers from doing a runner.. They knocked him to the ground, kicked his teeth in and cracked his head on the pavement.

People saw a change in Derrick after this traumatic episode. He became more anxious and started drinking more.

Taxman a-Knockin’

Derrick had committed tax evasion for a few years and his fears of a prison sentence came back to haunt him.

He consulted his solicitor, Kevin Commons, about the issue and Commons informed him that Bird had more than enough savings to cover the five-figure bill from the Inland Revenue, and that should’ve allayed his fears.

Yet, Derrick wasn’t convinced, despite repeated reassurances.

Even more strangely Derrick somehow got it into his head that Commons and his brother were in cahoots in a bizarre plot to bring him down.

Derrick’s Brother David

Regarding Derrick’s relationship with his twin brother David, family members were adamant that there was never a problem between the two, but David had once borrowed £25,000 from their now-deceased father which he never paid back.

Since then David had become considerably more financially successful than Derrick and, with his tax problems having emerged, Derrick, it seems, felt his brother owed him some of that £25,000 he’d have otherwise partly inherited. The presumption is there was some disagreement over this and the twins had argued fiercely the week previous to June the 2nd.

Ailing Mother

Derrick also lived and cared for his ailing mother whose health was now deteriorating, making her son depressed that she wasn’t long for this world.

Taxi Rank Tensions

Finally, taxicab competition had been increasing while the number of customers wasn’t, and Derrick was getting quietly irked that some of his colleagues sometimes jumped the queue and didn’t wait their turn for the next customer.

Banter is a big part of many work environments in a country famed for its humour, especially among men.

When there is mutual respect banter is fun, endearing and helps the workday pass less drudgingly. When the respect isn’t there, though, banter can be unpleasant if you’re not thick-skinned.

Although Birdy had many friends amongst the other taxi drivers of the area, jokes were made, and pranks were played, and Derrick, with his mounting insecurities, was increasingly on the wrong end of them.

Not long before that Summer, Derrick had sent £1000 to a Thai lady he met on one of his scuba diving holidays but the woman ended contact with him shortly after.

Derrick felt he had been made a fool out of and it’s not hard to imagine he got a lot of ‘flak’ for that from the other drivers.

One of deranged Derrick’s many victims (murderpedia.org)

Derrick and His Hidden Demons

Here then was the story of a man who hadn’t aged well.

Derrick Bird’s worries and grievances had been allowed to quietly fester among a stoic, thick-skinned rural community, typical of the English North.

Reading between the lines it seems Derrick felt his life had been on an inescapable slide for some time and his mother’s death plus the legal consequences of his tax-dodging were going to send it plunging.

Was he guilty of being an ‘entitled white male’? The fact Derrick failed to take responsibility for a number of his life choices, instead, projecting them as the fault of others, suggests that argument holds water.

Ultimately, Derrick lacked the empathy for his fellow humans to keep his inner demons in check. For that, one’s empathy for him should be kept firmly in check.

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