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Ghastly almanac shows dark side of Uttoxeter’s history

By UttoxeterPostandTimes.3522974.UttoxeterPostandTimes  |  Posted: March 11, 2014

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A GHASTLY tale from Uttoxeter’s long forgotten past has resurfaced as part of a new book delving into Staffordshire’s grim history.

A Grim Almanac of Staffordshire delves into the deepest, darkest recesses of the area’s history with tales confined to the books and showcases a whole host of ‘dreadful deeds’ which have littered the county’s past.

Featured in the book is the tale of Irish labourer Michael Eagan who on August 28, 1881, was walking along a Uttoxeter road with his friend when they met 26-year-old William Neild, alias Billy Button, who demanded some tobacco from the two old men.

Michael said they had none, at which point Neild struck him across the face and knocked him to the floor.

Michael’s friend came to his assistance and was also hit.

While the men were cowering on the floor he kicked them and then swore.

In September 1881 he was sentenced to three months hard labour despite being absent from the court,

Grisly tales also include that of Mary Kidd, the wife of a labourer from Hoar Cross, who in December 1874 was approached for half a crown by miner Robert Taylor.

When the 56-year-old refused he pulled out a pocket knife and slit her throat from ear to ear, nearly severing her head from the body, before running off.

A spokesman for History Press, which is publishing the book, said: “Full of dreadful deeds, strange disappearances and a multitude of murders, this almanac explores the darker side of Staffordshire’s past in a day-by-day catalogue of 366 ghastly tales from around the county.

“Within it are stories of tragedy, torment and the truly unfortunate with diverse tales of freak weather, bizarre deaths and terrible accidents.

“These include a young girl cut into pieces by a machinery explosion, the tragic deaths of 155 men in a disaster in 1918, and the theatre performance where the gun really did go off, mangling the actor’s hand and causing a severed finger to fly across the stage.

“With further tales of fires, catastrophes, suicides, thefts and executions – it’s all here in the book.

“The book is made up of 366 graphic, chilling and dramatic tales and is eloquently illustrated with 86 black and white images.”

The book is written by Karen Evans who has been a teacher for more than 20 years and is currently the deputy head teacher of a primary school.

She is a keen genealogist and has had articles published in Family Tree Magazine.

This is her first book and she lives in Wombourne, Staffordshire.

The book is now available for those interested and costs £14.99.

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