How two Lancashire literary legends met at an auction

The eight books had a price tag of £275. At first glance this seemed expensive but then I realised they had belonged to another famous Lake District author. They were the copies that had once belonged to the late Postman Pat creator John Cunliffe and included his personal annotations.

I was drawn to them because of fleeting encounters I’d had with both Wainwright and Cunliffe. Also I had worked as a journalist for the publisher of the guides, the Westmorland Gazette.

Alfred Wainwright in the f

How I made Cary Grant’s heartbreaking double life into a drama

I ghost-wrote this article for Jeff Pope after interviewing him at the press screening of Archie, hence his byline.

Cary Grant is, without question, one of the pre-eminent movie stars of the 20th century. To me, he is a cross between George Clooney and Tom Hanks. If you look at the figures, he topped the box office year after year. His films — North by Northwest, To Catch a Thief, The Philadelphia Story — were among the most watched in the world. What I never realised was that in 1966, at the age of 62, and at the height of his fame and powers as an actor, Cary Grant gave it all up to become a stay-at-home da

Eccentric literary giants shaped Westmorland Gazette - Journalism News from

The Westmorland Gazette is celebrating its 200th birthday this year with a series of events and exhibitions across its Lake District patch.

Here, freelance journalist and journalism lecturer Jeremy Craddock, who began his career there, describes how three eccentric and idiosyncratic literary giants helped shape the newspaper.

Poet William Wordsworth never intended to be a newspaperman but in 1818 he was talked into it by influential political figures in his beloved Lake District.

Although he

How Buck Ruxton committed a double murder

The case that appalled millions of newspaper readers worldwide began with the discovery of dismembered human remains in the Scottish Borders in 1935. It culminated in the execution of a charismatic and popular Lancashire doctor, Buck Ruxton, convicted of murdering his wife and his children's nanny. The landmark case is still remembered almost 90 years on because of the incredible forensic breakthroughs made by investigators. Some of these pioneering techniques are still in use today. A key aspec

How infamous Lancashire murder changed policing forever

Ruxton fell under suspicion when Scottish police saw a newspaper report of a young woman missing from Lancashire. It was Ruxton’s nanny, Mary. Acting on a hunch, the Chief Constable of Dumfriesshire called Lancaster police station. And so began the ground-breaking investigation which would send Ruxton to the gallows at Strangeways Prison on May 12, 1936.

The story of these Agatha Christie-era murders has been told many times in newspapers, magazines and true crime books. But these accounts rake

The History Press | Ask the author: Jeremy Craddock on The Jigsaw Murders

On 12 May 1936 Buck Ruxton was hanged in Manchester after being found guilty of murdering his wife, Isabella Ruxton, and their children’s nanny, Mary Jane Rogerson, the previous September. We spoke to Jeremy Craddock, author of The Jigsaw Murders: The True Story of the Ruxton Killings and the Birth of Modern Forensics, about the gruesome crime that shocked the UK and changed the history of forensic science.

Why do you think true crime stories continue to fascinate us, and what was it about this

Appleton author Jeremy Craddock on the human jigsaw puzzle that has haunted him since childhood

I ALWAYS wanted to be a writer.

Over the years I tried my hand at novels and plays, even seeing a couple of scripts produced at a theatre years ago. But nothing ever came of it.

During my years at the Warrington Guardian, I would come home from the office to work on my latest attempt at a novel. I also got into the habit of rising early to write my daily thousand words before going to work.

I self-published some children’s books but they failed to set the world on fire.

Then when my mum died

The Jigsaw Murders: How a sensational Manchester trial gave birth to modern forensics

Friday March 13 in 1936 was a cold, clear day. Britain was emerging from a mild winter but it was still overcoat-and-gloves weather in Manchester.

There was a buzz of activity at the High Court of Justice on Great Ducie Street, a stone’s throw from the cathedral and Victoria station, where the Manchester Winter Assizes were sitting. The imposing Venetian Gothic Revival building peered down in judgement on Manchester’s scurrying citizens. Over its shoulder, the equally austere, smoke-grimed Stra

Stan & Ollie and me

What follows is a piece of arts journalism I wrote for a competition that, having failed to win the prize, has been gathering dust on my computer’s hard drive, so I thought I would give it an airing here.

Those of you who know me well know I have been a Laurel and Hardy fan since I was a young lad.

This piece is a review of the excellent John Connolly biographical novel about Stan Laurel, he. It also makes a passing reference to the movie Stan & Ollie starring Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly.

Age shall not weary them

In September 1914, Laurence Binyon was visiting Cornwall. His trip had been overshadowed by what was happening in Europe. The Great War (as the First World War was known at the time) had only recently broken out. The first casualties had been suffered after the British Expeditionary Force clashed with the Imperial German Army at the Battle of Mons on August 23, followed by the First Battle of the Marne in early September when the British fought with the French Army against the Germans.

These we

It was 55 years ago today

On Monday, November 4th, 1963, The Beatles were to all intents and purposes imprisoned.

They were inside the Prince of Wales Theatre near Leicester Square in London preparing to perform at that evening’s Royal Variety Performance in front of Her Majesty the Queen Mother. Their manager Brian Epstein refused to let them outside for fear of causing a riot.

In a few heady months the band had gone from playing in the bowels of a Liverpool cellar to become a teenage national craze that had been labe

How booking the Beatles helped pay for a great holiday to Vegas

Pete Rigby is now 76 and still lives in the same house on Grosvenor Avenue where a letter from Brian Epstein arrived all those years ago.

Dated July 17, 1962, it confirmed that John, Paul, George and original drummer Pete Best would appear at the Bell Hall in Orford three days later, on July 20.

In a characteristic Epstein flourish, the letter stated: “I would remind you that The Beatles’ spot is for a duration of one hour only.”

Bands usually played two 45-minute sets at Bell Hall.


Statue to honour Stan Laurel...

FORTY years ago an elderly man turned to his nurse and said: "I wish I was skiing right now".

"Oh, I didn't know you were a skier," replied the nurse.

"I'm not. But I'd much rather be doing that than this."

It was the last punch line Stan Laurel delivered. He died of a heart attack, aged 74, on February 23, 1965.

Ulverston-born Laurel, and his screen partner Oliver Hardy, may be gone, but seven decades after their heyday, the world is still laughing.

The only difference now is we watch them

'Wordsworth Was A Spy' Claim

The BBC will make the film, Pandemonium, to be shown in the cinema before being screened on television.

Emily Woof - daughter of Wordsworth Trust director Dr Robert Woof - is to play Dorothy Wordsworth, while Ian Hart, who played John Lennon in Backbeat, is considering playing Wordsworth.

The script is by former Coronation Street and Brookside writer Frank Cottrell Boyce, whose previous films include Welcome To Sarajevo and Butterfly Kiss, about a lesbian serial killer. The director will be Ju