Historical Background Notes

Christina Collins

photo of Christina's gravestonephoto of memorial garden at Yard LockChristina Collins is reputed to be the first recorded murder on the cut by working boatmen. She had been on her way from Liverpool to London to join her husband, Robert, and had taken paid passage on a working boat. Two of the boatmen were alleged to have raped and murdered her. Her body was found in the canal at Brindley Bank on 15 Jun 1839, and taken up the steps nearby to the "Talbot Inn"; they are still known locally as the "bloody steps". The boatmen, James Owen and George Thomas (alias Dobell), were hanged on 11 April 1840 for the murder - 10,000 people allegedly turned out to witness the event.

Christina's gravestone is still visible in the graveyard of St Augustine's Church. There is a monument and small memorial garden in Stone at the tail of "Yard Lock" (28) (Workhouse Bridge 94) where she initially reported to Pickford's the fact she was not happy with her situation aboard the boat. She was allegedly last seen alive at Hoo Mill Lock (23).

The incident was the inspiration for an "Inspector Morse" episode entitled "The Wench is Dead". Another website provides a good account of the story, with pictures.

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