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Making History
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Tuesday 3.00-3.30 p.m
Vanessa Collingridge and the team answer listener’s historical queries and celebrate the way in which we all ‘make’ history.
Programme 5
I May 2007

Listen to this programme in full

The Halifax Slasher

Making History listener Martin Coates contacted the programme to ask about a violent crime wave in West Yorkshire in the autumn of 1938. Who was the so-called “Halifax slasher” he asks?

Making History consulted local historian John Hargreaves who took reporter Nick Baker on a tour of the town to show him where the attacks happened. A number of attacks on men and women by a person with a knife or razor were reported in late November 1938. This how the Halifax Courier reported the case:
“Halifax has certainly never had such a manhunt in its history and the hunt, generally is probably unparalleled since the days of the Jack the Ripper scare in London….”

Halifax police were assisted in their search by Scotland Yard until, eventually, one of the victims confessed to harming themselves. Others had similar admissions. The “Halifax slasher” was put down to a wave of mass hysteria. This is how the Halifax Courier reported the news…

'Carry on Halifax! The Slasher scare is over... The theory that a half-crazed, wild-eyed man has been wandering around, attacking helpless women in dark streets, is exploded... There never was, nor is there likely to be, any real danger to the general public. There is no doubt that following certain happenings public feeling has grown, and that many small incidents have been magnified in the public mind until a real state of alarm was caused. This assurance that there is no real cause for alarm, in short, no properly authenticated wholesale attacks by such a person as the bogy man known as the 'Slasher', should allay the public fear...'

Making History also consulted Professor Clive Emsely at the Open University about the long history of knife crime in Britain:

See his book “Crime and Society in England 1750 -1900” Longman (2004) ISBN-10: 0582784859 ISBN-13: 978-0582784857
The Forgotten Ship Burial – Snape Suffolk

A few miles north of Sutton Hoo at Snape on the Suffolk coast are the remains of a ship burial that were first unearthed in 1862. Today, after 50 years of ploughing, very little is left of the site but what was found here informed the latter dig at Sutton Hoo in 1939 and provides rich insight into the misnamed Dark Ages.

Making History consulted William Filmer-Sankey who led a major dig at Snape and the early English specialist Dr Sam Newton.

Useful links

Suffolk County Council

Sam Newton’s Wuffings website

BBC h2g2 

Boston College

Suggested reading:

Filmer-Sankey, William, and Tim Pestell. 2001. Snape Anglo-Saxon Cemetery: Excavations and Surveys 1824-1992. Ipswich,
Suffolk: Environment and Transport, Suffolk County Council.

Filmer-Sankey, W. 'Snape Anglo-Saxon cemetery - the current state of knowledge'in M.Carver, The Age of Sutton Hoo (1992), 39-51

Filmer-Sankey, W. 'Snape' in Current Archaeology 118 (1990)
Death and Memory in Early Medieval Britain. Cambridge Studies in Archaeology. Howard Williams. ISBN-13: 9780521840194 | ISBN-10: 0521840198)
Peking Paris 1907

Making History consulted the motoring historian David Burgess Wise about the incredible motor rally from China to France in 1907.

Useful links:

The Incredible Automobile Race

Centenary website

Popular Mechanics 

Images of the 1907 race

Use this link to: Email Making History

Write to: Making History
BBC Radio 4
PO Box 3096

Telephone: 08700 100400

Making History is produced by Nick Patrick and is a Pier Production
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Making History

Vanessa Collingridge
Vanessa CollingridgeVanessa has presented science and current affairs programmes for BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Discovery and has presented for BBC Radio 4 & Five Live and a regular contributor to the Daily Telegraph and the Mail on Sunday, Scotsman and Sunday Herald. 

Contact Making History

Send your comments and questions for future programmes to:
Making History
BBC Radio 4
PO Box 3096 Brighton

Or email the programme

Or telephone the Audience Line 08700 100 400

Making History is a Pier Production for BBC Radio 4 and is produced by Nick Patrick.

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