Everyone agreed that the marriage of William and Kate Ward was made in heaven. Though in their 50s, they often behaved like young lovers.

Ward ran a sweetshop in Stamford Street, in Ashton town centre, and it was there as usual that he went on JULY 14th, 1920. When he walked home that night to his large semi in Cranbourne Road he found his devoted wife lying in a pool of blood. She had been bound, gagged and battered to death with a coal hammer.

Drawers were pulled out, cupboard doors left open, and the house looked as if it had been ransacked. But not convincingly, according to the police. To them, it looked like an inside job. So they arrested Ward and charged him with killing his wife.

The Wards’ cleaner, Mrs. Lily Thornley, was aghast. She said: “There was no more devoted couple. They were all in all to each other and Mr. Ward gratified every wish of his wife’s. Their married life has always been singularly happy.”

With that in mind, a coroner’s jury refused to name Ward as the killer – it was murder by person or persons unknown, they decided. Even today the murderer still remains unknown.