Patrick McKenna, 53, of Kestor Street, Bolton, became a hard-drinking man after he lost his job, and when his wife Ann refused to give him more money to go to the pub he plunged a carving knife into her neck.

On NOVEMBER 13th, 1901, he was sentenced to death for the murder. The man who went to Strangeways to hang him was his friend James Billington, landlord of the Derby Arms, in Churchgate, Bolton, where McKenna was a regular customer.

Billington, who had been ill, left his sickbed and arrived at Strangeways in the evening of December 2nd to prepare for the hanging early next morning. He felt unwell that night, but was determined to finish the job.

When he and his assistant went into the death cell McKenna was crying. The execution was quick and without incident. But later that day, as he left Manchester to return to Bolton, Billington felt feverish. He told his assistant, “I wish I’d never come,” and 10 days later he died of pneumonia.