At the Blackburn cotton mill where she worked, 18-year-old Alice Beetham filled her weft can and lugged it back to her loom. Following her, Arthur Birkett, a 22-year-old weaver, threw his arm round her neck and drew her to him. The couple’s workmates laughed, thinking he was going to steal a kiss.
Instead they heard a scream as Birkett slashed Alice’s throat with a razor which he then jabbed at his own neck. Then, as he staggered away, three men pursued him as he left the mill, grabbing him as he reached the gate.
“Why did you do such a terrible thing?” one of them asked.
“She chucked me. She wanted nowt to do with me,” he replied.
It was MAY 20th, 1912, and before the day was much older Birkett was charged with murder. Convicted at Manchester Assizes, he was executed at Strangeways Prison on July 9th. Like Alice, he had been popular with his workmates who mourned both victim and killer.