The “log” arm of the law...

In full flow: logs float along Lord Street, Fleetwood during the 1927 flood. Inset - multiple-murderer Joseph Smith, who drowned his three wives in the bath, including one in Blackpool 100 years ago this month and Down Murder Lane by Gazette crime writer Sid Coe, from1946

In full flow: logs float along Lord Street, Fleetwood during the 1927 flood. Inset - multiple-murderer Joseph Smith, who drowned his three wives in the bath, including one in Blackpool 100 years ago this month and Down Murder Lane by Gazette crime writer Sid Coe, from1946

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Regular contributor Pauline Nicholls has obviously had water on her mind over the last few days - and has sent two items to prove it.

The recent flooding along the Fylde coast prompted Pauline, who lives in Carleton, to share a photograph which is more than 80 years old.

Archive pics of Brides in the Bath killer George Smith - who struck in Blackpool for his second murder victim, drowning Alice Burnham in a bath at a local guesthouse

Archive pics of Brides in the Bath killer George Smith - who struck in Blackpool for his second murder victim, drowning Alice Burnham in a bath at a local guesthouse

She says: “It was among the belongings of well-known Fleetwood butcher Walter Kerr, who died in 1981.

“The 1927 picture now belongs to Carol Knight, who will be celebrating her birthday tomorrow.”

Carol, of Garstang, niece of Pauline’s late husband Roy, is also a relation of the well-known Fleetwood butcher.

The photograph was taken looking along Lord Street towards Warrenhurst Road.

Pauline says: “And in case you were wondering about those hundreds of logs left in the street along with all that mud as the flood waters receded, this timber had been washed away from storage areas on Copse Road.”

The other item which Pauline is sharing is a signed copy of Down Murder Lane, subtitled True Stories from the Casebook of a Crime Reporter.

The journalist concerned was Sid Coe, The Gazette’s crime writer during the 1940s and 50s and Pauline treasures her copy of the book given to her by Sid in July 1946.

She says: “I worked in The Gazette’s filing room then, before becoming a reporter myself.

Pauline recalls: “Sid had a wicked sense of humour, always witty and forever having a joke with all of us in the office. It was probably a release from the serious nature of his work.

“He always seemed to wear the same coat and hat and to be hanging around waiting for murders.”

It was The Gazette’s two-page feature about the so-called “brides in the bath” murders earlier this week, and the role played in the investigation by Blackpool police officer William Drabble, that saw Pauline once again seeking out Sid’s book from her box of memorabilia.

One hundred years ago last Thursday, George Joseph Smith murdered Alice Burnham, second of his three bigamously-married brides, who each suffered the same fate.

Alice drowned in the bath in a boarding house in Regent Road, Blackpool and Smith was eventually hanged for his crimes on Friday August 13, 1915.

Another local murder featured in the book is the shooting on the sandhill between Blackpool and St Annes of “vivacious brunette” Kathleen Breaks, whose bullet-riddled body was discovered on Christmas Eve 1919.

Sid reveals that he interviewed executioner John Ellis just two hours after the hanging at Strangeways Prison, Manchester, of Kathleen’s killer Frederick Rothwell Holt, who had been arrested for his crime in the lounge of the Clifton Arms Hotel, Lytham.

These are among 24 cases which Sid writes about in his book, produced, according to the inner cover “in complete conformity with the authorised economy standard” that was being enforced.

There is even a foreword by J R Clynes, who was Home Secretary 1929-31.

In his introduction, Sid tells readers: “Before we go down Murder Lane, come with me into the long dark Corridor of Crime, and catch a glimpse of some of the deepest-dyed villains who have flitted through it down the years into the grim but fascinating dock of the Criminal Court.”

Intriguingly-titled chapters include My Pal The Dirty Dog, The Whistling Murdress, Why Was He Reprieved?, The Court Gasped!, They Washed The Dirty Duster, A Neck For A Neck, Sisters Of The Night, Mister Staring Eyes, and Scarlet Lips.