Tributes to stalwart who arrested A6 murderer

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A former policewoman from Blackpool who arrested one of England’s most notorious murderers has died aged 74.

Barbara Thomas, who served with the force in Blackpool during the 1960s, was one of two officers who arrested James Hanratty, known as the A6 murderer, and who became one of the last men in country to be hanged for the crime.

Hanratty went on the run after murdering a scientist and raping his mistress, who was left paralysed, but was caught at the Stevonia Cafe, on Central Drive, in Blackpool, in 1961. He was hanged at Bedford Gaol on April 4, 1962.

In later life Mrs Thomas, from North Shore, dedicated much of her time to volunteering in the North Shore area, and frequently spoke out on issues facing pensioners in Blackpool.

Her son Paul, who also serves in the police force, has today paid tribute to his mother, who he said was “passionate” about helping others.

Paul, 50, said: “She was a very proud woman who was public spirited.

“She’d do anything for anybody as long as they didn’t take the mickey.

“She wouldn’t accept something was too much hard work.”

Mrs Thomas was born into a farming family in southern Cumbria but later moved to the resort, where she became one of the few female police officers at the time after joining up in 1960.

After leaving the force around four years later, she ran the Gaylan guesthouse, in Carshalton Road, North Shore, where she and her husband Trevor continued to live until her death.

Her hobbies and interests included animals, and she became involved with the Blackpool and Fylde Horse Club in the 1970s.

In later life she became vice-chairman of pensioners’ organisation Blackpool Senior Voice Forum, frequently speaking up for the rights of older people in The Gazette.

Paul, a custody sergeant at Blackpool police station, added: “She was involved with community affairs and was quite passionate about anything that involved North Shore.

“She had always been a big advocate of voluntary work.”

Barbara passed away in hospital with her family at her side on Tuesday, July 22.

Her funeral will be held at Carleton Crematorium tomorrow at 11.30am.