Milk Boy Timing Statements (Includes Elsie Wright, Metcalf, Wildman, etc.)

Clock Winders:

Central Police Offices,
Dale Street.
27th Jany. 1931.

John Paterson says:-

I am a clock winder employed by Mssrs. Condliff & Coy, Clockmakers, 93 Dale Street.

It is part of my duty to wind and correct the clock in the Church Tower of Holy Trinity Church, Breck Road, on Friday of each week.

On Friday, the 16th January 1931, about 12.50p.m. I wound the clock of Holy Trinity Church and set it at the correct time as it was two minutes fast.

On Friday the 23rd January I again wound and set the clock at 12-25pm. The clock shewed the correct time and did not require adjustment.

Signed.John Paterson.

Holy Trinity Church clock was accurate on the date of the murder.

Allan Close (Eyewitness):

Full statements + analysis:

After the police time tests had been carried out. According to Radio City interviews, the police were not pleased with Alan’s 18:45 claim and said something along the lines of “well if you aren’t sure, maybe it was 18:35.”

As per Elsie Wright, Wolverton Street is his last stop before Redford Street. According to Allan to get to Redford Street he walks onto Richmond Park and along from there. Allan says he checked his watch at Redford Street (~0.1 miles, a ~2 minute walk at an average walking speed) and noted the time was 18:45. His watch is 1 or 2 minutes fast so that would make it 18:43 or 18:44 when he checked his watch. He therefore may have left the doorstep of 29 Wolverton Street (if it was his last stop in the street) at around 18:41 by his own watch.

This aligns more with the statements of other delivery boys and girls who were around at the time.

Allison Wildman (the oldest witness) implies that Elsie Wright was in fact waiting for Allan in Wolverton Street. She does not make mention of this herself, only references the time she passed him. Wildman claims to have arrived in Wolverton Street at around 19:37 or 19:38, by passing through an entry by “Campbell’s Dancing Rooms”. According to John Gannon he would emerge “5 doors down from 29 Wolverton Street”, presumably this would then mean the entry beside 21 Wolverton Street.

Wildman delivers papers at various houses in Wolverton Street: Nos. 28, 27, 22, 20, and 18 (as seen, most on the “Evens” side of the street, which would be across the road). At the time he got to and completed the delivery of the newspaper at 27 Wolverton Street (the Holme’s house) having presumably walked up from 21 Wolverton Street, he said the milk boy was still standing at the doorstep of Wolverton Street which was wide open.

The order he delivers papers in the street was not stated, but one can assume it would probably be most convenient to deliver at #27 first since it is the side of the road he emerges on, then cross the road diagonally to 28 (situated right at the top of the road), walking down to 22, 20, then 18 to complete the “Evens” side deliveries. Just a few doors down from #18 there is an entry which he would go through to get to Redford Street.

Walter Holme of 27 Wolverton Street stated he usually receives his newspaper delivery from Wildman at 18:40. The sound he heard regarding the door of 29 Wolverton Street (apparently ~5 minutes before this) could not then be Julia closing the door on Allan, because Allan was still at the doorstep of #29 with the door wide open after Wildman delivered the paper to Mr. Holme and departed that evening.

According to Allan he waited on the step for one or two minutes before Julia returned with the empty milk jugs, they then exchanged a few short words about their respective illnesses. Wildman did not see or hear Alan speaking to anyone and did not see Julia at the door of Wolverton Street. We may say that the door closed on Allan at 19:39 to 19:41 depending on the length of conversation and how soon after Wildman departed she arrived back at the door with the empty jugs. Unfortunately Wildman did not say whether the milk boy was still in the road after he completed all five of his newspaper deliveries in the street. Only that the boy was still standing at the step when he left #27.

Nobody had noticed any light coming from 29 Wolverton Street’s parlour, the only light noticed was then in the middle kitchen.

Elsie Wright (Allan’s Coworker):

ELSIE WRIGHT of 63, Sedley Street, Anfield, Liverpool, Schoolgirl, will say:-

I am 13 years of age, and work mornings and evenings at Close’s Dairy, 51, Sedley Street. Alan Close is the son of the people who keep the Dairy. It was his job to deliver milk in Wolverton Street and other neighbouring streets, and I delivered in Pendennis Street, which is next to Sedley Street. Sometimes if Alan was late I would do the deliveries in Wolverton Street. I did so on Monday 19th January, and among other houses I called at 29, Wolverton Street, where Mrs. Wallace took the milk in. I know her, but not Mr. Wallace.

On Tuesday evening, 20th January, I left our shop at about ten past six, and Alan was then out delivering in Breck Road, on a bicycle. Before going to Wolverton Street, he would come back to the shop, put in the bicycle, and get cans, which he would deliver on foot.

I went to deliver in Twyford Street, and then came down Breck Road. It would take me about five minutes to get to Twyford Street, and I would be about another five minutes delivering there. It runs into Breck Road, and when I came back into Breck Road I heard the bells of the Belmont Institute ringing for half past six service. I then went to the Vicarage of Holy Trinity in Richmond Park, and was kept there for about five minutes. Before I got to the Vicarage the bells had stopped. When I left the Vicarage I went up Richmond Park towards Letchworth Street, where I was going to deliver. I passed Alan Close on foot holding cans while I was in Letchworth Street. I then delivered at my Aunt’s house, No. 12, Letchworth Street. When I passed Alan he was going in the direction of Wolverton Street. His round is Letchworth Street, Richmond Park, Wolverton Street, and Redford Street. When I passed him it would be about twenty to seven. [E.M.W. this was his regular round & he goes on it every day.]

The next morning I asked Close if he had delivered milk to Mrs. Wallace the previous night, and he said “Yes”. No time was then mentioned. When I saw him again in the evening in the Dairy we talked about it again and I asked him what time he got to Mrs. Wallace’s, and he said “Oh, about a quarter to seven“. He said he had been on his way there when he met me.

Later, I met Metcalf and another boy in Richmond Park, and Kenneth Caird came up later on. We talked about the murder, and Metcalf asked me if Close had told the Police that he was at the house the night before. I said he had not, and just then Close came up shortly after Caird had joined us. Metcalf said to Close “You ought to go and tell the Police you were at the Wallace’s”. Then he asked him what time he was there, and Close said “A quarter to seven”. Alan said he had not said to the Police he had been there the previous night. Metcalf said “If you’ll go back we’ll go with you”. He said it was most important to tell the Police. We all went to Wolverton Street with Close, and we knocked at the door. A Policeman came and said “What, you back again?” (This was said because Close and I had called the same evening to see if Milk was wanted). Close said “I’ve come to tell you that Mrs. Wallace answered the door to us last night”. I did not hear him say any time. The Policeman told him to come in, and we waited.

On the way up the passage to 29, Wolverton Street, Close had said something about being the missing link, and had treated it all as rather a joke.

I did not know Close had told the Police half past six until I saw it in the paper. The time was first given in the paper as 6.35, and then it became 6.31. I have never mentioned it to Close, as I didn’t think it was anything to do with me. The Police have never interviewed me.

In our place we do not have any delivery books or anything else of the kind.

Elsie M. Wright.

Saw Alan Close after hearing the 18:30 church service bells chime and stop. Saw him “about 18:40” as he was on his way to Wolverton Street, which was the next street (crossing over Richmond Park).

Douglas “Dougie” Metcalf:

DOUGLAS METCALF of 15, Redbourne Street, Anfield, Liverpool, will say:-

I work for Mr. Yates, 51 Breck Road, Liverpool, as a Paper Boy. He has a stationer’s shop. I am 14 years of age. Every Tuesday morning I used to deliver the Financial Times to Mr. Wallace’s house at 29, Wolverton Street. I know both him and Mrs. Wallace quite well. I began delivering two years ago, and have delivered to Mr. Wallace’s for the same length of time. I used to shove the paper through the letter box. Mrs. Wallace was in the habit of leaving the key in the front door, and I found it there five times altogether. [delivering once a week for two years = happened roughly every twenty deliveries = 5% of the time] I used to get there about 7.45 in the morning, and the Wallaces were not usually up at that time.

Mrs. Wallace used to come into our shop a good deal, and she used to speak very quickly, and seemed nervous to me. She had a habit of walking up Breck Road with the flap of her purse open. When I found the key left in the door, I did not put it through the letter box, but waited until about half past eight, and then went back to the house and knocked, and when Mrs. Wallace came I used to asked (sic) her if it was the key. She tried it in the door and said “Yes”. Twice she gave me sixpence for this. Once she said “It’s a good thing you gave me the key, because someone might have got it and broken in, seeing that Mr. Wallace is in hospital”. A few weeks after that Mr. and Mrs. Wallace came into the shop, and Mrs. Wallace said to him “This is the boy that took care of the key, when you were in Hospital”. Whenever they came into the shop, they seemed very friendly, and they were nicknamed in the neighbourhood “Darby and Joan”. I have heard Mr. and Mrs. Yates call them this.

I know the boy Alan Close very well. The night after the murder, at about ten to seven, I was walking round Richmond Park, and met Elsie Wright, the girl who works with Close. I stopped [?] talking to her about it, and she said “Yes, and Alan saw her at a quarter to seven, when he took the milk; and when Mrs. Wallace took the milk off him she said ‘You’d better hurry up home; you’ve got a bad cough, and I’ve got a bad cough to-night'”. After that I said to Elsie “The papers say it was the bread boy that saw her last; Alan ought to go and tell them it was him if he saw her at a quarter to seven”. There was a boy named Harold Jones with us, and Kenneth Caird came up. Shortly afterwards Alan Close came up. (He was going up that way to get to his shop in Sedley Street) I said to Alan “Hey, Alan, what time did you see Mrs. Wallace?” He said “Well, when I took the milk it was a quarter to seven”. I said “What did she say to you”. He said “She told me I had a bad cough and I’d better hurry up home, and she said she had a cough”. I said “Well, the Police ought to kow that, because in the papers it said that Mr. Wallace went out at a quarter past six, and if you saw her at a quarter to seven people couldn’t think Mr. Wallace had done it”. Close didn’t want to go, and I said “I’d go if I were you, because that would help the Police out a lot”. Kenneth Caird said he was a fool for not going. Close seemed to take it all as a huge joke. He started saying “the missing link”, and putting his thumbs in his waistcoat.

Kenneth and I then said we would go round to the house with him, and we did go round, and Elsie and Harold were still with us. Close knocked at the door at Mr. Wallace’s, and two plain clothes men came out. Close said “I saw Mrs. Wallace at a quarter to seven last night”. They took him in, and we did not go in with him, but waited outside till he came out.

David Jones:

Statement #1:

22nd January, 1931.

David JONES says:-

I am a newsvendor and reside at 3, Parliament Square, Liverpool.

For the past four or five years I have delivered the Liverpool Echo at 29, Wolverton Street by putting it through the letter box. Every Monday night either Mr. Wallace or Mrs. Wallace pay me for the week’s papers, on my return along the street. I generally deliver the paper about 6.30p.m. On Tuesday the 20th of January 1931 I delivered the Liverpool Echo at 29, Wolverton Street by putting it through the letter box about 6.30p.m. I did not notice any lights in the house and I did not see or hear anyone in the house.

I entered Wolverton Street through the middle entry from Richmond Park and after delivering the paper I delivered at No.12, Wolverton Street and then went through the middle entry into Redbourne Street. Whilst I was in Wolverton Street I didn’t see any other person in the street, or while crossing through the entry I did not see any person in the entry at the rear of Wolverton Street.

(Signed) David Jones.

Statement #2:

David Jones of 3 Parliament Square Toxteth will say:-

I have delivered Echoes to the Wallaces at 29 Wolverton Street for 4 or 5 years. On 20th January last I delivered there between 6.25 & 6.35p.m. I thrust the Echo through the letter-Box. I did not notice any lights & do not remember if there were any. I did not hear any noise or commotion of any kind.

Mrs Wallace always spoke very affectionately of her husband, especially when he was in Hospital last.

I was seen by the Police on the Thursday evening after the murder, when I was in Wolverton Street at 6.35. I made a statement to them on the ___ of the foregoing (?).

Delivered the “Echo” newspaper to 29 Wolverton Street between 18:25 and 18:35.

Allison Wildman:

Police Files:

Statement #1:

ALLISON WILDMAN of 5, Twickenham Street, Anfield, Liverpool, will say:-

I am 16 years of age and am employed by Messrs, Cowan & Co., Motor Haulage Contractors, Canada Dock Branch No.1. In my spare time I deliver newspapers (Morning and evening) for my Uncle William Wildman, 156, Lower Breck Road, Anfield. My route is as follows:- Hanwell Street, Taplow Street, up two entries to Richmond Park, along Richmond Park, down the entry by Campbell’s dancing rooms into Wolverton Street, along Wolverton Street. I deliver papers at 28, 27, 22, 20, 18, in Wolverton Street. There is an entry in Wolverton Street, and I go down into Redford Street; then along an entry into Richmond Park, down Richmond Park, and right along Richmond Park into Lower Breck Road.

Usually I start about 6.20, and deliver a few papers in Suburban Road, and then start on the round above-mentioned. I usually start the round about 6.30. I deliver four papers in Hanwell Street, one in Taplow Street, and two in Richmond Park. I always glance at Holy Trinity Churck Clock in passing. When I passed on the evening of 20th January it was twenty five to seven. Having passed Holy Trinity it takes me about two or three minutes to get into Wolverton Street. I remember the time quite clearly because when I read of the murder next morning I thought over what time I had passed Holy Trinity. When I delivered at 27, Wolverton Street, I saw a milk boy on the steps of No. 29; his back was to me and I did not recognize him. It was dark, but the door was open. I did not see whether there was anybody from the house at the door. In the street there was a girl waiting for the milk boy, who seemed to be carrying some cans. I have seen the boy before, delivering milk.

I am positive that this was between twenty five and twenty to seven, and not half past six.

I did not notice a light in the front room. The boy had a Shaw Street School cap on his head.

Statement #2:

Allison WILDMAN of 5, Twickenham Street, Anfield, Liverpool, will say:-

I am 16 years of age and work for Mssrs.Cowan & Co. Motor Haulage Contractors, Canada Dock Branch No.1. In my spare time I deliver newspapers in mornings and evenings for my uncle William Wildman of 156, Lower Breck Road, Anfield.

I start work about 6.20 in the evening and first deliver at Nos.11, 19, 21, and 28, Suburban Road, 42, Winchester Road, 34, Clarendon Road, 52 and 48, Claude Road and then go back to the shop, unpack more newspapers and start on my second round on which the route is as follows :-

Hanwell Street, Taplow Street, by two entries to Richmond Park, along Richmond Park, down the entry by Campbells Dancing Rooms into Wolverton Street and then along Wolverton Street where I deliver papers at Nos.28, 27, 22, 20, and 18. There is an entry in Wolverton Street which I go down into Redford Street. Then I follow an entry into Richmond Park, go down Richmond Park and right along Richmond Park into Lower Breck Road.

I deliver four papers in Hanwell Street, one in Taplow Street, and two in Richmond Park. I always glance at the Holy Trinity Church Clock in passing. When I passed on the evening of 20th January it was twentyfive minutes to seven. Having passed Holy Trinity it take me about two minutes to get into Wolverton Street. I remember the time quite clearly because when I read of the murder at 29, Wolverton Street next morning I thought over what time I had passed Holy Trinity.

When I delivered the paper at 27, Wolverton Street it would be about twentywto or twentythree minutes to seven. The door of No.29. Wolverton Street was wide open and a milk boy was standing on the top step with two or three cans in his hand. He had a Collegiate School Cap on his head.

When I left No.27, Wolterton Street the milk boy was still standing there.

Munro Files:

Same as above.

Kenneth Campbell Caird (son of James Caird):

Kenneth Campbell Caird of 3. Letchworth Street Anfield Liverpool Scholar will say:-

I am 14 years of age, & am at the Collegiate School. I know Harold Jones, Elsie Wright, Douglas Metcalf, & Alan Close. I was at an Elementary School with Jones & Metcalf. We all used to play football together & Close used to play as well.

I have a clear recollection of the talk between Jones, Elsie Wright, Metcalf, Close & myself on the night after the murder. It was at the top of an entry in Richmond Park, near Wolverton St. I left our house at about quarter to seven, going along to the library, & someone shouted my name out. I crossed over, & saw Harold Jones, Metcalf & Elsie Wright. Metcalf asked me if I had heard anything about Alan Close & I said “No”. Metcalf then said to me “Close saw Mrs Wallace at quarter tos even & he won’t tell the Police. Wouldn’t you go tell them if it was you.” I said “I would.” Alan Close then came up to take Elsie Wright to through the passage into Sedley Street, where there is no lamp (?).

Metcalf said “Hey Alan, what time did you see Mrs Wallace.” He replied “When I took the ilk it was quarter to seven”. I remember something being said about a cough, but don’t exactly know what. Metcalf said that Close ought to go & tell the Police, because it would be important for the Police to know. I also said that the Police ought to know. Close seemed to take it more or less as a joke. I said that we would ^all go round with him if he went. He said “All right, then, come on.” We went down the entry & along Wolverton St with him. We knocked Close knocked, & two detectives came to the door. Close said “I saw Mrs Wallace at quarter to seven.” They said “Come in” & we waited outside.

Kenneth Campbell Caird

Harold Jones:

Statement #1:

Harold Jones of 7. Redcar Street Anfield Liverpool Paper Boy employed by Mr Yates, 51. Breck Road Liverpool will say:-

I am 14 years old, & work for Mr Yates as a p(aperboy) who also employs Metcalf. I remember being with Metcalf in Richmond Park at about a quarter to seven on Wednesday evening, the night after the murder. Kenneth Caird joined We met Elsie Wright outside the Parochial Hall, & Kenneth Caird joined us. Another boy then came up, whom I now know to be Alan Close. Metcalf said I think someone asked him what time he had seen Mrs Wallace & he said “quarter to seven.” Someone then said he ought to go & tell the Police, as he would get a reward. We all said we would go with him, & we then went along to 29. Wolverton Street. He knocked at the door, & two Policemen came out, & asked what Close wanted. He told them They asked him his name & address but I couldn’t hear what he said in reply. They then told him to go in to the house, & we waited till he came out.

Harold Jones

Statement #2:

Allan Close told us he saw Mrs Wallace alive at 6.45PM he told the police at the door 6.45 PM.

Harold Jones
7 Redcar St

John and Florence Johnston:

John claims he got home at 18:45, he was not in when the milk was delivered.

Alan then went back to the doorstep of 29 Wolverton Street where the door was open and waited about 1 or 2 minutes before Julia returned and handed him the milk jugs, exchanging some brief words about how he ought to hurry on home out of the cold.

“The milk boy, Alan Close, called at my house that evening, but I cannot remember the exact time. He might come at any time between ten past six and seven, but recently he had been very late.”

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5 Responses to Milk Boy Timing Statements (Includes Elsie Wright, Metcalf, Wildman, etc.)

  1. GED says:

    Seems pretty certain then it was either on or certainly a lot nearer to Quarter to Seven than 6.30 or 6.31. Police manipulation as Close threw a spanner in the works. Wallace didn’t even know about this so he was hardly making an alibi for himself when in his mind the police would think he had between 6.05 when he came home from work and a Quarter to seven when he said he left. They were happy with this until Close says a quarter to seven so the Police try to stretch the parameters of the time Wallace had my moving Closes’ time back and Wallace’s time forward utilising the ‘Anfield Harriers’.

    However, it wasn’t as manipulative as adding 18 mis-statement of ‘facts’ at the committal trial including saying Wallace had been to Crewe’s house 3 times a week during Crewe’s illness which was news to him as he said not only he hadn’t but that he’d never been ill for 1 day in his life. The police also withheld vital information from the defence which was not in their power to do. I wonder why all this if they had such a cast iron case.

  2. Michael Fitton says:

    “I saw a milk boy on the steps of No. 29; his back was to me and I did not recognize him. It was dark, but the door was open. I did not see whether there was anybody from the house at the door. In the street there was a girl waiting for the milk boy, who seemed to be carrying some cans. I have seen the boy before, delivering milk.”
    This is from Allison Wildman’s statement. Obviously it refers to the moment when Allan Close is waiting for Mrs Wallace to return to the front door with the empty can and their short conversation follows. The “girl waiting for the milk boy” can only be Elsie Wright. Yet Ms Wright standing only a few feet away from A Close, makes no mention in her statement of seeing Mrs Wallace, or of hearing the conversation! So setting aside the timing for the moment, we have only Allan Close’s word that he did see and converse briefly with Mrs Wallace. Wildman didn’t see her and Wright didn’t mention her. This is not to suggest that Close is lying but as so much has been made of his uncorroborated tale I thought this was worth a mention.

  3. GED says:

    Yes it is interesting Mike and it all only becomes micro scanned because a murder happened but imagine it never happened. Would Elsie Wright be staring into the Wallace’s hallway, was she even in line with the door, it just says she was ‘in the street’ – this could be to the left or right of the doorway and even out of earshot. If you don’t know you’re going to be questioned the next night or two would you be listening out for a conversation lasting a few seconds. She may even have been looking along the street or had her back to the door and thinking ‘bladdy hurry up will ya we’re waiting to get on with our round’ Who knows.

  4. Michael Fitton says:

    I agree that what are everyday events only get micro-scanned in retrospect after a big event. However Elsie Wright was clearly “waiting” for AC to finish his delivery at No 29. In a terraced street free from tall bushes which could hide her view she may not have caught the conversation but would surely have been keeping an eye on AC’s progress.
    Bear in mind that this was initially seen as a harmless joke by AC. It boosted his standing among the group “I’m the missing link” etc. He was reluctant to go to the police with it until persuaded by his pals, one of whom mentioned the possibility of a reward. Once he had told the police, his story set like concrete and he didn’t recant. And his performance on the stand at Wallace’s trial did not inspire confidence.

    At the end of Elsie’s statement she says that after reading the police version of AC’s story in the paper she didn’t question AC because “it was nothing to do with me.”
    She also adds “I have not been questioned by the police.” “Why not? I might add.

  5. Michael Fitton says:

    Hi JED,
    On reflection, you’re right that Wildman saying Elsie was “in the street” may mean she was a few doors down from No 29 and therefore didn’t see or hear Allan’s conversation with Mrs Wallace. This would explain her not mentioning it in her statement.
    Ah well. Another blind alley! Back to square one!

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