Qualtrough Call Dialogue

Determined from the statements and testimony of the telephone exchange operators, as well as Gladys Harley and Samuel Beattie of the City Cafe.


Trial testimony:









Voice reported as ordinary and “decidedly not gruff” by operators, “ordinary” yet “deep and fast” by Gladys, and “gruffish, strong, and sure of himself” by Beattie. Noteably the second operator and Gladys were both on the line when Qualtrough began speaking to Gladys, the second operator waiting on the line to ensure the dialogue began successfully. The operator did not note any shift in voice at this point.

Square brackets used where the actual dialogue has not been given.

Qualtrough Call Dialogue:

EVENT: [~19:15 telephone operator Louisa Alfreds receives a call from Anfield 1627.]

Alfreds: [Answers the phone.]

Qualtrough: [Requests Bank 3581.] (The City Café)

EVENT: [Louisa Alfreds patches the call through. On trial including the committal, makes mention of a voice having picked up at the cafe.]

EVENT: [Soon after (~2 minutes according to Louisa Alfreds) Qualtrough is back on to the operators, speaking to Alfreds’ colleague Lillian Martha Kelly. Claims to have received this call at ~19:15 as does Alfreds.]

Qualtrough: Operator, I have pressed button ‘A’ and haven’t had my correspondent yet.

Kelly: What number did you ask for please?

Qualtrough: Bank 3581.

EVENT: [Kelly speaks to her colleague Alfreds next to her, and as a result of this conversation requests the caller press button B to regain his two pennies.] Kelly dialogue: “Press button ‘B’ and regain your two pennies.”

[Qualtrough presses button B.]

Kelly: “Do you think there ought to be a reply from this number?”

Qualtrough: “Yes. It’s a restaurant, there ought to be plenty of people there.”

EVENT: [Kelly attempts to get the number again but gets no reply. She then informs the supervisor who comes and puts the number through successfully.]

EVENT: [Telephone exchange supervisor Annie Robertson makes a written note of the time as 19:20 by the clock.]

Operator: Bank 3581?

Gladys: Yes.

[ A brief delay ]

Gladys: Do you require this number?

Kelly: Yes, Anfield calling you; hold the line.

[ Operator asked caller to insert pennies. ]

– 1 or 2 minutes have elapsed since Gladys picked up the phone according to her statement, when the caller first starts talking to her… –

Qualtrough: Is that the City Cafe.

Gladys: Yes.

EVENT: [Operator Kelly hangs up.]

Qualtrough: Is Mr. Wallace there?

Gladys: [Unknown Response.]

Qualtrough: [Reference to a connection with the chess club.]

Gladys: I’ll bring the captain Mr. Beattie.

Qualtrough: All right.

EVENT: [Gladys Harley goes to fetch Samuel Beattie who is playing a game of chess.]

Gladys to Beattie: Is Mr. Wallace here? There is somebody on the telephone asking for Mr. Wallace. Will you go and take the message for him? I don’t know what he is talking about.

EVENT: [Samuel Beattie goes to the telephone.]

Qualtrough: Is Mr. Wallace there?

Beattie: No.

Qualtrough: Can you give me his address.

Beattie: I am afraid I can not.

Qualtrough: Will you be sure to see him as it is a matter of importance to Mr. Wallace.

Beattie: I can’t say, he may or may not, but if he is coming he will be here shortly. I suggest you ring up later.

Qualtrough: Oh no, I can’t, I have my girl’s 21st birthday on and I want to do something for her in the way of his business. I want to see him particularly. Will you ask him to call on me at my place tomorrow evening at 7.30?

Beattie: I will if I see him, however he may not be here tonight. However there is a friend of his, perhaps you know him, Mr. Caird, who is fairly certain to be here tonight and I will try to get the message delivered through him. But I can’t promise that Mr. Wallace will get the message; but you better give me your address again so that I can pass it on.

Qualtrough: [Gives the name R. M. Qualtrough and address 25 Menlove Gardens East, Mossley Hill.]

Beattie: [Wrote down the details onto an envelope and spelt the name back to him, and repeated the details of the address back to him, which “Qualtrough” confirmed.]


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7 Responses to Qualtrough Call Dialogue

  1. GED says:

    So, by 9.20 when Annie Robertson jots down the time, Q has not yet even spoken to Gladys Harley as yet.

    Up to 2 minutes more elapse according to Gladys Harley before she first speaks to Q

    A short conversation ensues and then Harley needs to go over to Beattie, interrupt his game and Beattie walks over to the phone booth. Another minute or 2.

    A conversation of around 250 words then ensues between Q and Beattie consisting of a lengthy explanation of what the call is about and why he can’t call back etc and then giving a name and having it spelt back out to him which is easily another 3 or 4 minutes. At this rate, the earliest the phone is hung up is 7.27 and then W (if he is Q) has to walk uphill from the corner of Lower Breck Road/Breck Road junction past 7 side streets – 8 blocks of shops between these streets to Belmont Road where he waits for his tram.

    Bearing in mind, the earlier 7.20 time stamp is only so late because W (if he is Q) faffed about in the call box in the vicinity of his home, either in the hope of swindling tuppence (The button A or B fiasco) or it was a genuine fault – though the operators say it wasn’t because the caller didn’t press button A to get his correspondent like he says he did but pressed button B to get his money back.

    Also bear in mind that it has been reported in the Liverpool Echo which W reads, that subsidence in Dale street during the new Birkenhead tunnel excavations will undoubtedly put time on his travels due to diverted Trams and also bear in mind he is mindful of a time penalty by not reaching the chess club and starting his game by (7.30 according to the written rules/7.45 according to Beattie under oath)

    He is seen in the chess club around 7.50, at this point playing his game with a Mr. McCartney, having already established that his planned opponent Mr Chandler isn’t there, so in my estimation of knowing the tram route via Everton Road and Fitzclarence street he must have a tardis time machine.

    This is probably the reason that the prosecution offered no evidence against him having been able to manage those timings as he couldn’t possible have and as we know that the police time tested the trams on the murder night, it is inconceivable that they didn’t do so on the phone call night either. In other words, the police weren’t about to assist the defence in showing that the caller couldn’t have been Wallace.

    Everything about the case against W has to be minute perfect, from the Alan Close milk boy talking to Julia to W being seen on the first tram in Lodge Lane at 7.06 and of course, the aforementioned tram journey on the Monday night.

  2. GED says:

    Please provide the inaccuracies. Not sure it’s editable anyway? Don’t you reckon every book is misleading and inaccurate anyway and people do read them 🙂

  3. R M Qualtrough says:

    The tram travel time is 17 minutes (give or take a small margin), the walk to the club is 1½ minutes. From the tram stop, the travel up to entering the club is 18½ minutes.

    The walk from the call box to Belmont Road is around 6 minutes but could be done quicker by someone actually endeavouring to do the walk quickly (for example, walking 4mph is 4½ minutes around that).

    He says he arrived at 7.50, he didn’t say he was in the game at 7.50. Everyone else has said he did not arrive before 7.45. So it’s 7.45 to 7.50 for him to walk in, not to start the game.

    As you probably know, the prosecution asserts he boarded near the telephone box. People do read the rubbish books indeed, that is how the wrong information spreads.

  4. Michael Fitton says:

    I’m hoping someone can answer this question: Why does Annie Robertson record the time of the Qualtrough call? This was well before subscriber trunk dialling so many calls were put through manually by the operator. Was the time of all such manual connections recorded?
    I read somewhere that it was done to “balance the books” as the caller had been connected for free but this doesn’t apply to Qualtrough: initially he pressed button B and got his pennies back and finally when connected, he was told to insert his coins by the operator.
    I just can’t see what use the information “Connected at 7.20” could be put to.
    Thanks in advance for any light you can shed on this aspect.

  5. Michael Fitton says:

    When asked what time the Qualtrough call came through Gladys Harley said “Between 7.00 pm and 8 pm”. Asked the same question Mr Beattie said “Seven o’ clock or shortly after.” Both these witnesses are being asked to recall with precision the time of a mundane event whose importance was to emerge only later.

    The same problem arises regarding Wallace’s arrival at the chess club. By 7.45 pm most games would be underway with players’ attention focussed on the chess pieces in from of them. Even those facing the entrance or the clock on the wall (If there was one) would be pre-occupied with the game. Under these circumstances any statement about Wallace’s arrival time has to be suspect even when offered in good faith. Even Wallace’s statement that he arrived at 7.50 pm, if that was his honest recollection, has to be taken as approximate because he had no particular reason to recall the time accurately.
    In fact Wallace giving 7.50 pm can be taken as supporting his innocence. Having arrived unobserved and knowing the Qualtrough call was at ~ 7.20 pm one would think a guilty Wallace might have given an earlier time of arrival – one which effectively removed him from suspicion of having made the call. But of course he couldn’t be sure that’s arrival hadn’t been noticed.

  6. Solitaire says:

    The voice described by the telephone operators and Gladys Harley differs from that described by Beattie, so it would seem that the caller disguised his voice when talking to Beattie. The reason for doing so could only have been to avoid being recognized by Beattie. Now, if it was Gordon Parry who made that call, why would he need to disguise his voice? He didn’t know Beattie, or did he?

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