How the Victorian press covered the story


The Journey to Strangeways

22nd March to 4th May 1887

During the whole time the case was being heard in Darwen Police Court, a crowd of people remained outside, anxious to know how the case was proceeding, and by the time it was finished, half past five, the crowd began to increase, and much excitement prevailed when it was known that the magistrates had not reduced the charge to manslaughter but had committed him on the capital charge of wilful murder.

The Northern Daily Telegraph achieved a scoop that night, published in Thursday’s edition: "About midnight our Darwen representative had an opportunity of conversing for a few minutes with the prisoner. Garner was walking about the room and a couple of constables were present. Our representative, seating himself on the edge of the table which occupies the centre of the room, invited Garner to take a seat on the form near the fire, and Garner willingly complied. After conversing on various trivial matters, Garner referred to his position, "I have been told," he said, "that the Grand Jury at Manchester will assuredly "cut" the bill of "wilful murder." I can only wish the statement of those who told me may be true. When I think of my children, poor darlings, being left alone, the thought almost drives me mad. To lose my wife, to be separated from children and to be charged with such an awful crime is too horrific and I feel that I shall never live through it. Should I be acquitted at Manchester, as would be just, I shall return to Darwen and endeavour to live down the tales and evil rumours that have been circulated about me over the past few weeks." At this point our reporter was informed that Garner had desired to see no one from the outside except his own relatives."

This press report also mentioned that during his stay at the police station Garner had refused to take exercise in the yard as he was afraid of being observed.

Sough Station The crowds outside increased as the night advanced, expecting that the accused man would be removed to Manchester. They were again disappointed, for he was kept at the police station until about half-past three on Tuesday morning. He was then quietly taken on foot, through the deserted streets of Darwen, by Inspector Noblett and P.C. McGregor to Spring Vale, where they breakfasted at P.C. Caddy's residence until 6.30 a.m. From there Inspector Noblett, and P.C. Caddy took him to Spring Vale station, where they caught the 6.56 a.m. train for Manchester.

Picking oakumIt was reported that the prisoner spoke little on the train and on arrival at Manchester they at once proceeded to Strangeways Gaol. Garner seemed much depressed but thanked the officers for the secret and considerate manner in which they had effected his removal and also for their kindness during the whole of the time he had been in their custody. He then seemed to break down completely and, as he glanced at the sombre pile of prison buildings, shook like a leaf, while the tears ran down his cheeks. He spoke again of the children, wondering what they would be doing. He was delivered to the governor of the prison, underwent the usual process of admission and was taken to the cells.