Our Century

The lady vanishes . . .

Missing: Violet CharlesworthThe great "Welsh Cliff mystery" involving the strange disappearance of former Wolverhampton socialite, Violet Charlesworth, captured the imagination of the whole country and set tongues wagging with speculation and wild guesses in January.

In the style of a taut Agatha Christie thriller, Miss Charlesworth, who also lived in Stafford, was reported to have "been hurled from a motor car"over the cliffs and into the sea near Penmaenmawr, in the early hours of the morning.

The newspapers had a field day as they reported how witnesses called to the scene found 24-year-old Miss Charlesworth's sister and a chauffeur in a dazed condition. A massive search of the area failed to reveal any trace of the woman's body and conclusions were drawn that the tragedy had never taken place. This was based partly on the "trivial" damage to the car and the injuries to the "survivors."

The story put forward by the chauffeur and the sister was viewed by many as "inacceptable to human credulity." The non-acceptance of the tragedy led to rumours and reports of the lady having been seen elsewhere in the country and it was even said a woman answering Miss Charlesworth's description, was spotted at Holyhead boarding a liner heading abroad.

She was born in Stafford and lived for some time in Wolverhampton. She also appeared to have resided in various parts of the country as a "lady of wealth" and to have speculated on a large scale on the Stock Exchange.

A report in the Wolverhampton based Midland Counties Express said: "Where she is now is a mystery."

The missing socialite was described by Wulfrunians as being smartly dressed with a pretty figure - and always had a large St Bernard dog as her "inseperable companion."

She would often be seen walking in the Tettenhall Road and Whitmore Reans areas of Wolverhampton and would stop and chat to tramway workers.

There was a suggestion of a romance and the missing woman was said to have been left a fortune by someone who had died.

Reports of her whereabouts flew about and she was said to have been seen in Worthing and even Ireland.

A man named Roberts came forward with information that he had been in the area of the alleged tragedy when he heard the sound of a car engine.

He saw "in the clear moonlight night" the car on the sea side of a wall on the brink of the cliff.

A few seconds later he heard the sound of smashing glass. He said he met the alleged victim's sister who told him there had been an accident and a lady has gone over the cliff. Roberts searched the are but found no body on the rocks nor in the water.

A woman in Derby reported that Violet Charlesworth had borrowed money from her on the strength of a will she was expecting to come to her. She loaned her 500 in all.

A well known London stockbroker was said to have been a creditor of Miss Charlesworth's to the tune of 10,000 which she lost on various deals.

The woman described as a "simple little country girl" was said at one time to be heading for Australia.

She also hired 300 worth of cars from a London car company and bought one car from them for 1,500.

A few weeks after the "tragedy" creditors gathered at Violet Charlesworth's then current home in St Asaph, Wales, in the vain hope of being paid.

The occasion was to have been her 25 birthday party - but she did not make an appearance. Her furniture was seized and sold in lieu of rent owed.

A friend of the missing woman told a national newspaper that Miss Charlesworth had written songs. One called "Come Back To Scotland," was sent to the King.

She also apparently presented a copy to the Scottish comedian, Sir Harry Lauder. Later the woman's creditors revealed she had run up bills of 13,000.

Man loses appeal against murder sentence: In March, a Wolverhampton man who shot his wife dead after claiming that she tried to cut his throat lost his appeal against a death sentence imposed at Stafford Assizes for murder.

The jury heard that before the tragedy Joseph Jones, of Merridale Street, attempted to buy a revolver from a pawn shop and was refused.

On the day of the murder Jones wife went into the house through the back door and shortly afterwards there was the sound of a gunshot.

A short while later the prisoner appeared at the door with his throat cut and bleeding.

He called neighbours into the house and they saw a razor and a pistol on a table downstairs. Upstairs, in a back room, the wife was lying dead, having been shot in the head.

The prosecution theory was that the prisoner shot his wife and then attempted to cut his own throat, either out of remorse, or to make a case to cover up what happened.

The defence had been that the wife tried to cut her husband's throat and then shot herself in the bedroom.

Gladys Welsh
D-Day came and went. VE-Day came and went. Then I heard the news of the bombing of Hiroshima.

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