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Just been doing some research and found that the infamous Savilles Spinney ( scene of 4 murders in 1844) was at the end of Colwick Woods and now built on by houses - not a million miles away from my former home on Douglas Avenue! Been trying to find out some more about the Saville family and what they were doing there. Did find a website that mentioned the family was in the workhouse and were out and about on their way to make a visit that day.

Can anyone help with more info - most websites are concerned with the hanging and the further deaths it caused?

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Interesting, because your story gives a bit of background information on a photo in one of the Old Nottingham photo books.

I'd never heard the story about Saville's Spinney and the murders, but here are two photos (before and after) of Saville's Crossing in Carlton. I've left the captions in to save me repeating anything.

I vaguely know the place and the current bridge is still there, and still looks like this (at the bottom of Douglas Avenue)


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Thanks very much for those views - scenes I have never seen before and I never realized there was a crossing point at Douglas Ave, much less it was called Savilles Crossing! Yes the bridge is still there but much truncated - it only goes over the two old Midland Railway tracks now - it also used to go over three track of the Great Northern Railway too, one of which was a siding into Sands Steel Erectors.

Thanks to to Kath for sending an article about William Saville. I am trying to find out if Saville was on his way to visit family in Arnold on that fateful day in 1844 as I believe I have seen a reference to that effect somewhere......

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Thanks for the Memory.

Spent some summer Sunday afternons there in around 1970, with Girlfriend of the day.

Never knew it was called that?

Whenever I hear Joni Mitchells Big yellow taxi, I see the place in my mind.

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  • 7 months later...
  • 1 year later...

History of Colwick

Alan Cook 1970

In 1844 William Saville murdered his wife and three children in a spinney in Colwick Woods. This spinney was always known as “Saville Spinney” from that day. It was the one which lay at the rear of Sands, Steel Erectors Works on Vale Road, which has now been built on. The local legend states that a boy was playing truant from school and was getting eggs from a nest in the tree, underneath which Saville Committed his crimes, and it was a long time before he dare come down and break the news of the murders. After his conviction for the crime, the execution of William Saville, which took place on the steps of the Shire Hall, had rather disastrous effects. The official record of the event reads as follows: “When the bolt was removed and the body fell, the immense crowd of many thousands of men, woman and children began to move away, and in their hurry, there being no barricades, many were at the top of Garners Hill, and were thrown down, and the rush being uncontrollable, those who fell were trampled on, and at the foot of the steps lay in a great heap, piled one upon another, crashed and lamed or suffocated. Scores of people were taken to the General Hospital in carts and wagons, twelve people were killed and five died afterwards. Mr. A. J. Raven, later a Magistrates Clerk, who from the top of an adjoining building witnessed the calamity, said “It was an awful sight”.
(Murders committed 21st May, and hanging on 8th August).

Thousands of visitors went to Colwick after the murders and took grass, bark and brushwood as souvenirs.

More info...

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Further to Poohbears article (ref #8) on the Colwick murders .

This is a list from the Derby Mercury , 15.08.1844 of those killed and injured in the riot after the hanging above .

There are 12 people named here , which for anyone searching on google for family history purposes I have listed below as I haven't seen them listed anywhere else :

Mary Stevenson aged 33 of Daybrook mother of 2

Mary Percival aged 13 Convent St

Melicent Shaw aged 19 of Kimberley

Ellen Smithurst aged 19 Daybrook (sister of Mary Stevenson)

James Marshall aged 14 Isabella St

Mary Easthorpe aged 14 New Lenton

Thomas Easthorpe aged 9 New Lenton

Eliza Hannah Shuttleworth aged 12 Albert St

James Fisher aged 22 Bulwell

John Bednall aged 14 Old Radford (Hednall ?)

Hannah Smedley aged 16 Carlton

Thomas Watson aged 14 Bulwell



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Just look at the number of kids among that list.Unbelievable even in those days that kids gathered at a hanging...hard to imagine.

In another article I read that THOUSANDS of people visited the site where the Mother and three kids had their throats slashed...local authorities had to put a stop to them carrying away 'brushwood,grass,and leaves with bloodstains on for souvenirs'

What a bloodthirsty bunch.

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The blogger from Bambers link in #11 has just added another chapter today in his very detailed , in depth reporting of the Spinney murders .

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  • 4 weeks later...

remeber as a kid when we used to walk up the path by the railway lines used by us to get to bakersfield or the main part of colwick wood the older lads used to tell this story torieghten the younger ones never bothered me but i never knew the truth of this story then knew from my mum you had to be really careful when going over this crossing as there had been several people kiled at various times using it hence they eventually built the bridge.

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  • 1 month later...

Since the previous links , bakersfieldlad has published further instalments of the Saville trial for the Spinney murders on his blog . This is the latest describing the subsequent hanging and deaths in the crush amongst the huge crowd . Previous articles can be seen in the right hand menu.

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  • 6 months later...

Hi everybody, I started this thread in April 2011 when I realized that one of Nottingham's worst murders were commited almost at the bottom of my old street in Bakersfield. I have been researching the amazing background to this well known story that has become part of Nottingham folklore.The end result is a book I have written and recently uploaded to Amazon. Please click on the link below, you can see the cover and also look inside and read the intro, prologue and the first two and a half chapters free.

I would like to thank those who have responded by posting here, Rest assured those pictures of Saville's Crossing came in handy. Would also like to thank Kath James for sending info about the Saville family. Now then....... do you all recall the famous boy up the tree who witnessed the murders. Variously described as either playing truant from school or bird-egging or both? Well I can reveal here this is a total myth! There were no witnesses to the murders! The numbers killed following the execution have also been wrongly and inaccurately recorded. Painstaking research over many months and mostly in Nottingham Central Library has proved that the old stories are casualties of the truth. I discovered what really happened in 1844 and its all in my book.

I have been uploading draft copies of my book chapters to my blog and know people have been following links from this thread. I am about to remove them all as they do contain mistakes and inaccuracies. The book was totally reorganised with new chapters and some new information. I will leave them up for just one more week just in case anyone wishes to read them. The finished book is now ready for downloading at a cost of just £1.80

Thanks again,

Mike Sheridan aka Notts Lad oop North

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  • 5 years later...

I used to cross the Tin bridge (as we knew it)when a youngster,one night whilst with a friend,their was a woman standing at the bottom of the steps(Colwick side) she never moved ,stood like a statue facing towards the school fields ,as we had to pass her closely I remember feeling very uncomfortable.She was dressed in sixties type clothing ,short skirt ,high boots,she was strange and never acknowledged us being there at all.Has anyone else had this experience?My mothers cousin was killed up Colwick woods in a sledging accident.I never knew the tin bridge was Saville's crossing.

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