Monday, February 04, 2008
Mr Christie - porter and barber
Roy Harry offers another story from his time at Craig-y-nos:
"Another name I remember is Mr Christie. He used to cut our hair.
He would always put a chair near where today there is a fireplace.
Then he would call us across if we could get out of bed one at a time and we'd have our hair cut. He tugged at my hair and it was hurting and I was crying.
Mr Christie took a pocket type watch from a bag, which he carried his, few bits of hair cutting equipment in. It wasn’t his everyday watch but probably an old one, which he used to distract
children when they were nervous or crying in my case.
When he had completed my short back and sides I walked back to my bed and he called the next boy over. I continued to hold the watch.
Before long Mr Christie left the ward. I was surprised he had not rembered to ask for the watch back. As a timepiece the watch was pretty useless it kept stopping after about 10 minutes or so.
But I discovered after much trying that if I shook it to start and placed it face down on a flat surface it would tick away for several hours. Goodness knows what I would have to do now to get it going after 60 years. It now lives in a wooden box on the Welsh dresser.
Mr Christie, serial killer of 10 Rillington Place
Len Ley the local historian, noticed I had mentioned Mr Christie in my memories that I was writing down for him. He asked what happened after I had left hospital. Was there anything else to the Christie story and I said that when I left and started school I saw the picture of Mr Christie in the newspaper and I ran to my mother and said that's Mr Christie and she didn't know whom I was talking about. I said that's the man who cut our hair. But of course this was a picture of Mr Christie the murderer and I said it is him, honestly. My mother told me not to be silly and started reading the article. This man lives in London and he might have killed some people so he can't be your Mr Christie so I was really frustrated. I knew that it was the man. When we read the article it was obviously about a Mr Christie and it
was the face I recognised. She told me not to tell anyone that story – they would think it was stupid.
I just accepted that but I've always been convinced that it was Mr Christie.
Return to Craig-y-nos
A long time afterwards when I did go back to Craig-y-Nos I met through asking questions one member of staff that used to be there when I was – a nurse Glenys Davies.
I had been to Cardiff library for the copy of the Echo newspaper, which carried the story of Christie and managed to find the front page with the picture I had recognized all those years ago.
I decided to show Glenys. I reminded her of my question about the man who cut our hair in the hospital and said I think his name was Mr Christie. Yes that quite right of course it was she said.
I passed the picture over and asked if that was he.
Glenys studied it for a while and said: “ This looks like the murderer!” and I said : “Yes it is.”
“Well, I don’t think this is our Mr Christie!” and she seemed shocked at the suggestion.
"Our Mr Christie wasn’t a local man", she said "he was English."
Then Len asked if his accent was Cockney, a Londoner. Glenys replied no not Cockney from further north, yes more north of England.
But she added:” I must admit it does look a bit like Mr Christie.”
I have to admit I felt a little disappointed but we went on to other subjects.
On my way home from that meeting I was going through the conversation in my head and thought well at least Glenys did admit it looked a bit like Mr Christie but he wasn’t from London.
Then I suddenly realised that Christie the murderer wasn’t from London but Halifax! (spooky or what)."
Outreach historian Dr Carole Reeves says her research in the National Archives shows no evidence that Christie the serial killer of 10 Rillington Place, London ever visited Wales let alone worked there.
So, who was the Mr Christie who worked at Craig-y-nos in the mid 1940’s?