Monday, August 18, 2008

The real Mr Christie

Dr Carole Reeves writes:

Although the name ‘John Christie’ can’t be too unusual, there happens to have been a porter of that name working in Craig-y-nos around the same time that the infamous murderer was at large. Christie the murderer’s association with Timothy Evans from Merthyr Tydfil adds a further intrigue to the story.

Roy Harry, who was in Craig-y-nos as a three-year-old in the early 1940s, has always been certain of a connection between the two Christie’s after seeing a photograph of the killer in a newspaper and ‘recognising’ him as the porter.

Last year I looked at some of the Christie files in the National Archives and came away fairly certain that he was never employed at Craig-y-nos. Christie’s jobs, addresses and war service records are very well documented. However, in the National Library of Wales, I discovered the Craig-y-nos porter’s staff file – a most unexpected and welcome find. It does confirm that John G Christie, employed by the Welsh National Memorial Association from 1913, couldn’t have been the man behind the murders at 10 Rillington Place.

John G Christie was appointed Head Porter at Glan Ely Hospital, near Cardiff on 30 April 1913, the very year that the other Mr Christie left school at 15 and started work as an assistant cinema operator near his home in Halifax. Our Mr Christie was transferred to Craig-y-nos on 7 August 1922, soon after the hospital opened. His employment record from 1913 to 1935 is continuously documented (confidentiality rules prevent access to documents after this date), and others recall him being at Craig-y-nos during the 1940s.

It’s interesting to speculate whether Christie the Porter was teased for sharing the same name as the gruesome killer or whether people simply kept quiet. From what we know of his character, our own Mr Christie wouldn’t have seen the funny side.

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