Nick Gilmartin's Weblog

And he used to be such a nice, quiet boy

Murder in Old Snydale

with 9 comments

A True Story
Well guys and girls, cos it is just after the witching season I thought I would share with you the true story of the Cross Keys murder. This is a tale passed on from my grandmother to my father, and now I pass it on to you.
In 1954 a bus driver was making his usual route from Normanton to Featherstone through a small hamlet called Old Snydale. It was a dark miserable night when somebody standing in the middle of the road caught his headlights. It was a young man in strange period dress covered in dirt and blood, clearly bleeding from the neck and mouth. His eyes were full of horror. The driver slammed on his breaks, almost making his bus jackknife, and shut his eyes, waiting for the crunch of metal on bone. It didn’t come. He got out and checked the front of the bus. Nothing. He took a deep breath and checked under it. Still nothing, and nobody was around, save for a dog howling in the distance.
The year was 1805 and two men were walking from a labouring job in Aberford to another in Wakefield. One was William Longthorne, a young man who lived clean and worked hard. His travelling companion was one William Mosey, a man of darker character who had laboured with Longthorne on the previous job. Now they had agreed to travel on to the next job together. In those days nobody had bank accounts so they had no option but to carry their wages about their person while they drifted from job to job.
Their route took them through the hamlet of Snydale on their way to Castleford. Longthorne’s large purse jangled temptingly on his belt, and it never left Mosey’s sight. He would bide his time and then strike. As night fell their route took them through a small wood, hidden from the sight of the people of Snydale. Mosey let Longthorne lead the way and pulled out his razor. This is the weapon of choice he had been sharpening all the previous day in preperation for the act he was about to carry out. He took two deep breaths, steeled himself, and struck.
The first Longthorne knew was a dirty hand cupping his mouth. The a cut on his neck, then a deep gouge on his windpipe. His mouth and throat filled with hot sticky liquid he knew could only be his own blood. He panicked and kicked out, trying to fight for his life. Mosey’s foot hooked behind his knee making the victim fall backwards. In a second Mosey was on his, his eyes demonic, his face distorted with murderous rage. He slashed again and again with the razor and Longthorne’s neck till the young man lie still.
He grabbed Longthorne’s purse, and cut the cord with his bloody razor. He dragged Longthorne into a small stream and left him to drown. Then he vanished into the night.
Did the story end there? No, for Longthorne slowly regained a most painful conciousness. It is said that the cold water of the stream lowered his blood pressure and slowed the bleeding. Inch by inch, slowly and painfully he dragged himself out of the stream. In the distance he saw a glimmer of light coming from a house.
The house was Alsop’s public house and here it’s name enters murderous infamy. Longthorne dragged himself to the back door where a dog came to investigate the smell of sweat and blood, and started barking the alarm.
Guests of Alsop put aside their drinking vessels and dice and went to see what the fuss was about. The sight that met them haunted them to their deaths. Two men lifted Longthorne onto the kitchen table while one went to the house of the local doctor .
Longthorne could not talk, merely gurgle blood, so a chalk and slate was found for him to write. He managed only one word. Mosey. Seconds later he stiffened, his breathing increased, making horrible gurgling and sucking noises, before he breathed his last.
The constable of Normanton arrived on horseback within the hour and organised every man and dog he could find into a search party. But night had fallen and the trail had gone cold. The next day the search resumed at dawn and the early frost showed a set of footprints leading away from the murder site. A glimmer of sun reflected off something metal in the deep grass. It was a bloody razor. Nearby they found an empty purse and finally a set of crossed keys.
Mosey had vanished, he was not seen from that day to this. Rumour has it he hid far to the south of Yorkshire, to escape the hand of justice.
Longthorne was buried the morning after the murder in Normanton graveyard. His weathered tombstone I have seen with my own eyes, the only bit still clearly legible says ‘murdered most foul’.
The bus driver was not the last person to see the ghost of William Longthorne. Alsop’s house, now know as the Cross Keys of Old Snydale, has had it’s share of thumps, bumps and noises in the night. Cries of pain have been heard in the woods near the murder sight and on the anniversary of the murder the people of old snydale have a wake in the ghosts honour.
Anyway sleep well.
Warmest regards



Written by Nick Gilmartin

April 24, 2008 at 12:40 pm

9 Responses

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  1. Holy shit.


    February 8, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    • Send me your blog link please?

      Nick Gilmartin

      February 10, 2009 at 4:06 pm

      • We saw him too. It was many years ago back in the day wen we were children. We woke after our after noon snooze to find our grandmother was not in the house, so we got dressed and went out to find her. She was nowhere to be seen in the garden so we thought shed probably gone and nipped out to post a letter. We decided to put on our coats and walk down to the village post box in Old Snydale which was just a little down the road. It was now tea time and dark as it was late november and we knew we would get into trouble if grandma knew we had left the house and tried to find her but we thought she couldnt have gone too far. Anyway as we got closer to the postbox we saw a figure heading towards but it was a bit foggy and couldnt really see. We thought nothing of this, until the figure got closer. W ecould just about see the mans head he smile at us sweetly, then turned to where the post box was in the wall and walked straight through it. We ran home screaming and got to the house and saw our granmother through the window in the front room knitting by the fire we creeped around the back and sneaked in through the kitchen at the back door. As we dare not tell our grandmother we had been out of the house we could never tell her what we had seen.


        December 8, 2010 at 2:01 pm

  2. hi nick

    just read your interesting story,,,must admit it sent a shiver down my spine.i have been doing my family tree and found my 4xgreat aunt was a publican of the cross keys inn old snydale in 1881 census

    but the spooky thing was her name was sarah allsop also spelt alsop. how weird is that.

    best regards Donna


    March 4, 2010 at 11:11 pm

  3. My name is Piter Jankovich. oOnly want to tell, that your blog is really cool
    And want to ask you: is this blog your hobby?
    P.S. Sorry for my bad english


    March 29, 2010 at 2:35 pm

  4. Brilliant! Would love to feature it on Marvellous Mable.

    CJ xx

    Crystal Jigsaw

    January 7, 2011 at 10:36 am

  5. I am 71 yrs of age and originally an inhabitant of featherstone,I went to Normanton Grammar School 1952-56 and spent a great deal of time around this pub,my friend lived at the sewage works down cooklands lane and I was around visiting on adaily basis just about,later on we used to drink there quite frequently until 1960 when I went to work in Leeds.This is the first time I have heard of a murder or a ghost,Idid see a headstone with murder most foul on but it was a woman strangled in Normanton can’t understand not hearing even a whisper consideringmy age group always on the lookout for the strange and weird

    Jak Styrbjarn

    August 6, 2011 at 9:55 am

  6. Do you know of any sightings of a ghost in the Area behind the pub I walk the area a lot and have been told of some recent sightings.

    Chris Grant Mills

    April 21, 2013 at 12:04 pm

  7. Thomas alsop was my 4x greatgrandfather he also was the publican of the dog inn in snydale

    angela winterburn

    May 10, 2014 at 3:09 pm

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