Beneath a Heap of Stones

When sixteen-year-old Lucy Sands disappeared on the Thursday evening of 1st December, 1881 there was no furore. She had been with sixteen-year-old Jane Shannon fifteen-year-old Margaret Cranney on a visit to Maynard Harrison, son of a manager at the West Cumberland Ironworks at Northside, Workington. Seventeen-year-old Harrison had taken the three girls on a tour of the ironworks and then into his parents garden for some fifteen minutes.

About eight forty five p.m. Lucy left them, saying she had to meet a local boy, Billy Wilson. Presently Cranney drifted off, leaving Shannon alone with Harrison with whom she was having a relationship. Then she too departed, reappeared around nine thirty p.m. and joined up again with Cranney, leaving her boy Friend headed in the direction of his own house.

Later, a local woman, Hannah Gibson, was to claim that she had seen Lucy standing alone around nine p.m. on the fatal evening, in the vicinity of Harrison's house. As matters evolved, there was in fact to be a lot of uncertainty about precise times and deeds and utterances. But what was certain thereafter was that Lucy Sands was never seen alive again after being sighted by Mrs. Gibson, except by the person or persons who murdered her.

Meanwhile however, no one thought to report her missing. Lucy had lived with her grandmother, Sarah Stewart, a church cleaner, in Christian Street, Workington. The latter remained oddly silent though at the onset, may simply have been relieved to be done with her granddaughter. She had taken the orphaned girl and her younger brother in to live with her some years previously. Lucy had proved flighty and increasingly uncontrollable. Mrs. Stewart was to say that she had thought her granddaughter had gone elsewhere to work, the girl having already been in service in Liverpool, and that she had found a husband. By that time she was grief-stricken and probably regretted not having gone to the authorities in the first instance. But it was then too late. As it was, any possible clues had became virtually obsolete when the girl's body was finally discovered early the following March.


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