Tag Archives: Peterborough

Cold case Castor

Damp area at Castor Hanglands NNR, England
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The village is turning into a location from Waking the Dead or Midsomer Murders – take your pick. 

Last week two men were arrested and subsequently bailed in relation to the murder of Peterborough girl Sally Ann McGrath. She was last seen at the Bull Hotel in Peterborough in 1981 before her body was found by a local gamekeeper in Wild Boar Spinney, part of Castor Hanglands – just up the road.

 The body had lain undiscovered for some time before it was found. It had been in a shallow grave and when it was found it had been partially uncovered and pulled around by foxes. That was back in 1981 and the case has remained unsolved. But the case has been re-opened because of new evidence possibly linking it to a series of other rapes and assaults that occurred in and around Peterborough from the mid to late 1970s. 

But this wasn’t the only murder to darken the mood of the villages that year. In November 1981 Bill McCullough, a well-known local businessman, was found murdered in his bed – shot in the head while he slept. 

This was the notorious ‘Kiss of Death’ murder. McCullough had met a former beauty queen and businesswoman Muriel while on holiday and after a whirlwind romance they married. 

Things soon turned sour though when she realised that he wasn’t as cash rich as he had promised her he was. She arranged his murder in a contract-style killing. She kissed him goodbye and left home on a business trip on the day the murder was carried out. 

It was soon discovered, however. Liverpudlian scallies asking for directions in The Wheatsheaf stood out a bit from the local crowd. And, as the beneficiary of McCullough’s life insurance, the finger of suspicion soon pointed at Muriel. 

Police enquiries led them to shooter James Collingwood. Both he and Muriel McCullough were arrested and subsequently sentenced to life prison sentences. 

But there have been other slayings tenuously linked to the village. The killer of a Peterborough cabbie, who directed the driver to a secluded country lane before stabbing him to death, was seen walking through the village shortly after his nefarious deed. 

Later, in December 2002, there was a gruesome discovery of a man’s body at Dead Man’s Hollow, Upton. He was wrapped in a green blanket and a cream-coloured bedspread, and was wearing a blue T-shirt, a dark jumper, trousers, socks but no shoes, and a jacket with brass buttons. The man had been shot in the head, stabbed and then set alight. 

After a year of forensic work he was identified as an Armenian gangster called Sako who had been wanted for murder in Russia and Belgium. Two Armenians, one of whom worked with Sako at a factory in Kings Lynn, were convicted of his murder almost three years later. 

1981 might have been a year inept contract killers, black widows and a fear of strangers, but it was also the year I was taking my ‘O’ Levels so it all kind of passed me by at the time.

HCA responds to residents’ concerns

Signpost in Castor, Cambridgeshire
Image via Wikipedia

Following earlier revelations on the Homes and Communities Agency‘s (HCA) intentions for the land it holds around the villages of Castor and Ailsworth in Cambridgeshire it has responded to a query from the Parish with a typically oblique reply:

At the present time, the HCA does not have detailed proposals for this site as the site is not allocated for
development in any existing adopted planning policy for Peterborough, nor is it included in any emergent planning policy currently being considered.  Should the site be required at some point in the future to provide for Peterborough’s growth, the HCA will look to plan the site in a comprehensive
manner, working with local partners.

There is still nothing to stop it selling off its holdings around the village envelope (between the village and the by-pass) to developers – like Clay Lane.  And, since the government’s decision to scrap regional spatial planning has been ruled unlawful, it seems that housing quotas are again back on the agenda.

The true extent of rural development plans revealed.

The Town Hall, Upper Bridge Street (1930 1933)...
Image via Wikipedia


More threats to Peterborough‘s rural communities. It would seem that the Homes and communities Agency (HCA), which owns a significant amount of land in this corner of the shire, is slowly revealing its intentions for the wholesale development of the area.   

This is its objection to plans for cemetery allocation in the villages (See post dated 3 September 2010).   

Site C003 is in the ownership of the Homes & Communities Agency (HCA) and forms part of a larger landholding belonging to the HCA at Castor & Ailsworth, having been in the ownership of the HCA’s predecessor bodies, English Partnerships, and the Commission for the New Towns. The HCA wishes to see this large landholding planned in a comprehensive manner to aid Peterborough’s ambitions for growth and considers that piecemeal development of the landholding for a cemetery at this stage would compromise the HCA’s aspirations for this site. The HCA therefore objects to the proposal to use C001 Land North of Peterborough Road and West of village of Ailsworth for Cemetery Provision without it being considered as part of a mixed use community at this site.   

Just in case you missed it, this is the signifcant bit: The HCA wishes to see this large landholding planned in a comprehensive manner to aid Peterborough’s ambitions for growth….   

We could be looking at development on the scale of Bretton or the Ortons. That was certainly the case in the 1970s before local opposition was able to fight off the developers. There will come a time when local opposition to development of this kind will have to re-crystalise or residents and other groups who don’t want this kind of rural development will be steam rollered by the HCA and the city council.   

To quote Heather O’Rourke in Poltergeist: ‘They’re here’.