Died =>29 September 1895
Force => London & North Western Railway Police
Rank =>Detective Sergeant
Cause =>Homicide - Stabbed
Duty Status =>On Duty
The old LNWR goods yard at Wigan is located near Wigan North Western Station. A hundred and twenty five years ago the yard was a busy set of sidings used for holding the full range of goods in transit. Throughout 1895 wagons held in the yard were frequently raided and goods stolen. The LNWR Police mounted observations without success and it was decided in September 1895 that Detective Sergeant Robert Kidd would work with the Detective Constable based at Wigan, William Henry Osborne.
Kidd met Osborne in the subway at Wigan Station shortly before 8pm on Sunday 29th September. They made their way off the platform of the passenger station and up towards the sidings. Osborne lent Kidd a cap to wear in place of his own hat. Both men were experienced at this sort of work. Both would have known that the chances of catching thieves in the act were small. There appears to have been no intelligence that a theft would take place on that particular evening. As so happens, in cases of multiple thefts, a feeling had arisen that something had to be done. In the absence of any better strategy, it was hoped that surveillance of the area would detect the offenders.
As soon as the two officers entered the sidings Osborne asked for silence and as they reached the end of a wall which marked the limit of the sidings Osborne saw a man on his hands and knees. Osborne challenged the man saying, “What are you doing there?” At this the suspect (later identified as William Halliwell) called out, “Heigh up lads have you got it?” or “Have you got them?”.
Halliwell ran off chased by the two detectives. He was soon caught by Osborne and a struggle took place. This was the last Osborne was to see of Kidd until shortly before he died. It would seem that Kidd went off in pursuit of the other suspects. After a few minutes Osborne managed to get the better of Halliwell but was attacked by another man who kicked him. A third man appeared carrying something ‘which shone in the moonlight’. Fearing that he was about to be stabbed, Osborne drew his truncheon and struck the third man on the hand. The two attackers ran off, leaving Halliwell still on the ground. Osborne again attempted to arrest him but Halliwell kicked him, seized his truncheon and struck him on the head with it once or twice and then ran off. Osborne tried to give chase but collapsed with exhaustion. The suspects made off in the direction of the gasworks and canal. After a couple of minutes Osborne set off in search of Kidd, who he found on his hands and knees between the wagons and the wall. It was obvious that Kidd had been badly injured; blood could be seen on his face and when Osborne attempted to lift him he could hear blood dripping from Kidd’s many wounds. Kidd called out “Osborne is that you? Get me a drink of water”. Osborne then tried to carry Kidd to the signal box, which was not far away, but he could not manage the heavy burden. Somehow he managed to raise the alarm with the signalman before fainting. The signalman felt bound by the rules of the company not to leave his box, but he arranged for a locomotive to pick up the injured officers and take them to the passenger station. By this time Kidd was dead.
Osborne was taken by ambulance to hospital and a local doctor, Dr Graham, attended the station where he arrived at around ten to nine. He formally confirmed that Kidd was dead, arranged for the removal of the body and for the police to be called.
Roll of Honour Citation
Stabbed to death attempting to arrest a gang of railway thieves.