Thursday 19th March 1921. Leamington Spa. On this chilly spring day, those who read the newspapers could follow the ongoing unrest in Ireland while, even further away, the conflict between the ‘Red’ and ‘White’ armies in Russia was generating even more bloodshed. Much closer to home, in King Street, neighbours of Mr and Mrs Pugh at No. 50, were to have their own share of gunfire and bloodshed.
Constance Pugh (née Jones, a woman from Bishops Itchington) had married Frederick Pugh in 1910. The 1911 census has them living in Moss Street, a little cul-de-sac off Althorpe Sreet. There is little there today that they would have known except the railway arches on its south side. According to newspaper reports that Pugh (who in the 1911 census had given his age as 31. and his place of birth as Cardiff) had ‘done his bit’ in The Great War, serving as a sergeant with the Leicestershire Regiment, but had been invalided out with injuries caused by a a gas attack. In 1921, they were living in King Street, at No. 50. They had two young children, and Pugh had recently started a car mechanics business.
The Beds & Herts Tuesday Telegraph of 15th March 1921 tells us that Frederick Pugh was the son of Mr and Mrs William Pugh of Luton. They had a large family scattered across the Luton area, but Frederick had left “about fifteen years ago.” He had left his first wife “who was a Perry” and two children and moved to Leamington, but volunteered for the army in 1914. His first wife died in Bute Hospital, Luton, below, of “a serious illness” in 1915. The Pughs had two children. In 1921 the boy was working at a cinema in Luton, while the girl was living with an aunt in London.
Back in Leamington, it is clear that Pugh’s marriage to Constance was in poor shape. They argued and fought so noisily that neighbours were often minded to intervene, if only to bring about a few moments of peace and quiet. King Street, back in the day was rather different from what it is today. Here is a ‘then and now’ video showing how it has changed. The ‘then’ image (courtesy of Our Warwickshire) comes from before The Great War but, apart from the clothes of the people in the picture, little would have changed by 1921.
Despite – or perhaps because of – having his own business to run, Frederick Pugh could go for a daytime drink whenever he felt like it. That Thursday he had been to The Warwick Arms in Regent Street before lunch, and then moved on to The Greyhound in Lansdowne Street. From there he went to the Ex-Servicemen’s Club in Beachamp Square, where he had another couple of pints. His final port of call was The Fox and Vivian, after which he walked the few hundred yards home to King Street. His two young children were apparently playing in the street outside the house. He arrived home just after 2.00pm. This evidence was later given by Mr Thomas, a provision dealer, who lived next to the Pughs at No. 52. The report is from the Leamington Courier.
IN PART TWO:
A TERRIBLE DISCOVERY
& THE GRIM REAPER HAS THE LAST WORD