JOHN GEORGE HAIGH
HAIGH’ s first job on leaving school was with a Yorkshire ﬁrm of motor engineers, Appleyard’s, Wakefield, then he was employed by Wakefield Council as a clerk in the Education Department, the monotony of this period irked him.
This was a very unexciting part of his life, and he longed for some-thing better. He was impatient. He already had a feeling of power, and he wished to exercise it. There is little doubt, also, that he was incredibly vain, boastful and untruthful.
Twenty-one and his own boss, that was more to his liking. Now he was really ready to go ahead.
His early attitude to the value of money was conditioned by the economy practised by his parents, who encouraged him to be thrifty. Thus it was when he first began to earn his own living that he nursed his pocket money almost with a sense of miserliness.
But this feeling did not last long. Soon he discovered that he had a champagne taste, and he conceived many schemes to acquire money on a large scale.
The year 1934 was fatal for him. First he decided he must leave home. He felt hemmed in, restricted,
trapped by the four walls of a God-fearing home. How could he face those saintly parents with dishonest plans in his mind ?
How to get out ? That was the immediate problem, and he found it by what he thought was the easy way.
In the greatest secrecy he married.
They were together three months only, for in the Autumn of that year the police wanted to know about
certain non-existent motor cars and people who did not know that their names appeared on hire purchase forms.They arrested John George Haigh.
In November, 1934, he stood in the dock at Leeds Assizes, and was sentenced to 15 months’ imprisonment. Six other cases were taken into account. Thus at 25 he began his first experience of prison.
Haigh wrote this short letter to his parent's from prison: “I am most deeply sorry for the terrible grief I have caused you. How I despise myself for the reproach and shame which I have brought upon the honour of the household”. I remain your loving son.
Haigh’s parents never really recovered from the disgrace of the first prison sentence. Their high hopes were shattered, and they were left to face the Brethren numbed by this terrible blow at their pride. And yet
they stood by him, forgave him, and tried to understand.
Haigh was released from prison in December 1935, he was set up with a dry-cleaning business,with branches in Leeds, Bradford and Sheffield. He proclaimed that "Dry-cleaning is dry-cleaning all the world over, but persuading the public that you can do it better than the rest, or that they will get something better, is quite different. it is an art. No other dry-cleaner, I suggest, has opened a shop, and turned over 2,000 garments a week from the opening”.
His partner was killed in a motor accident in Ashdown Forest, and his wife did not wish to continue with any of his ventures. The result was voluntary liquidation.
At this time Haigh was still chiefly concerned about making money, making it quickly and easily. He found London much to his taste, and he enjoyed the luxury it offered.
In London. He saw the advertisement in a newspaper for an amusement arcade manager, he telegraphed a reply and got the situation. The owner of the arcade was a Mr. McSwan, and Haigh worked for him for about a year. Later they were to meet again in more dramatic circumstances.
In 1937 John George Haigh was back in prison convicted of forgery. he was released from Dartmoor in 1940 and was behind bars again in 1941
It was whilst at Lincoln prison, according to another inmate, he was spending his spare hours experimenting with acid. Haigh for a consideration arranged that these men should keep him supplied with ﬁeld mice, dead or alive, he would watch unmoved for an hour the reaction of the acid on the dead and decomposing mice.
When Haigh emerged from prison once more it was late 1943. He had taken no part in the war, except for
a short period as an A.R.P. warden.
He returned once more to his parents in Outwood. They were overjoyed, and thanked God for his return. There was nothing within their power they would not have done for his comfort, but he was not inclined to remain at home.
He returned to London in the hope of getting back into the dry-cleaning business, but this plan did not
mature. Instead he got in touch with a light engineering ﬁrm at Crawley, Sussex, and started there as
secretary of the company.
But again it was not long before he was in business on his own account. He dealt in sheet metal, and engineering contracts. He was not called for military service.
After a while he took the basement ﬂat at No. 79 Gloucester Road, South West London.
It was here that murder became his business.
(To be continued)
From the Paperback “The Authentic & Revealing Story of John George Haigh by S Sommerfeld.