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The Hangmans Tale: Memoirs Of A Public Executioner

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Over a quarter of a century has passed since the last person was hanged in Britain. Following the abolition of capital punishment in 1965 the secrets of the execution chamber were consigned to history, but due to changes in the secrecy laws a hangman is now able to tell the story of the work of public executioners and of the last moments of those who dropped to their death Over a quarter of a century has passed since the last person was hanged in Britain. Following the abolition of capital punishment in 1965 the secrets of the execution chamber were consigned to history, but due to changes in the secrecy laws a hangman is now able to tell the story of the work of public executioners and of the last moments of those who dropped to their deaths on the gallows. Syd Dernley's hidden life began on 29th March 1949, when he watched James Farrell hang at Birmingham's Winson Green Prison, and during the next four years he assisted in over 20 hangings. He was present at the execution of Timothy John Evans, the only man ever granted a posthumous free pardon. He recalls the differing behaviour of the condemned men - the frightened and the brave, and he reveals the nightmare that haunts every executioner - the hanging where things went wrong.


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Over a quarter of a century has passed since the last person was hanged in Britain. Following the abolition of capital punishment in 1965 the secrets of the execution chamber were consigned to history, but due to changes in the secrecy laws a hangman is now able to tell the story of the work of public executioners and of the last moments of those who dropped to their death Over a quarter of a century has passed since the last person was hanged in Britain. Following the abolition of capital punishment in 1965 the secrets of the execution chamber were consigned to history, but due to changes in the secrecy laws a hangman is now able to tell the story of the work of public executioners and of the last moments of those who dropped to their deaths on the gallows. Syd Dernley's hidden life began on 29th March 1949, when he watched James Farrell hang at Birmingham's Winson Green Prison, and during the next four years he assisted in over 20 hangings. He was present at the execution of Timothy John Evans, the only man ever granted a posthumous free pardon. He recalls the differing behaviour of the condemned men - the frightened and the brave, and he reveals the nightmare that haunts every executioner - the hanging where things went wrong.

30 review for The Hangmans Tale: Memoirs Of A Public Executioner

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    Having found this in a Wigtown bookstore I couldn't help but buy it, who could with a title like that nevermind the subject matter. Dernley writes with an open and honest ease, with the feel of a grandfather telling tales to his family of the good ol' days, although these good ol' days involves ropes, death and criminals. Beginning with how he managed to get the job of hangman, he tells his story with an objective yet passionate tone, intent on showing that his job was a serious and professional Having found this in a Wigtown bookstore I couldn't help but buy it, who could with a title like that nevermind the subject matter. Dernley writes with an open and honest ease, with the feel of a grandfather telling tales to his family of the good ol' days, although these good ol' days involves ropes, death and criminals. Beginning with how he managed to get the job of hangman, he tells his story with an objective yet passionate tone, intent on showing that his job was a serious and professional one and not one designed to judge or prolong matters unnecessarily. For each of the hanging examples he tells of the crimes and trial(s) of the condemned but passes no judgement of his own, with one understandable exception, and runs through the events prior to, during and after each execution. This is an intriguing and enlightening book but not one for the faint of heart, or for those expecting lots of gory details as Dernley maintains the professionalism and decorum that was an integral part of his training and role as hangman.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay Paterson

    Fascinating read

  3. 4 out of 5

    Doug Luberts

    The life story of a 20th-Century Hangman. A fascinating, and not just a bit surreal, journey.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Julie

  5. 5 out of 5

    Carly

  6. 4 out of 5

    Shaun McAlister

  7. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

  8. 5 out of 5

    Brian Turner

  9. 5 out of 5

    Luke

  10. 4 out of 5

    Paul

  11. 5 out of 5

    Chester Shepherd

  12. 4 out of 5

    david a mcloughlin

  13. 4 out of 5

    Caroline Turner

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jason Burchfield

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Mclaren

  16. 4 out of 5

    Conan Dugmore

  17. 4 out of 5

    Josh Adley

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jen

  19. 5 out of 5

    Linda

  20. 4 out of 5

    Marie Lei

  21. 4 out of 5

    Diana

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tony

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ollie

  24. 5 out of 5

    Samantha Amelia

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

  26. 4 out of 5

    Elaine McLean

  27. 4 out of 5

    Xan

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ken Willey

  29. 5 out of 5

    Andy Smith

  30. 5 out of 5

    Steve

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