The entrance to Chevet
Terrace and Woodyard Cottages on Oakenshaw Lane.
© John S. Sargent, July 2000
Woodyard Cottages, from the direction of Oakenshaw Lane. Walton Colliery Nature Park is straight ahead. There is no public parking at this spot, but there is parking near the old canal route at Oakenshaw Viaduct and at Nine Arches on the Shay Lane side of the park.
© John S. Sargent, May 2000
Woodyard Cottages and Chevet Terrace are located by the site of the former Walton mine (originally Sharlston West Colliery). For more information about the old pit click here.
The Murky Past
One of Walton's dark deeds happened at Chevet Terrace back in the first half of the twentieth century. Winifred Mary Hallaghan of Chevet Terrace was arrested in 1949 charged with with the manslaughter of her great aunt, Emma Eliza Sheard. When the Second World War started, Winifred invited her widowed great aunt to stay with her and her husband at Chevet Terrace. It seems that Winifred thought that the old lady might be nervous on her own. However, things did not go smoothly and Mrs Sheard, it seems, was not an easy woman to live with. In 1941 there was a quarrel between Winifred's husband, Don, and Mrs. Sheard over an electric light bulb. The quarrel ended with Don Hallaghan telling the awkward aunt that she had to go.
Mrs Sheard did not go at this point, for there followed a further exchange of bad-tempered words, this time with Winifred. Mrs Sheard said that Don should be the one to go as he had been having a bit on the side with the woman next door. Although Winifred did not believe her great aunt, she was sufficiently angered to strike her. The old woman fell backwards, hitting her head on a sewing machine. Winifred left her great aunt lying on the floor. Later, when she returned, she found her still lying there, at which point, she dragged her great aunt to bed. It seemed likely that Mrs Sheard was already dead. On her way to tell her husband about the incident, it seems that Winifred noticed children playing around a capped pit shaft not far from her home. And so it was that Mrs Sheard up at the bottom of the shaft, toppled there by her great niece Winifred.
Later, Winifred sold a cottage that her great aunt owned in Neville Street, Belle Vue - by forging her signature - all the while Mrs Sheard's remains lay at the bottom of the shaft. It seems that she did tell her husband and her brother about the incident in 1946, but they kept 'mum', so to speak. It was in 1948, that the corpse was discovered by a colliery electrician. At Leeds in 1949, Winifred was sentenced to five years in prison for forgery and three years for manslaughter.
Read more about this and other dark deeds in Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths in Wakefield by Kate Taylor, Wharncliffe Books, ISBN 1-903425-07-7.