Today we are traveling just over 30 miles to the city of Lancaster, to hear a tale so iniquitous you’ll be glad we took the trip. We are staying inside the county and within this prose you will discover a tenuous link to Blackpool.
After studying at the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh, Buktyar Rustomji Ratanji Hakim (aka Dr. Buck Ruxton- sometimes spelled Ruston) relocated to England. He was working as a well respected and popular GP in Lancaster, Lancashire by the 1930s. He lived at 2 Dalton Square with his ‘wife’ Isabella Kerr (common law) and their three children. Ruxton’s esteemed reputation was largely down to the fact he often waived his treatment fees if he believed his patients couldn’t afford to pay him.
In addition to the family there was also a live in maid cum housekeeper Mary Jane Rogerson who mainly cared for the children; Elisabeth, Diane & William.
Despite his excellent standing in the community Ruxton was also a wife beater, assaulting Isabella on many occasions, resulting in them both being questioned by the police as Ruxton became convinced his wife was an adutress.
Late on the evening of 14th September 1935 Isabella returned home from a trip to Blackpool illuminations. By the 15th she had disappeared.
A grisly discovery was made on the 29th September 1935 beneath a bridge in Moffat, Dumfriesshire. Susan Haines Johnson encountered four bundles wrapped in clothing which contained slices of flesh, severed limbs, bones, and two heads wrapped in copies of the Daily Herald (dated 6 August 1935). Two forearms were encased in newspaper dated from the 6th August of that year.
A further search revealed more body parts.
Autopsies revealed the bodies of two women, one aged 35/45 the other 18/25. The older woman had sustained five stab wounds in the chest area, she had numerous bruises and several broken bones. Her hyoid bone fracture indicated she had been strangled.
The second woman sustained severe blunt trauma, suggesting she had been bludgeoned to death. Both bodies had their organs removed and had been drained of blood before dismemberment ( a task that would have taken hours)
The unfortunate women were later identified as Isabella Kerr and Mary Rogerson.
Ruxton was charged with both of the murders, it is thought he killed his wife in a fit of rage which was witnessed by the maid so she had to be disposed of too.
He dismembered their corpses in the family bathroom before dumping them across the border.
Following his arrest on the 12th October Dr Ruxton was charged with the maid’s murder, but it wasn’t until 5th November 1935 he was also charged with his wife’s.
He pleaded not guilty at his hearing, claiming the bodies had been miss identified.
He was sentenced to death but appealed against this decision, his appeal was dismissed and Ruxton was hanged at HM Prison Manchester on 12th May 1936.
The gruesome nature of Ruxton’s crime captured the imagination of the public, who avidly followed the story in the newspapers. The bath in which Ruxton had dismembered the bodies was used as a horse trough at Lancashire Constabulary Headquarters, Hutton, Preston.
Ruxton’s house, in Lancaster’s Dalton Square, stood derelict for many decades, the City Council completely refurbished it in the 1980s, making it part of the adjoining Palatine Hall offices. The Grade II Listed Building, opposite Lancaster Town Hall is now home to the city’s Architecture Department.
During the trial the pubic reveled in the ghastly details and in the morbid music hall style of the day, the popular song written by Jimmy Kennedy and made prevalent at the time by Bing Crosby “Red Sails in the Sunset” was modified with these gory new lyrics:
Red stains on the carpet,
Red stains on the knife
Oh, Dr Buck Ruxton, you cut up your wife.
The nursemaid she saw you, and threatened to tell,
So Dr Buck Ruxton, you killed her as well.