From Misunderstanding to Murder

In the summer of 1950, twenty year old Fred Hardisty, of Devonshire Road Blackpool, was enjoying a break from his studies at Manchester University. The son of a coal merchant and former attendee at a most prestigious private school was enjoying a rather charmed life; having enough funds to to enjoy foreign holidays and to be university educated away from home.

Fred Hardisty

The provincial and perhaps naive young chap was visiting London as he returned home from a trip to Europe, where he had holidayed in both France & Switzerland, when he missed his last train home.

Fylde Rugby Team

Left to wander the the West End, Hardisty found himself strolling through the the bohemian district. Upon entering a café in Soho (which unbeknownst to Hardisty was a favorite with the local underground gay community) Fred got chatting to 32 year old Socrates Charalambous Petrides, a Greek Cypriot wine waiter. Socrates was well known for cruising the area and picking up men in local cafés and bars, but the sophomoric Fred was not to know this.

Unaware of the situation he was putting himself in Fred gladly accepted Socrates offer of a bed for the night.

The pair walked back to number 57 Grays Inn Road WC1 and entered the first floor flat chatting amiably, Hardisty still blissfully oblivious as to the circumstances he was about to encounter.

As Petrides shared his lodgings with another waiter (Nicholas Tsanakas) the pair went to Petrides room to settle down for the night.

After locking the door behind them Petrides quickly made his intentions obvious, all of which came as a dreadful surprise to the credulous student. Hardisty lashed out at the waiter, defending himself furiously against Petrides’ advances. The altercation soon escalated into a full scale assault. With Hardisty ( being a competent sportsman) quickly gaining the upper hand the Cypriot cried out to his flatmate for help, but with the door between them locked there was nothing Nick could do.

Purportedly to defend himself, Petrides snatched up an ornamental sword and after further affray plunged it into his adversary. The piercing cut instantly killing him.

When officers from Scotland Yard arrived at the flat in the early morning of August 10th they found a scene of decimation. The room was in total disarray, with widespread blood-spatters, smashed glass and broken china everywhere. Slumped in the corner of the room was the lifeless body of Fred Hardisty.

Headline

Socrates Petrides went on trial for Fred Hardisty’s murder at the Old Bailey. Despite evidence of further wounds on Fred’s body – including slashes to his arms and legs and a classic defense wound to his palm, Petrides was found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter and received a sentence of five year’s imprisonment. Upon his release in 1955 he hastily relocated to Australia.

Hundreds of mourners including over forty of Fred’s old school friends from the illustrious Arnold School were in attendance at his funeral which was conducted at St Thomas’ Church.

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The Hardisty family grave, Layton Cemetery, Blackpool

Fred was laid to rest in his family plot, at Layton Cemetery, Blackpool.

Deborah Contessa

Published by Deborah Contessa

Dilettante Historian, Graveyard Detective, Folklore Geek & Paranormal Enthusiast.

4 thoughts on “From Misunderstanding to Murder

  1. An unfortunate series of events, going to a gay club (when such things were illegal) unaware of it’s type.
    They Greek chap assuming offering Fred ‘a bed for the night’ was code for more and Fred thinking it was just somewhere to sleep.
    Then the tragic misunderstanding from both parties.
    Thanks for another dark slice.

    Liked by 1 person

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