Next, a largely unknown, but horrific story from Summer 1915, which made National headline news. The scene is Hamilton Road, on the outskirts of Blantyre between Spittal (Bardykes Collieries 1 and 2) and Flemington (Dechmont Collieries 1 and 2).
In the early hours of Friday 16th July 1915, blood curdling yells rang out in the remote street as a man in bare feet, without a jacket was seen running up the street towards Blantyre.
It was Patrick Mullen, quite demented and unapproachable as neighbours quickly rallied to the house he had just left. What a sight met their gaze. On the kitchen bed was Mrs Mullen with a fearful gash in her head. She was quite dead and blood had stained the white bedclothes a deep red, the walls up to the ceiling , bespattered. Beyond the woman, was a horrific realisation. A bloody axe lay upon the kitchen flagstone floor. The doctor was summoned, a formality only.
A sad group of the household’s young children knew exactly what had happened. Despite neighbours attempts to keep them from the scene, they had been there when this happened and hoped their mother still lived. As the doctor read his verdict, the youngest wailed, “mammie, mammie, speak to me! Wake up!” A kindly neighbour drew the child close to her, averting her eyes from the grisly scene.
Just an hour later, there was hardly a soul in Halfway, Flemington, Spittal or Blantyre that didn’t know a ghastly crime had been committed. “It canna be true. No man would do such a thing” was the general thought, yet the facts were true. There it was.
The crimescene was a house on a row, chiefly used by miners and steelworkers. Entrance to this house was via back stair and it was neighbours below who were awoken by the ungodly screams so early that morning.
This was the house of Patrick Mullen (50), his wife some years younger and 4 children. Charles (18), William (13), Mary (11) and Maggie (8). It was thought they were a happy family, but in recent times the father had been in ill health and unemployed as a result. The situation had grown, mental health affected to the point of a full breakdown.
A neighbour told reporters, “They are a respectable family and I always looked upon the husband and wife as being very attracted to each other. I had heard the man however, was often up in the middle of the night due to sleeplessness”. It was said that Mullen’s enforced idleness was “cracking him up.”
Started as a Peaceful day
There were no signs of anything unusual. The family rarely went out and the parents generally had a deep love for their children, it always seemed. On that evening, 2 children went to sleep near their mother in the kitchen, the other 2 elder ones in the adjacent room. Then at 4 o clock in the morning, Mrs Ramsay, the neighbour heard the screams.
When she went out to check, she stood at the bottom of the Mullen’s stair and saw one of their boys crying. Just as quickly, the father, Mullen ran down the stairs, barged by here and ran off to the road in his bare feet, screaming.
Afraid, Mrs Ramsay plucked up the courage to go up the stairs and into the Mullens house, the boy taking her by the hand. The sight she saw was horrible. She couldn’t bear to look at it and fetched others. Mrs Young, another neighbour was already on the scene also hearing the screams. She had seen Patrick Mullen too, acting oddly and running.
A grissly sight
The group of 4 neighbours went into the house together to see the sight that froze their blood cold. Mrs Mullen’s head was battered. (I have decided not to go into the detail the reporters used). When they went in, one of the sons was holding up his mother’s head to try to stop the blood loss, but to no avail. It was clear to all the neighbouring party that she was dead.
The children all stood nearby wailing uncontrollably as the full extent fell upon them. It was immediately thought by the neighbours that Mullen had lost his mind and dished out the most fierce blow by an axe. Indeed, later account suggest the whole family may have been slaughtered had it not been for the eldest boy removing the axe and throwing it across the room away from Mullen!
Before Mullen fled, the eldest son had tried to defend himself with a chair and the lad confirmed his father was in a frame of mind that all the children were at risk.
Police quickly caught up with Mullen and he was medically examined. He was asked to speak in Court, but declined, remaining silent, the court unsure if he even knew what he had done.
Bridget Mullen was 42 years when she died. Her death certificate states “Fracture of the skull, lacerated brain”
Patrick Mullen was committed to a special mental ward in prison.
Featuring Blantyre Project Social Media with permission. Strictly not for use by others on or offline, our visitors said:
Mary MullenWas there any connection to our side of the Mullen family xxx
William MullenMary Mullen dunno mary think Kelly’s going to look it up xx
Mary MullenOk got a lady from Canada asking me if we are related to the people involved I told I don’t know but if I find anything would pass it onto her XXXX hope you are all well xxxx