AUTHOR Julie Ann Godson’s new book takes a quirky look at Oxfordshire history by focusing on dramatic events on different days of the year.

On This Day in Oxfordshire is published by Alley Cat Books, and is out now.

Ms Godson, who lives near Witney, has been an author for a number of years and her previous titles include historical fiction.

In 2014 she wrote The Water Gypsy, which tells the story of Betty Ridge, whose granddaughter became Duchess of Marlborough and chatelaine of Blenheim Palace.

Ms Godson said: “My new book has a historical event for every day of the year.

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“It’s a mixture of all sorts: the first episode of Inspector Morse, the first Mini off the production line, Oxford United winning the Milk Cup, plus plenty of murder and mayhem.”


One of the dramatic days Ms Godson recounts is December 5, 1927.

In the early hours, two armed and masked thieves, Frederick Browne and William Kennedy, held up Eynsham station on the Oxford, Witney and Fairford Railway.

Browne had previously lived in Eynsham and was on the run from the police after having shot dead a policeman in Essex in September. Kennedy was also wanted, as Browne’s accomplice.

On the night of the policeman’s murder, the two men had just stolen a a Morris Cowley from Billericay, intending to alter and sell it.

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Village bobby George William ‘Bill’ Gutteridge, 36, had served with the Machine Gun Corps in the First World War. Following his police officer’s instincts, he stopped the men as they drove along a country road near Stapleford Abbot in Essex in the early hours of the morning.

While he took their particulars, one of the men shot him in the head at point blank range.

“Then, in a nod to the old belief that the eyes retained the image last seen, the gunman got out of the car and shot Gutteridge through the eyes, even though he was already dead.

Ms Godson tells readers that Browne and Kennedy were well aware that their capture meant certain execution.


She writes: “Their desperate wanderings brought them along the rail-line from South Leigh to Eynsham.

“While they were inside the station a porter, Frederick Castle, arrived by motorcycle; discovering the intruders, he challenged them.

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“They held Castle at gunpoint and tied him to a chair in the stationmaster’s office. Castle had no key to the safe so Browne and Kennedy tried unsuccessfully to detach it from the floor. They moved Castle from the stationmaster’s office to the building housing the ground frame, then escaped with several parcels and the stationmaster’s typewriter.”

Concluding the dramatic story, Ms Godson tells readers: “Both were arrested in the following January and, after trial at the Old Bailey, were hanged in May 1928 for the murder of PC Gutteridge. The Western Region of British Railways closed Eynsham station to passenger traffic on 18 June 1962 and to goods on April 26, 1965.”

On This Day In Oxfordshire is published by Alley Cat Books, price £15.99.