Murder of Peter Rampson, 1938
When a small bundle was found on the tracks, it sparked the
start of an investigation in to the suspicious death of
a young child.
A sad discovery
On a September morning in 1938, as the 4.45am parcels train ran
between Putney and Barnes stations, the driver of the
train noticed what looked like a white bundle lying in the
cess between the lines.
Although not due to stop at Barnes Bridge station, he did so and
reported the matter to the staff on duty. They telephoned the staff
at Barnes station and the station foreman walked along the track to
the point indicated. He found that the white bundle was the body of
a male child clothed in just a white vest, and it was obvious that
death had taken place some hours previously.
Both sides of the railway track were bounded by long gardens of a
select residential area, the track consisting of four sets of
rails, with at least six yards from the fences of the gardens to
the nearside rail either side. The foreman left the body lying
where he found it and immediately informed Railway and Metropolitan
“V” Division Police.
The investigation begins
Police officers, together with the divisional surgeon removed
the body to the local mortuary, the spot where the body was found
being appropriately marked. Kingston District railways police
headquarters instructed detective Sergeant Reding and Detective
Smith to place themselves at the disposal of the Metropolitan CID
to give whatever assistance they could, as Putney and Barnes formed
part of their district.
Staff at local railway stations were given details of the finding
of the body. They were asked to search for any child’s clothing
that might have been discarded, and also to search ladies waiting
rooms at the stations concerned. The railway officers, quite
pertinently perhaps, enquired how long before the finding of the
body death had ensued, and they were told at least eight
The question was then asked if there were any burn marks on the
body, and upon being informed that the right buttock and arm were
slightly burned enquiries were made as to when the electric current
had been switched off. It was established that the current was
switched off at about 1.45am.
As a result, it was possible to narrow the time down, and it was
established that if the child had been thrown from a train – and it
transpired that such was the case – only three trains could have
The last train on the up local line was the 10.33pm from Barnes
Bridge station and, upon questioning the staff there it was
elicited that a woman, of whom only a very poor description could
be given, was carrying a child wrapped in a blanket and had booked
a ticket to Vauxhall.
A productive appeal
Despite constant enquiry an impasse was reached until on
Saturday 17 September, it was decided that authority be obtained to
put out a broadcast on the nine o’clock news that night, giving as
much detail as possible.
The broadcast had the desired effect.
The following evening, a man and woman who kept a boarding house in
Vauxhall Bridge Road, called at Rochester Road police station. The
said a young woman had been staying there, and one day in the
week had been seen with a baby, but without him the following day.
When asked where he was she said she had placed him with foster
parents. She had left the address and was believed to be in the
Immediate enquiries were instituted in the Caterham area, with the
result that Eastwood was located and taken to Putney police
station. Her first statement was to the effect that the child –
Peter Rampson, aged eight months – was the illegitimate offspring
of her husband and a prostitute. The husband was a serving soldier
in the Coldstream Guards and had failed to support it. The
prostitute had taken the boy to Eastwood stating that if she did
not take it in she would go to her husband’s commanding officer.
Eastwood took the child but, she was without unemployed and could
not care for it. The statement then went on that in desperation she
went for a walk and left the child in a doorway in Edgware
She later made a further statement which was tantamount to a
full confession. In it she said that she went for a walk, taking
the child with her. At Hyde Park Corner she joined a bus and
alighted at Barnes Bridge, booking a ticket to Vauxhall. When on
the train, she held the child out of the window with the intention
of dropping him, but her courage failed her. This she did three
times, and on the last occasion the train lurched and the child
fell from her arms.
She was charged with murder and committed for trial at the Central
The jury returned a verdict of guilty and sentence of death was
passed. Later this was commuted to penal servitude for life.
The railway police officers concerned saw the case to finality and
were commended for their work by the Commissioner of Police for the