Hanging around...

Chilling tale: Martin Oldfield as Albert Pierrepoint
Chilling tale: Martin Oldfield as Albert Pierrepoint

The fascinating story of Lancashire pub landlord and England’s most famous hangman, Albert Pierrepoint, will be told in the Hanging Town.

Pierrepoint – The Hangman’s Tale is The Dukes first co-production of 2013 and will be presented in the round from January 31-February 23.

The Lancaster theatre is an appropriate venue for this unique perspective on capital punishment as between the late 18th and mid 19th centuries, the city’s crown court sentenced more people to hang than any other in England except the Old Bailey.

The play is set in 1957 as Pierrepoint resigns after more than 25 years as the country’s official executioner.

He tells the chilling truth about a career in which he executed more than 400 men and women including Ruth Ellis, Lord Haw Haw, Derek Bentley, Timothy Evans and 202 war criminals.

When not carrying out his deadly trade at prisons nationwide, Pierrepoint was serving customers at the pubs he ran at Much Hoole, near Preston, and in Oldham.

He later retired to Southport where he died in 1992, aged 87.

This strange double life is portrayed by Martin Oldfield in this play which The Dukes presents with Manchester-based Café Society.

The play was penned by former crime reporter Peter Harrison who observed a court case where one of Pierrepoint’s subsequent victims was sentenced to death.

Peter said: “I was interested in the motivation which sustained Albert for so many years through so many executions.

“As a publican in Lancashire, he was known for his genial personality.

“Albert’s other job was never mentioned though.

“If there came a night when he was not serving in the bar, customers would know where he probably was, but they would never
inquire.

“Who, I asked myself as the writer, was this man?”

Tickets priced £5 to £16.50 can be booked at The Dukes box office on 01524 598500 or www.dukes-lancaster.org.