Search

Family finally find grave of hero Pc from Dalston

PUBLISHED: 13:23 03 April 2013 | UPDATED: 14:30 03 April 2013

Geoffrey Cole, centre, with his wife Jill and son Tim, finally pay respect to Geoffrey's grand-uncle George Cole, after years looking for his grave.

Geoffrey Cole, centre, with his wife Jill and son Tim, finally pay respect to Geoffrey's grand-uncle George Cole, after years looking for his grave.

Archant

An eight-year search for a gravestone of a relative – whose death is rumoured to have inspired a clue in a Sherlock Holmes novel – came to an end, thanks to an article in the Gazette.

Sherlock Holmes link

The murder of Pc George Cole, 28, on December 1, 1882 is said to have inspired a clue in A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle which was set in the early 1880s.

A chisel belonging to Thomas Henry Orrock, who shot Pc Cole, was found near the constable’s body. The tool had the letters, R-O-C-K on it. The chisel had been commissioned by Thomas Orrock at a local factory.

Two years later, closer examination showed there had been an O and R before those letters, and they spelled out the name of the murderer – Orrock.

Orrock was tried on this – along with some early ballistic evidence – at the Old Bailey, found guilty and sentenced to death in September 1884. He was hanged in Newgate Prison the following month.

Conan Doyle’s novel employs a similar device with mystery surrounding the word Rache written in blood on a wall.

Geoffrey Cole, 57, from Bristol, had spent years trying to find the gravestone of his great grand-uncle, policeman George Cole. He was shot dead by a thief trying to break into a chapel – now known as Shiloh Pentecostal Church – in Ashwin Street, Dalston in 1882.

Mr Cole visited Abney Park Cemetery in Stoke Newington Church Street twice with his son in 2004 and spent hours fruitlessly searching.

Last December, the engineer’s search came to an end after a colleague unearthed an article published in the Gazette about a memorial service for Pc Cole to commemorate the 130th anniversary of his death in the line of duty.

Mr Cole wrote an email to the Gazette, saying: “I simply cannot believe this article.

“I would simply have loved to have been there last month at this police ceremony to represent my brave ancestor and the Cole family – it would have been such an honour for me, particularly as my father Kenneth Francis Cole was also a senior police officer for more than 30 years.”

The grave was discovered by Keith Foster, a volunteer researcher at the Police Roll of Honour Trust, a charity which keeps alive the memory of officers killed in the line of duty. He unearthed it after a four-month search and restored the grave in time for the service.

Last Friday Mr Foster showed Mr Cole the grave, where he laid a wreath with his wife and son.

Mr Cole said: “It was very emotional and rewarding to find the actual location after searching for all that time .

“We said one or two prayers and a hymn that was sung at his funeral. I’m really grateful for Keith’s efforts to find it and help us afterwards.”


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Hackney Gazette. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Hackney Gazette