Sunday, April 29, 2007

Fred West at Barry Island

You probably don't need another excuse not to go swimming at Barry Island. The icy brown water and unidentified floating objects ought to be enough to deter anyone from donning their bathers. However there is a further reason to avoid going for a paddle at the resort: Fred West.

As a child in the 1950s Fred West was regularly taken on day-trips to Barry Island. When he grew up and became a serial killer he continued the family tradition by taking his wife Rose and their offspring to the Welsh beach. You can find photographs of Fred at Barry Island in any number of True Crime books detailing his murderous exploits.

But there is another lesser known connection between Fred West and Barry Island.

When West committed suicide at Winson Green prison in 1995 he left specific instructions concerning his burial. It was his desire to be interred at the family plot at St Bartholomew's, Much Marcle. This idea didn't go down too well with the good folk of his home village so it was decided instead that Fred should be cremated. On March 29, 1995, at Cranley Crematorium near Coventry, Fred West was incinerated.

What then to do with his ashes? After all, nobody wants the remains of a serial killer sitting on their mantelpiece. It was left to West's unfortunate children to determine their father's last resting place. As he'd always had a special affection for the area it was decided to scatter his ashes into the brown, murky depths off Barry Island.

Not sure what the Welsh tourist board made of all this. Anyway, if you fancy going for a dip this summer at Barry Island, do please remember to keep your mouth closed when doing the butterfly. Happy swimming.