"Tha’s died a brick................"
On the 25 July 1856 the last public hanging in Leicestershire took place, a local man William Brown was hanged outside the Welford Road Prison.
Nicknamed ‘Peppermint Billy’ after his father’s occupation as a mint maker, Billy had just returned from a ten-year sentence in Tasmania for horse theft.
After his Return he went to Thorpe Arnold, the tollgate in Melton Mowbray, shot and stabbed Edward Woodcock, 70, the gatekeeper, and cut the throat of the old man’s 10-year-old grandson James.
A tobacco stopper and a pistol of the type used by Australian bushrangers were all found at the scene, along with bloodstained items of Billy’s clothing. Despite protesting his innocence, Billy was found guilty.
Billy met his fate in front of a crowd of 25,000 spectators and a squad of 150 police.
William Calcraft, who was paid £10 to come from London to do the job, hanged him.
As the trap opened, Billy’s father, who was watching from one of the best seats in the nearby Turk’s Head across the road from the scaffold, was heard to say
"Well done, Billy. Tha’s died a brick."
The Toll House, where the murder took place, was pulled down in 1875 at the expiration of the Turnpike Trust.