Hangman Harry Allen

This photo shows Mr Allen standing beneath the sign for Hangman Path in Combe Martin, Devon
Daily Mirror
On duty: Mr Allen, above, was put on the list of executioners after he was turned down by the Prison Service
Daily Mirror
Relaxed: Harry Allen, centre, in Cyprus, where he was commissioned to execute anti-British militants
Daily Mirror
harry inspecting the rope
Daily Mirror

Harry Allen

Hangman Harry Allen carried out 29 executions and assisted in 53 others – among them five Nazi Prisoners of War and notorious murderer James Hanratty.

He was also commissioned to execute members of EOKA – a Greek Cypriot guerrilla organisation that fought against British rule – and carried out the last hangings in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Born in Denaby Main, South Yorkshire, Harry was put on the Home Office list of executioners after he was turned down for a job in the Prison Service in the 1930s.

He witnessed his first execution in 1940 at the age of 29. He was later employed as an assistant executioner to Tom Pierrepoint, the uncle of long-serving executioner Albert Pierrepoint.

He got his first job as an assistant at Strangeways prison in February 1941, under Tom Pierrpoint, for the hanging of Clifford Holmes, having been second assistant (i.e. – an observer) at the hanging of William Cooper at Bedford prison in November 1940.

On 28 January 1953 Harry assisted at the controversial execution of Derek Bentley, who later received a posthumous pardon for the murder committed by a friend and accomplice. 

He was appointed a chief executioner alongside Albert Pierrepoint in 1955 and took on the main role after his superior resigned the following year. Allen retired in 1977 and went to live with his wife in Fleetwood, Lancashire, where he worked as a cashier for the Fleetwood Pier Company.

Harry always wore a black bow tie at executions and two of these were sold in November 2008 along with other items, including his diary for £17,200.

Like Albert, Harry was also a publican, keeping a pub called ‘the rope and Anchor’ in Farnworth, on the outskirts of Bolton. He later took over the Junction Hotel at Whitefield in Manchester.

Allen assisted at 53 executions (40 with Albert Pierrpoint) and carried out 29 executions as the principal (21 in England and Wales).

Thanks to The Daily Mirror

Thanks to David Rowland

I have just read your piece on Harry Allen and there is an error. The pub he had in Farnworth was called the Rawsons Arms (knick named “The Stump”). I know this to be true because I am his Grandaughter and that is where my Mother lived when she was a little girl before moving to the Junction Inn in Whitefield (which is now an EastzEast Indian restaurant)

Kind regards

Gemma Hall


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