This incredible photo of Ethel was taken in the late 1920’s shortly before she took her own life at Nast Hyde upon the old Hatfield to St. Albans Branch line Railway on Wednesday, 22nd May, 1929 after the 4.30pm Steam Train had passed by the pedestrian crossing at ‘Deadmans Crossing’ on route to Nast Hyde Halt and Hatfield Station…her age… just 18 years old.

This lovely photo of Ethel was sent into H.Q. accompanied with a beautiful photo of Ethels Father ‘William’ with great thanks to family members Joan Perry and Hazel Mascoll.
Ethels sister Margaret ( seen standing in the family photo ) was Joan’s Mum and after a delightful phone call with Joan tonight…Joan told me how her family have been so overwhelmed by the love and support shown to them and Ethel over the last few days as I broke the story to everyone.

Their family have been searching for Ethels final resting place for some time but because Ethel had taken her own life it was considered to be a sin and also against the law of which an unmarked grave was the best you could hope for…usually away from other graves and around the very edge out of sight.
Yet my enquiries with St. Marks Church in Colney Heath showed on an official map that Ethel was never hidden away and was in fact placed amongst other graves…yet the absence of a headstone still appeared to stand up to the rules at the time.
The Funeral was attended by five mourners along with a large number of sympathising neighbours and friends.
Included in the wreaths was one inscribed ”With deepest sympathy, from the employees of the St. Albans Hosiery Mills”. This is where Ethel worked.
The service was taken on Monday 27th May 1929 by the Rev. A. Merchant. The internment was in the graveyard extension, plot number 38.
Perhaps she was allowed to join the others because not just one life was lost that afternoon…but two!

The family confirmed to me that Ethel had fallen pregnant by a married man from the same road who’s name will be kept private.
This obviously caused great upset and stress to Ethel and her family…especially given how others viewed sex before marriage and sex with someone else who was already married during this period of time.
Their generation were incredibly proud and strict Church going people who would try and hide these sort of mishaps.
Ethel clearly wanted to spare them all from this.
It’s understood that a note was found addressed to her Mother and Dad…inside Ethels blue bag saying: ‘Please forgive me for what I’m about to do….Eth”.

So Ethels new Headstone installed this week is placed with an incredible amount of LOVE, HEARTACHE AND RESPECT from everyone who has learnt about her and her family over the last few days.
Her family and myself hope that Ethels life wasn’t in vein and the wonderful amount of love and support shown to her may offer hope to others who feel lost, cold and alone in similar circumstances…please, NEVER GIVE UP!

My personal thanks to Ethels family for being so brave in allowing this heart breaking story to be told and rest assured in knowing that Ethel and her beautiful baby will sleep far better now than ever before…knowing that they are surrounded by the LOVE & WARMTH from everyone in today’s generation.

Gone now…but never forgotten.

Station Master.
Nast Hyde Halt.





“I hope you are going to forgive me for what I am going to do."  ​​​​ That was the opening phrase of a letter which was​​ found in the bag of Ethel Violet Mason, an eighteen–year-old girl who committed suicide on the London and North-Eastern Railway between Nast ​​ Hyde ​​ and Smallford. The girl, who was described as cheerful, was the youngest daughter of Mr and Mrs William Mason, of 3, ​​ The Almonry, Lady Wootton's Green, Canterburv, and had been residing with her brother-in-law and sister, Mr and Mrs P. H. King, at 17, Springfield-road, Smallford, since Christmas, ​​ and ​​ had been employed at the Hosiery Mills, Hatfield-road, St.​​ Albans.


At the inquest, which was held at the Town Hall. St. Albans, on Saturday, the Coroner (Mr Thomas Ottaway) said he did not think the letter which the girl had ad­dressed to her parents should be made pub-lie as it was an unkind letter which con­tained certain statements which might not be true. The communication was handed to the Jury and to the brother-in-law, who stated, in reply to the Coroner's questions, that what the girl had said about his home life at his house was untrue. She had been rebuked by his wife for going downstairs, after the family had retired to bed, to talk to a man who was not known to Mr and Mrs Kent.


The brother-in-law said he regarded the rebuke as reasonable and justified. The Jury returned a verdict of “Suicide while of unsound mind.”


Evidence of identification was given by the girl's father, Mr William Mason, who said she was eighteen years old and had resided with his daughter and son in-law, at Smallford, and. during that time, she had been employed at the Hosiery Mills, St, Albans. Deceased had been away from home since Christmas. She was not a nervous girl, but she was excitable at times. She had not threatened to take her life previously, so far as he knew, and he had never had any trouble with her. She was obedient​​ in every way.




Asked if he knew deceased's writing and on being handed a letter, witness, breaking into tears, said the writing on the envelope was that of his daughter.


The Coroner said the letter, which was in the* same​​ handwriting as that on the envelope, was addressed to “My darling Mother and Dad." and was signed "Eth." It began: "Just a few lines. I hope you are going to forgive me for what I am going to do." Then it made, certain statements which he (the Coroner) did​​ not think ought to be made public. “I do not think lit is a kind letter," he added, " and there may be no truth in it.* The letter was passed to the jury for their perusal.


The Coroner handed three photographs to deceased's father, who said one was of the girl's mother, but he had not seen the other​​ two​​ before.


Percy Harold Kent, tailor's stockkeeper 17, Springfield-road, Smallford, said that deceased had been living with them since just after Christmas. Deceased seemed quite happy and had never​​ threatened her life. On May 21st. she went to bed but before witness and his wife, who retired about 11 p.m. About 11.15 p.m., witness heard deceased go downstairs and the front door open, and deceased spoke to a man. His wife went down and rebuked deceased. He did not know who the man was.


The Coroner: Was the rebuke just and reason­able? - Witness: I think it was, quite.

Did she take it to heart much? - I don't think she did much. She seemed upset at the time about it. She did not seem to think there was​​ much harm in It. Did your wife tell her unless she behaved her­self she would have to go home? - Yes. What did ​​ she reply - She said, " All right, I will.”


Shown the letter which had been identified by deceased’s father, witness mas told to read it and,​​ when he had done so the Coroner asked “You see what she says about her home life with you." Is that true?" - Witness: No. - Is there no justification for it at all? – Witness: None at all. A Juror: Were there frequent quarrels at your house between your wife and this girl? - Witness; I don't remember my wife and sister quarrelling at all. The Coroner: No quarrels between her and anybody else? - Witness: Not to my knowledge.




Leonard Richardson, horseman,​​ 4,​​ Greenfoot Cot­tages, Roe​​ Green, Hatfield, said on Thursday he was working in a field adjoining the railway be­tween Nast Hyde and Smallford. About 3.30 p.m. he raw deceased sitting just inside the gate at a point where a footpath crossed the line. She appeared to be writing, and he last noticed her just after​​ 4​​ p.m. A train going to Hatfield passed about​​ 4.30 p.m.


The Coroner: Was there anything suspicious about her conduct at the time? - Witness: No. She just sat there writing or reading.


Witness added that he left the field about 5.30 p.m., and. in consequence of what was said to him by a railway employee, he went to the crossing and saw the body, which he recognised as that of the young woman he had seen previously.


Ronald Berry, a L. & N. E. Railway porter, of​​ 2,​​ Bloomfield Cottages, Newtown, Hatfield. said he was travelling on the 5.5 p.m. train from Hatfield to St. Albans. Between Nast Hvde and Smallford, he saw the body of the girl lying on the ballast close to the footpath.


Charles Sidney Cox, L.​​ &​​ N. E. Railway​​ ticket collector, 5, Railway Cottages. Hatfield, who was acting as guard on the train from St. Albans to Hatfield, said he did not notice anything on the line as he passed the spot in question.


George Myddleton Rickards. Locomotive Superin­tendent, L.​​ &​​ N. E. Railway, Hatfield, gave evidence of finding a small spot of blood on the leading guard iron in the front of the engine, about two inches from the bottom. He found the imprint of some material, probably serge, in the ducts of the guard​​ iron.

P.c. Martin (Colney Heath), who went to the crossing later, said he found the body tying on the North-West side of the line, about four feet from the track and about nine yards on the Nast Hyde aide of the crossing. There was a black hat near her feet, a white handkerchief two yards from the body, and a blue leather handbag on the edge of the grass and ballast near the gate of the crossing on the North-West side of the line. He examined the ballast and the line, and he could not find any blood or marks except where her head lay. He removed the body to the St. Albans City Mortuary. He examined the handbag, and in it he found the letter and photographs which had been produced.


The Coroner: Were the injuries such as you would expect if she had been knocked down by an engine? - Witness: Yes, 1 think so.


In hl» address to the Jury, the Coroner said it seemed that the only difference between deceased and her sister was on the Tuesday night, when deceased was talking on the doorstep to a man. He thought the​​ Jury would think that deceased wag properly rebuked for that conduct. With regard to the letter written by deceased and addressed to her parents, he thought, because of the evidence given that day, it was one which should not be made public. There were certain reflections in it which did not seem to be kind, and no good could be done or useful purpose served by making them known. On the back of a photograph of her mother and herself wan, “Dear, forgive me; I love you." On the back of another photograph, a postcard, wan, " Tell the boys to think of me sometimes." The Coroner added that the post-mortem examination showed nothing of the kind of thing which might be suspected in a ease of that sort.


The Jury, after a brief consultation in private, returned a verdict of “Suicide during temporary insanity and the Foreman added that the Jurors desired him to express their deep sympathy with the parents and relatives of deceased.




The funeral took place on Monday, at St Mark's Church, Colney Heath, the​​ Vicar (the Rev. A. Marchant) officiating, and the inter­ment was in the Churchyard Extension In addition to the five mourners, a number of sympathising neighbours and friends attended. Included in .the ​​ wreaths was one inscribed “With deepest sympathy, from the employees of St. Albans Hosiery Mills.”


From the Herts Advertiser & St Albans Times, 31-May-1929.


FAITH, HOPE AND LOVE…but the greatest of these is LOVE ❤

St. Marks

The unmarked grave

Mike Izzard at work

Finally the Headstone

In Memory of Ethel Violet Mason and her father William Mason