So much was happening in the news this time 90 years ago across south Essex. Crowds were flocking to the Kursaal in their thousands to see a man literally starving himself to death, a mum collapsed and died while having lunch with her five-year-old-son in Southend, there was a tragic bull-goring in Paglesham and a much respected police officer was murdered.

Fortunately there were some more light hearted stories making the headlines in the Southend Standard too during September and October of 1927, including a photo spread of ‘Floss’ the dog from Langdon Hills who was capturing everyone’s attention with her animal antics, which included riding on a motorbike and even on top of a horse.

In other news Southend Library was celebrating a huge extension which saw locals rushing to use the venue’s new reading room. Southenders were also flocking to catch a glimpse of two RAF Flying Boats. The seaplanes swooped onto the estuary and landed near the pier as part of a state visit to Southend.


The spectacle at the Kursaal in Southend (long before the antics of magician David Blaine) also turned out to be a major tourist attraction. It involved a man named Ricardo Sacoo who was voluntarily living in a sealed- up ‘hunger chamber’ inside the attraction where visitors could pay to see him 24 hours a day, seven days a week as he attempted to survive for fifty days on nothing more than soda water and cigarettes.

Over the course of the 50 days more than 60,000 people visited him in his transparent chamber, watching in awe as he was increasingly confined to his bed as the toll of losing half a pound in weight every day, became evident. When he finished his 50 day stunt, in a very frail state Sacco took his first “meal” consisting of an egg beaten up with milk and a dash of brandy.

This came as something of a disappointment to the hundreds of spectators who had piled in expecting to watch him devour a seven course meal. Sacco, whose real name was Richard Jone, was a professional ‘hunger artist’ and became something of a celebrity.

Women from all over the world wrote adoringly to him and he was offered work as far away as America. He became known as ‘the Fasting Man’ but sadly he died just two years after his Southend show, aged just 48.


So what else was making the news? As well as the usual harvest events, fishing festivals and community get-togethers a murder was announced. Police Constable William George Gutteridge, who was stationed at Westcliff after joining the Essex County Constabulary in 1910, was brutally shot and killed while on duty.

He had stopped a car that had been stolen from Billericay by two London criminals and while he was questioning the two men, he was gunned down in cold blood.

His body was found lying on a lonely stretch of road between Stapleford Abbots and Ongar near to where he lived. The Southend Standard reported how he had been shot four times in the head and neck with a revolver

The killing of George Gutteridge shocked the nation, and within a few hours Scotland Yard was called in to investigate. Frederick Guy Browne, a well known London criminal and William Kennedy, an associate of Brownes, both eventually went to the gallows for the murder.

Another tragedy reported in the paper involved Joseph Quay, 68, a farm bailiff at east hall farm in Paglesham, who was known as “Old Joe”.

He was gored so severely by a bull that had broken loose on the farm that he died the next day in hospital of his injuries. The bull, a three year old Shorthorn had managed to knock down two iron bars across the door of its stall. It was later killed.

Another heart-wrenching article involved a mother and son. After ordering a meal at the Rayleigh Restaurant in Marine Parade, Southend, at 1pm on a Thursday lunchtime Mrs Jane Rogers of Peckham collapsed dead on the spot. She had been holidaying in Southend with her five-year-old son. The boy was looked after by police until his father arrived from London.

As you’d expect the courts were handing out punishments to criminals galore in 1927 - even for what we might consider lesser offences today.

In Billericay three men were sentenced to two months hard labour for stealing 30lbs worth of apples from an orchard in Nevendon.