DOVER KENT ARCHIVES
PUB LIST PUBLIC HOUSES Paul Skelton

Earliest

Metropole Hotel

Latest Mar 1939

 

Margate

Ship and Metropole Hotels

Next to the "Ship Hotel" is the "Metropole Hotel."

Metropole Hotel Metropole Hotel

Above photos taken with permission from micropubcrawl date unknown.

O S Map 1907

O S Map 1907.

 

With this website becoming increasingly bigger, the amount of in-depth research I am able to do is becoming increasingly watered down. For that reason I have no immediate thoughts to researching pubs in Margate. However, should viewers have any information regarding the pub on this page, or indeed photographs old or new, I am most certainly interested and will add the information to this page. Your help is appreciated.

 

United Press Association—By Electric Telegraph. (Received 22nd March, 10 a.m.)

MURDER OF MOTHER. HARRY FOX CONVICTED. SENTENCED TO DEATH.

END OF ROOM 66 CASE. LONDON, 21st March.

Sydney • Harry Fox was found guilty at the Old Bailey and sentenced to death for the murder of his mother, Mrs. Rosaline Fox, in Room 66 at the Hotel Metropole, Margate.

The trial, was the most sensational for years, the scene of the crime being reconstructed in Court, and expert witnesses giving evidence as to the effects of strangulation on the victim.

The Crown's case was that Fox insured his mother's life for £3000 the day before she was found dead in the hotel, and that he strangled her and then set fire to the room. The Judge's summing up occupied two and a quarter hours. Dealing with the conflict of medical testimony, he said that it was impossible to offer the jury assistance. It was a curious coincidence that a brittle bone referred to by the experts was unbroken. It was a strong point in favour of Fox that the unfortunate parts concerned could not have been better preserved.

He referred to Fox's extraordinary life, going from place to place without money, and declared that, the financial straits of Fox had a very direct bearing on the case. The insurance policies were the kernel of the case. Fox journeyed to London to take out policies when he had barely sufficient money to pay his fare. Undoubtedly, if his mother died by accident before midnight on 23rd October Fox's position would be changed from despair and difficulties to one of affluence.

The jury were absent for ninety-two minutes.

Asked if he had anything to say, Fox replied "I never murdered my mother." He reeled as he left the dock.

The mysterious death of Mrs. Rosaline Fox, whose body was found in Room 66 at the Hotel Metropole, Margate, on 23rd October last, with the carpet nearby smouldering, led eventually to a charge of murder against her son, Sydney Harry Fox, a medical student, aged 30. The inquest resulted in a verdict of death by misadventure, but inquiries by a private detective on behalf of insurance companies liable under policies taken out by the son, led the Margate police to seek the aid of Scotland Yard. The body of Mrs. Fox was exhumed, and examination by Sir Bernard Spilsbury confirmed suspicions that the deceased had met a violent death by strangulation, before the fire took place.

 

Thanet Advertiser 31 March 1939.

END OF ROOM 66.

STORY OF MURDERED MOTHER.

MARGATE CRIME RECALLED.

Crash! As I stood and watched demolition workers hurtling barrow-loads of brick and rubbish from the rapidly disappearing upper floors of the "Hotel Metropole," Margate, years slipped by to the days when the building was a centre of sordid interest.

But, I reflected, for a putty-sealed, air-tight coffin, an immaculately attired, callous and hypocritical murderer might be continuing his career of crime in far-off Australia, for the £3,000 insurance he planned to gain by the murder of his aged and infirm mother would probably have slipped through his neer-do-well fingers long ago.

The mystery of Room 66, involving as it did, conduct unparalleled in the history of British crime, was placarded by every national newspaper early in the year 1930, and the central character, Sidney Harry Fox—confirmed criminal in his youth—died on the scaffold shortly after celebrating his 31st birthday. For years he lived as a parasite, and before he murdered his mother he had unsuccessfully attempted to murder a married woman who became his mistress, and whom he had induced to make a will in his favour. Her property was valued at at about £10,000 and, in addition, Fox had insured her life for £6,000.

Persuasive liar, elegant almost to the foppish, dark haired, handsome, blue-eyed Sidney Harry Fox duped hundreds during his life.

The brutal crime which led to his undoing was committed in Room 66 at the "Hotel Metropole" shortly before midnight on 23rd October, 1929. Released from prison in March after a sentence of 15 months' imprisonment for frauds and thefts, Fox took his aged mother Rosaline from an institution at Portsmouth where she had lived during his imprisonment.

A Modal Son.

Physically frail, the old lady was only able to walk with her son's assistance, and in the light of after events it is apparent that Fox had planned his diabolical act at that time. Mrs. Fox and her son had a joint weekly income of 18s., of which 10s. represented the mother's old age pension. Together they journeyed about the country and Fox, posing as the perfect son, considerate of his mother to a degree, hoaxed hoteliers and boarding house proprietors by the dozen. Among the roles he adopted were those of doctor and estate owner.

Neatly dressed, Fox had only the clothing which he wore. Neither his mother nor he had night attire, Mrs. Fox wore her two dresses one over the other, and hoteliers were informed that their luggage had been sent on. Fox was always expecting a large cheque, and under his glib tongue people advanced substantial sums of money which were never repaid, and he confidently signed cheques knowing they would not be met.

About three weeks after Fox was released from prison his mother signed her will—drafted in her son's handwriting—bequeathing him all her property. She then had two dresses, a handbag containing a comb, handkerchief and a nail brush!

Daily Insurance Policies.

She signed the will on 21st April, 1929, and on 1st May Fox took out the first daily accident insurance policy on his mother's life. From that day until 23rd October—176 days later—when her lifeless body was carried out of Room 66, he took out or renewed policies of a similar character on no fewer than 167 days. Their joint income during that time was £22 10s. and Fox paid £10 of that money on his mother’s premiums.

At Ramsgate Fox obtained an accident insurance policy on his mother for £1,000 and on 22nd October he obtained, at London, an extension of a £2,000 policy, both policies being made operative until midnight on 23rd October.

Twenty minutes before midnight. Fox, clad only in his shirt, rushed down the hotel stairs, and attracted the attention of some commercial travellers playing billiards with the fearful cry "I believe there is a fire. Where is the Boots? My mummie, my mummie."

While Fox behaved like a distracted child, a commercial traveller crawled into smoke and fume-filled Room 66 and carried out the body of Mrs. Fox. Fox once interrupted his protestations of grief to ask if the £25 in notes in his mother's handbag had been burned, and at the inquest—the first conducted by Mr. S. J. Wilson Price, Margate's present Coroner—related a string of lies, said he was educated at Framlingham College and was of independent means.

Visions of £3,000 were enjoyed by the murderer for some time after a verdict of death by misadventure had been returned, and so confident was he that he obtained advances totalling £40 from the solicitor through whom he made his insurance claims.

Exhumation Discovery.

Fox had no suspicion that an insurance officer with an inquisitive turn of mind visited Margate, saw the fatal bedroom, and caused inquiries to be made. Inspr. William Palmer, now Chief Constable of Margate, became suspicious and increasingly curious when hotel managers came forward with stories of Fox's duplicity. P.S. Fleet, now Inspr. Fleet, brought the criminal from Norwich to answer a charge of false pretences at Margate and during the subsequent inquiries in which Chief Inspr. Hambrook and D.S. Ayto, of the C.I.D., were concerned with Inspr. Palmer, the body of Mrs. Fox was exhumed at Great Fransham on 9th November.

Because the undertakers made the coffin air-tight by sealing it with putty the body was well preserved, and this putty in the coffin eventually placed a hempen rope around the murderer’s neck. But for the putty tell-tale bruises on the larynx and tongue would have disappeared in the process of decomposition, and the skill of even so eminent a pathologist as Sir Bernard Spilsbury would have been nullified.

Gradually an iron chain of evidence was welded against the criminal showing that the debonair schemer strangled his mother with the aid of a pillow while she was resting, and afterwards used petrol, a newspaper, a chair and a carpet to stage a fake fire which gave off fumes apparently contributing to asphyxiation, he had even gone so far with his plans to mention, during the afternoon, that his mother and he had had a sham fight—an extraordinary statement in view of his mothers age and infirmity but the purport of which was understandable if his mother was found bruised externally after the crime.

Faked Fire.

Expert witnesses, including Chief Officer Harry Hammond, who retired from the leadership of the Margate Fire Brigade in December, proved beyond doubt that the fire faked by Fox could not have been accidental, and when sentenced to death at Lewes on 21st March, the blue-eyed murderer—who never appeared to consider the possibility of sentence—faced Mr. Justice Rowlatt and in a scarcely audible voice said "I did not murder my mother. Amen."

Because of the notoriety which followed the murder, and the reluctance of hotel guests to sleep in Room 66, the number of the room was changed.

Although he professed to be a woman hater, Fox infatuated an Australian visitor at Southsea in 1927. He stood to gain more than £16,000 by her death, after haring induced her to make a will in his favour, but his plan went awry when his intended victim, awakened in the middle of the night by the smell of gas managed to turn off the tap and thwart her lover’s Plans.

Decree For Wife.

There was another sequel when Fox, sitting in a prison cell awaiting his trial for the murder of his mother, was served with a divorce petition. Named as co-respondent, Fox did not defend the action, and the unfortunate woman who fell a victim to his unscrupulous wiles at Southsea secured a decree the day before her husband was executed.

Birched as a youth for theft, Fox was an incorrigible rogue. He was an associate of some of the most degenerate characters in the West End of London, was fastidious to the extreme in his attire, and used, at times, cosmetics. While employed at a bank he forged customers’ cheques and, when detected, was not punished on condition that he joined the army. In 1916 he joined the Royal Ordnance Corps, later became a cadet in the Royal Air Force, but never left the country.

Forging cheques, he lived a life of gaiety in the West End where, in the uniform of a lieutenant, he continued his association with disreputable undesirables.

Walter Hambrook, who was largely instrumental in bringing Fox before the hangman 18 years later, was the young Scotland Yard officer who brought about Fox's first swindling conviction. Trying to levy blackmail on Army officers, forging cheques while employed at another bank, Fox could not keep out of trouble, and several spells of imprisonment could not turn the youth from his criminal career.

Room 66, scene of this inhuman act, will be no more within a few days. But before the workmen begin to demolish the room several prominent Margate townspeople, whose careers were largely influenced by the historic case, will pay a farewell visit to the premises remembering the callous scoundrel who paid the supreme penalty for his crime.

P.K.

 

Thanet Advertiser 05 January 1940.

THIS WAS NEWS. THE STORY OF 1939 (continued)

HOTEL CRIME RECALLED.

Room 66 at the Hotel Metropole, Margate, which nine years before was a centre of sordid interest, disappeared into the debris of the building as it was demolished in March. It was in this room that Sidney Harry Fox brutally murdered his mother by strangling her and sought to cover up traces of his crime by setting fire to the room.

 

 

LICENSEE LIST

RASON W F 1901+ (age 44 in 1901Census)

RAND & REASON 1903+

 

CensusCensus

 

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