31 May 2017

Digitized Police Files - Bella in the Wych Elm

I wrote a blog post a couple of weeks ago about the release of the police files from the Bella in the Wych Elm case. The files now reside in the custody of the Worcester Archives. I emailed them asking about digitization of the files, access, etc.

West Mercia police files relating to Bella in the Wych Elm -
Worcester Archives - Explore the Past
The files have been digitized (yay!) and include about 1400 TIF files. The items include paper files, photographs, photocopies and one VHS recording of a Crimestalker TV programme. Many of the documents are duplicates. The TIF files plus an MP4 of the VHS program come out to about 35GB (a fairly significant amount of data!) And... the whole package "only" costs £275. That includes the USB drive that would hold all that data. When I think that the National Archives only charges £3.50 for some of the WW2 spy files... the Bella amount seems a little steep.


One naturally wonders what is included in the files... beyond "paper files, photographs and photocopies". I did manage to get a copy of the catalogue of the files. This is a breakdown of everything that was included in the police files. For example, the first folio contains:

  • the West Midland Forensic Science Laboratory report on the remains, 1943;
  • police reports relating to the discovery of the body, 1943;
  • list relating to female  missing persons, 1943;
  • enquiries relating to shoes found in Hagley Wood, 1943;
  • enquiries relating to a handbag found in Hagley Wood, 1944;
  • enquiries resulting from writing on the walls at Oldbury, Halesowen, Birmingham and  Old Hill, Staffordshire. 
Another folio contains newspaper clippings from:
  • The Express and Star,
  • Tit Bits,
  • Worcester  Evening News and Times, 
  • Birmingham Evening Despatch,
  • Birmingham Gazette
  • Bromsgrove Advertiser and Messenger.
There are numerous folios that deal with running to ground various possible victims. It all sounds very intriguing. The question is... is it worth £275?

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