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Film from 120 years ago shows re-enactment of fraudster being arrested - in colour

Liverpool Echo logo Liverpool Echo 20/03/2021 Ian Croll

The world’s first filmed ‘crime reconstruction’, which was shot in Merseyside, has been brought to life through the use of colourisation.

Filmed in 1901 by early film makers Mitchell & Kenyon, the rare footage shows the dramatised arrest of Thomas Peterson Goudie.

Bootle banker Thomas Peterson Goudie was arrested for colossal frauds on the Bank of Liverpool on December 2, 1901.

Over roughly two years, Goudie single-handedly stole £168,000 - equal to £18m in today’s money. His eventual arrest was reenacted for pioneering footage which has survived down the decades.

The collection of clips were painstakingly colourised and enhanced with sound by John Collins.

John, 45, who runs the website www.historyofliverpool.com used specialist software to enhance the footage.

Speaking to the ECHO John, a teacher, said: “It’s considered the world’s first ever crime reenactment in Bootle.

“The original black and white footage is out in the public domain in various forms so I just pieced it all together and brought it to life with colour.

“The colourised footage is completely original, there’s nothing like it anywhere else, it’s completely brand new.

“The colourisation and the sound is completely unique as well and I just thought it would be a nice thing for people to see.”

The original black and white footage was shown at the Prince of Wales Theatre in Liverpool just three days after Goudie was detained.

His path to criminality is said to have stemmed from occasionally betting on horses, which set him on the path to destruction.

By November 1899 he was behind with rent, owing money to a lender.

He forged a cheque in the hope of paying off debts – using the remainder to win back money to replace the deficit at the bank.

One of the accounts in Goudie’s charge belonged to Robert William Hudson, the son of the founder of Hudson’s Soap manufacturers.

Hudson drew cheques for vast amounts and Goudie chose this as the cover for his crimes.

By October 1900, Goudie had stolen £2,100 and was drawing up another cheque for £600.

He spent a few days at Newmarket races, where he lost £543.

The pattern would continue as his gambling addiction grew.

On November 21, 1901 Goudie was confronted by the bank after they found irregularities with his ledgers.

After the initial conversation, Goudie went to “fetch a book”, and never returned.

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Lodging with a couple, Charles and Elizabeth Harding in Berry Street, Bootle, Goudie was arrested after suspicions were raised about his behaviour.

Mrs Harding went to Bootle police station and after 10 days on the run, Goudie was arrested.

His trial lasted five days and Goudie received 10 years with hard labour.

John was inspired to colourise the collection of clips during lockdown.

He added: “The History of Liverpool website will be issuing more colourised footage in the future.

"It contains a wealth of information regarding Liverpool’s history from prehistoric times to WWII and work is now underway to develop more of it’s free teaching resources and lesson activities for use in Key Stage Two and Key Stage Three history lessons.

“What I’ve tried to do recently is update it with teaching resources and material which I got inspired to do from lockdown and kids having to work remotely.

“I thought I needed more of that type of stuff on the site to help schools and then I hit on this idea of doing the colourisation of the video.”

As for Goudie, on June 22, 1907, half-way through his term, he died at Parkhurst Prison on the Isle of Wight from a heart infection and a gastric ulcer.

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