A secret execution diary of Britain's most famous hangman, who killed approximately 600 people over a 25-year career, has been sold to an "eclectic" private collector for $36,000, reports news.com.au.
Before "hanging up the rope" in 1956, Albert Pierrepoint was best known for executing some 200 Nazi war criminals, notably the staff of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
He was also responsible for the hanging of high-profile murderers with nicknames like "the Blackout Ripper", "the Acid Bath Murderer" and "the Rillington Place Strangler", as well as Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be executed in the UK.
In the diary, which records details of 434 executions, Pierrepoint carefully noted down details including the prisoner's name, age, height, weight and drop, site of the execution and remarks detailing the physical frame of the prisoners and calibre of their necks.
"Very heavy body, ordinary neck, wirey, very thin neck, little flabby," the entries read. Prisoners hanged included, "German, Dutch and Belgium spies, French Canadian, USA, IRA, British Soldier."
Pierrepoint, who died in 1992 aged 87, was only a part-time hangman. Mostly he served customers from behind the bar at his Lancashire pub, Help the Poor Struggler. While denying reports he would discuss "t'other job" with his customers, he did hang one of them — a man convicted of murdering his mistress.
In its obituary, The Telegraph described Pierrepoint as "short and dapper, with mild blue eyes, a pleasant singing voice and a fondness for cigars and beautiful women", someone "fascinated by bar tricks with coins and matchboxes".
In his 1974 autobiography, Pierrepoint recalled the one difficult execution of his career. "It was unfortunate," he wrote. "He was not an Englishman. He was a spy and kicked up rough."
After he resigned in 1956, he became a campaigner against the death penalty. He argued that "if death were a deterrent, I might be expected to know".
"It is I who have faced them at the last, young lads and girls, working men, grandmothers. I have been amazed to see the courage with which they take that walk into the unknown," he wrote.
"It did not deter them then, and it had not deterred them when they committed what they were convicted for. All the men and women whom I have faced at that final moment convince me that in what I have done I have not prevented a single murder."
The collection of Pierrepoint's personal effects also included a number of items that belonged to both Albert and his father Henry, who was also a hangman, including an amber and ivory cigar holder and case and a silver watch chain worn at hundreds of executions.
There were also documents and photographs, a letter of thanks from the War Office for his services, and a newspaper featuring an article about John Amery, a pro-Nazi British fascist who Albert Pierrepoint went on to hang.
"This is the most fascinating set of items I have ever sold," said Giles Hodges, director of Boldon Auction Galleries.
"It provides a remarkable insight into the role of the executioner and I suppose that someone had to do the job."