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|Posted: Mon Nov 08, 2021 3:35 am Post subject: Murdered Reading tobacconist's family welcome new play
|Murdered Reading tobacconist's family welcome new play
It's a murder mystery that could have come straight from the pages of a best selling novel in the 1920s - a tobacconist bludgeoned to death in his shop, the prime suspect an American movie star who was touring England.
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Ninety-two years later the crime remains unsolved and relatives of Alfred Oliver say "people walk past where he was murdered every single day and don't have a clue", but a new play is finally helping the family bring the story out into the open.
On 22 June 1929, Mr Oliver was found fatally wounded in his shop on Cross Street, in Reading. He died in hospital the next day and the investigation into his murder remains officially open.
Now Rabble Theatre is bringing this piece of history to life with its play Who Killed Alfred Oliver?.
When some of Mr Oliver's relatives heard about the play, which is being staged in Reading Minster, they contacted the theatre company to share their memories.
Philippa Horsell's great-great-aunt, Annie Elizabeth Crouch, was Mr Oliver's wife.
She told the BBC she only found out about his death when she was 16 and working on a history project for her A-levels.
"My mum sat me down and told me the story of Annie - or Auntie Nan as we called her - and Alfred. This story has very much been hanging over our family.
"Because it has never been solved, that pain has never been addressed in a way, but the story is woven through Reading's history.
"Lots of people have been told tales about this murder, and some have even claimed over the years to know who did it. The answer might have been found once but now, of course, it's lost in the mists of time.
"And other people have never heard about it. I hope now it becomes part of the conversation in Reading so that people know his name and what happened to him."
In 1929, a play called The Monster was enjoying a run at the Royal County Theatre in the town and the show's lead, American movie star Philip Yale Drew, was identified as the main suspect.