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Friday 15 February 2008

The Rembrandt’s connection with the moors murders

Note: be sure to read the extended comments below too.

The Rembrandt, Canal Street, Manchester

In his talk on Tuesday, Ray Gosling mentioned something that I’d heard before. Namely that ‘moors murderer’ Ian Brady met his final victim, 17-year-old Edward Evans, in the Rembrandt Hotel.

Ray Gosling at the Manchester Central Library on 12 February 2008. Duration: 54 secs. This is from a one hour recording of the talk which was part of LGBT History Month.

I first heard this story from an elderly gay friend in the 1980s. He claimed that Ian Brady was a regular in the Rembrandt.

The Rembrandt is one of Manchester’s oldest gay bars and used to be called the Ogden Arms. It stands on the corner of Canal Street and Sackville Street in what is now the ‘gay village’.

The official version is that on the night Edward Evans was murdered Brady met him at Manchester Central Station (now G-Mex) and some accounts suggest that the pair didn’t know each other previously.

In the book ’50 True Tales of Terror’, edited by John Canning and published in 1972, one chapter is ‘The Moors Murder Horror’. In it C.E.Maine writes:

“…Brady decided to pick up some beer in the Central Station buffet. When he arrived he found it closed and he had also found young Edward Evans standing by a milk vending machine. Evans was dark and slim, wearing a suede jacket, suede shoes and tight jeans. He looked as if he might be homosexual; whatever the truth, Evans accepted Brady’s invitation to go back to his home for a drink.”

However, according to The Times of April 30, 1966, in court “Brady described how he met Evans whom he said he knew as a homosexual, at Central Station, Manchester.” Which suggests that Brady already knew Edward Evans.

Did Brady know him from his visits to the Rembrandt? Is it possible they met at the Rembrandt on the night of the murder?

Could Brady have lied about where he met Evans that night, rather than have it come out that he was a regular at the Rembrandt? Could Brady and Hindley have come up with that story before their arrest, perhaps to tell David Smith? Were there any witnesses to the meeting at Central Station? I don’t know…

In those days Manchester’s gay bars were forced to make payments to corrupt police officers in return for a quiet life. Could the police have had a hand in changing details of the Brady/Evans meeting place in the statements, rather than have it become public knowledge that a pub near the canal was a hotbed of homosexuality (which in the early 1960s was still illegal)? Probably not, because Cheshire Police handled the investigation.

And the police did discover some of the evidence in two suitcases that had been left at the luggage office at the station.

According to this article about Myra Hindley in the Daily Mail: “Brady was regularly disappearing on expeditions to the Rembrandt gay pub in Manchester city centre.”

But while gay bars were hardly ‘mixed’ (gay/straight) at all in those days, the fact that Brady went to the Rembrandt doesn’t mean he was gay.

Gay men were an ideal target for criminals (blackmailers for example) as they were far less likely to go to the police. Indeed, it was reporting a burglary that landed Alan Turing in trouble in 1952.

And when a group is criminalised, it tends to drift towards hanging out with other “outlaws”. Even when I moved to Manchester and first went on the “gay scene” in 1982 there was that same feeling. It was then sixteen years since the law had changed regarding male homosexuality, but the authorities — including Manchester chief constable James Anderton — continued to persecute the LGBT community.

So, although the scene felt welcoming and safe in many respects, there were still lots of dodgy characters around and sometimes an air of criminality. There were crooks (which Brady certainly was), gangsters, ‘gay-for-pay’ rent boys and others who were on the fringes of society.

Would any regular at the Rembrandt in the early 1960s have helped the police, even on this terrible case? It’s unlikely. Within the gay community there was a deep distrust of the police until well into the 1990s.

The Rembrandt, Canal Street, Manchester

There are some other interesting details here [archived copy]. Can it be true that someone who had a close connection to the pub burnt it down, together with “some friends”, because he felt it “to be so tainted by Brady’s presence”? Suggestions that the name was changed then, seem to be untrue. This photo, from 1962, shows that the pub was The Rembrandt before the murders started (the first is believed to have taken place in 1963).

I’m fairly sure that the North Wales serial killer Peter Moore was also a regular at ‘the Rem’ in the 1980’s or early 1990’s. I have a good memory for a face and his looks horribly familiar…

Update (14 September 2011)

Minor changes were made to this article, extra information was added and a link was updated to go to an archived copy because the original website has gone.

Update (10 August 2012)

In the 2006 Granada Television drama “See No Evil” Ian Brady suggests he could “go down Canal Street” and “pick up a businessman shall we say of a certain sexual orientation” to rob.

But it’s highly unlikely that anyone would have referred to Canal Street in this way in 1965. It’s about as silly as having someone talk about going to the curry mile in Rusholme.

Not only would the street name have meant nothing to David Smith, whom Brady is talking to in the scene, but most gay men wouldn’t have had a clue where it was either.

Even in the 1980s, as a regular at the Rembrandt and Union pubs, I would have had difficulty telling you where Canal Street was (though I could have guessed). It was an irrelevant back street with no venues on it, just the Rembrandt and Union on two corners. There was no sense of it being a “gay street” until the 1990s.

In the 1980s Bloom Street was regarded as the focal point for the LGBT community and the term “gay village” was only just beginning to be used. However, gay venues were still spread out across Manchester city centre, as they had been probably for hundreds of years.

And as for the phrase “sexual orientation” even The Guardian doesn’t use it until 1973. While The Times uses it for the first time in 1955 but then not again until 1972.

Update (6 April 2013):

Some members of a forum on this subject are up in arms about this article and the suggestion that Edwards Evans might have been gay (or presumably bisexual).

He was “NOT GAY” according to one poster, a close friend said so, and apparently having a girlfriend is proof. I’d ask how anyone can possibly know that for certain about another person, particularly a 17-year-old? Even today there are numerous men who have wives or girlfriends and who are bi or gay unbeknown to their family and close friends.

How many men felt able to be open in the early 1960s when homosexuality was a criminal offence? Family and work colleagues would be the last to know — if they ever did.

It’s easy to understand why these aspects of the case might have been played down at the time, particularly for the sake of Evans’ family. But it isn’t wrong or an insult to discuss the subject now, almost fifty years later. Particularly when several gay men who were around at the time have stated that Brady met Evans in The Rembrandt.

It’s about finding out the truth if possible and exploring aspects of something that happened at a time when many things to do with homosexuality were swept under the carpet.

Unfortunately some people are eager to dismiss and close down discussion. The attitude: be quiet, don’t embarrass or cause upset by mentioning “it” is something that anyone who is queer is all too familiar with.

Maybe things haven’t changed nearly as much as we think?


Filed under: History,LGBT,Manchester — GS @ 8:02 pm

15 Comments »

  1. Fascinating Story’ one Ive never heard before

    Comment by Jim
    Sunday 12 September 2010 @ 6:24 pm

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  3. Another tall story, I knew Eddie from AEI and that is the rumour as the only milk bar that Eddie would have been at being a trainee on low pay would have been the Milk Bar at Piccadilly which is near to where he used to get off the bus at the Gardens. He was a boy. A mere boy who worked alongside my friends in the vast Trafford Park unit in Trafford Park where we lived and I came from.

    Comment by P A Badger
    Wednesday 15 September 2010 @ 2:11 pm

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  5. blimey… wot a local with Ian Brady and Peter Moore as regulars !

    Comment by Tim
    Saturday 2 October 2010 @ 1:38 pm

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  7. I stayed at The Rembrandt in the early 80’s too, and I remember one of the barmen telling me roughly the same story.He was strangely “proud” of the connection, which made me feel distinctly uncomfortable. Especially as I was going to be sleeping upstairs!!!I think the Eddie Evans story should be re-investigated through modern eyes , because I am certain that his memory is tainted by the prejudices of the day, and he has become almost an invisible victim of some of the worst murders of the 20th century. The police would not have been sympathetic , neither would the local ( or national) press, and it must have broken his families hearts if they were told the same story.I noticed on another website that he had been cremated and his ashes scattered, and wonder if this was the reason . This was pre-Wolfenden , remember , and if he had allowed himself to be picked up by Brady for sex he would have been committing a criminal offense .Homosexuality was totally black & white then , you either were or you weren’t , most people couldn’t comprehend the “blurred edges” we see today.I have always thought that it has clouded the story, particularly as the only other person (Brady) who knew what happened that night was never going to be truthful about what happened . He was still a tragically young victim of brutal sadists for whom justice has not been done.

    Comment by Iain Mills
    Wednesday 23 November 2011 @ 3:51 am

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  9. P A Badger, Thank you. I wondered a lot about Edward Evans. Your words matter. I wish I could have known and helped him.

    Comment by John
    Saturday 18 August 2012 @ 5:19 pm

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  11. I have read previously in one of the many books about Brady and Hindley that Edward Evans atended a Manchester United game at Old Trafford on what was to be his last evening. The dates do tie up as United played Helsinki in a european tie tha night, the 6th october 1965. That being the case he must have got back into Manchester quite late, I think the trains did run to Central from the ground then. He could have got to the Rembrandt on the night, but I thought in that era all pubs closed at 1030 mid-week so it may not be the case.

    Comment by steveG
    Saturday 25 August 2012 @ 6:41 pm

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  13. g7uk.com in reply to Steve:

    Thanks Steve — a good bit of information and which does call into question whether Brady and Edward Evans could have met at the Rembrandt on the night of the murder. Of course if he’d arrived at the pub before 10:30pm there could possibly have been after hours drinks with the doors locked?

    In the light of what Brady said in court it’s possible that they already knew each other, perhaps from the Rembrandt? One person who might be able to cast light on this is Ray Gosling. I think he said that Ian Brady bought him drinks in the pub. Unfortunately Ray Gosling’s reliability as a source has been tainted somewhat in the last couple of years.

    Edward Evans lived in Addison Street in Ardwick. Yet late on a Wednesday evening he went all the way back to Wardle Avenue in Hattersley with Brady and Hindley. It’s six miles from Ardwick. And even though they apparently travelled in Hindley’s car, why would someone do that when they had a job (apprentice machinist) and so probably had to work the following morning?

    According to the Wikipedia page:

    “On the evening of 6 October 1965 Hindley drove Brady to Manchester Central Station, where she waited outside in the car while he selected their victim; after a few minutes Brady reappeared in the company of Edward Evans, to whom he introduced Hindley as his sister.”

    I find it hard to believe that there was any sexual motive on the part of Evans seeing as Hindley was hanging around and would have had to give him a lift back home to Ardwick afterwards? And I doubt that Edward Evans would have gone such a distance with a complete stranger for any other reason.

    So I reckon that he knew Brady reasonably well already and for that reason felt comfortable going back for a drink? How come he knew Brady but not Hindley (if he didn’t)?

    The Guardian’s report of the ongoing trial, published on April 30, 1966, says that Brady told the court that on the day of the murder (6th) he and Smith discussed ways of raising money because Smith couldn’t pay the rent. One suggestion was that Smith might “roll a queer”. Brady told him that if anything went wrong this person would be unlikely to go to the police.

    Brady claimed that Hindley then drove him to Gorton to buy some wine and then to Manchester Central Station to see if the buffet was open. There Brady saw Edward Evans “whom he had met previously”. He got into conversation with Evans whom he said he knew was a homosexual. Brady invited Evans back to the house and told the court “I decided that he was the one who would do for what Smith and I had been talking about earlier that night.”

    He said Hindley was surprised and annoyed when he took Evans to the car. They arrived at Hattersley at about 11:30pm.

    It’s a bit of a coincidence to discuss robbing a homosexual and then just happen to bump into one you know a few hours later at Central Station? Bearing in mind this is 1965. Railways stations did tend to be popular meeting places for gay men. In later years Manchester Piccadilly, Victoria station and Oxford Road stations all were. So this may be the real reason Brady went to Central Station.

    The Rembrandt would be an obvious place to find a gay man if you already knew it was a meeting place for them and were a regular there yourself? But there would be more likely to be witnesses.

    I’m not clear whether Myra Hindley would have been allowed into the Rembrandt in 1965. In the 1980s the door policy was men only downstairs. Maybe she waited in the car outside the pub? However in her evidence Hindley also said Brady met Evans at Central Station.

    Anything that Brady said in court must be treated with caution. He could have made up the conversation with Smith to try and incriminate him. He could also have made up the part about knowing Edward Evans was a homosexual. Brady claimed that Evans was only killed because he started shouting after Brady told him to put his valuables on the table because a man (Smith) was at the door who did “not like queers”.

    Comment by GS
    Monday 24 September 2012 @ 11:26 am

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  15. “However, while such bars were hardly ‘mixed’ (gay/straight) at all in those days, the fact that Brady went to the Rembrandt doesn’t mean he was gay.” It isn’t a ‘fact’, it’s hearsay. Also, using an article run by the not-so-gay-friendly Daily Mail (who like to pin anything remotely awful onto a minority group) and self-confessed excellent story-teller Ray Gosling as evidence hardly makes for a water tight argument. Gossip, nothing more.

    Comment by Rufus
    Friday 1 March 2013 @ 5:42 am

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  17. g7uk.com in reply to Rufus:

    As I mention in the article I first heard this from an elderly gay friend called Richard in the late 1980s. He had lived in Manchester all his adult life.

    Ray Gosling (also gay) then mentioned it at a talk at the Manchester Central Library. I have the talk recorded and will hunt out the appropriate section and put it here on the website.

    I wrote the article in 2008 nearly two years before Ray Gosling was prosecuted. I agree that, unfortunately, now we have to treat anything Ray Gosling says with some caution. As we have to with the Daily Mail.

    But other than personal accounts like these it’s unlikely we’ll find any other evidence. I suppose it might be possible to write to Brady himself but would you trust anything he had to say?

    We’re not going to find photos of people in the Rembrandt in the 1960s. The only possible thing might be if at some point the police had visited it or another gay venue, at a time when Brady was there, and taken names. And that would depend on the paperwork still existing.

    Canal Street was a well-known spot for crime going way back and that would be part of the reason why some people would hang around down there. To mix with other villains and take advantage of easy pickings from gay men who could be robbed or blackmailed with few consequences.

    Criminal Manchester

    If you look at this collection of articles from the Manchester Evening News, published in 1874, “Criminal Manchester”, there’s a chapter with the title “Canal Street” (page 19).

    Comment by GS
    Friday 1 March 2013 @ 6:57 am

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  19. g7uk.com:

    Just a further snippet. In the Guardian report of the trial published on April 22, 1966, it states that one witness was George Herbert Smith.

    He was the licensee of a bar in Oxford Road, Manchester and told the court that Edward Evans was in his bar at 7pm on October 6th (the night of the murder). This was several hours before he apparently met Brady at the Central Station. Evans was only 17 so couldn’t legally buy alcohol for himself in a bar.

    It would be interesting to find out which bar this was. The Trafford Bar was another gay venue of the time and was in the basement at the side of the Gaumont Cinema (running along Great Bridgewater Street) just 250 yards from the Central Station. On the map this is Oxford Street but becomes Oxford Road a few yards south.

    Did anyone else give a statement about seeing or being with Evans that night? It’s clear he was out and about around the city centre for three-and-a-half hours. He must have come into contact with a number of people.

    To any gay man who was around pre-1990, going out alone and then from bar to bar, meeting people you already knew inside each one, will be a familiar picture. Men who frequented those bars would have been incredibly reluctant to talk to the police in those days.

    Comment by GS
    Saturday 6 April 2013 @ 7:11 pm

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  21. I found this site via a link from a blog written about Edward Evans. There seems to be virtually nothing about this tragic young man or his family, on the internet. I am thankful to find like minded people concerned at the forgotten victim in the Moors Murders. It matters not to me if he was gay or otherwise but my heart goes out to his family nearly 50 years later. I was only a young child at the time but remember it well. God bless you Edward, rest in peace dear lad.

    Comment by Sue
    Monday 8 April 2013 @ 12:19 am

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  23. Extremely interesting and may Edward RIP !

    Comment by IAN
    Wednesday 26 June 2013 @ 10:26 pm

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  25. I have been watching the recent TV programmes about Brady and Hindley and wondered why there was little information about Edward Evans or his family. The violence and horror of all these child murders is quite literally ‘beyond belief.’As a teenager, I attended concerts at the Free Trade Hall Manchester during the late 1950s and early 1960s. One evening walking home down a dark street just across from the Hall on my way to catching a bus home somebody in a parked car asked me ‘if I would like a lift somewhere.’ I couldn’t see who was speaking to me but I carried on walking and have wondered since whether I had a narrow escape or just a vivid imagination.

    Comment by Allen
    Friday 2 August 2013 @ 3:54 pm

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  27. Read our book The Secret Key to The Moors Murders then join our Facebook page , we are investigating this case and have found loads of new evidence. Edward did know Brady and yes Brady was bi sexual and the name of the pub would of attracted him there, he loves Art. He was also using old areas of the industrial revolution, and mapping Manchester to events like the Peterloo Massacre, and the military at this time.. Brady left symbols all over the areas , and read so many books he took snippets from to make one massive puzzle field. 9 more victims and I’ve added others to my book and why.

    Comment by WPG
    Friday 12 December 2014 @ 5:21 am

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  29. i started going to the Rembrandt in 81 and amongst older men it was common knowledge that both Brady and Evans drank at the Rembrandt
    Those who question was Evans gay or bisexual think about it. Why did Evans go with Brady to his home ( a good 20 miles away ) to play chess? I don’t think so!!

    Comment by Danny
    Saturday 18 July 2015 @ 4:18 am

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