1955 Husband kills wife with dodgy electrics

A warning from the past now on why you shouldn’t try to do the electrics yourself – even trained professionals can get it badly wrong!

In 1955 a Mr William Worden, an electrical engineer, built an electric fence. His dodgy work would claim the lives of two unsuspecting victims. But apparently it wasn’t his fault! Here’s the report from the Birmingham Daily Gazette – Tuesday 03 May 1955


At a Bridgnorth inquest yesterday on a woman electrocuted by a home-wired fence, the coroner (Mr. W. J. Woolley) warned the public against using unapproved circuits.

A verdict of “Misadventure” was returned by the jury. The inquest was on Mrs. Betty Worden (36), of Eardington, near Bridgnorth, whose husband, William Worden (39), electrical engineer, was cautioned before giving evidence, John Worden (11) described how he tried to save his mother when he found her in contact with an electric fence his father had put up to keep their goats from straying. “I tried to pull her off,” he said “but could not. I went inside and switched off the mains and then pulled her off the wire.”

A neighbour found a goat dead on the fence and Mrs. Worden about four feet from it.

William Worden said he modernised and wired up for electricity a derelict cottage and after experiments installed an electric fence. A transformer stepped up the house voltage from 250 to 500 volts, and a resistor reduced the current to one milliamp to make it safe.

The resistor should have blown up and broken the circuit if anything went wrong. He last tested it at 7.30 a.m. the day his wife died, using for this a wireless set and a TV set which he had built himself. The fence was in order. Used mains He did not know what went wrong with the resistor. Battery operated fences were common but he preferred to use the mains.

An Electricity Board official said that neither the wiring nor the transformer as installed would have been passed and he considered them highly dangerous.

At an earlier hearing a doctor said that Mrs. Worden died instantly from electrocution. The coroner said that Mr. Worden was not blame for what had occurred.

Birmingham Daily Gazette – Tuesday 03 May 1955


  1. It’s interesting that even though the man was an electrical engineer, he wasn’t charged for the sub-par work. I bet he would have been punished if it had been someone else’s wife who died after a job he had been paid for


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