Long Lost Family

Imagine finding out your great great great grandfather was convicted for murder almost 120 years ago, and spent the rest of his life in prison.

Then imagine managing to get a ticket to visit the actual custody facility where he would have been held during his trial.

Even better - what if you walked into a cell and found a photograph of him???

That is exactly what happened to Bobbie Adams who visited the lock-up on Saturday 15th July.

When she arrived she was bursting with excitement to tell me the story of her ancestor James Twitty who was convicted of murder along with an accomplice when a house breaking went wrong and the victim tragically died, back in 1898. She showed me all the newspaper clippings on her phone and was thrilled to be visiting the actual cell block where he would have been incarcerated before and during his trial, before his conviction at the Birmingham Assizes.

He was convicted of murder along with Claude Mumby and sentenced to death in December 1898. Later that month following a petition sent to the Home Office, the sentences were commuted to penal servitude for life.

Twitty was sent to Dartmoor prison to complete his sentence. In 1915 he was certified insane and was sent to Broadmoor. James Twitty did not say a word to anyone during the last 15 years of his life and after serving a 50 year prison sentence he eventually died, aged 73, with his body being donated to scientific research.

Bobbie said it meant the absolutely world to her to find his photograph, having never seen a picture of James previously. 'He looks so young, not malicious - just a cheeky chappy. It is heartbreaking to think how his life turned out and we still don't know why he stopped talking.'

One final Hidden Spaces/WMP collaboration open day will be held on 12th August. Tickets went on sale last week and sold out in 1.5 hours.

James Twitty - convicted in 1890 for stealing scarves. He was 15 years of age and 5"2