Bathpool Park is a public park situated in a rural area in Staffordshire near the border with Cheshire. The nearest town to the park is Kidsgrove. The park became notorious in 1975 as the location for the murder of the kidnapped Shropshire heiress Lesley Whittle. Her body was found hanging from a steel wire at the bottom of a shaft in the park. She fell or was pushed by a killer known as the Black Panther-Donald Neilson. Neilson was sentenced to life for Whittle's and four other murders, eventually dying in prison in December 2011.
In 1977 a feature film entitled 'The Black Panther' was made, and filmed. in parts, on location at the park. It is a grim, dark and unsensationalised film, aiming to convey the cold brutality of psycopath Donald Nielson. It brings home the high intelligence and cunning of Nielson who outwitted several police forces for years, with ease, and was only eventually captured by chance. The film is of historic interest, as it shows Bathpool park as it was in 1977, which is significantly different to today. The film is not for the faint-hearted, and was originally widely banned by cinemas on release for its sometimes brutally violent content. The film is available on DVD, and released by the 'British Film Institute' (BFI). It may well be available from online film streaming sites.
The park is owned and managed by Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council.
- "1975: Kidnapped heiress found strangled". BBC News. 7 March 1975. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
- "Murderer Donald Neilson, the 'Black Panther', dies". BBC News. 19 December 2011.
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