British Executions

Walter Graham Rowland

Age: 39

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 27 Feb 1947

Crime Location:

Execution Place: 1947

Method: hanging

Executioner: Albert Pierrepoint


Walter Graham Rowland was a 39-year-old labourer who was twice convicted of murder. On 20th October 1946 the body of 40-year-old Olive Balchin was discovered on a bomb-site in Manchester. The murder weapon was a bloodstained leather-beater's hammer which lay nearby. A description of the purchaser of the hammer by the shopkeeper who sold it, coupled with a description of a man seen with Olive Balchin on the night of her death, led police to interview Rowland. He admitted that he knew the woman but denied killing her. Forensic examination of his clothes showed up bloodstains that matched the blood group of the dead woman and particles of dust that had come from the bomb-site.

He was tried at Manchester Assizes in December 1946 and found guilty. It was later disclosed that he had previously been convicted of the murder of a child, but had been reprieved. While Rowland awaited his appointment with the gallows David John Ware, an inmate at Walton Jail, Liverpool, confessed to Olive Balchin's murder. Rowland appealed but the appeal was dismissed. Ware admitted to a Home Office inquiry that his confession had been false and the original sentence was confirmed. Rowland was executed at Strangeways Prison by Albert Pierrepoint on 27th February 1947.

see National Archives - MEPO 3/2990, ASSI 86/9, MEPO 3/664, ASSI 52/589, ASSI 52/440, HO 45/25467, PCOM 9/731, HO 45/25466