When John Basil Cartland walked out of his front door and down the steps of his home at 11 Powis Square, Brighton on Monday 12 March 1973, he was not to know that within six days he was to be brutally murdered in France.
Mr Cartland had his main home at 11 Powis Square at the time. In letters to the Birmingham Post, he wrote from that address about the “humbug and arrant hypocrisy” of the British government in the face of South African apartheid. A man with strong opinions.
The Cartland family was closely linked to Brighton. In the 1950’s John Cartland’s second wife, Kathleen (née Walker) was the headmistress of Fairlie Place College, a finishing school for English and overseas girls. Many of her pupils had happy memories of her as recounted on the My Brighton and Hove website.
The large house was demolished in 1968, a few months after this photograph was taken. Image: © Regency Society of Brighton and Hove
The couple had married in 1958 and John Cartland must have been living at the school in 1956 and 1957. In both years he wrote a letter to Birmingham Daily Post to comment on recent strikes in the car industry. According to the letter, Mrs Cartland had been born in Birmingham. However, by 1964 telephone directory (always so indiscrete) reveals that Mr Cartland had moved to 172 Dyke Road whereas Mrs Cartland remained at Fairlie Place.
Image: 172 Dyke Road, Brighton © S. Hinton
By the late 1960s, Mr Cartland was running a school, probably an English language school, at 172 Dyke Road. The house is opposite a fine park and just 150 yards from the Booth Natural History Museum – culture and exercise on the doorstep. What more could the students want?
John Cartland had travelled on his final journey to France with his son, Jeremy who lived at 9 Highcroft Villas in the 1970s. A fine late Victorian semi-detached house with magnificent views across the London Road valley and Preston Park. The house had been converted into flat before WW2 and by 1973 had seen better days.
Image: 9 Hightcroft Villas, Brighton © S. Hinton
Jeremy Cartland was injured at the same time as his father was attacked and murdered. He was arrested for the murder but never convicted. Many other hypotheses as to the murderer or murderers were put forward. In his book about the events of 1973, “Imagining a Murder” (2021), author Stockton Heath gives a very clear account of all the facets of the crime and its aftermath.