Albert Dryden: The full story

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Albert Dryden was born at 6 Priestman Avenue, Consett, on May 12, 1940. One of eight children. He was fifth eldest of four boys and four girls.


Aged 17, he is granted a firearms certificate and buys a .22 rifle.

July 1960

Dryden's home in Priestman Avenue, Consett, is raided by police. He is subsequently charged with illegal posession of firearms and placed on probation for 12 months.

Detective Constable Fred Wilson, pictured above, warns: "He has a mania for firearms, and has shown a genius for them."

October 1961

Dryden appears in court for firing rockets and mortars on Consett Moor.

Dryden tells The Northern Echo he plans to emigrate to Argentina where he can fire "guns and rockets without disturbing anyone"

April 1963

Dryden is back in court for terrorising local farmers. He tells one: "If you interfere with me, I'll fill you full of bullets."


Dryden is made redundant from his job at Consett steelworks.


He rents land at Eliza Lane, Butsfield and buys it in 1984.

Dryden starts to build the bungalow 


Derwentside Council receives its first complaints about the bungalow. Dryden says its a summer house for his mother, then a nuclear shelter, then a store, then a cattle shed. Council issues an enforcement notice to demolish the bungalow. 



A public inquiry is held into planning issues.


Dryden learns he has lost his appeal.


Dryden's mother dies aged 82. He says the planning wrangle has killed her.


Dryden has not complied with an enforcement notice. Derwentside planning officer Harry Collinson says Dryden has made a series of "extravagant" threats about anyone who tries to knock the bungalow down. These include threatening to blow up the council chamber and threatening to shoot people. One of Dryden's friends goes into the planning department and throws a live cockerel at Collinson.

The day the bungalow 
was to be demolished


Sgt Colin Campbell, PC Stephen Campbell and PC Ian Kirkup arrive at Dryden's bungalow. A police armed response vehicle and an ambulance are on standby at Consett police station.

Derwentside Council officials, led by Harry Collinson, pictured above, and contractors also arrive. Dryden promises Sgt Campbell: "There'll be no trouble."

Dryden asks council solicitor Mike Dunstan and Harry Collinson to look at a letter from DoE pinned on the gate.

Dryden claims it says an inspector will visit the bungalow in five weeks time before making a decision.

Mr Collinson says the letter does not challenge the demolition order. Dryden says if they come through the gates they'll be charged with criminal damage. He says he has goats and hens in the bungalow and claims the RSCPA is due to attend. 

Mr Collinson says the demolition teams will take the livestock out of the building. He warns Dryden not to obstruct the demolition team. 

Dryden warns him: "You might not be around to see the outcome of this disaster. You have been warned. If you had any sense you would go away and wait five weeks. You are making a sad decision."

Observers, police, reporters and cameramen move along the perimeter fence while Mr Collinson and John Graham, a friend of Dryden, argue. Mr Collinson orders a bulldozer be driven off the low loader and moved towards the fence.

Dryden draws his gun waves it around aimlessly at council officials and journalists on the other side of the fence. Mr Collinson says to a cameraman: "Can we get a shot of this gun?"

Dryden levels his gun at Mr Collinson and shoots him once in the chest at close range.

Dryden pushes his hand through fence and fires off three or four more shots hitting BBC reporter Tony Belmont in the arm. 

One shot hits PC Stephen Campbell close to his spine.

Observers, journalists officials and police run along Eliza Lane towards the A68. Dryden climbs over a fence and goes to Collinson's body which is now laying in a ditch and shoots him once more.

Supt Stan Hegarty and Insp Geoff Young arrive in a police car from the opposite end of Eliza Lane. 

Dryden re-loads and fires at the car which reverses away at speed.

Dryden fires shots at a bulldozer, low loader and parked car shooting Mr Collinson once more in the chest.

Dryden walks back to the caravan where he takes refuge.

12 minutes after the shootings, a police armed response vehicle carrying PCs Andy Reay and Philip Brown arrives. They take up position 25ft from the caravan and begin dialogue with Dryden.

A tactical firearms team including Sgt John Taylor arrives from police headquarters in Durham.


Sgt Taylor approaches the caravan carrying a field telephone. Dryden agrees to use it to maintain contact with the police. Dryden walks to his perimeter fence to watch the sergeant connect the telephone. 

Seeing Dryden's holster empty, Sgt Taylor tackles him. PCs Reay and Brown climb the fence and secure the arrest.

Dryden claims the land is mined and the bungalow booby trapped. A bomb disposal squad are called from Catterick but on arrival decide to call in 521 Company, 11th Ordnance Battalion from the south.


June 22

After a two-day electronic and manual sweep of land, no explosives were found. Officers find nine guns, including the murder weapon, in the bungalow. A further 33 weapons are found at Priestman Avenue, Consett.

July 1

Dryden makes his second appearance at Consett Magistrates charged with murder and attempted murder. A hundred people turn out to support him, with shouts of "Good luck Alby". More than 3,000 people sign a petition calling for an inquiry.

Dryden is sentenced to life in prison for murder and two counts of attempted murder.

A nature reserve is dedicated to the memory of Mr Collinson by Derwentside District Council.