7 February 1903

THE ASHTON MUSIC-HALL QUESTION
Magisterial Criticism – A Peep Behind the Scenes – Continental Beer Gardens
”Such a close shave,” said one of the Borough Licensing Justices, who had to do with the destinies of the Ashton Music-Halls in the ever-memorable cases at the Town Hall on Thursday, “that I think the deliberations of the magistrates in private ought to go forth in public.”

This was the open sesame to the cave of “knowledge of good and evil,” and soon the information was elicited that when the magistrates retired to consider their decision, Councillor PARK, on behalf of, and at the request of, a large body of magistrates, of his own views submitted a resolution somewhat as follows:- “That music-licenses be refused to all licensed public-houses that either have paid artistes or intend to conduct their places with paid-artistes for music and performance.”

This was seconded by Mr Jonas KNIGHT and supported by Councillor KELSALL. Councillor PARK argued his position entirely on moral and social grounds, emphasizing the fact that the working men of the town, men who themselves were not total abstainers, dreaded the effects of the temptations of these music rooms, no matter what their own habits might be, and who shrank from the possibility of their own offspring being brought under the contaminating influence of what was necessarily evil in its surroundings. He put forward the eleven years experience he had had of all forms of social work in the town, work freed from political, denominational, or even teetotal tastes.

Mr Jonas KNIGHT, in seconding, dwelt upon the influences which music halls had upon the voluntary self sacrificing labours of Sunday school workers. Councillor KELSALL pointed out that the drinking habits were on the increase in the town, and his own experience, both in the town as a magistrate and from the knowledge he had gained at Quarter Sessions showed that Ashton was deteriorating in its moral fibre, which he attributed very largely to the breaking down of character in early life and the inroads of drink.

Alderman SHAW suggested that Councillor PARK should modify his resolution, and restrict it to the six most prominent music halls in the borough. – Councillor PARK at once accepted the compromise, and then the matter was put to the vote, the result being that 13 voted for Councillor PARK’s resolution and 14 against, the resolution being defeated by a majority of one.

Quite contrary to expectation, a well-known Liberal councillor occupying a seat on the Bench, gave his vote against the resolution, thereby reversing what was counted upon as a majority for the other side. The magistrate in question has, however, aired his views on the music hall question on more than one occasion, and he believed in moderation. He has travelled extensively on the continent, and from knowledge gained in connection with the continental beer gardens, he does not see why music should be an incentive to drink. In connection with which lurks other evils.

Being mostly of the al fresco type, the conditions are quite different, and the surroundings much more pleasant than the English music hall. The principle, however, is the same, and this is what actuated the voting of the magistrate in question. The vote was a surprise to some of the magistrates, because if that vote had been recorded for Councillor PARK’s resolution the result would have been that six prominent music halls in the town would have been closed.

When questioned on the subject, Councillor PARK ventured a remark that they had been given away by their own friends. “The strong point is this,” he said. “shortly the Corporation, as such, will become a great educational authority, responsible for the education and moral up-bringing of the young people who go to school, and nothing is more injurious, in my opinion, to the morals of the town than music halls. They break down the moral fibre of young girls and accustom them to drinking habits, which must certainly have an injurious effect upon their domestic life when they come to have homes of their own.”

During the voting one of the magistrates suggested that the names of the magistrates should be taken and their vote recorded, but the suggestion did not find favour. An opinion was freely expressed amongst the magistrates that the applicants for music hall licenses should be put in the witness box just the same as the ministers and the others who had paid visits to the music halls, but the majority of the magistrates overruled the proposition.

THE AGITATION WILL GO ON
”I am by no means discouraged at the result,” said the Rev T HOOPER, “and I think I am voicing the feelings of everyone of the opposition to the music hall licenses in saying it is a great gain to have got such an expression of opinion, and to have got the magistrates, with but one of a minority, to see our point.”

THE “SPION KOP” OF THE SITUATION
Mr Thomas HEY, proprietor of the Tivoli Music Hall (Commercial Hotel), Old-street, described his music hall as the “Spion Kop” of the situation, inasmuch as his establishment was selected as a test case, and the licenses in connection with the other prominent music halls of the borough had to stand or fall upon the decision given. One thing which had impressed him, he said, was that throughout the evidence there had been no imputations of misconduct whatsoever, and the other side had proved in the main to be the best witnesses for the “trade.” It had been a fair and square fight, and there had been no stabbing in the back.

The member of the Music Hall Artistes Association were delighted at the result, their means of livelihood being at stake, and had the result been otherwise it would have upset all their engagements so far as Ashton was concerned.

WHICHEVER WAY THE CAT JUMPED
On the other hand, one well-known licensed victualler, at whose establishment music is provided at week-ends, said he did not care whether his license was taken away or not. If the magistrates refused to renew the license, he would be spared the expense in connection with the engagement of professional talent, and be able to save the money. Whichever way the cat jumped would do for him.

WATERLOO AND BARDSLEY
THE PROPOSED NEW COTTON MILL.- The contract for the plumbing and glazing of the proposed new cotton mill at Bardsley has been let to Mr G H COOP, Ashton.

DRAMATIC LICENSE FOR A SCHOOL:- At the Ashton County Police Court, on Saturday, Samuel WOLFENDEN applied for a dramatic license in respect of the Bardsley Primitive Methodist Sunday School for a month. – The application was granted.

MUTUAL IMPROVEMENT SOCIETY:- The usual weekly meeting of the above society was held in the Wesleyan Schoolroom, Waterloo, on Thursday evening, under the presidency of Mr JAQUES. There was a fairly good attendance. Mr E MARSHALL, of Ashton, read a paper, the subject being “The Golden Rule,” and this gave rise to a somewhat lively discussion, which was taken part in by Messrs MILLER, HARSON, HALLAM, FLOWERS, and the chairman. Mr MARSHALL replied, and was thanked for his paper.

SAD ACCIDENT ON THE FOOTBALL FIELD.- Whilst a football match was in progress near a field situated near Whitehead’s Farm, Limehurst, on Saturday afternoon, between the Waterloo Wanderers and Millbrook St James’s, Stalybridge, a player named Harry HOLT, aged 24, residing at 4 George-street, Waterloo, collided with another player and fractured his leg below the knee. An ambulance man named George GOULD rendered first aid to the injured youth, who was then conveyed to his home on the hand ambulance, and afterwards attended to by Dr BOWMAN.

WATERLOO AND TAUNTON LIBERAL CLUB.- The annual general meeting was held on Tuesday evening, chairman, Mr Isaac HIBBERT. The club is in a very satisfactory condition, a marked and substantial rate of progress having been maintained. The balance-sheet was adopted without comment. There was a very good muster of members, and as the chairman remarked in his usual racy style, “If we are to be judged by the present company, we are a nice lot.”

Mr HIBBERT was unanimously re-elected chairman for the ensuing twelve months. The following officers were also elected: President: Mr Rupert MASON; vice-presidents, Messrs Abel BUCKLEY, Frederick CAWLEY. M.P., J W POLLITT, and Sydney MASON; committee, Messrs B ANWYL, J BRADBURY, J HEWITT, H OUSEY, William TABNER, junr, and S BUCKLEY; auditors, Messrs C BESWICK, and G. M. DIXON. The secretary, Mr P BUCKLEY, was re-elected.

THE ESTREATING OF BAIL AT STALYBRIDGE
On Monday at the Stalybridge Police Court, James ASPINALL, of Caroline-street, was summoned to show cause why the £10 recognisance entered into should not be forfeited. Captain BATES said that a week ago a man named Matthew HARRISON was locked up for being drunk. Next day, ASPINALL came forward and agreed to go bail for prisoner in the sum of £10. He (Captain BATES) expressly pointed out to ASPINALL that he was liable to be called upon to forfeit the £10 should HARRISON fail to appear in court. It was very reckless to go bail in this way.

Mr S WARHURST: Did HARRISON turn up eventually? – Captain BATES: He was fetched from Radcliffe. – Alderman SIMPSON: At some cost? – Captain BATES: Yes, sir, at a cost to the borough of ten shillings.

The Mayor described the conduct of ASPINALL as being carelessness. ASPINALL said he had every confidence in HARRISON appearing in court. He had known him for eight years, and HARRISON promised faithfully to turn out. Instead of so doing, however, he went and got drunk again.

Alderman SIMPSON: If you had not gone bail we should have kept him here. The Bench consulted and in the end the Mayor said the decision was to estreat £1 of the amount as a warning to others who became bondsmen. Failing distress, defendant would have to go to gaol for 14 days. ASPINALL asked for time in which to pay and was allowed a month.

HURST
A SHOP BROKEN INTO.- On Tuesday morning Mrs GASKELL, greengrocer, Hillgate-street, Hurst, found that her premises had been broken into by forcing the window catch back and opening the window. A number of eggs, oranges, and greengroceries were missing. Mrs GASKELL’s attention, it appears, had been called to the window during the night-time, and she got up and closed it. But she did not look into the window at the time to see if anything was missing.

PRIMITIVE METHODIST CHAPEL, WHITWORTH-STREET:- On Sunday, the above place was re-opened for public worship. In the morning, the Rev W S HOWLETT, circuit minister, preached. Mrs HOWLETT was the speaker at the night service. The organist for the two services was Mr J LAMBERT, and in the morning Misses STOTT and ALBBISON sang the duet, “Pass it on,” very well, and at night Mr T COURTMAN sang the solo, “Arm, arm, ye brave.”

In the afternoon the choir from M.N.C. rendered very effectively a musical service consisting of anthems, chorales, marches, solos, duets &c, under the baton of Mr G H SCHOFIELD, and Mr R WRIGLEY officiated at the organ.

The collections. which were on behalf of the renovation fund, amounted to £4 10s 7d. The place has undergone painting and decorating at the hands of Mr PEPLOW and the re-lighting is now on the incandescent system.

AND FINALLY
A certain baronet, who is notoriously pompous and boastful, was neatly taken down by a well-known comedian at a dinner party some time ago. “While I was out hawking yesterday -----“ commenced the baronet in a loud voice. “Hawking?” broke in the comedian, with an assumption of great surprise. “Yes – falconry – you know.” “Oh,” said the comedian, “I thought you meant bootlaces and collar studs!”

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