15 August 1903

Dastardly Assault

A despicable occurrence took place in Bow-street about half-past nine on Sunday night last. A young man engaged as a bank clerk at Hyde, and residing at Denton, came to Ashton on a visit to his sweetheart, the daughter of an Ashton licensed victualler

Several friends were also visiting at the same time, and together they went for a walk. Passing along Bow-street, near the closed stalls in front of the Market, he excused himself for a minute, and he had not got many yards away when a man wearing corduroy trousers suddenly ran out from the public convenience adjoining, and struck him a violent blow in the face knocking him senseless in the street, where he fell heavily on his side on the rough stone setts.

He was wearing a frock coat and silk hat, and these were very much damaged. His face was bleeding, and in addition he sustained bruises to his hand and body through falling. His assailant immediately made off under cover of the darkness, leaving no clue as to his identity, and efforts made since to discover him have proved fruitless. He cannot account for the strange occurrence, and can only surmise that he was mistaken for someone else.

Every assistance was rendered, and he was driven home in a cab. Unfortunately he did not give information to the police. Had he done so it is possible that with their knowledge of pestiferous characters in the town they might have succeeded in bringing the offender to justice. It is only a week or two since a somewhat similar occurrence took place near Richmond-street when a man was struck in the face with a stick and knocked down, his assailant managing to get away.

Found With His Throat Cut

Between ten and eleven o’clock on Wednesday morning, an unpleasant discovery was made on the premises of Messrs Thomas HARRISON and Co, manufacturers of carpets and linoleum, of Union-street, Manchester. Mr Thomas HARRISON, a middle-aged gentleman, the principal of the firm, whose private address is Oakfield Grove, Gorton, was found lying with his throat cut. He was taken to the Royal Infirmary.

It appears that an employee of the firm, named H B BARNSLEY, heard a groan proceeding from a lavatory in the basement, whither Mr HARRISON had gone a quarter of an hour earlier, and on entering discovered his master huddled up on the floor. He was bleeding profusely from the throat, and a razor lay by his side.

On Tuesday, Mr HARRISON consulted his medical man about his health, and it is supposed that the rash act was the result of depression caused by dwelling upon his own condition. Mr HARRISON, who is 57 years of age, has a wife and daughter. The patient died at the Royal Infirmary on Thursday, where he had been detained.

Singular Treatment of a Stalybridge Solicitor

Mr J W SIMISTER, solicitor, Stalybridge, had an unusually unpleasant experience at the Police Court held at Stalybridge Town Hall on Monday morning. The justices on the Bench were the Mayor (Councillor R WOOD presiding), Aldermen RIDYARD and NORMAN, Councillors J BOTTOMLEY and HOLLAND, and Dr McCARTHY. There were a quartette of cases in the list, and two of these of a minor character were disposed of in thirty minutes. There thus remained two other cases, viz a charge against a beerhouse keeper and a larceny.

Mr SIMISTER was engaged in the licensing, an ascertaining that there was every probability of the evidence in the theft case taking a considerable length of time in being taken in deposition form, he rose and asked what the intention of the Bench was. Was the larceny case going to be taken first? If so, he would be kept there a long time, and he thought that as there would have to be depositions taken in the stealing case it should be taken last.

The Mayor: We decided before we came on here that we would take the theft case first. — Mr SIMISTER: But I would like to point out, Mr Mayor, that the general rule in other police courts is to consider solicitors. — The Mayor: They are here, I expect! — Mr SIMISTER: I have made applications here before, but they have been refused, and I ____

Dr McCARTHY: What objection is there in taking Mr SIMISTER’s case now? — Alderman RIDYARD: The Mayor will be going off when the licensing case is tried. — Dr McCARTHY said that he always understood it to be the rule to take cases in which professional men were engaged first, and thus allow them to go about their business. Unless there was some important reason why should they not do that now?

Captain BATES: The theft case is extremely straightforward. — Dr McCARTHY: But having to sit hearing long rambling statements is not very pleasant. — Mr SIMISTER said he would like to ask — unless there had been some mistake — if the Mayor, Aldermen, and Burgesses were not the prosecutors in the larceny case, and therefore had no power to adjudicate? — The Mayor: That depends entirely upon the prisoners.

Mr SIMISTER: It is extremely important to see that I should not be kept waiting an unnecessary long time, as I am very busy indeed. I want to get back to my business as soon as I possibly can. — The Mayor: I have announced our decision and the facts have been pointed out! And then I believe it is the usual custom to clear the docks before other cases are taken.

Mr SIMISTER: Surely it is not usual to take a deposition case which might last until four o’clock in the afternoon, and keep a solicitor waiting the whole of that time? — The Mayor: The Chief Constable says it will not last many minutes. — Captain BATES: I said it was a simple case. The taking down of depositions will take three-quarters of an hour. - The Mayor: We will take the stealing case first. Accordingly the prisoners concerned were told to stand up, and the detailing of the evidence occupied about 50 minutes, Mr SIMISTER waiting patiently the while.

A Lancashire “Rough and Tumble” Fight

A large crowd gathered in front of the Ashton Town Hall and in the County Police Court room on Wednesday forenoon, on the occasion of the adjourned hearing of the case in which William HOWARTH, a collier at Ashton Moss Colliery, and residing at Waterloo, was in custody charged with unlawfully wounding, on July 25th last, Jas. JONES, better known as “Blossom,” a collier residing at Waterloo. The case was adjourned a fortnight ago on account of complainant being dangerously ill, and unable to appear. Mr J A GARFORTH appeared on behalf of the prisoner.

Superintendent HEWITT said that on July 25th the two men were together at a public house at Waterloo. They quarrelled, and agreed to go and fight. They went into a field, when the complainant was knocked down on the ground, and whilst in that position was kicked on the head, receiving severe injuries, and had it not been for immediate medical attendance he would have bled to death.

The pointed clogs (produced) were what prisoner was wearing, and it was a mercy he was not charged with a far more serious assault, because the kick might easily have resulted fatally. He asked the Bench to assist the police to put a stop to such brutality. Whatever might be said about two men going to fight had no bearing upon a matter like this.

James JONES deposed to having a quarrel with the prisoner in a beerhouse at Waterloo, and going into a field to fight. He pulled his coat off, and was that drunk that he could not remember what took place. He found himself on the sofa at home at 2 o’clock on the Sunday morning following, and had been under Dr MANN for injuries received for a fortnight.

By Mr GARFORTH: He did not know who started the bother, and that prisoner only weighed 155 pounds. The bother was caused about some pigeons. Witness did not rush at prisoner before he took his coat off. It was a Lancashire rough and tumble fight, and witness was wearing a similar pair of clogs to those produced. Mr GARFORTH: I think they call you “Blossom?” Yes. — You are rather a weed than a blossom. — (Laughter.) — Aren’t you a terror in the neighbourhood? No. — Didn’t you turn your wife and child out recently? No. — And go about “cobbing” pigeons? No.

William ANDREW, of Wellington-street, deposed to seeing complainant and prisoner fighting. JONES was underneath and HOWARTH was kicking him. — By Mr GARFORTH: Complainant would have served the prisoner the same road if he had had a chance. “Blossom” was always “searching” a fight. — Superintendent HEWITT: Is it your idea of fair fighting kicking a man whilst he is helpless on the ground? — No.

Robert CAUSER deposed to seeing HOWARTH kick JONES. — By Mr GARFORTH: Blossom was a middling tough ‘un. — (Laughter.)

Constable NEWTON deposed to finding JONES lying in a field bleeding from a ragged wound in the head which was cut clean to the bone. The top lip was cut about half an inch. He was conveyed home on a stretcher. On examining the toe of the clog he found a quantity of hair on it. — By Mr GARFORTH: “Blossom” was known as a bad character, but he was a friend of the police in the sense of being a customer. — (Laughter.)

Mr GARFORTH referred to the “fancy reports” spread in the newspapers, and said the prisoner was infinitely more sinned against than sinning. — (Hear, hear.) JONES was and had been a terror to the neighbourhood. There were 20 people in the court who would tell them that he had behaved in a brutal fashion for years, not only to his wife and family, but to everybody whom he could bully. There had been a pigeon-fly some weeks before, and it was alleged by the prisoner that JONES owed him 2s 6d and this question came up in the beerhouse in the shape of taunts.

After being challenged, the prisoner thought if he had to get a “licking” he might as well have it and done with it. He had no conception of beating the larger man, and was wearing his ordinary clogs. It was arranged they should have two, sort of seconds, but there was some objection, and they went alone. “Blossom” ran at the prisoner before he had got ready, and got him by the legs and threw him on the ground and pummelled and kicked him.

They gave over to breathe, and “Blossom” ran at him again, and received a blow from the back of prisoner’s hand and fell. Prisoner kicked him, and caught him on the head with the side of his clog. Somebody shouted out that he had done enough, and he went away. When a man had lost a battle, he ought not go to the court whining for redress. — Superintendent HEWITT: He has taken no action himself. The police have taken action.

Mr GARFORTH said the prisoner had a good character, and was a married man with a small family. Had “Blossom” got him down, and undoubtedly he would have done exactly the same or worse. He was not satisfied with the close of the fray, and had issued a challenge once. “Blossom” got what he well deserved, and the prisoner had done a public service, and got the thanks of the hamlet for having put the terror and bully in order. The justice of the case would be met if the magistrates bound the two over.

The prisoner, William HOWARTH, corroborated the previous statements, and said that “Blossom” wanted to wrestle him for half a gallon of beer. When they went into the field he caught prisoner’s legs before he was ready for him. He thumped “Blossom” several times, who said “make good use of it for I’ll sound thi ______ ribs in a bit!”

The Chairman said it was just a miracle that JONES did not stand in HOWARTH’s position, and vice versa. JONES knew his own character, and what people thought of him. He ought to be ashamed of himself. It was a wonder one or the other was not charged with murder or manslaughter. “Give up those blackguardly ways of yours,” he said, “and don’t disgrace the village of Waterloo any more; it is disgraced enough.”

The Magistrates fined HOWARTH 10s 6d and costs or 14 days’ imprisonment.

Gallant Rescue by Constable Wood

At the Dukinfield Police Court on Thursday a domestic servant named Sarah DAY (21) was charged with attempting to commit suicide by drowning in the Peak Forest Canal at 10.30pm on the 12th August. Prisoner, who appeared to be much distressed, was accommodated with a seat.

Superintendent CROGHAN said it was a very painful case. It appeared that Constable WOOD was on duty last night on the towing path of the Peak Forest Canal near Dukinfield Station. He saw the prisoner deliberately jump into the canal. He at once went into the water and got her out. Being a certified member of the St John’s Ambulance Association the officer rendered first aid, and revived her in about 15 to 20 minutes. With the assistance of Mr FLETCHER, agent for the Canal Company, she was brought to the police station, and they did what they could for her.

The water was 5ft or 6ft deep at the place where the prisoner jumped in, and if it had not been for the prompt action of Constable WOOD she would have been drowned. She belonged to Hooley Hill, but had been a servant at the Staff of Life Beerhouse, King-street. They sent for the licensee (Mr BOOTH), and he and his wife came up to the police station. They also sent for her mother, got her dry clothing, gave her some tea, and made her as comfortable as possible. She now seemed to feel her position very acutely.

Constable WOOD gave evidence, bearing out the Superintendent’s statement. It was 10.30pm when he saw the prisoner on the canal bank. She had a white shawl on her head. She pulled that off, placed it upon some railings, and then jumped into the water. He went in for her, and after getting her out she was unconscious for about ten minutes. She did not offer any resistance. Witness ultimately got the assistance of Mr FLETCHER, and they took her to the police station.

He had since charged her with attempting to commit suicide by drowning, and she did not make any reply. Alderman PICKUP: Did she say anything when you got her out of the canal? Constable WOOD: I asked her what her name was, and she said “Don’t ask me any questions; let me go and I will not do it again. Superintendent CROGHAN said the landlord of the Staff of Life gave prisoner an excellent character.

At this point prisoner fainted and had to be carried out of court. After the other business had been disposed of, the prisoner was brought into court again. Her father and mother were present, and also Mr BOOTH of the Staff of Life. The magistrates endeavoured to elicit the cause or motive for the prisoner’s rash act. Eventually the magistrates decided to hand the prisoner over to her parents, on the understanding that they would take care of her in future.

Dr TINKER complimented Constable WOOD upon his action in the matter. His conduct was highly commendable. He acted with great promptitude and good judgment. There was not the slightest doubt that but for the constable’s presence of mind the young woman would not have been there that morning.

We may add that Constable WOOD is responsible for rescuing three persons from drowning. The first occasion was in the year 1889, before he joined the Cheshire Constabulary, when he was working at the Elm Colliery, Buckley, near Hawarden. A man went into a deep pit to bathe, and he was noticed to be in difficulties. WOOD dived into 20ft of water and rescued the man. In 1902, after he joined the Cheshire Constabulary, and when stationed in the Eddisbury Division, a boat lad fell into the river Weaver, and Constable WOOD was again instrumental in saving life. The attention of the Royal Humane Society is to be called to the meritorious conduct on Constable WOOD.

Occupants Injured

A very nasty accident, illustrating the danger of slippery setts, occurred in Warrington-street, Ashton, about six o’clock on Monday evening. A phaeton was being driven along, in charge of Charles SALT, 377 High-street, Glossop, and containing two occupants, Mrs and Miss SHAWCROSS, of Blandford-street, Ashton.

Somehow the horse slipped and fell, causing the phaeton to completely overturn, and throwing the occupants with considerable force on to the hard setts. Mrs and Miss SHAWCROSS were badly shaken, and were assisted into Mr GIBSON’s shop, close by, where every attention was paid to them. Constable FERNLEY, who was in the vicinity, also rendered timely assistance. After remaining a short time Mrs and Miss SHAWCROSS were able to proceed home. The front of the phaeton was smashed and the shafts broken.

The Danger of Granite Setts

The pleasure of the Wakes at Hyde were marred on Monday night by a sad fatality which occurred near Astley Deep Pit, Dukinfield, to a Hyde can driver named James TURNER, aged 22 years. He had taken two women to Dukinfield and was returning home when the horse slipped on some blue granite setts and fell. The driver was thrown from his seat, over the top of the hansom, and fell with his head on the pavement. He was picked up unconscious, and after he had been seen by Dr PARK, he was taken home, where he died two hours after the accident. He was a single man.

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