26 December 1903

To see the shops to advantage at Christmas time one must needs inspect them ‘neath the glare of the gas and electric lights. Improvements in the shape of incandescent burners have done much to further the illuminating power of gas, and a dimly-lighted establishment id nowadays is a rarity.

The principal thoroughfare, Stamford-street, at night is a blaze of light, and to dispense with the this most brilliant asset at Christmas time would be to rob the Yuletide aspect of its greatest charts. The emporiums of Ashton have assumed quite a festive appearance. Cash may be a little tight, and tradesmen may have felt the pinch due to the depression in the cotton trade, but taking the shops as a whole there is very little to indicate the recent bad times.

An effort has been made in a few cases to re-introduce the tableaux which used to be a feature of nearly every shop window, but in the great majority of cases the tradesmen have limited their display to their own particular wares. The butchers have displayed prime dressed carcases of the slaughtered innocents in their windows, and the proverbial Jaffa orange plays still the same part in adorning the wide-open mouths of the adult and baby porkers.

Beef, mutton, pork, and poultry, daintily bedecked, appeal with irresistible force to paterfamilias on the look out for something to adorn his Christmas larder. Birds of every variety, turkeys, geese, ducks, pheasants, and chickens form a high façade to each poultry establishment. The fish market is redolent with the aroma of the finny tribe, and alive with the bustle and shouts of the noisy salesmen.

The market is a perfect labyrinth of big stacks of holly, mistletoe, firs, laurel branches, pine apples, Californian apples, and Jaffas, and a veritable eldorado for pater and mater in their anxious quest for Christmas toys and bon bons. Holly is plentiful, but it is stated to be weak in berries this year. A great quantity has been made up into wreaths and crosses, with little bunches of everlasting flowers, and Michaelmas daisies, dyed scarlet, which have found a ready sale, although the price is stated to have gone up in the case of mistletoe from 21s to £2 per cwt. Since last Saturday, and holly from 15s to 30s.

The chief area for shop displays is of course Stamford-street. To individualise all the shops having uniformity of display would be altogether superfluous. In a few cases, however, tableaux have been introduced, as in the case of Mr John WILSON, tailor, where a number of boys are represented sliding on ice, with the usual result that one has come a cropper and fallen on his back with his feet high in the air.

Messrs BRIGGS Bros., tailors, introduced a little fairy fountain into their window, illuminated by electric lights, and goldfish swimming about in the water, which is kept in check by waterproof cloth. HUTTS, tailors, introduced Santa Claus as a central figure in a very pretty display, and another tailoring establishment in George-street, show several interesting figures, whilst close by in Mrs J BRIGGS’ millinery establishment is a miniature of Santa Claus riding on a mule, in action, heavily laden with toys.

The THOMPSON Drug Company have one or two automatic pieces of mechanism in their window at the lower end of the street, meant as advertisements; also bottles of good cheer from the innocent ginger wine to special “Johnny Walker” in connection with which is a guessing competition. An imitation maypole dance, on a small scale, with six flaxen-haired little girls attired in dresses of coloured crimped paper arranged in a circle, is a feature of the Maypole Dairy Co., whilst a snow scene and a dainty arrangement of toys forms an attractive display in connection with the shop of Black and White, whilst Seymour Mead’s is to be admired for an admirable display; also Catlow, Lloyd and Co.

Lustrous furs, necklets, and muffs there are in all shapes and varieties, elegant Alexandra Dagmars, and Roxburghes, real Russian sable, hair, and wolf skins, lovely Maltese and Mechlin laces, ladies’ jackets, mantles, and costumes and dress lengths, and draperies of every description.

Toys and dolls flourish in abundance, some of the latter being so tall as to fill their future little foster mothers with perplexity as to how to negotiate them. An up-to-date toy is the “looping of the loop,” and this has had a ready sale, as have the numerous mechanical toys on view in the various shop windows.

Christmas cards show considerable improvement in novelty and design, and there are has been, as usual, a big demand. The ever popular Christmas stocking, filled with all kinds of dainty articles, has again been in much favour. Nearly all the shops close on Christmas Day and Bank Holiday.

Theft of a Lubricator from Cockbrook Mill

Ernest BIRD, a powerful looking man, was on Monday placed in the dock at the Stalybridge Police Court and charged with having stolen a brass lubricator, the property of Messrs Thomas DEAN and Alexander BURROWS, under the following circumstances:—

Constable James HAMER said: On Friday night about twelve o’clock I was on duty in Clarence-street when I heard a noise on the other side of the wall surrounding Messrs Reyner’s Cockbrook Mill. I waited a while to see what the noise was when I saw prisoner come to the wall, look over, and then drop into the street, and afterwards lift something off the wall. I went behind prisoner, caught hold of him, and asked him what he had got these, and he replied, “Hello, where the ----- has tha come from, it’s a fair catch.”

The Mayor: He was not very pleased to see you then? — (Laughter.) — Witness: No, sir, evidently not. After he had said it was a fair catch I brought him to the police office and charged him with the theft, and he replied, “I am guilty.” He was then locked up. — The Mayor: Have you any questions to ask the officer? — Prisoner: It is no use asking any.

James GORDON said: I am a watchman at the Cockbrook, and reside in Corkland-street, Ashton. I identify the lubricator produced as being the property of Thomas Dean and Alexander BURROWS. I saw it last safe on the engine at the mill fixed in position on the cylinder on Thursday, and I did not miss it until I was notified by the police on Saturday morning. I do not know the prisoner.

Alexander BURROWS said: I am in partnership with Mr Thomas DEAN, builder and contractor, and reside in Ashton. I identify the lubricator as being our joint property. It is worth £5. Prisoner had no right to take the lubricator.

Colonel SIDEBOTTOM: Do you know the man? — Witness replied in the negative, and said he would not have thought so much about the theft had it been their intention to break up the engine. We had a likely customer for working the mill again. If prisoner had broken up the lubricator he would only have got six or seven shillings for it.

Inspector BAMFORTH said he this was BIRD’s first appearance for felony. He had, however, been convicted at Dukinfield, Ashton, and Hurst, chiefly for drunkenness and assault upon police. Prisoner said he had nothing to say, and the Mayor sentenced him to gaol for three months with hard labour.

Addressing Constable HAMER, the Mayor said the bench desired to express their satisfaction and admiration upon the smartness he had exhibited in bringing the prisoner to justice. The magistrates were satisfied that the officer had displayed commendable alertness in capturing the thief in the dead of night. — HAMER: Thank you, sir.

James Connolly’s 103rd Appearance

On Monday, at the Stalybridge Police Court, before the Mayor and other Justices, James CONNOLLY, labourer, made his 103rd appearance, this time for having been drunk in Wood-street on Saturday. He is 70 years of age, and when told to stand up in the dock, he presented an extremely weak appearance, and was shabbily dressed. He pleaded guilty, and Constable HULME stated the facts.

The Mayor: What have you got to say? Prisoner: Nothing, sir; I feel very ill. I came out of the Workhouse on Monday and got a couple of glasses of rum which took effect. — Last time you were here you promised to stay in the Workhouse. — I did, sir, and I have been in six months. — Why didn’t you stay there instead of coming out just when Christmas fare is being served? — I will go back. — Where did you get your drink — in Stalybridge? No, sir. — I should think no-one in Stalybridge will serve you; they all know you. I never asked for I know they will not.

Councillor HOPWOOD: I saw you one day going up the street begging off everyone you met, saying you wanted some hot coffee. I gave you a copper myself, expecting you would go and get something warm. You ought to be sent right away.

The Clerk: Won’t you tell the magistrates where you got your drink? — Councillor HOPWOOD: He got it in Stalybridge almost certain. — Prisoner: I sent another fellow in for it with a bottle. I did no go in myself. — The Clerk: Why don’t you tell the magistrates the truth, man?

The Mayor: Will you go back to the Workhouse? — Prisoner: I will, sir. — The Clerk: But can you take his word? — On condition that he went to the Workhouse, CONNOLLY was discharged. In default it was ordered that he be sent to prisoner for 14 with hard labour.

CHARGE AGAINST A WORKHOUSE INMATE. — A charge of refusing to perform his allotted task whilst an inmate of the casual ward of the Union Workhouse on the 19th instant was preferred against John BINNS, at the Ashton Borough Court, on Saturday, to which he pleaded guilty. — The Workhouse Master (Mr SHORE) said the prisoner claimed his discharge, stating that he had got work to go to. He declined to any further work, and explained that if he had a day’s rest he would be better prepared to commence his work on the following morning. — The magistrates sent the prisoner to gaol for seven days.

SINGULAR DEATH OF A HORSE. — Mr Edward GENTY, coal merchant, &c, has just suffered a severe loss by the death of one of his horses under most peculiar circumstances. On Friday the horse was attached to a loaded cart at Smallshaw, when suddenly the “belly-band” snapped, the result being that the cart and shafts tilted, the animal being lifted bodily into mid-air. Some portion of the harness was tightly drawn round the horse’s neck, and despite the vigorous efforts of the men in charge to release the harness, the animal suffocated. In the course of 12 months Mr GENTY has lost three horses by death.

WIFE DESERTION. — Harry WOOD was before the county justices, at Ashton, on Wednesday, charged with absconding and leaving his wife chargeable to the union. He pleaded not guilty. — Mr W B WOFFENDEN, relieving officer, said the man’s wife and four children had been chargeable to the union for twelve months. His wife had had to enter the Workhouse to be confined. The total cost had been £29 12s 6d. Prisoner had been working at Wigan, and had spent the railway fare between there and Ashton. — Prisoner said his employer paid the railway fare. He had only been in work a short time, and had not had the chance to get his wife out of the union. — The case was adjourned for six weeks.

PRESENTATION. — A very interesting ceremony took place at the King’s Arms, Stamford-street, Ashton, on Saturday last, in the shape of the presentation of a beautiful silver medal, which, through the generosity of Mr and Mrs Sam HEY, of that house, was handed to Mr Bert CHAPMAN, the well-known blind vocalist. Mr George SMITH, in a neat little speech, made the presentation on behalf of the donors.

A REMAND. — Harry LAMBERT was charged on Thursday, at the borough police court, with stealing a gas meter, the property of Mary JOHNSON. — The Chief Constable stated that prisoner brought a gas meter out of a house belonging to Mary JOHNSON. He asked for a remand until Monday. — Edith Alice CLAYTON, domestic servant in the employ of Mary JOHNSON, living at 45 Grosvenor-street, said that as she was going up Crickets-lane she saw prisoner breaking up a gas meter. She asked what he was doing, and said that he would have to pay. He answered that it would not cost above 7s 6d. He then ran away. — The remand was granted.

Public Testing on the Market Ground

In the presence of a crowd of people, computed at several hundreds, the new steam engine recently purchased by the Stalybridge Corporation was on Monday afternoon officially inspected, tested, and christened on the market-ground. Many members of the Town Council were in attendance, assembling at the Town Hall, and headed by the Mayor (Alderman R WOOD), they paraded on to the market ground and took up a stand opposite the baths.

Simultaneously the steam engine — naturally looking spick and span — dashed on to the spot, being drawn by a couple of heavy horses. The firemen dismounted, and at this point the Mayoress came forward for the purpose of christening the new purchase “Reliance.”

Captain BATES, superintendent of the brigade, wrapped a piece of crimson cloth round the hind portion of the engine, securing at the other end a champagne bottle, which he placed in the Mayoress’s hand. Addressing the Mayoress, Alderman FENTON the said: Mrs WOOD, I have great pleasure on behalf of the Corporation of Stalybridge in asking you to christen this new steam fire engine “Reliance.” — (Applause.)

The Mayoress, before letting the bottle drop, said: “Alderman FENTON, ladies and gentlemen, I have very great pleasure in christening your new fire engine “Reliance,” and I hope that whenever we have a fire in our town and neighbouring boroughs it will prove worthy of its name — “Reliance.” — (Loud applause.) Mrs WOOD then released the bottle, which fell with a thud against the brass work of the engine and smashed to pieces, a cheer being given by the onlookers.

The firemen then proceeded to prepare for a demonstration of the engine’s capabilities. A fire was lighted, and in the course of 9½ minutes all was in readiness for the pouring of volumes of water through the hose pipes, which had been placed in readiness. At the outset a 1½-in nozzle was used from a stand, which was in charge of Sergeants OLLERENSHAW and GEE, and the water was sent 150 feet into the air.

Then followed the 1¾-in nozzle, the height attained being between 160 and 170 feet. Two nozzles (each seven eighths inch) threw water 120 feet, as also did a trio of ½-in nozzles and one of ¾in. The results were all deemed very satisfactory, and the consensus of opinion was that should a fire break out in the future the Stalybridge fire brigade will be able to cope with it as well as any brigade from other towns.

As we have previously stated in the “Reporter,” the engine is one of Messrs Merryweathers’ double vertical “Greenwich” pattern machines, capable of delivering 400 to 600 gallons per minute, and of throwing one, two, or four jets as required. The boiler is Merryweathers’ patent water tube type, and will raise steam from cold water to working pressure in from six to eight minutes from time of lighting the fire.

The machinery, which is placed vertically behind the boiler, consists of a pair of inverted steam cylinders, driving two double-acting gunmetal pumps. The steam and water pistons are at opposite ends of the same rod, cross heads being used to drive a crankshaft to limit the stroke and actuate the slide valves. The pump valves are of rubber, and can be easily got at for examination or repair.

Large copper suction and delivery air vessels are fitted with extra large size hose connections, enabling the engine to work very smoothly under high pressure. The frame is of steel, carried on springs and high wood-spoke wheels; a large hose box is fitted in front of the boiler, forming seats for coachman and firemen, and the whole can easily be run out by a pair of horses.

Double lever brakes are fitted to act on both hind wheels. The boiler is brass lagged, and ample accommodation is provided for coal and water. Similar engines are already in use by the fire brigades at Birkenhead, Oldham, Northampton, Clitheroe, Widnes, Atherton, Nottingham, Bristol, etc.

At the Dukinfield Police Court, on Thursday, before Alderman C H BOOTH and Mr W UNDERWOOD, three lads named James POTTS, Robert BELLIS, and Samuel BRIDGE were charged on remand with breaking and entering the dwelling-house of Mr H RICHARDSON, Dukinfield Hall, last Saturday.

Mary Maria RICHARDSON said she was the wife of Henry RICHARDSON, 53 Astley-street, setter in at Rowley’s ironworks. They left their home at 2.30 on Saturday afternoon last. All was then securely fastened. They returned at about 8.30 in the evening, and found the front door bolted from the inside. They got in by a side door, and found that the house had been broken into during their absence.

A pane of glass had been broken in the back kitchen window. The cutlery on the sideboard, and the drawers, were upset. In one of the bedrooms the drawers were open, and some of the things placed on the wash-stand. On Sunday morning she missed a child’s pink under flannel, a child’s nightdress, two pairs men’s drawers, and other articles worth 5s. The prisoner POTTS was sat on a wall near the house when she returned home on Saturday night. There were two other lads on the opposite side of the road, and POTTS called out to them, “come on lads.”

Constable CUNLIFFE stated that he was on patrol duty last Saturday in Ashton-street. At 4.30 he saw the prisoner POTTS about 50 yards from Mr RICHARDSON’s house. There were two other lads with him, but witness could not identify them.

Constable HALL stated that he received information of this robbery, and examined Mr RICHARDSON’s premises. He afterwards arrested the prisoner POTTS, and in consequence of a statement he made he apprehended the other two prisoner on Sunday night. He afterwards charged the prisoners with breaking into 53 Astley-street. POTTS replied. “Yes, and those two were with me,” pointing to the prisoners. BELLIS said “I deny being with you,” BRIDGE said “No, I was not there.”

The prisoner POTTS now informed the Bench that BELLIS broke a window with a brick and they shoved him through. BELLIS denied being there, and said he went to a football match at two o’clock, and returned at 4.30. He afterwards went to Ashton and Hyde. BRIDGE said he was on the football field. In the evening he went to Manchester at six o’clock.

The Bench decided to commit POTTS for trial to the sessions, and discharged the other prisoners. The prisoner POTTS had been several times convicted. He is a cripple.

Creative Commons License Rhodes Family History by Ian Rhodes (1999-2018 v.3.0) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available by contacting me.
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