3 September 1904

Narrow Escape of a Cabman

A somewhat alarming accident on Thursday afternoon in Katherine-street, Ashton. It appears that about three o’clock an electric car was proceeding along the street at the usual speed, when, on reaching the junction of Portland-street and Katherine-street, a cab belonging to Messrs T. Wood and Co., cab proprietors, of Stalybridge, crossed the lines and collided with the car. The driver, Frederick Thomas MILLER, of Harrison-street, Stalybridge, was thrown violently off the seat, and one of the shafts was broken. MILLER sustained no injury beyond the shock.

Death on the Way to the Station

The inhabitants of Bardsley and Waterloo were on Monday shocked by the news of a very sudden death, under peculiar circumstances. It appears that Nancy ARRUNDALE, aged 64, of 18, Keb-lane, Bardsley, wife of a platelayer, was going to Park Bridge Station, along with her husband, and a family named BRADBURY, en route for Cleethorpes for the day, about twenty minutes past six on Monday morning, when (on reaching Fairbottom-road) she was seized with a violent pain in her chest, and became very ill.

Doctor MITCHELL, of Oldham, was accordingly sent for, but the unfortunate woman expired before his arrival. The body was removed home, and Dr MITCHELL examining it a little later said death had been caused by heart disease.

A youth named Arthur HARDY stood in the dock at the Ashton County Police Court, on Wednesday, charged with being on enclosed premises for an unlawful purpose at Hurst, on the 12th of August. He pleaded guilty.

Superintendent HEWITT explained that HARDY was found on premises belonging to a greengrocer at Hurst. Some fruit baskets had been opened, and some plums were lying about. There was no previous conviction recorded against him. – His sister appeared and pleaded that he was always a good boy at home.

The Magistrates’ Clerk: Will you promise not to do anything like this again? – Prisoner (who appeared to feel his position keenly): Yes, sir. – The magistrates dismissed him with a caution.

Exciting Street Incident

On Thursday noon a street accident occurred at Glossop which fortunately was attended with only slight personal injury. Mr J. BROWN, J.P., of Charlesworth, who had been sitting at the Glossop Court Sessions, was being driven to his residence, and when passing along High-street West the horse shied at some baskets by the side of the footpath, containing commercial traveller’s samples, and dashed into one of the electric cars which was passing in the opposite direction.

Mr BROWN and his coachman were thrown out of the vehicle, the shafts and the footboard being splintered. The electric car was considerably damaged, and the horse received a bad cut on one of the forelegs and other injuries. Mr BROWN, the coachman, and the driver of the car luckily escaped.

Milliner’s Shop in Flames

A fire, which created considerable alarm and excitement in the town, occurred on Tuesday afternoon at the shop of Madame ATKINSON, milliner, of Market-street, near the Mechanics’ Institution.

Information of the outbreak was conveyed by Frank Newby HARRIS to Constable BUTLER, at the Hyde fire station, at 3.57. Four firemen, with the float, turned out immediately and were not more than a minute or so before they arrived on the scene, when they were joined by the Chief Constable and several other firemen.

Being closing day, the shop was shut up, and an entry had to be forced into the premises. The glass in the shop door was broken, and it was seen that the fixtures and stock, consisting of hats, boxes, and trimmings, were well alight. Four “Fire Queens” were used for extinguishing until the hose could be brought into operation, and then it only needed a small quantity of water to effectively extinguish the flames.

Altogether, the time occupied in putting the fire out was about twenty minutes. Still the damage done was very considerable, for the contents of the shop for the contents of such a shop are usually of a valuable character. Nearly all the stock was burned, or spoiled by water, though the brigade succeeded in saving a lot of material.

The fire was mainly confined to the front shop, which, after the brigade had left, presented a ruined appearance. It had been cleared of almost everything, and the floor, walls, and ceiling were full of charred matter, and saturated with water. In the ceiling, too, there was a hole where the fire had burned through into the bedroom, but no damage was done there beyond the furniture being wet with the water that had been directed upon the fire to stop it from proceeding any further. We understand, however, that all was covered by insurance.

The outbreak is supposed to have been caused by a fire which had been left burning in the grate after the shop closed at dinner time for the usual half-holiday. There were some boxes and fittings near the grate, and it is conjectured that these became ignited.

The contents of the shop being inflammable the place would soon be in flames. The shop is situated in the middle of a block of buildings, so that the danger of it spreading to them was very considerable, and it was only through the prompt action of the brigade in getting the “Fire Queens” to work while the hoses were attached that perhaps prevented such a catastrophe.

Husband Sent to Gaol

Martha GODFREY, who lives in School-street, Gorton Brook, has been in Ancoats Hospital a fortnight, suffering from injuries to the head. She came out a few days ago, and was able to appear at the Manchester City Police Court, on Monday, to give evidence against her husband, Thomas, who was charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm upon her.

She told the justices she had been married 18 years, and on Saturday, the 13th of August, she went home, in company with a neighbour, as she was afraid of her husband. She admitted having had a drop of drink, and when she knocked at the door he refused to let her in the house. He came outside, and from that time prosecutrix remembered nothing more until she was in Ancoats Hospital. – The Clerk: Do you know what he did to you? No, but he either kicked or hit me. She had, she said, been in the hospital about a fortnight, and was now an out-patient.

Mrs O’BRIAN spoke to going home with the prosecutrix. She left her on the doorstep, and when she had gone a few yards, she heard the little girl scream. Witness ran back, and saw prisoner hitting his wife. She saw she was bleeding, and her head seemed to be injured. Shortly afterwards the horse ambulance came, and the woman was taken to hospital.

Prisoner admitted striking his wife on the side of the face, but denied causing the injuries. He said she fell against the table leg, and after he put her on the sofa she tried to get off again, and fell over the arm of the sofa. Outside she fell over a grate. She went out at dinner time after he had given her his wages, and he never saw her again until after eleven o’clock in the evening. She was, he said, then drunk.

The Bench fined him 21s. and costs, or one month.

An Extraordinary Letter
Threatens to Hang Himself and Murder the Children

At the Ashton County Police Court, on Wednesday, Annie PRICE charged her husband, Charles PRICE, with persistent cruelty at Woodhouses. He pleaded guilty.

Complainant said they had been married seven years last April, and had four children. He was everlasting hitting and beating her. He wouldn’t work, and when she bought food threw it behind the fire and broke the pots. He also came home drunk very often. – The Chairman: Where does he get the money from if he doesn’t work? Complainant: I don’t know, he works a little now and then.

Defendant’s version was that the whole quarrel commenced a week last Monday, when having secured work he had to rise early. He wanted his wife to get up and put some buttons on his trousers, but she wouldn’t. He didn’t mind getting his own breakfast, but he did object to mending his trousers. He had to return two hours later because they were short of tackle. The reason she brought that charge against him was because he went home drunk on Monday night and broke a few cups.

Complainant: In July while asleep in bed at night after working all day, he came up, pulled me out, and kicked me downstairs. If I can get away from him I am willing to work and keep the children. I dare not live with him; I’m afraid, proper afraid. He has also written this letter to me (handing it to the clerk.)

The Chairman (after perusing the letter): That’s a nice letter to write, isn’t it? Is it true? – Defendant: No, sir, it isn’t. – The Magistrates’ Clerk: Then you didn’t intend killing the children and hang yourself? And your little girl didn’t open her eyes when she saw the axe in the bedroom? – The Chairman: Had you an axe in the bedroom? – Complainant: Yes, sir, my mother found it there. – Defendant (emphatically): That’s a lie.

The magistrates granted a separation order and custody of the children with 5s. a week.

The Out of Work Brigade

One of the inevitable robberies which the Wakes brings in its train was disclosed at the Borough Court, on Thursday, when Samuel BARDSLEY and Martin GATELEY, two youths stood in the dock charged with breaking and entering the lock-up shop, 5a, Cavendish-street, and stealing a quantity of sweets and mineral waters, the property of Marjorie CRABTREE

Marjorie CRABTREE, wife of David CRABTREE, of 52, Park-street, said she had a lock-up shop at 5a, Cavendish-street. At 6.30 on Friday evening week she locked it up, leaving all secure. At 7.30 p.m., the 29th of August, she discovered that the shop had been entered. She missed twelve bottles of sweets, two boxes of chocolate, a tin of caramel toffee, and other articles to the value of 16s. It appeared as if the thieves had gained admission through the window.

James Edward SHIRT, of 29, Higher Wharf-street, said that at 5.30 on Wednesday, the 24th of August, he saw the two prisoners at the corner of Higher Wharf-street and Cavendish-street. Bardsley said, “Will you come on the little ground (at the back of the house broken into)?” He answered, “Yes,” and went. When they got there the prisoners entered the shop, and he (witness) left them.

James Levi McCARTHY, a labourer, of 24, Higher Wharf-street, said about 6 o’clock on the date of the robbery he saw the two prisoners in Higher Wharf-street. BARDSLEY was eating some toffee and he (witness) asked for some. BARDSLEY pulled out a cake of the toffee, and gave him some caramel toffee and a piece of chocolate. On Sunday, BARDSLEY said GATELEY, himself, and the last witness had broken into the shop.

Sergeant HEIGHWAY deposed to arresting the two prisoners on Tuesday morning. When he charged them, GATELEY answered, “No mineral waters; that’s a lie.” BARDSLEY made no reply. – The Clerk formally charged them. – BARDSLEY denied the robbery and GATELEY admitted it.

The Chief Constable said both the youths had been before the court, but not for that class of offence. He might say they were out of work, and they were roaming about the night through. There had been several attempts in the district, and he had no doubt the youths had broken into the shop on previous occasions.

The Clerk: BARDSLEY appears to be one of the no-work brigade. – The Chief Constable: That is so. – The Chairman: BARDSLEY, you have been before me previously. Besides doing ill yourself, you are leading other lads astray. You will go to prison for a month with hard labour. You, GATELEY, will be dealt with more leniently. You will be dismissed this time.

Relieved of it at Hazel Grove

On Monday, a very respectably dressed man named William HOPKINSON, a hatter, of Buxton-road, Stockport, was charged at the Stockport County Police Court with having taken a bicycle at Hazel Grove on Saturday.

A Dukinfield cashier, Joseph OLIVER, said he was cycling in the district on Saturday, and he called at the Bull’s Head Inn, Hazel Grove, leaving his bicycle inside a rail outside the house. When he came out the bicycle had disappeared. It was worth £3. He did nothing to prove the case against the prisoner. – A tram conductor named Herbert WALSH stated that he saw the prisoner in possession of the bicycle.

Constable HULME, of the Stockport Borough Force, stated that at about midnight on Saturday, he found the bicycle on the footpath in Buxton-road, about 50 yards away from the prisoner’s house. He saw marks on the pavement, and went to prisoner’s house and questioned him, and afterwards gave information to the county police.

Constable KENNEDY stated that at 2.30 on Sunday morning he arrested the prisoner. When charged he said, “I have not done it.” He admitted having ridden a bicycle on Saturday night and said he did not know to who it belonged. He was liberated on bail, and went to the police station at four o’clock on Sunday afternoon, and said, “I admit taking the bicycle. I was in drink, and did not know what I was doing.”

The Chairman (Mr. Henry BELL): That is no excuse, you know perfectly well you were taking the bicycle. – Superintendent McHALE said the prisoner had been previously fined for a similar offence. His father was a very respectable man.

The prisoner’s father made a statement to the Bench. He said there could be no better lad than his son when he was not under the influence of drink. He had no need to have done this trick. If the Bench would deal leniently with him he would be responsible for him. – The police commissionary (Mr. PICKETT) said he had had some conversation with the prisoner who realised the seriousness of the offence, and had promised to turn over a new leaf.

The Chairman said that as this was prisoner’s second appearance for larceny he ought to be sent to prison. But as the owner of the bicycle did not wish to press the case and the prisoner had promised to turn over a new leaf, they would let him off with a fine. He would be fined 20s, or in default of payment have to go to prison for 14 days.

The proceedings in the Blackpool Police Court against the lady fortune tellers of that favourite seaside resort will have been read with interest throughout Lancashire. One rather likes the contemptuous toleration with which these unblushing impostors have generally been treated. Those who have no more sense than to spend their money in the indulgence of such senseless frivolity are perhaps just as well off without it.

If not swindled in this comparatively harmless fashion they might fall an easy prey to the greater rascals who would fleece them in a more pernicious manner. Butler informs us in his “Hudibras” that “the pleasure is as great of being cheated as to cheat." And so it is, we suppose, with most of the innocent “consultants” of the lady palmists who carry on such a lucrative business at most holiday resorts and in many great cities.

It is part of the pleasure to have their fortunes “told” by persons who have really fewer means of making a good guess than the persons themselves whose fortunes are told. We should imagine very few of the “consultants” would admit, any more than the police did to being really “deceived” by the palmists.

They go for the fun of the thing, desiring, we suppose, to gratify an idle curiosity, and to leave none of the experiences of Blackpool out of their category. The peculiarity of the cases is that none of those who encourage the palmists ever complain; it is always some witness expressly put on by the police. Of course, the professors of occult science, male or female, really knows nothing from his pretended source of divination. It may be said–

With the fond maids in palmistry
They tell the secret first which he reveals

Then, of course, the affectation of “mystery” is one of the good of all the so-called “occult” sciences. The price is not great and “what harm is there in it?” they ask. They easily nibble at the wily bait held out to them, and have no idea from first to last that they are being defrauded. Besides, if there is anything essentially wicked about the business, the “consultants” are participants in the crime, and should be equally amenable to punishment.

But no attempt is ever made to institute a prosecution against the silly people who throw their money away in such a foolish manner. The law treats them as poor, innocent victims who need to be protected from a set of fraudulent impostors. It does not say, as it might do, to those who complain about such tricksters:

Is’t for a man of your repute and note
To credit fortune tellers? A pretty rogue,
That never saw five shillings in a heap,
Will take upon him to divine man’s fate,
Yet never knows himself shall die a beggar,
Or be hanged up for pilfering tablecloths,
Shirts, and smocks hung out to dry on hedges.

Of course, your seaside professional who can pay a rent of £50 for the season at Blackpool cannot be classed in the same poor category, but the imposture is just the same in both cases.

Another view of the matter may be presented. The fair, honest trader, who gives full and substantial value for the money of his customers may compare his own scanty gains with the larger proceeds of some other individual who is carrying on some illegitimate game and cheating the public. He informs the police at last, and puts a spoke in the wheel of the rogue.

In Blackpool there are thousands of people seeking by fair and legitimate means to lay hold of the visitors’ cash, and they may object to anybody else doing so in a manner discountenanced by the law. This sort of thing has been carried to a great length in Blackpool, and, apparently, has not been objected to for a great number of years.

It has evidently become a more flourishing business than that of the lodging-house keeper, and perhaps needed the discouragement of fines of £25 and costs. But, after all, some people may imagine that the humbugs of the place are not quite so inimical to its interests as others suppose, and may think it is better to leave the whole matter to be regulated by the common sense of the people or their want of common sense.

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