6 February 1904

An Openshaw Woman’s Claim

This was an action at the Manchester Assizes, on Monday, by Mrs MOORS, a married woman, living at Openshaw, to recover damages from the Manchester Corporation for personal injury which she had sustained in an accident due, it was alleged, to negligence on the part of the defendant’s servants. Negligence was denied, and the accident was attributed by the defence entirely to the fault of the plaintiff herself. Mr TOBIN, K.C., and Mr SHAWCROSS were counsel for the plaintiff; Mr SHEE, K.C., and Mr RHODES for the Corporation.

Mr TOBIN, in his opening, said the injuries sustained by the plaintiff were very serious; her right leg was broken in two places, and she was left practically helpless. She had been confined to bed most of the time since the accident, and was only able to leave home, moving about on crutches, about the end of last week. The plaintiff lived at Openshaw, where her husband was employed at the engineering works of Crossleys Limited, earning 50s a week.

On the evening of Saturday, the 1st of August, Mrs MOORS and her husband had occasion to go to Ashton-under-Lyne, travelling by electric car as far as Audenshaw, and there changing into a horse car (also belonging to the Manchester Corporation) to complete the journey.

When the car reached the Ashton terminus the plaintiff was the last passenger to leave it. She followed her husband down the steps from the roof, holding to the rail with her right hand, and when she had nearly reached the footboard the horses made a sudden move forward, causing her to lose her balance and to slip with her right leg through the rail.

She was carried into a neighbouring shop, where the broken limb was set, and was ultimately removed to her home in an ambulance. Negligence was attributed to the driver of the car, who should have maintained proper control of the horses, and prevented them from moving forward.

In cross-examination the plaintiff denied that she slipped in descending the steps, irrespective of any movement by the horses. – Mr SHEE: I suggest that you came down carelessly, and that you slipped accidentally? The Plaintiff: Certainly not.

The reply of the Tramways Department to the first letter sent by the plaintiff’s husband, about the end of August, was read. Surprise was expressed at the suggestion that the car had started whilst the plaintiff was getting down. The car was discharging passengers at the time, and a considerable number were waiting to get on. Ample evidence, it was further stated, was forthcoming that no blame could be attached to the servants of the Corporation, and whilst regretting that the plaintiff should have sustained the injuries described they were unable to recognise their liability.

The hearing was resumed on Tuesday at the Manchester Assizes. – Several persons called on behalf of the plaintiff bore out her statement as to the car suddenly moving.

For the defence, Mr SHEE said the Corporation wished to deal perfectly fairly with the public, where they were proved to be responsible, but in cases where there was believed not to have been any negligence, as in the present, they were bound to resist claims, however much they sympathised with the person to whom an accident had happened. The suggestion of the defence was that the plaintiff, in descending the slippery steps of the car on a wet night, did not exercise due care, and that the injury resulted from an accident for which the Corporation were not responsible.

The Judge said if there was an involuntary movement of the horses it would be a question for the jury whether it was such that could be avoided. Mr SHEE agreed that the defendants were bound to take proper and ordinary care – nothing more. But witnesses would prove that there was no movement whatever, voluntary or otherwise

A number of witnesses, including the guard of the car, were called. The guard said the car was standing with the brake on, and it was impossible for it to be moved. Others who were in the crowd of passengers and onlookers stated that the car was stationery when the plaintiff fell, and that the accident, and that the accident was not caused by any jerk. The driver said there was no movement whatever of the horses. The brake being full on and the car could not have started with a sudden jerk.

The jury found a verdict for the plaintiff, damages £120.

Sir, – Will you kindly allow me through your columns to suggest to suggest to the members of the Education Committee the establishment of a Creche infant school, or school adapted to accommodate children from the earliest age to five years. The babies might be fed and taken care of for the day for a nominal charge, and as children above the age of three years, by spending an hour and a half under the control of a properly qualified schoolmistress, could claim a grant from the Parliament.

I venture to think that not only would a very great convenience be provided for hard working mothers, but that at a comparatively little cost. These schools would necessarily be built near the homes of the people calculated to benefit the most by them, and I appeal to our public men interested in social reform to consider their immense potentialities for good. This suggestion is made with special view to the problem which will present itself in the near future in the near future when the accommodation of our schools is paramount.

I am, sir, yours faithfully,

For a quarter of a century the partnership existing between Messrs Daniel HALL and James Henry KAY, under the style of Hall and Kay, engineers, Stockport-road and Whitelands-road, Ashton, has been a very successful character, and under their joint control the business, which began in a very small way in an upper room in Whitelands-road 25 years ago has passed on through various stages of development to its present dimensions, and is a very useful industry, and at the same time beneficial to the community.

To celebrate the occasion the employees and friends, to the number of about 220, were entertained at a social gathering, held in the Mechanics’ Institute, Ashton, on Saturday evening. The large room, which was utilised for the occasion, was lavishly decorated by Mr J FISHER, and presented a pretty spectacle. Quite a festive spirit prevailed, and no expense was spared to make the gathering a success.

After tea Mr D HALL took the chair, and supporting him were Mr J H HALL and the Revs T DILLOW and T HOOPER. – The Chairman reviewed the history of the concern, and dwelt on the happy relations which had always existed on the part of his partner and himself and the workpeople, which he was pleased to say had had a successful issue, as testified by the increasing output, and the fact that they were now the makers of many specialities which commanded a wide sale in many parts of the world, necessitating extensions to the works and the acquisition of premises in the vicinity of Duncan-street.

In addition to dancing, with Mr KAY as M.C., the programme included the following. – Glees by the Apollo Glee Singers; songs, “When I and Dolly parted,” Mr J E BEAUMONT; “Admiral Tom,” Mr T WATERHOUSE; “Dream of Life,” “Veterans’ Song,” and “Wanting,” Miss L TAYLOR; “My pretty Jane,” and “Good Company,” Mr MOODY; humorous sketches, “Trip to the Isle of Man,” “Stationery Trade,” and “Nomination Day,” Mr F MUNROE; clarionette (sic – Ed) solo, “Springsong,” Master Sam GRIMSHAW; recital, “Hanging a picture” and “Irish Fire Brigade.”

Mr A G BENNETT; trios, “Gipsies” and “Wild Brewed.” Messrs FULLER, BEAUMONT and WATERHOUSE; piano solo, Mr G F WRIGLEY; duet clarionette (ditto) and bassoon, Mr Wm GRIMSHAW and Master Sam GRIMSHAW, Miss HALL accompanied on the pianoforte, and the music for dancing was supplied by the St James’ Orchestral Band, ably conducted by Mr Arthur ANDREW. A very happy and enjoyable evening was brought to a close by a vote of thanks to Messrs HALL and KAY, on the proposition of the Rev T DILLOW, seconded by the Rev T HOOPER, and suitably responded to by Mr J KAY.

Some excitement was created in the vicinity of Wellington-street, Ashton, on Friday evening by an alarm of fire proceeding from the dwelling-house of Jas WILLIAMS. A messenger rushed off to the Town Hall and gave information that a fire had broken out at the aforementioned house. The fire alarm bells were rung, and in an incredibly short time the float with a contingent of firemen were on the spot, to find that the fire had been put out with a few buckets of water. The fire had originated in a box containing clothing, in the front bedroom, but how caused is unknown.

On Thursday, at the Ashton County Court, before his Honour Judge Reginald BROWN, K.C., George Frederick HARRISON and Charles William DAVIES were plaintiffs in an action against Charles Henry BLACKWELL. Plaintiffs were represented by Mr SHAWCROSS, barrister, and defendant by Mr A LEES, solicitor, Ashton.

Counsel said that the claim was for £8 due for damage done to certain items of articles of furniture. Plaintiff resided at Ridgway-street, Clayton, and they jointly agreed to the removing to Brooks Bar, Manchester, undertaking to remove the furniture and find vans and packing. It was understood that for £2 10s defendant should send two vans, four men, and be responsible for all breakages.

The two vans which turned up were in a dilapidated condition, and the two men sent instead of four were utterly inexperienced. The day proved an eventful one. First the men dropped a box from the top of the stairs to the bottom, smashing various articles. – (Laughter.) When the journey was started one of the horses fell down. – (more laughter) – and a little further on the hoop of one of the hind wheels came off, and the services of a blacksmith were requisitioned. – (Loud laughter.)

When Brooks Bar was reached, the men in charge practically threw the furniture into the house; a dressing table and a globe were broken, four legs of a table smashed, armchair, trunk, chairs, wooden box, china tea service, chamber sets, sideboard, and other things damaged, whilst clothing and other things were missing. – (Renewed laughter.)

HARRISON, in his evidence, said the goods were packed in a frightfully clumsy manner. – Ernest JONES, cabinetmaker, Salford, spoke as to having examined the articles of furniture and seen the damage done. One of the vans he saw was not fit to put on the streets, The claim was a very modest one.

By Mr LEES: He was a friend of the plaintiff’s, and had seen the goods many times before the removal. – The defence was a denial of any negligence, but in the end the Judge found for the plaintiffs, assessing the damage at £4.

At the Ashton Borough Court, on Monday, John ALLAN was in the dock charged on remand with false pretences on the 11th December. – Mr A LEES said he appeared to prosecute the prisoner, who was charged with obtaining goods by false pretences. It seemed that at 10.30 on the morning of Friday, the 11th ult, the prisoner went to Mr Lewis ANDREW’s shop in Wellington-road, and asked to be shown some lamps. He selected one, and said his wife had been the previous week, and had some goods which had been sent.

Mr ANDREW remembered the prisoner’s wife having attended at the shop and used Mr A PARK’s name, and asked the prisoner, “Are you the gentleman whose wife came recommended by Mr PARK?” He replied, “Yes.” Upon that representation he allowed the prisoner to take some goods away.

Sometime after this, as the money was not forthcoming, certain suspicions were aroused, and Sergeant HEIGHWAY approached Mr PARK. It transpired that Mr PARK had never recommended the prisoner to obtain any goods at all, and he did not know the man. The police had information that prisoner had victimised other tradesmen in the town in the same way by using Mr PARK’s name.

Under the circumstances he proposed to put Mr ANDREW and Mr PARK in the witness box, and then apply for a remand so that the other cases might be inquired into. – The Clerk said they had heard Mr ANDREW’s statement. – Mr A PARK, J.P., was then called, and in reply to Mr LEES said he had never seen the prisoner, and knew nothing about him. It was not true that he had given him permission to use his name as a recommend to tradesmen at any time.

He might be allowed to explain that some time in last year he had a visit from a clerk or shopman in Leigh and Ardern’s shop inquiring whether he knew a man named ALLAN, who had obtained goods to the value of £8 after using his name. Not knowing but what there might be such a person in connection with the P.S.A., a big society with 1,500 members, he hesitated to say whether he knew such a man or not, and might know him by looking for his name.

He communicated with Mr DUNKERLEY, the secretary of the P.S.A. He investigated the matter, and found they did not know the man at all. He (Mr PARK) did not know what Leigh and Ardern did, but that incident was followed within a week by a letter written by Councillor ROEBUCK, asking whether he was willing to recommend a man named ALLAN, who had purchased goods to the extent of £8. He wrote to Councillor ROEBUCK to say he did not know any such man, and the case was extremely suspicious.

He again spoke to Mr DUNKERLEY, and asked him to go to the address given by the man ALLAN, and see (his) wife because evidently she had been an agent in the matter. He believed Councillor ROEBUCK refused to give the credit. He understood prisoner had been using his name up and down the town, and he did not know the man any more than he knew Adam, nor his wife.

The Clerk: Have you anything to say why you should not be remanded for a week? – Prisoner: I beg to contradict the statement as regards me using Mr PARK’s name up and down the town. I have only used it on two occasions. – The Clerk: Apparently you have never had any authority at all. – Prisoner: I have mentioned that my wife was known to him through her father.

The Chairman: You will be remanded until next Monday. – Prisoner: I apply for bail. – The Clerk: He had bail allowed on Saturday, but he did not obtain sureties. – The Chairman: Where do you live? – Prisoner: In Minto-street. – Are you a householder? Yes. – Mr LEES: It has been mentioned to me that none of the goods in the house belong to the prisoner. They have been obtained from other tradesmen.

The Chairman: When was he taken into custody? – The Chief Constable: On Saturday morning. – The Clerk: The magistrates granted him bail on Saturday morning, himself in £20, and two sureties of £10 each. He did not get the sureties, and he has been in gaol since. If he can get bail, well and good. – Prisoner: I think I can get it. – The bench decided not to grant bail.

The hearing of the action CURR v. NIELD was resumed by Mr JELF and a special jury at the Manchester Assizes on Monday. The plaintiff, Frederick G CURR, a young man, living at Stretford, sought to recover damages from Mr Thomas Schofield NIELD for injuries alleged to have been caused by the negligent driving of a motor-car. He was represented by Mr SUTTON and Dr ATKINSON, and Mr LANGDON and Mr Gilbert JORDON appeared for the defendant.

Case was that in September last he was run into and knocked down by defendant’s motor-car. At the time he was riding a bicycle, and had turned out of Edge-lane into Chester-road, Stretford, to proceed to Manchester. He was riding slowly, and the accident happened as he was trying to avoid a lurry. His injuries were serious, and he was laid up for several weeks, and he still suffered from loss of memory and other inconveniences.

A witness said that he saw the motor-car just before the collision. It “dashed past him in less than a second,” and he did not hear any signal given. Plaintiff’s father said he went to the police after the accident, and noticed the marks caused by it. P.C. HOYLE was there, and in reply to a remark by the officer witness told him he ought not to be biased; he should rather protect the people of the village. – (Laughter.)

His Lordship: You thought the constable was against the village? – (Renewed laughter.) Witness: He is supposed to represent the public. He should not be biased. These motor-cars are a terror to us. Mr LANGDON: Did you tell the constable to summon the driver of the motor-car for furious driving, and did he say that it had passed and was not going fast, or he would have summoned him? – I don’t think I did. Mr LANGDON: What! Stretford against the world? – (Laughter.) – I don’t think I did. – Witness added that he went to see Superintendent KEYS who advised him to consult a good lawyer.

Mr LANGDON said the fact that the motor-car, amongst a section of the community as exemplified by CURR’s father, was not a popular vehicle, was no ground on which to give a verdict against the defendant. It was inconceivable that plaintiff should not have seen the motor-car before the accident – this expert cyclist, familiar with electric cars, motor-cars, with every species of vehicle that could kill him in the streets of Manchester. The story told by plaintiff could not possibly be accepted without supposing that he had been guilty of a wickedly silly thing.

Defendant’s case was that the driver of the car gave ample warning of his approach, and plaintiff, who turned out of Edge-lane at a sharp angle, swerved to the left on seeing the car, but a trap was coming up behind him, and then fixed between the two he turned again, and ran into the rear wheel of the motor, his machine being struck by the hub.

Guy MARSH, professional chauffeur, said he was the driver of the car. There were in it besides Mr NIELD, Mr R A A ARMITAGE and Mr D HENRIQUES. As they approached Edge-lane they were travelling at the rate of about eight miles an hour. After passing a trap he had turned in towards his near side, and was almost on the tram line when CURR turned the corner of Edge-lane on his off side. Plaintiff was absolutely looking behind.

Witness blew the horn and came in as near as he possibly could to his side of the road. CURR looked up, and naturally witness thought he saw the trap behind the car. Witness thought plaintiff’s rear wheel must have wobbled in the tram line, because he seemed to swerve. When witness saw that he put on the brakes, and plaintiff banged into him.

Cross-examined by Mr SUTTON: He did not sound the horn between seeing the cyclist and the collision happening. At the time of the accident the motor was standing still. By the Judge: He did not mean that the car was stopped dead. By Mr SUTTON: CURR was absolutely clear of the car, and that was why the horn was not sounded. They were travelling at about six miles an hour when the collision occurred. He thought the accident was quite unavoidable, and could not be foreseen.

Corroborative evidence was given by several witnesses in support of defendant’s contention that CURR, after being clear of the car, swerved in towards his right and ran into the motor. A verdict for the defendant was returned.

On Sunday morning, about eight o’clock, the body of a man was found on the Oldham, Ashton and Guidebridge Railway, close to Cherry Valley Bridge, Bardsley. Deceased was a labourer at Parkbridge Ironworks, named Ernest SHARRATT, 22. He is supposed to have been returning from Oldham, and probably caught by an engine.

The inquest was held on Tuesday evening at the Horse Shoe Inn, Bardsley, by Mr J F PRICE, district coroner.

Emma JONES, wife of John JONES, living at 2 Dingle Terrace, Parkbridge, said deceased had lodged with her since last Christmas. He was always of a steady nature, but was crippled in the left foot. Witness last saw him alive about nine o’clock on Saturday morning, when he the went to bed. She and her husband then went to Manchester, and on returning at night found he was not at home. They sat up for him till half-past one, and then retired.

About nine o’clock on Sunday morning she heard of his death. He had never threatened to commit suicide, and was of a very cheerful character.

Henry THIRLWELL, stationmaster at Parkbridge on the Oldham, Ashton, and Guidebridge Railway, said he lived at the station house adjoining. He knew SHARRATT well, and saw him on Saturday night last about 7.30. He was cheerful, and perfectly sober. He booked a ticket to Oldham, and left the station by the 7.31 train to Oldham, which was ten minutes late.

On Sunday morning, the 31st, he was on the platform, when the driver of the 8.7 train informed him that there was a man lying dead on the line about two or three hundred yards this side of Cherry Valley Bridge. He immediately informed the police, and along with a constable went to the spot and found the body about half a mile from Park Bridge in the direction of Oldham.

He was lying on his back in the six foot way, between the up and down lines. There was a deep scalp wound behind the head. He was quite dead, and his body was at once removed to the Horse Shoe Inn. He did not think he would be alone in the carriage of the train was generally full on Saturday night. On the supposition that he was returning from Oldham he could easily join the line at Honeywell Bridge and walking along get home very soon.

Constable NEWTON said he received information about 3.15 in the afternoon, and proceeded to the spot, along with the village constable. On searching him he found 1s 11d, and some private letters. There was no ticket on him.

The Coroner: It seems rather a mysterious case. If only from hearsay evidence that he had before trespassed, though he had no ticket, and it seemed as if he was walking home. The jury returned an open verdict.

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