12 January 1901

"M. Wilfred de PONIELLE, a well known French astronomer relates an event which, if true, strengthens the conviction held by some astronomers that the planet Mars is inhabited. He says the phenomenon recently observed is tantamount to a message from the plant.

"What he had seen was a series of bright lights in a straight line for several hundred kilometres. (No anti-Europe here - ed) These gigantic fires blazed without interruption for an hour and ten minutes and then disappeared as suddenly as they had come.

"If the inhabitants of Mars really lighted these fires, it is, he says, indispensable for the astronomers of the world to let them know that they have been understood and that they count on their intelligence to succeed in understanding us and creating a special alphabet."

Nothing new there then! Hey, the truth is out there!

Labourer John Henry MALLINSON was in the dock charged with cruelty to children, instigated by the RSPCC. He pleaded not guilty and elected for trial by magistrates, rather than by jury.

The prosecution said that he was the father of two children aged four and six, their mother having died. "The defendant was nothing but a drunken, lazy, idle vagabond. He would not work. He went out first thing in the morning and came back late at night drunk.

"At the present time, one of the children was suffering from broncho-pneumonia. The prisoner was thoroughly callous about his children's condition and never attempted to get them food or sustenance."

MALLINSON's mother-in-law, Mrs HAGUE, lived with the family and had done what she could for the children. Neighbours gave evidence, including Mrs CAPOA of 44 Katherine-street and Mrs DUCKWORTH of 2 Mercer's Yard, his next-door neighbour.

"The prisoner said he was very sorry and try his best if they would look over it.

"The Chairman said a man who would see two children starve as he had done and be able to work deserved horse whipping."

The judgement of the bench was six months imprisonment with hard labour.

Smothered while 'digging for gold'

Young Wilfred HATTON was killed while playing and was cited as proof of the need for a public playground in the town.

Joseph HATTON said: "I live at Friendship Yard, off Huddersfield Road, and am 13 years of age. My brother, Wilfred, and some other boys were playing behind the sand bed."

"How were you playing?" asked the Coroner.

"He was digging for gold," innocently replied the witness. It seems the boy was using a shovel to dig out the sand which the others were using to build a river bridge. The wall of the sandpit collapsed, burying the child. His brother tried to get him out while the others ran for help. It took 20 minutes to dig the boy out, by which time he had suffocated.

The sandpit was owned by Lord STAMFORD and rented by Tom SHAW. He was criticised for not fencing off the land, but it was accepted that any fence would be destroyed by local children within days of being put up.

An unfortunate family quarrel
Herbert TONGUE appeared in court wearing his regimental uniform as he was charged with assaulting his mother-in-law, Jane HAGUE of 21 Oldham-street, Hurst Brook.

TONGUE had married one of her daughters, but soon after enlisted in 2nd Middlesex Regiment, leaving his wife and child to live with his mother-in-law. He had recently returned from the war in South Africa and was on furlough, staying with his parents in Stalybridge.

It seems Mrs HAGUE felt that her daughter and her grandchild should have nothing to do with TONGUE since he had deserted them, but her daughter had other ideas. She took the child to meet him and then to his parents house on Stocks-lane. Unfortunately, she was followed by her sister who reported back to Mrs HAGUE and the two of them returned to Stocks-lane to confront TONGUE.

Mrs HAGUE's version of events was that TONGUE had reacted angrily, cursing and swearing, and then 'without the slightest provocation', struck her other daughter, Alice WRIGLEY, a violent blow on the left eye causing a mark which the magistrates could see. She said he then had to be held down by his brother-in-law, Fred PLOWDEN as he tried to attack both women.

TONGUE said that it was Mrs HAGUE who was being abusive and that he had not struck Alice WRIGLEY. According to him, the damage had been caused when he lifted his arm in self-defence as the women lunged at him. This version of events was supported by PLOWDEN. He was found guilty of a 'technical assault' and fined one shilling.

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