28 November 1903
ALARMING GAS EXPLOSION
An alarming explosion, which startled the whole neighbourhood,
occurred at the butcher’s shop of Mr Charles MITCHELL,
Old-street, Ashton, on Saturday night about 8.30. A large
number of people, many of whom were out shopping, were
in the vicinity at the time, and when the sound of the
explosion was heard a crowd ran to the spot. The occupants
of the premises on either side of the shop were greatly
alarmed, and each ran upstairs with buckets of water,
thinking the upper rooms had caught fire.
At the time of the explosion Mr MITCHELL
and two boys were in charge of the butcher’s shop.
As to what was the primary cause of the leakage of gas
resulting in the explosion has not been properly elucidated,
but shortly afterwards a break was discovered in the gas
pipe suspended from the ceiling of the back kitchen, which
suggested that it had been wrenched by something.
The gas would appear to have been escaping
most if not all Saturday afternoon, but owing to the pressure
of business requiring the attention of the butcher and
his assistants in the shop, and the fact that the premises
had been closed for a short time, the smell of gas was
not noticed until about 8 o’clock in the evening,
and on going into the back kitchen quite a hissing sound
Mr MITCHELL mounted a step-ladder and tried
to discover the leak, and struck a match for the purpose.
An explosion was the inevitable result, and Mr MITCHELL
was thrown with considerable force on to the ground and
stunned. He was left badly burned about the face and neck,
and was almost unrecognisable. His hair was burned to
the scalp, and his eyebrows and moustache were burned
One of the assistants, who was standing
in the doorway, was lifted off his feet and blown through
a smaller room into the shop some yards away. Portions
of plaster were torn from the roof, and the windows and
framework were blown out. Fortunately the shop door was
open, and had it not been as the concussion would undoubtedly
have shattered the large and mostly plate-glass windows
in the shop.
Papers and other materials were scattered
about the shop in profusion. Mr MITCHELL was assisted
into the shop of Mr HAGUE close by where his head and
face were bandaged up after applying linseed oil and limewater,
and he was subsequently driven home in a cab.
SHOP FIRE AT ASHTON
An outbreak of fire, which caused some excitement in the
neighbourhood, occurred about 11.40 on Saturday morning
at the premises of Mr Jn ARDERN, chemist, George-street,
Ashton. The fire originated in a third storey room at
the back of the premises, used as a storeroom, and was
caused apparently through the over-heating of the chimney
flue setting same paper on fire which was stored close
The flames spread with remarkable rapidity,
setting fire to other parts of the room. Efforts were
made by means of buckets of water to put out the flames,
but they were unavailing, and a communication was dispatched
in the meantime to the Town Hall, where the fire alarm
bells were rung, and the float with a contingent of firemen
On the arrival of the brigade a branch was
got to work from the main in George-street, and another
from the main in Old-street, and after working about 15
minutes the fire was extinguished. Considerable damage
was done to the room in which the fire extinguished.
ACCIDENT ON THE ASHTON
About 11.50, on Friday noon, a man named John KILLETT,
engine driver for Mr COLLINS, owner of the gondolas on
the Ashton market ground, was engaged carrying a signboard
up a ladder reared against the gondolas, when he fell
to the ground, striking his head upon the pavement, and
causing a severe wound over the right eye. He was assisted
to the police station, where his wound was stitched by
HOUSEBREAKING AND ROBBERY
Housebreakers have been paying a periodic visit to Ashton;
or it may be, as appears more likely, judging from the
circumstances that one need not go far to lay their hands
on the offender or offenders.
On Saturday evening the home of Mr William
MILLER, Birch-street, was broken into, and a sum of money
amounting to between £8 and £9 stolen. The
family was away in town at the time, and on their return
they discovered that a piece of glass had been broken
out of the side window, facing Stockport-road, and the
window catch turned, and by this means an entrance effected.
No marks were left on the window sill to give any clue.
Having gained access to the house, a drawer was broken
open and the money extracted, the robbers then decamping
with the booty, and leaving some money in a money box
About the same time a pigeon cote standing
on some spare ground of Birch-street, owned by Mr HALL,
was broken into, and several valuable pigeons stolen.
Pigeons have also been stolen from a pigeon cote belonging
to Mr J CLOUGH, in Victoria-street. Surreptitious visits
appear also to have been paid to the house of Mr J GARTSIDE,
confectioner, Birch-street, and a quantity of coal stolen.
This appears to have been going on for some
time, though the quantities stolen have been smaller than
on the present occasion. Complaints have also been received
of attempts having been made to break into houses on Stockport-road.
The police have been informed, and to their credit be
it said that on Wednesday they traced the missing pigeons
to some boys, who were promptly arrested. Further investigations
are being made.
A PRETTY WEDDING AT
A pretty wedding took place on Tuesday at St James’s
Church, Ashton. The contracting parties were Miss Lily
HULLEY, eldest daughter of Mr George HULLEY, builder,
Ashton, and Mr James COULTER, of Badford, Leigh. The ceremony
was fixed for two o’clock, was solemnised by the
Rev T B DIXON (vicar).
The bride, who carried a shower bouquet
of white flowers, and wore a dress of grey voile with
hat to match, was attended by her father, who gave her
away, and her two bridesmaids, her sister, Miss Beatrice
HULLEY, and Miss Gertrude MARLAND. The duties of best
man were carried out by Mr C HOYLE. After the ceremony
the guests were taken to her father’s house, where
a very happy evening was spent. There were a great number
of useful and costly presents. The happy couple left Ashton
for Leigh, the bridegroom’s native town, where they
are to reside.
Ignoring a Magisterial Order
At the Stalybridge Police Court, on Monday, an important
case affecting property owners in the borough came on
for hearing. Defendants were the owner or owners of cottage
property, 58 to 70 Canal-street, 123 Cooper’s Yard,
19, 21, and 23 Brierley-street, and they were summoned
for having failed to obey an order made under the Public
Health Act, 1875, to alter closets, etc, which had been
deemed a nuisance.
The Mayor (Councillor WOOD) occupied a seat
on the Bench, but being a member of the Corporation he
did not adjudicate in this case. There was no response
on the part of the owners, and Councillor HOBSON proved
having served the summons upon Mr LOWNDS, Cavendish-street,
Ashton, agent of the property in question.
Mr Jno MILLER (Town Clerk) appeared to prosecute
on behalf of the Corporation, and observed at the outset
that Mr LOWNDS was one of the owners as well as the agent
of the property. This was a case in which defendants had
failed to comply with an order made by that Court on the
20th May last. On that date application was made to the
justices for an order requesting defendants to abate a
nuisance on the property, and on that occasion they were
professionally represented by a solicitor, but were fined
2s 6d and costs.
Even the penalty imposed was not paid until
the 27th August, and though the order was made so far
back as May nothing whatever had been done towards abating
the nuisance, and therefore the sanitary authority felt
compelled to assume that the owners of the property were
simply setting the Court and the Corporation at defiance.
The section under the Public Health Act under which proceedings
were taken provided that any person not obeying a magisterial
order requesting them to abate a nuisance they would be
liable to a penalty not exceeding 10s per day.
The abatement order was served upon Mr LOWNDS
in June, and thereby he became the owner for the purpose
of those proceedings. The property was in mortgage, and,
of course, the mortgagee would not do anything, therefore
it was left to the Corporation to take such proceedings
as they might be advised for the purpose of compelling
someone to abate the nuisance.
When the case was up before it was proved
beyond all doubt that the nuisance was an abominable one.
Within three feet of two of the houses which were tenanted
the poor people could not open their back doors without
having to endure an offensive smell. The Corporation thought
it was incumbent upon them, if only in the interests of
the inhabitants of the district, that this abominable
nuisance be done away with.
The yard where the nuisance existed was
enclosed, and if allowed to continue the ultimate result
might mean a serious epidemic. The order which the court
made that the nuisance should be abated, and water closets
erected in place of the existing privies. It was not for
the pecuniary result that the Corporation took these proceedings,
but they were bound and were determined to insist upon
the committee’s order being carried out, otherwise
the delinquents must pay the penalty. Defendants were
liable for 115 days, or a total sum of £5 10s.
Mr WILLIAMSON: Is the property worth that?
— The Town Clerk: There is a mortgage of £500
upon it, so it must be worth that. At the last proceedings
it was asked that the Corporation should do the work,
but one of the beneficiaries under the will of the late
owner said he had not received any rent for a long time,
and knew nothing about it. Then the solicitor said, “Who
is going to pay the costs?” The Town Clerk proceeded
to say that the property was very old, and already three
of the cottages had been closed as being worthless.
Formal evidence was given by Mr Joseph OLIVER,
sanitary inspector. He said he had seen the property that
morning, and nothing had been done to abate the nuisance
which had been complained of for 20 years. Mr LOWNDS was
one of the executors. — Mr J WHITEHEAD, magistrates’
clerk, proved the making of the order to abate by the
The Town Clerk said he regretted very much
that defendants were not represented in court. The Sanitary
Committee some time ago received a letter from Mr LOWNDS
stating that the owners of the property were poor people.
The Corporation did not want to punish these poor people,
seeing that the property was in the hands of a mortgagee,
but they thought the latter should pay the penalty. —
Mr WILLIAMSON: The health of the people is to be considered
more than pounds, shillings and pence.
Asked who was the mortgagee, the Town Clerk
said he did not know, but whoever he was all the surplus
rent went to him. The Bench retired, and after a few minutes’
consultation Mr WILLIAMSON said that the magistrates had
decided unanimously that they would not impose the full
penalty. Mr MILLER, no doubt, never expected that, but
the Bench resolved to fine defendants £5 and costs
for disobeying the order.
SUDDEN DEATH OF MR
Death took place at Gorton on Saturday night, under painfully
sudden circumstances, of Mr Henry WRIGHT, late of Ashton,
where he was greatly esteemed and respected as the former
keeper of the Stamford-street Wesleyan Chapel. It appears
that on Saturday night Mr WRIGHT went to be as usual,
but during the night awoke, asked Mrs WRIGHT to get a
light, and immediately expired.
The interment took place at Christ Church,
Ashton, on Wednesday afternoon, and was a quiet and unostentatious
character. The Rev H BRIERLY officiated at the grave side.
SINGULAR DEATH OF A
BOY AT ASHTON
Information was received at the Ashton Police Station
on Friday night of last week, of the death of John Law
GRIMSHAW, aged 11 years, son of Oliver GRIMSHAW, 78 Katherine-street,
Ashton. The boy had always enjoyed good health up to the
day previous to his death, and had never been attended
by a doctor. On the day in question he commenced to cough,
and his mother gave him linseed tea to drink.
On Friday he complained of thirst, and a
pain in the chest, throat and side, and his mother gave
him some brandy and water. He commenced vomiting, and
sat in a chair in the house until about 5pm, when he got
up and went into the kitchen. On returning he fainted,
and his mother took him in her arms and tried to give
him a little brandy and water, but he could not swallow
it. Dr HUGHES, junr, was sent for, and on his arrival
shortly afterwards he pronounced life extinct. The inquest
was held on Tuesday by Mr J F PRICE. Mr Alfred ADAMS was
foreman of the jury.
Clarissa GRIMSHAW, mother of the deceased,
said he had always been a healthy boy until Thursday night
when he complained of a cough. Witness gave him some linseed
and Spanish juice. On Friday morning he got up about eight
o’clock, when he complained of a pain in his throat
and right side. He also complained of being thirsty, and
she gave him some tea and brandy and water.
At dinner time he had a little raspberry
sandwich. He vomited, and sat in a chair all afternoon.
About half past five he went into the kitchen, and when
he came out he staggered. Witness got hold of him. She
then sent for Mrs GARFORTH, a neighbour, and tried to
give him some brandy. She also sent for the doctor who
pronounced him dead.
Dr HUGHES, junior, said he was called to
see deceased on Friday about 5.40pm, and found him dead.
He made a post-mortem examination on Monday afternoon.
The child was rather thin, but everything was healthy
in the head. There was extensive pleurisy on the right
side of the chest. The heart was quite healthy. In the
abdomen the alimentary passages were all healthy, and
in fact all the organs of the abdomen were. The base of
the left lung was very congested.
In his opinion the cause of death was failure
of the heart consequent upon acute pleurisy. He thought
the child must have had a difficulty in breath, and suffered
great pain. A verdict of death from natural causes was
CLAIM FOR FALSE IMPRISONMENT
At the Manchester Assizes, on Wednesday, William Henry
WHATMOUGH, who was introduced to the Court by his counsel
as the “Ashton midget,” brought an action
against John WEST, brewer at Messrs Gartside’s Brewery,
Ashton-under-Lyne, to recover damaged for assault and
false imprisonment. Mr SHEE appeared for the defendant.
The plaintiff is said to be a well-known
amateur cyclist at Ashton. According to his story he was
riding home on his bicycle on the night of April 15 and
went into the yard of an empty house next door to the
defendant’s house. He took his bicycle into the
yard and bolted the door as people were passing up and
down the street. While he was in an out house his bicycle
fell. The noise brought the defendant out of his house,
and he seized the plaintiff, who was leaving the yard,
and took him into the house.
The police were sent for, and the plaintiff,
having been handcuffed, was taken through the streets
to the West End Police Station, a distance of 600 yards.
He was there charged in defendant’s presence with
being on enclosed premises for an unlawful purpose. Afterwards
he was taken, again on foot, to the Ashton Town Hall,
and spent the night in a cell. He asked to be allowed
out on bail the following morning, but was not let out
until the afternoon.
Three days later he appeared before the
magistrates, and the case was dismissed. Plaintiff stated
that he showed the defendant a medal bearing his name,
and also his certificate of membership of the National
Cyclists’ Union. He denied altogether that he ever
went into WEST’s own yard.
For the defence, Mr SHEE contended that
there was reasonable cause for suspecting the plaintiff,
and urged that if the jury found against his client, a
farthing damages would be sufficient.
The defendant stated that he heard bottles
being broken, and when he went outside the house he found
that an empty crate had been placed against his yard wall.
He had often been disturbed by trespassers. He denied
that the plaintiff showed him his medal and certificate,
and said that before the case was heard by the magistrates
plaintiff went to him and asked him not to give evidence.
— The police sergeant who took the plaintiff into
custody and several other witnesses gave evidence with
the object of showing that the plaintiff had no excuse
for going into the yard.
The Judge, in summing up, said the jury
had simply to assess the damages, but they should remember
that the plaintiff was himself partly to blame for what
occurred. The jury awarded the plaintiff £3. In
an argument which ensued as to the costs, the Judge said
he thought the plaintiff would have been well off if he
had got a farthing damages. He, however, decided to make
no order as to costs, which meant that the plaintiff would
receive costs on the County Court scale.