4 June 1904

What the Railway Returns Show

The inclement weather, the depression in the staple trade of the district, and other influences have all militated against a record exodus from Ashton. Still resorts not far from home have received their full quota of patronage from Ashton people, as the following returns demonstrate, and the railway companies cannot rail at the absence of “trippers” on their trains:—

Guide Bridge (Great Central) Belle Vue 900, Bollington 42, Rose Hill (Marple) 60, Marple (Midland) 140, Strines 40, Southport 30, Liverpool 30, Lincoln 20, Cleethorpes 40, Sheffield 30, Nottingham 20. Great Central Railway Company, Park Parade Station:— Belle Vue 815, Llandudno 296, Middlewood 16, Ashbourne 15, Llangollen 8, walking tours, Buxton and New Mills, 10.

The Miners on Sore Straits

The shutting down of the Broadoak Colliery Co.’s pits has closed the only source of revenue and dashed the hopes of ever obtaining employment in this neighbourhood of hundreds of the inhabitants of Hurst, who formerly earned a precarious livelihood by toiling in the coal mines in the neighbourhood. The only thing that can be done now, until work is obtained elsewhere, is to alleviate the stress of the poverty, whose hard grip has fastened on these miners. The stoppage had long been heralded by the short time the men worked, and on the 27th of April the crowning disaster befell them when the pits were closed, in all probability for ever.

It was evident then that something would have to be done to keep the wolf from the door, and those sons of toil, under the auspices of the Lancashire and Cheshire Miners’ Federation, formed an association of appeal to the public, which up to the present has been responded to generously. The men, paid 3s. a day, go out with box-organs, mostly to the colliery districts of Lancashire, and solicit the sympathy and tangible support of their more fortunate colleagues, whilst another portion of men, with stamped book, collect in the district.

As illustrating the close bond of fellowship existing between the men, it may be said that members of the federation share their receipts with their non-union comrades, an arrangement which has blunted the keen edge of poverty in many a household in Hurst. Up to the present the receipts have been, after expenses, £11 6s 9d, an amount cruelly inadequate to relieve the cases of acute distress which abound in the district, and the men make an earnest appeal for further support, until a rift appears in the clouds and they obtain employment elsewhere.

Miss Bertha Mason and the Evils of Bridge

Amongst other representatives of the Ashton Women’s Liberal Association present at the annual meetings of the Council of Women’s Liberal Federation, held in London during the week, were Miss Bertha MASON and Mrs W MOSS (secretary of the Ashton district.)

On Thursday, Miss Bertha MASON moved a resolution on gaming and betting. While recognising that this evil was to be checked chiefly by moral means, the resolution pointed out that much might be done by more rigorously enforcing the existing laws and by extending legislation. The Street Betting Bill was welcomed as a step in the right direction. Miss MASON said this was one of the most urgent social problems before the country.

Betting had permeated every class, and was indulged in women and girls as well as by men. Miss MASON spoke of the terrible hold which bridge had obtained on the richer classes, remarking that in society the rattle of money was the ground-tone of conversation. She urged that the maximum penalty of £5 for street betting was absurd. It should be raised to at least £50.

In the case of bookmakers dealing with children, she thought a sentence of imprisonment without the option of a fine should be imposed. “if this great national evil is to be really checked, if our boys and girls are to be saved from the perils that meet them at every street corner and on every athletic ground, the law must be made stronger.” The resolution was adopted.

On January 15, 1854 — fifty years ago last Friday — (says an Australian paper) a marriage was celebrated in the old town of Ashton-under-Lyne between Mr Thomas SIMS and Miss Elizabeth CUMMINS. Nine years later, in 1863, the couple sailed for Queensland in the ship the “Flying Cloud”, and Toowoomba has been their home ever since.

Although both parties have reached the prescribed three score and ten, their lives are yet characterised by usefulness, while, linked with sobriety and honesty, fair health has attended each while they have grown together. In their old age Mr and Mrs SIMS now count amongst their descendants, beside their family of three daughters and three sons, several grandchildren, and it must give the old couple pleasure to reflect on the days of long ago, and the prospects of the generations that are to succeed them.

Just here it may be mentioned that, as one of the oldest inhabitants of Toowoomba, Mr SIMS was one of the first to form the Rechabite Lodge here some 31 years ago. Almost needless to remark, so far as our Toowoomba readers are concerned, both Mr and Mrs SIMS are very highly respected among our residents.

In their quiet home on North-street the golden wedding was celebrated last Friday, the celebration being confined to the members of the family. All were present, and a most felicitous time was spent. Many congratulations were received from the family’s numerous acquaintances. We wish Mr and Mrs SIMS many long years of health and prosperity.

We may add to the above that both parties were residents of Cockbrook before they emigrated.

”The Terror of the Village”

At the Ashton County Police Court, on Wednesday, John HEWITT was in the dock on four separate counts charged with being drunk and disorderly at Hurst on the 27th of May, assaulting the police on the same day, assaulting John OGDEN on the same day, and doing damage to the extent of 7s. 6d. to the premises of the Jolly Miller. He pleaded guilty to the first charge, and not guilty to the others.

Mr J B POWNALL, who appeared on behalf of the police and Mr OGDEN, briefly outlined the case. OGDEN, he said, was the tenant of the Jolly Miller, in Hurst Brook. It appears that about half-past ten on Friday last HEWITT went into the beerhouse and asked for a drink. As he was intoxicated at the time, the landlord refused to serve him, and in a motherly way Mr OGDEN’s mother advised him leave. HEWITT became very violent, and knocked her about in such a way that if they had preferred they could have charged him with an assault against her.

The landlord again asked him to leave but he refused, and Mr OGDEN was forced to eject him, and locked the door, sending for the police. Defendant would not leave the vicinity of the house, however, and commenced throwing stones at the windows, doing 7s. 6d. worth of damage, and when the police arrived he assaulted one of the officers — Constable ORMROD. He was absolutely the terror of the neighbourhood, and whatever public-house he entered, no one would serve him, and besides bringing a bad character on the licensee, he would jeopardise the license of the house.

John OGDEN, the licensee of the Jolly Miller, Hurst Brook, corroborated, and said he advised him at the outset to leave the house. He had been confined to bed up to that day in consequence of the assault.

Constable ORMROD said in consequence of a complaint he had received he went down to the house and there saw HEWITT drunk, cursing and swearing. The windows of the house were broken, and he immediately took him into custody, but the defendant resisted, and butted him in the face, making his mouth bleed. He was a source of terror to the neighbourhood, and when drunk was very dangerous.

Sergeant SHEA gave evidence to the effect that he arrested prisoner, and whilst taking him into custody was knocked in the face by him.

Ada OUSEY, HEWITT’s fiancé, gave evidence presumably on prisoner’s behalf, but under the fire of questions put to her by Mr POWNALL, got confused, and said he was the “terror of Hurst,” and was very violent when in drink. — Superintendent HEWITT said the man had been punished for a similar offence in February.

The Chairman: Now, John HEWITT, you are a thorough-going scoundrel, and we are going to relieve Hurst of you for nine weeks. We are going to fine you 5s. and costs for being drunk and disorderly, or seven days’ imprisonment, and £5 or a month’s imprisonment for assaulting the police. I tell you again, we shall not have any of our policemen touched. I look upon it as one of the most serious things to assault a constable. With regard to the assault of the landlord, you are fined 10s. and costs, or 14 days, and for the damage you will be fined 7s. 6d., or seven days. Nine weeks altogether. — Prisoner (smilingly): I can do it.

The Serious Charge Against an Ashton Young Man

At the Stalybridge Police Court, on Monday, a tall, well-dressed young fellow, named Herbert Wilfred HOWISON, of Henrietta-street, Ashton, surrendered to his bail — having been remanded from the previous Wednesday — on a charge of having stolen a purse and handkerchief, under the following circumstances:—

Captain BATES, Chief Constable, reviewed the facts. He said that at 9.25 on Saturday night, 21st May, Mrs MARSH, who was a widow, was standing in front of a fish shop in the market, when she felt someone’s hand in her pocket. Turning round, she saw HOWISON immediately behind her and she accused him of having taken her purse, and at the same moment one of the employees at the fish shop came forward, and said he had seen prisoner put his hand in her pocket.

He denied the accusation, and the man was allowed to go. Mrs MARSH found her purse and handkerchief on the ground close to where prisoner had been standing. Last week, when HOWISON was remanded, the defence suggestion was that prisoner was not in Stalybridge at all on the night in question, and when arrested he also made this plea.

Mr Jas. GARFORTH, solicitor, who now appeared to defend: I was not here last Wednesday. I was in another place, but I admit that might have been said. — Captain BATES: I have abundant testimony that this was the man standing behind the woman and the same man who put his hand in her pocket.

Mary MARSH was then called. She said she was a widow living at 26, Cross Leech-street, Stalybridge. On Saturday night week, she was standing near the Fish and Game Company’s premises in the Stalybridge Market when she felt a person’s hand in her dress pocket. She turned round, and saw prisoner standing there. She said to him, “You have had your hand in my pocket,” and he made no reply. One of the men who was selling fish came forward and got hold of prisoner, saying “You have had your hand in her pocket,” and again prisoner made no answer. Witness picked up her purse and handkerchief from the ground near prisoner’s feet.

The Chief Constable: Did you identify prisoner at the police office amongst a number of other men on Wednesday? — Witness: Yes.

Mr GARFORTH: Were there a number of other men standing about? Witness: Not where I was. But you were not alone in the market? Oh, no. — Didn’t you naturally feel in your pocket to see if your purse was there? No. I turned round and that man had had his hand in my pocket. — Did not CONNOLLY say, “If I thought you had had your hand in her pocket I would call a policeman.” Yes. — Exactly, now did he call a policeman? No. — Did you see William HOWISON in the market that night? No. — Did prisoner move away? No. — Did he stand in the same place? Yes. — Is it not possible you dropped the purse in getting your money? No, I had the money I required in my hand.

The Chief Constable: Now, what did CONNOLLY say? — Witness: He said he saw prisoner with his hand in my pocket. The Chief Constable: I thought you did not understand Mr GARFORTH’s question. — Alderman FENTON: Have you any doubt that this is the man? — Witness: I have not.

Thomas CONNOLLY, assistant at the Fish and Game Co.’s premises in the market, said on Saturday night week he saw prisoner standing opposite the shop entrance (Dean-street). Mrs MARSH also stood there for about two minutes, when he saw prisoner put his left hand in her pocket and withdraw a purse and place it in his own left trouser pocket.

I threw down the fish I held in my hand and took prisoner, saying, “You have taken that woman’s purse.” He replied, “I haven’t, have I?” (referring to a man who was standing round the corner.) The man referred to came to them and said, “He’s took none of her purse; he’s with me.” Witness again said that prisoner had taken the purse, and held him for several minutes. Prisoner then pushed witness’s hand away and walked off with the other man. The purse was found on the ground.

Mr GARFORTH cross-examined witness as to the exact position in which the parties were standing, endeavouring to show that witness could not possibly have seen the lady’s pocket. CONNOLLY, however, was firm in his assertion that he saw prisoner commit the felony. — Mr GARFORTH: You let this “innocent” man go away? — Witness: I thought I had nothing to do with it seeing that the woman did not say she would give him into custody. I should have stuck to him while he gave the purse up.

John James FIELDING, warehouseman, of 41 Canal-street, Stalybridge, said he saw CONNOLLY go up to prisoner and accuse him of taking a purse out of the lady’s pocket. At the time witness was talking to the prosecutrix, and immediately afterwards he saw a purse and handkerchief laid at prisoner’s feet. When HOWSON and his friend had gone away witness gave information to Constable SMETHURST. — By Mr GARFORTH: I had not known prisoner before, but I am positive he is the man. I cannot tell why the police did not take action earlier. I identified prisoner first by a photograph. There was no possibility of the purse having dropped from the woman’s pocket.

James Woolley MARSDEN, worker in a cotton mill, of 14, Leech-street, Stalybridge, said he worked for the Fish and Game Company on Saturdays, and he remembered hearing CONNOLLY accuse HOWISON of the theft which he denied. Witness was positive the man in the dock was the man. — Mr GARFORTH: Of course, I do not deny that for a moment. — Captain BATES: His defence last week was that he was not there at all. — Mr GARFORTH: That might be, but I did not say so.

Detective LEE spoke as to the arrest of HOWISON at 6 a.m. on Wednesday last at his father’s house on Henrietta-street. Upon charging him with stealing a purse and a handkerchief, the property of Mrs MARSH, he replied, “I am not guilty; I was not in Stalybridge on Saturday night.” Witness then brought him up to the Stalybridge Town Hall, where he was locked up.

Mr GARFORTH, addressing the justices on behalf of prisoner, said here was a case of strong suspicion, but it was only strong suspicion. They had the evidence of the youth CONNOLLY, who said he saw prisoner put his hand in the woman’s pocket and pull out a purse, which was afterwards found on the ground and where both were standing; the Bench was asked to jump to the presumption that he put the purse on the ground, but there was no evidence such was so., or that he even put his hand in the pocket to extract it.

He had one witness who could prove that “they were all practically together” and the Bench knew better than he how the fish market was thronged on Saturday nights. There were many people about on the night in question, and there was no prima facie case against prisoner, but merely a suspicion. The police did not arrest him until the following Wednesday when the lad very foolishly said he was not in Stalybridge at the time.

He (Mr GARFORTH) appealed to the justices to give the lad the benefit of the doubt. He was of highly respectable parentage; his father was present in court, and there was no occasion whatever for his son to steal anything. Prisoner’s father was in a good position, and now the youth threw himself upon the mercy of the court.

If the Bench thought HOWISON stole the articles, then he deserved punishing. He was a young fellow who had been well brought up, and if the magistrates had any doubt in their minds he asked them to give him the benefit of it, otherwise he asked them to deal leniently. Mr GARFORTH concluded by intimating that he would not call any evidence.

The magistrates retired, and upon their return, the Mayor asked if anything was known about prisoner. — Captain BATES: Yes, sir, a good deal in the incident book. — Mr GARFORTH: We’re going to get him abroad if we can. — The Mayor, having perused the evidence, said; The magistrates are satisfied that this case is proved, and you will have to go to prison for two months with hard labour.

Twenty Five Pounds in Arrears

At the Stalybridge Police Court, on Monday, Stephen STAFFORD, rope maker, of Dukinfield, was summoned at the instance of the Ashton Poor Law Union for arrears of wife maintenance, the amount owing being £25 5s. 6d. The Mayor (Alderman WOOD) did not adjudicate on account of his being a member of the Board of Guardians.

Mr Seth FIRTH, relieving officer, said defendant’s wife was an inmate of the Union hospital, and in November, 1897, an order was made upon defendant to contribute 5s. per week towards her maintenance. He had, however, paid very indifferently, and he seemed to have presumed upon the leniency of the Guardians, who had exercised the utmost patience.

Defendant was managing a ropery in Dukinfield for a Mrs MASSEY. Some time ago, he refused to work for his brother, Alderman STAFFORD, who offered him two guineas a week; instead he threw himself out of employment. Defendant had five children, two of whom were working. Witness asked the Bench to make an order for the payment of the amount owed, forthwith.

Defendant, addressing the Bench, said the relieving officer had spoken the truth, but he (defendant) would like to say that he was not in a position to be able to pay. He had been “handled” long enough, and he admitted throwing himself out of work, declining to accept two guineas weekly from his brother. During the past fourteen weeks he had worked from early morning to late at night, and was now earning 14. a week. He had lately been much pressed by other creditors, and had been sold up twice, his wife having left him “head and ears” in debt and for months past he had lived on bread and butter and tea.

Mr FIRTH observed that the last time the defendant was before the Guardians he offered to pay 10s. weekly, and so wipe off the arrears. — Defendant: No, I did not offer to pay ten shillings weekly, they said I must pay that

Alderman FENTON: We have no option in the matter, and we grant this application. — Defendant: What do I understand? — The Magistrates’ Clerk: A verdict for the arrears and costs forthwith. — Defendant: Well, I have not got the money. — Alderman FENTON: You will have to arrange with the Guardians. — Councillor J BOTTOMLEY: That is the only course we can take. — Defendant then left the court.

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