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Now it would be rather remiss of me, if I failed to include, some of Blackheath's hidden skeletons in the cupboard. I will keep them in date order, and do let me know if you have a relative among them.
John Woodward, aged 30, and his young wife Fanny, 29, were devout members of the Methodist Church in Tump Road. (now Beeches Road ) Their house, being number 30, was fairly close to the Chapel, and in the past, dispite having a young son, they had given over space in the house for visiting Preachers to lodge. In 1902, a new, fresh faced minister arrived, a charming young Welsh born man named David Joseph Price. he was the same age as John Woodward, and it was his first few months as a fully fledged preacher. All went well until August, when John began having a few doubts about the smooth talking welshman. He seemed to be getting a bit too near his wife, Fanny, who began to act a bit out of character. Following a little tiff, well a full blown argument really, John accused the Reverend gentleman of " interferring " with his wife, and threw him out. The damage to the Ministers reputation would have been a disaster, so the reverend gentleman sued John Woodward for Libel. Without much in the way of proof, for Fanny remained tight lipped about what had gone on, Woodward lost the case, and had to fork out £100 in damages. Pocketing the money, our welsh wizard of the tongue, promptly left Blackheath, never to return, his reputation, at the time, untarnished.
The next little tale, should act as a warning to those who favour facial hair, for there are it seems, hidden dangers. Charles Rollinson, aged 77, and originaly born in Brierley Hill, had decided, as the winter of 1902 had been cold, he would grow a beard. It had become quite a bush by 1905, so in July, with the weather on the warm side, he shaved it off. His wife warned him he would catch a cold, which as we all know, is just a wife's tale, but despite the weather, he did. On a visit to his daughter in Blackheath, on 26th August, 1905, not only did he have a cold, but a nasty cough as well. During a perticular hard bout of coughing, he suddenly fell down dead. Stone cold dead to paraphrase a saying. The inquest was told, that poor old Charles Rollinson had coughed so hard, he had burst several blood vessels. There was no mention of his shaving his head, for thats where the burst blood vessels had been found. Beware then of old wives tales.
The same year, and a month later, came the rather very sad tale of Nancy Lyons. She was 42 years old, recently widowed, and with a 9 month old daughter to look after. She had no work, the rent was unpaid, and very few relatives to help her out. On the 11th September,1905, she drowned the little girl in a wash tub. She was quite calm about it all, confessing all to a neighbour, who promptly called the Police. When she appeared in front of the Magistrates, in Old Hill Police Court, the depths of her poverty, and her inability to deal with it, became apparent to all. She was committed to prison on remand, but long before she would have to face an Assize Court, three Doctors certified her unfit to plead, and the poor wretch, a product of the years of deprivation, was sent to a mental institution.
Now a bit of humour. Doctor Joseph was the medic for the village of Rowley in 1910, and during the summer of 1909, feeling no doubt a bit adventurous, he purchased a Motor Cycle. He happily used the machine all through the summer months, donning a heavy overcoat as the weather became colder. On answering a call to a patient on 22nd January,1910, he took a bit of extra care, as the road surface, such as it was in those days, was bit icey. About halfway between Rowley and Blackheath, despite the extra care, he came to grief. He forgot, that it's not only ice that is slippery, and failing to spot a fairly fresh pile of horse dung in the road, skidded through a hedge and into a drainage ditch. The ditch drained not only water, but the run-off from a pigstye, so when someone came on his his cry for help, for he was injured, he was entitled to feel a bit miffed at the laughter. Needless to say, the good folk took him home, as I can't imagine they would have wanted him, injured or not, stinking away in front of their firesides.
A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day. ( See my Blog entry )
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