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Forum Home > Other Crimes and Punishments. > Old Time Crimes.

Alaska.
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Anyone searching through a family tree, looks forward to finding a rogue or two, amongst their relatives. Here are few from Old Hill, in the early years of the 20th century. Tales are told, that Tory Street was a rough and ready area, and George Skitt, was a rough and ready character. Skitt took exception, to a local preacher, who had, as it turned out, unwisely ventured into the street, to try and calm down a domestic dispute. Now whether the dispute involved Skitt, is unclear, but at some stage a dog was set upon the preacher, who fled the scene and jumped on the Old Hill bound tram. George Skitt, not far behind, ordered the dog to " seize him ", and as a result the poor preachers clothes were badly torn. Several of the streets young children had, at Skitts command, also threw a large number of stones at the unfortunate man. Bought before the Magistrates, Skitts acount was disbelieved, he was fined  1 shilling, and ordered to pay costs. I presume he also had to pay for a replacement pair of Moleskin trousers.


Samuel Taylor, a well known chainmaker, ( well known in the sense of frequenting public houses ) who lived in Waterfall Lane, was arrested, outside " The Oak Tree " drunk. So drunk, he was challenging one and all to a fight, and had woken up most of the district. Taylor managed to strike the Constable before he was handcuffed. Knowing he was in a bit of trouble, on the Sunday before he went in front of the Beaks, Samuel " signed the pledge" This was a smart move, and following a lecture on his future conduct, he was fined 3s 6d. Not so fortunate, was James Payne, a Bolt maker, from High Street, Blackheath. In somewhat similar circumstances, he was find a whopping 10s. Perhaps he was too hung over to get to chapel on the Sunday, to sign a pledge as Taylor had done.


We all complain today about the ' boy racers,' who, in their flashy cars, speed all over the place. Try this one. Albert Head, and Thomas Jackson, were both carters, coal-haulage being their main business in Cradley Heath.. Rivelry was common place, so was a lunch time drink. Some dispute arose between them, maybe a bet was involved, in any case, they were observed about 1pm, furiously racing each other, in the direction of Corngreaves Works. P.C. Foulkes stated in evidence, that each was flogging their horses, and he estimated they were travelling at the giddy speed of 15 mph. In his defence, Jackson offered to bet the Policeman £5, that if he could get his 'ode oss', to reach 6 mph, he would sell it to the Cavalry. The Magistrates were not impressed, and fined Albert Head and Thomas Jackson, 10s each. Are any of the names in your family tree, if so, you've just found an old rogue.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

April 16, 2011 at 3:56 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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Posts: 1404

That old demon ' Drink ', played a great part, in the pantomine, that was sometimes called the ' Police Court ', or as we now know it, the Magistrates Court. Excuses were many and varied, and sometimes the magistrates would give the defendant the benefit of the doubt. Not that often though, as Oldbury man George Rogers found out. He was found, by Constable Bibb, in Birminghan Street, Oldbury, fighting drunk, surrounded by a large crowd. As this was, in Bibbs opinion, a serious disturbance, he attempted to arrest Rogers. Unaided, this was. on reflection, a bit of a daft thing to do. The by now, even more bad tempered Rogers, gave the constable a severe blow to head. Picking himself up, Bibbs drew his truncheon, and whacked his assailant, in order to subdue him. George Rogers, like most drunks, hardly seemed to notice the blow, but carried on as if it hadn't been struck. Bibbs then dragged the struggling man, down Church Street, towards the Police Station, enduring repeatedly being kicked in the legs. It must have come as a relief, especially to Bibbs, when both constable and prisoner were safely inside. George Rogers, admitted being drunk and disorderly, when he appeared the next morning in the Police Court. He could do little else, but as to the charge of assault, he claimed the constable had struck the first blow. Now the old time coppers were renowned for being tough, and it would not have been unusual, for one to get stuck in, and ask questions afterwards. In any case, Rogers was found guilty as charged, ( he did after all have ' form ' for drunkeness ) and fined 2s 6d, and ordered to pay the costs on each count. I had to smile at this one, the date was April 1st.


Not only the men either. Mary Matthews, a regular at the " Royal Oak ", whose licencee was Moses Mann, got into a argument with the landlord over how many drinks she had actually consumed. Mann had refused to serve the lady, as she could barely stand. Taking off her coat, she offfered to fight him over the insult. To the merryment of the rest of the bar, Mary had nothing on underneath, and the noise, attracted a passing constable, who had to call a cart to take her away. The magistrate, who twice had to resort to a handkerchief, to stifle his amusement, and having some sympathy for a woman who possibly couldn't afford a full suit of clothes, discharged her without a fine. Mind you, she did offer to show them what she had done, but at 73, I don't think the bench were all that keen.


Now if George Rogers thought he was hard done by, I wonder how Richard and Benjamin Butcher felt about their treatment. The brothers though were notorious for their disagreements, which nearly always came to blows after a drinking session. Constable Sherwood found the brothers, after they had enjoyed a days drinking, about 7.30pm, in the middle of the road, knocking 7 bells out of each other. Fearing a major disturbance, a large crowd had gathered, Sherwood, probably much to his surprise, managed to get them both, peacefully, to the Police Station. Perhaps because they were brothers, the magistrates did not order a fine, instead they bound over the pair, in the sum £5 each, for 3 months, to behave themselves. A bit of a forelorn hope as it turned out, they were back in trouble in less than a week. Family, who'ed have 'em.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

April 17, 2011 at 2:59 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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Petty crime today, gets the individual a slap on the wrist, community service, or a small fine. Back in Brierley Hill, in 1864, it could get you a whole lot worse. Richard Walker, who for some reason aquired the nick name, " Dick the Devil ". stole, from Edward Smart, a fine upstanding Pork Butcher, 5 Pigs Tongues. Maybe someone can tell me, what on earth you can do with 5 Pigs Tongues, or it could be that they were the only things ' Dick the Devil ' could nick. Richard Walker, had not long come back from Australia, having been transport many years before, also for stealing. He certainly hadn't learnt much in the time, as he was sentenced to 7 years Penal Servitude, which was the alternative punishment recently bought in. The Magistrates of Brierley Hill, were equaly harsh to poor Margaret Passy. She had been caught, stealing a cheese, from a Mr Shepley, a grocer in the High Street. Dispite pleading stavation for her family, she was found guilty and sentenced to the same punishment as Richard Walker. So much for a bit of compassion. By way of a complete contrast, down at the " Fox and Goose ", in level Street, the landlady, was found guilty of adulterating the beer and wine with ' Paradise ', This, I am reliable informed, was a cheap substitute for Malt, and was used to cheat all the customers. Now which was worse, stealing food because of hunger, or perpetrating a wide scale fraud. The vigilent Magistrates had no doubt, they fined her £50, with costs. Obviuosly, the landlord at the " Old Bell " in Bell Lane, Brierley Hill, had not done the same, as 2 of his customers, George Bagnall and John Barker, set too, fighting in the Pubs yard. Sadly, they both fell down the deep well, and drowned. Ah the foolishness of youth, they were both only 20.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

April 18, 2011 at 4:47 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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Posts: 1404

To continue in the same vain, the demon drink could be detected, in the vast majority of cases, that wound up in the Police courts. So many in fact, that several magistrates commented on the many hours they had spent, sorting out the mess. The problem being of course, to few wholesome distractions, and far too many Beer houses and Pubs. A man in Brierley Hill, having spent the best part of the afternoon, slacking what must have been a monumental thirst, was found to be too drunk to take charge of his horse and cart. He claimed he had only had a couple, but as he still couldn't walk in a straight line in the morning, they declined to believe him. Fined 5s, and the court costs. I've said it before, some of the women were as bad. A policeman, patroling in Dudleys Castle Street, came upon a woman, staggering in the road, until she fell against a shop's plate glass window. She was lucky not to go through it, so he tried to restrain her. The response he got was typical, she stripped off her coat and jumper, rolled up her sleeves, and offered the young copper a fight. Unlike today, where a scene like this goes without mention, and the problems getting worse, the magistrates took a very dim view of the incidence. They gave her 1 months hard labour. Now I'm not, for one minute, suggesting that we go back to the " good old times ", I'm just commentating on how things were. A woman from Kidderminster, who she said had intended to visit friends, in and around Dudley, was arrested for being drunk in the High Street. It was bad enough having to deal with all the local drunks, but the magistrate, surely at the end of a long day in court, was appalled that people were coming into the town and giving it a bad name. I wouldn't have thought the town needed any help, it seemed to be doing fine on it's own. Fined 2s 6d, or 7 days imprisonment, she took the 7 days. One un-named woman, had so many convictions due to drink, that the magistrates no longer gave her small terms of imprisonment, it just didn't work. The latest one was 3 months in Worcester Gaol. Fined for using profane language in the street, and asked what she had said, the magistrate lost count of the words she managed to string together. With his ears probably a bit red with embarrassment, he fined her 1s .Drink also brings out a bit of false courage, and the feeling you can do anything, but not strangely, what happens if it all goes wrong. Wending her way home, and having spent the house keeping in the Pub, a Wednesbury woman went into a butchers for a quarter of a pound of sausages. While he was wrapping them, she snatched a big leg of mutton, and ran for it. Not a very good idea, when you already have trouble standing up, is it. As it duly proved, when, after a very short chase, (well lets face it, the policeman only had to run in a reasonable straight line ) she was caught. The value of the stolen meat was 5s 10d, but the fine was a hefty 20s. Mind you, she was lucky it wasn't worse. In contrast, a young wife from Blackheath, stole 3 Eels, from Sturmans Shop in Oldbury Road. She got 3 months hard labour. On reflection though, she did assault the copper with her perloined gains, and they were rather large Eels. She should have stuck to nicking mint from her neighbours garden, even after punching the the unlucky owner of the mint when caught, she would have only been fined 1s. Lawless place the Black Country, no wonder we have so many Churches and Chapels.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

April 24, 2011 at 3:37 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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Posts: 1404

Some cases though, can cause a little smile, well the explanation or excuse can. One quiet afternoon, Edward Williams was passing the shop of butcher Thomas Hughes. No one seemed to be about, so Williams snatched a cows head, which was conveniently near the door. Not a lucky thief was Williams, he had done the same thing many times, although not always with a cows head, and just like before, he was seen. Going back to his lodgings, he then sold the head to a mate, Richard Gardener, in whose possesion it still was, when the police arrived later that evening. The magistrates sentenced Williams to 3 months imprisonment, and then turned to deal with Gardener. The prisoner pleaded, that he did not know the cows head had been stolen, and related, to the bench, that he had been told by Williams, he had won it in a raffle, at a Pub called " The Bulls Head ". Gardener was aquitted. Another prolific thief, Robert Tedstall, was crafty with it as well. He was well known in Great Bridge. His speciality was unusual, and he was described in court, as " A notorious stealer of Planks ". Yes, the wooden variety, although his modus operandia was fairly simple. Targetting the many canal boat builders, he would take a plank from the pile in the yard, and set it adrift on the canal. Claiming it was then " Flotsam", he would sell it on, to a local Marine store dealer. The dealer was caught as well. Mr Gettoes, who owned the boat yard, had lost quite a few 5s 0d planks in this manner, and begged the magistrates to make an example of Robert Tedstall. They duly obliged, and Tedstall got 2 months hard labour. I wonder if the hard labour involved any sawing of timber. Now John Green, who lived in Dudley Road, Wolverhampton, was described in court as " A Desperate Character ". How he came by his alias, " Jack Cabbage ", is a mystery, but the description certainly doesn't fit the crime. One Saturday night, he got drunk, and made the mistake of not only challanging a gathering crowd to fight, but took off his jacket, and had a go at the local policeman. During the scuffle, the coppers coat was damaged to the tune of 6d, and for which, Green/Cabbage, was fined 10s, plus costs, or 14 days in prison. I wonder, just what work he had to do while serving his 2 weeks. In 1874, did prisoners have to sew mailbags? Which brings us rather neatly on to Joseph Martin, also from Wolverhampton. He was found drunk, and causing a great disturbance in the Market, on a Saturday night. He had taken a pair of ladies Knickers, from the stall of a Mrs Duckett, and was attempting to get into them, this proving to be something of a challange for a drunken man. His situation not being helped by Mrs Duckett, who was trying to retrieve her Knickers. When the police arrived, Martin leapt onto the stall, damaging other goods of poor Mrs Duckett, including several more pairs of Knickers. She claimed in court that the damage to her underwear amounted to11s 8p, and after fining Martin 10s and costs, the Magistrate advised him to pay the damages. To much laughter, Joseph Martin said he would, but not until he'd had a look at Mrs Ducketts garments.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

April 27, 2011 at 3:30 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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Now if you detect a litlle bit of compassion, in some of the sentences dished out, then I may have missed something. Certainly, in times of industrial strife, it was the order of the day to make an example of the population who were caught stealing. So bad was the situation in Sedgley, in 1877, that the starving nailers were forced to accept a drastic drop in wages. The conditions in some houses was such, that nobody today, would have blamed the occupants for indulging in a little bit of light fingered excersise. Not all of them were worthy of sympathy, for the cause of a great deal of the misery was the nailers habit, both men and women, of getting drunk as often as possible. Rioting tore through the region, and those found guilty endured some harsh treatment. But it was the level of petty crime, that took up most of the Worcestershire Quarterly courts time. William Douch, a hairdresser, who had a shop in Union Street Dudley, was busy with a customer, when Charlie Knowles, spotted a  customers walking stick, propped up by the door. It was a really fancy stick, and he reasoned it would fetch a few bob down the Pawn Shop. He didn't get very far with with it, the hairdresser had excellent eyesight. Knowles was apprehended. He was sentenced to 12 months hard labour, a punishment he may have thought was a bit excessive, for a few shillings. Not far away, was the Pawnshop in question, run by Harry Langston. Not averse to taking in the odd bit of " hot " property, when it came to him being the victim, he cried blue murder. Well he did when Ann Hutton, a young married woman, went into his shop to redeem some blankets. Seeing a quilt, in better condition than her blankets, she stole that instead. The Judge was at pains to stress, that she was a habitual thief, and would be made an example of. He gave her 7 years penal servitude. Some example for stealing a quilt. Even dreadful hunger failed to get a degree of mercy, as 11 year old John Watton from Gornal Wood discovered. He had been observed by Ellen Wakelam, stealing a few Onions from her garden. His family were almost distitute, and all he had to eat, was a piece of dry bread, as did the rest of them in the house. Knowing full well, that the fine imposed, 5s, was beyond his means, he was sent to prison for 10 days. Only his extreme youth prevented a longer, and harsher punishment being imposed. Applications to the local " Gentry ", for more money to help the Parish funds go farther, were met with cold-blooded indifference. After all, when it came to protecting their well being, they had the law on their side.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

May 6, 2011 at 4:08 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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Taking a leap forward in time. we come to the age of the internal combustion engine. No, not the car, the Motor-Cycle. One fine evening in June 1925, a young man, Patrick Sheen, discribed as a " Traveller ",  from Hall Green, Birminghami, went for a ride on his new motor-cycle. By the time he got to Halesowen, having called at a few pubs on his way through the countryside, he had already had a few. One of the local bobbies,  P.C Grubb, had observed him in a Pub in Summer Hill, but failed to spot the Bike. About 8.30pm, and at the top of Mucklow Hill, P.C. Wilson was enjoying the last of the evenings sunshine, when the still air was shattered by the noise of a Motor-Cycle. It was young Mr Sheen, weaving his way towards home. ( That is if he could remember where home was ) Spotting a Dog crossing the road, Sheen tried to run it over, several times, watched by PC Wilson, and a witness, Frannion Jones, who was on his way home to Quinton. With some astonishment, they then saw the drunken Sheen, still on the Bike, chase the Dog down the entry between two houses. There ensued a great commotion and argument, as the householder chased Sheen back down the entry, still, surprisingly astride the machine. PC Wilson now had the task of stopping the chase, and must have felt lucky, when Sheen fell off. Sadly no, Sheen now saw him coming, and remounting, drove the bike right at the bobbie. The PC was lucky, Sheen was so drunk he couldn't drive in a straight line, missed, and finished up in a deep ditch. When apprehended, Mr Sheen was abusive, a bit violent, and his speech so slurred he couldn't be understood. ( Oh dear, I bet some of us have all been in that condition a few times ) In his witness statement Jones said that the bike was going so fast it had completed a full somersault before ending up in the ditch. Charged, and found guilty of being drunk in charge of a Motor- Cycle, Patrick Sheen was fined 40 shillings, or a month in Prison. I bet that took the shine off young Mr Sheen.


These things seem to come in batches you know, for just a few weeks later the Magistrates had another case, very similar. Leonard Clark, who was born in Halesowen, and at 19, was enjoying the thrill of driving his new Motor- Cycle. Now this maybe the first recorded case of road rage, because the young man was certainly not drunk. At Shenstone Crossroads, stood P.C Lloyd, it had been a quiet day so far, and he idly watched young Clark aproach the junction. Approaching was a Post Office mail van, and clark signalled to the driver, that the road was clear. PC Lloyd watched in horror, as Clark then pulled out in front of the mail van , the driver of which, only narrowly avoided a collision. The Motor-Cycle then began to follow the van, and several times swerved in front of it. The estimated speed of the van was 14 mph, and the bike, 20mph. PC Lloyd stepped into the road, and signalled the bike to stop, fat chance, and the PC was, in the words of a witness, David Slade, extremely lucky to be still alive. Arrested later on, young Mr Clark denied it all, and claimed the Policeman had just jumped into the road, " from out of nowhere ". That the Magistrates took a pretty dim view of it all is reflected in the fine imposed on Leonard Clark. £5 was a lot of money in 1925, although it's not recorded what the alternative was, should he fail to pay up. Perhaps Mr Clark had just had a nasty letter, he certainly did when his summons arrived. Now I wonder who the lucky postman was, who had the pleasure of sticking it through his letter box.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

May 9, 2011 at 4:46 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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Posts: 1404

On the way into Oldbury, from the direction of Blackheath, passing along Church Bridge, you would hardly notice you had crossed the old Whimsey Canal Bridge. In the 1890s, alongside the canal were several Cottages, in one of which lived John Fenton. Now Mr Fenton was possibly a hard worker. He was certainly a hard drinker, for he had chosen to live almost next door to the Boat Inn, on the other side of the bridge to the site of the old Whimsey Inn. Like most of the customers, hard bittern Canal Boatmen, he was prone to make the odd wager. One day, he, and his brother William Fenton, had gathered quite a crowd, offering to bet that he could  " jump the cut, without wetting his hobnails ".  ( Shades of the famous Joseph Darby here ) They were of course, two very drunken men. Such was the noise and commotion that someone called the local bobby, P.C. Connell, to the scene on the towpath. Knowing exactly where his duty lay, the Officer advised both of them to desist their foolishness, and go home. William, may have been a bit more drunk than his brother, and became abusive, even offering to compete with the Policeman in jumping across. The offer was declined, and P.C.Connell was then invited to " fight like a mon ", or, as suggested by his brother John, get thrown in the canal. The crowd was also in favour of the Officer getting a ducking, and, at just at the right moment, P.C. Clark turned up at the scene. The mob melted away, and the two were arrested. The Magistrates fined William 2s 6d, as he was deemed to be the ringleader, and John had to pay 1s and costs. It's a wonder that one of the Magistrates, Benjamin Sadler, didn't book the pair as an attraction in his Museum & Palace of Varieties, in Church Street, Oldbury, of which he was the owner. Up in front of the same bench a week later, we find Alfred Fletcher, who again may have been a hard grafter, but enjoyed a pint or three. His daughter Hannah, and her husband, Thomas Fereday, took up lodging with her parents, at their house in Whiteheath, and purchased from Ezra Hadley, in Blackheath, a counterpane, a blanket, and a pair of shoes. The next day, the items went missing, and then turned up at a pawn shop. Being a bit upset, young Hannah complained to the Police. In court, Alfred admitted what he had done, and Hannah told the Magistrate, " Nothing's safe when he's short of beer money ". It then came to light, that only that morning, Alfreds wife had redeemed the items, at the cost of pawning her wedding ring. This really knocked Hannah, who promptly withdrew the charges, and Alfred went back to his loving family without a stain on his character. It would seem then, that Blood is a lot thicker than Beer. Another petty crime, this time concerning one of Oldbury's " little people ". Samuel White, a Publican from Canal Street,  was only just 5 feet tall, but what he lacked in height, he made up for in strength, for he was descibed as being of 'stocky build'. ( shifting all the beer barrels no doubt ). Competition for customers was always fierce, and towards this end, Samuel purchased a large Drum, from the disbanded Carriage Works Band, and used it to attract paying clients. One day, when Samuel was busy in his celler, a sneaky individual called Henry Widdison, stole the drum from behind the bar. Mr White, steam apparently poring from his ears, set off in hot pursuit, along the canal towpath. Catching the thief up, an argument started, and Widdison denied stealing the object. He claimed he had found it in the canal, and under the laws of " flotsam ", ( the same story as Robert Tedstall,  the Great Bridge plank stealer ) it rightly belonged to him. Samuel White, having listened to this pathetic excuse, and, ignoring the fact that Widdison was a good foot taller, jumped up in the air, and gave him a solid whack in the gob. Widdison hit the deck, and in a daze, could only watch as the triumphant White made off. Beating the drum, as he went back to his Pub. It was the talk of the Town for awhile, and ensured that Samuel White had a full house for many weeks. Good job really, he was find 1s and costs, or 7 days hard labour. At least he got the item back, which was surely something to beat the drum about.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

May 22, 2011 at 11:49 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
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Posts: 1404

Now, as most Police Officers will tell you, the job is about 10% excitement, and 90% of almost total routine and form filling. Any decent copper will have a hobby of some kind, one's that fit in with the job, are quite popular, well they were in the 1920/30s. P.C.Jack Coleclough, joined the County of Staffordshire force, in January 1929. The training wascarried out at the forces Headquarters, Forebridge Barracks, in Stafford. In July of that year, he was posted to the West Bromwich Division, Central Section, and sent out on a beat with P.C. William Bennett. This is still normal practice today, although whether the knowledge gained in the old days, by very experienced beat officers, is passed on, is a mute point. In the event, Constable Coleclough had a good first day, taking into charge, no less than 7 desperate felons. To be fair, it would not have been difficult for Bennett, to have collered a load more, gambling was pretty common occurance at the time, West Bromwich being no exception. Between Bromford Lane and Spon Lane, was an area composed of old pit workings, spoil heaps, and mounds. It was a favourite spot for a few games of chance, and, provided someone keep their eyes open, a fairly safe place. Not this time though. Maybe the lads were so engrossed, that they failed to see the stealthy approach of the long arm of the law. So it came to pass, that Josiah Rowley, 15, Bert Fieldhouse, 15, Thomas Nichols, 14, Noah Freeth, 17, Archie Holding, 14, James Woodhall, 16, and Bert Fairbrother, 14, all found themselves up before the Magistrates. Strange to have to relate though, that 6 of them were fined 5 shillings each, but for some reason, James Woodhall had the case against him dismissed. I wonder if his father's job had any bearing on the decision. And for those of you reading this, who think they can guess, you're perfectly correct, he was a Policeman. Life settled down for the young man, he dealt with a Chimney fire in Paradise Street, which cost the householder, David Hayes, a few bob in fines and costs. ( yes, it was offence back then, allowing your chimney to catch fire )  Chasing a stray horse down Richard Street South, must have roused a bit of excitement, but not for the owner, who was fined 7 shillings and costs. Later on that year, P.C. Coleclough was transferred to the Hill Top Section, and thus began his " hobby ". Whilst on duty, at 5.45 pm, in early December, in the High Street, Hill Top, he spotted Sanford Ward, who lived in New Street, peddling merry along, on his way home from work. Sadly he didn't have a Red Reflector on his rear mudguard, and this cost him a 6 shilling fine. The next day, the young bobby had even better luck. At about the same time, he caught young Alfred Bryant, from Duke Street, West Bromwich, and about 2 hours later, Frank Harper, from Edward Street, also West Bromwich, for the same offence. They were both fined 6 shillings, which was a bit of a blow, coming as it did, just before Christmas. In the new year, Coleclough turned his attention to Motor Cars, well this one at least. He booked Herbert Truman, passing through on the way home to Cannock, for not having a working offside light. ( If only coppers today were half as vigilent ) Truman was fined 10 shillings, and 4 shillings costs. I bet the cyclists of Hill Top were relieved, when their nemisis was transferred to Bilston. Our intrepid P.C. soon made his mark, arresting two rather drunken men for using bad language in Dover Street. Harry Bennett, and George Legge, had just been turned out at closing time, and the cost of a few short curses was 14 shillings between them. (  if only he was around today ) There seems to have been a right old epidemic of riding bikes without lights, but our hero rose to the challenge, and things soon improved. William Siddons, got Colecloughs name in the local press in 1935, after being bitten by a dog, owned by one John Lewis. Siddons happened to be passing Lewis's house in Daisy Bank at the time, and it cost him a 10 shilling fine, and a new pair of trousers. P.C Coleclough, in 1936, received a commendation for catching, after a long chase, 2 burglars, who had broken into Sankeys sports pavilion. Another 2 were later rounded up, all of them being fined 5 shillings, and bound over for 2 years. Then he caught 2 Bilston lads, and recovered all the loot, from a burglary at the Market Hall and Billiards Hall, in Church Street. Last heard of, P.C. Coleclough had returned to his favourite hobby, booking wayward cyclists for having no lights. As I said before, we all need a little hobby, adds a bit of interest to life.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

June 12, 2011 at 11:20 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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Now, not every Policeman was as good as the one above, nor as sober. Way back in time, policeman were not so well respected as today, and when you read a few old reports, you begin to see why. Most forces, in the past, were run by local " Watch Committees ", who, although having the duty to look after their respective and mostly law abiding communities, couldn't be too choosy on who took on the job. Sometimes with a few comical results, as the minutes of a meeting in Evesham, Worcestershire, in 1836, clearly show. In March of that year, they were informed by Inspector Arton, that on his rounds, at about 1.30am on the Sunday, he had come across Constable 1. The man, later identified as Charles Kinchin, was " so beastly drunk, that he couldn't actual walk. The committee were not impressed with the news, that should he have been required to apprehend any villians, he wouldn't have been able to put one foot in front of the other. They did not however, take any further action. Two months later however, they may have wished they had, for the Inspector was back reporting that he had found his Sergeant, George Churchill, at 2.30am, again on a Sunday, asleep on the steps of a house. Not only that, but the very same constable 1, was by his side, also fast asleep. He took the Lamp from the sergeant and the rattle from the other, without waking either man. ( he didn't suggest that they were drunk, perhaps out of kindness, or he didn't fancy being two men short )  After several more " incidents ", the committee had heard enough, and dismissed both of them. Things went quiet for some years, when, in 1844, the Inspector himself seems to have lost the plot somewhat. In January, at the annual Odd Fellows Ball, the Inspector, perhaps unwisely, indulged in a bit too much punch. It would seem his wife, was being a bit " flighty ," with one of the younger men on the guest list. He ran up the Hall steps,  on to the dance floor, and punched her in the face. This did not fit in with the dignity assocciated with his position. He was severely repremanded for this unseemly act of agression. Later on that month, and possibly still fuming over what he concidered his marital right to chastise his wife, he failed to turn out for a robbery. Worse was to follow when he did put in an appearance, the two constables on duty. also failed to show up. Constables Marsh and Bayliss were eventually found, being propped up by the bar counter at the " Fleece  public house ".  Niether man was fit for duty, being so drunk, that  they could barely recite their own names. To be fair, a great many other forces were in the same state, a classic lesson, that if it's run by a committee, it will never work. Soldiering on until 1850, the Watch Committee finally threw in the towel. Poor old Inspector Arton, with a very thick file of complaints against him, he would have to go. Not only him either, the whole force was dismissed on February 7th 1851, and policing was passed to the Worcestershire County Constabulary. I bet the inhabitants of Evesham, were mightily relieved at this news, it had all become something of a bad joke.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

June 13, 2011 at 11:40 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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Not only was it the poor old working man who found himself in trouble. It could happen to the best, as this little tale recalls. Amos Hines, who was born around the Blackheath area, hadn't had much of an education, but he could read, and recite fairly long passages from the Bible. He was, to put it mildly, a bit of a petty thief, and rather to fond of the Beer. He was never violent mind, the local coppers only had to go round his house after one of his inept escapades, and he readily "  coughed " the lot. Thats the reason of course, that he knew the Bible so well, it was the only book in prison, which was always available. In the 1930s, old Amos was charged with stealing a pair of Shoes in Old Hill. It made no difference that he never wore them, and for some reason he threw then in the local Canal. Perhaps it was just a habit, or a dare, in any case, he drew a sentence of 12 months, first division. ( This was a term used at the time, to describe hard labour, well at least among the less law abiding citizens it was. )  Amos, and many of his friends, thought that this was bit harsh, given the facts of another case, that was heard at about the same time. To be absolutely fair, they all had reason to complain, especially Amos. Thomas Sitch, the man credited with helping the striking chainmakers to gain victory in 1910, was the General Secretary of the National Federation of Women Workers. He came from a humble background in Lomey Town, Cradley. His third son, Charles Sitch, who obviously shared the same background as his father, had bigger ambitions. Through a great deal of hard work, young Charles gained a good reputation with the working class'es. so much so, that in 1918, he was elected Member of Paliament for Kingswinford, a position he held until 1931. Following in his fathers footsteps, he first rose to become Secretary of the Cradley Heath union branch, then in 1923, he became the NFWWs General Secretary. So far so good, but it takes money to keep up with the circle that Charles found himself in. Most M PS were of the rich variety, a subject that today, we may all have a few strong views on. Poor old Charles was seemingly a bit of weak individual, and eneviatably, he dipped his fingers in the till. Not just for a few pounds here and there, he would have got away with that, but many thousands of pounds of the Unions money, went walk about. Found guilty, he was sentenced to 6 months, second division. ( The local term for no hard labour )  Now if I had been Amos Hines, I would have felt a bit agrieved at that. All that rock breaking, for a pair of shoes, and Charles Sitch gets to rest in cell for stealing thousands of pounds. Now here's a very strange thing. In all the local histories, which include the Chain strike, and the history of the NFWW, there's not a mention of Charles Sitch stealing from the mouths of starving woman and children, by removing vital union funds. Why is that then? It's a matter of record, that the ( Dis ) Honorable Member for Kingswinford did the dastardly deed. Perhaps it was an early conspiracy plot, to cover it all up, just like today, with the scandel over all the expense claims.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

June 27, 2011 at 4:42 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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In the 1820s, very few places had a Police Force of any discription. It was left to the Parish Church to administer some form of Law and Order, They in turn formed a small committee, who had the difficult job of not only getting the individual into a hearing, but also the task of extracting a fine, or imposing a penalty. What to do though, when faced with downright hostility. James Nock, a publican who traded in Reddal Hill, Rowley Regis, was prone to allow a spot of gambling on his  premises. He picked Sundays, which as can be imagined, didn't go down well. Forced by the Church Committee, or The Vestry, as they were known, to desist this practice, his wife then set up a bowling alley. Politely asked to stop, Mrs Nock told the vestry, " that it was allowed in Dudley, and she didn't see why it shouldn't be allowed in this parish. James Nock lost his Beer licence. Following on the mention of Bull Baiting, in the Black Country Religion Topic, Joshua Flavell, upset a member of the vestry, Rev George Barrs, by staging an event in a field next to his public house in Slack Hillock. ( the pub being The Sportsman ) They was a crescendo of complaints about the disturbance, and some inhabitants feared for their safety. Again, when asked to desist, all the Vestry got was difience. " I shall do what I like " he told them. He lost his licence as well, and a few others who applied for one, promptly got refused for doing a similar thing in the past. There were other ways to transgress the Law as well. John Attwood from Corngreaves, needed to saw some timber, so he could not think of any reason that would prevent him digging a pit and starting work. Problem was, the site he choose was in the middle of the road. Pig Lane as it was then called, the modern Barrs Road today. The Vestry, in 1825, was unable to get him to stop, so decided to send the case to Stafford Assizes, as he had also cut down a great many trees as well. Attwood during the delay, then used the timber to build a ' Railway ', and a weighbridge, the first known instance of what would later be called a " Mineral Railway ".  All this construction blocked off the route of course, and neither travellers or carters could pass. Maybe Mr Attwood thought the Vestry people would just throw in the towel, he was sadly mistaken, they used his case as an example to others. The whole lot was dismantled, and Attwood lost a great deal of money. When the area finally aquired a new Lord of the Manor, Squire John Beet, all this lawlessness came to an end. He was many things was Squire Beet, but being soft wasn't one of them.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

July 7, 2011 at 4:09 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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This story may seem a little familiar, to those who have read the topic on ' More Ghastly Murders ', and so it is, in a way. The name of the of the victim, Downing, is the same as the perpetrator, in the 1822 case. Were they related you may ask, indeed they were, for in the year before the murder, it was the Father who was the intended victim, Paul Downing.  A well known and respected name in Rowley, long established, and with a bit of money. Not everyone was so respectful though, another long time Rowley family, The Perrys, had farmed the area for generations, scratching out a living on the barren hillsides. The problem stemmed from an act of Parliament, the passing of the Birmingham Canal Companies application to begin construction, in 1767. The act gave them the right to compulsory purchase the land required. The rather crafty old Paul Downing, hearing from a relative, who was a gunmaker in Birmingham, that the company were now planning to survey the route, quickly found out the details. His neighbour, James Perry, who resided in the aptly named " Perry's Folly ", had no inkling of what was afoot, when Paul Downing made him an offer for his failing acres. Not much as it turned out, but a lot more than Perry expected. He sold the Farm, and moved the family down to Lye Waste. When it became apparent, that Downing had made a conciderable improvement to his finances, the Perrys were a bit annoyed. Accusations of cheating and theft were bandied about, and a lot of ill feelings filled the intervening years. Things did not go well at Lye, and Jame's two sons, Benjamin and Samuel Perry, returned to Rowley, and took work with another relative, James Priest. He had a small business connected with the gun trade, and took on the two men as labourers. No family favours here though, he worked them hard, as he did his own son. One night, feeling a bit hard done by, as men will, when sitting in front of a nice fire steadily getting drunk, and bemoaning life's cruel fate, they hatched a little plot. Together with their employers son, John Priest, and Epriam Rollason, a quarryman, they planned to break into the house of their arch enemy, Paul Downing. With the beer flowing, the Perry's soon convinced two others, Isreal Jennings, and John Boff, to join them in robbing the " swindling old sod ". The proposition was made more attractive, by the news that the old man had, that day, sold livestock, and had 50 golden guineas in his pocket. Beer, as they say, talks loudly, and as they drunkenly set off, Jennings and Boff lost all their dutch courage. Pangs of regret,at being drawn into the plot in the first place, must have struck, for they went to straight to the Rowley Constable, Samuel Hadley. They had already broke in when he arrived, but he caught Priest and Rollason red handed. The Perry brothers had already gone, empty handed as it turned out. Quickly rounding up a few men, Hadley then went to where they lived in Waterfall Lane, and in the small hours of the morning, dragged them from bed and locked them up in the Lunatics cell of Rowley Workhouse.  On 1st September, 1821, they were found guilty of breaking into the house, and although they had taken nothing, they were sentenced to the ultimate punishment, Death by Hanging. Some months later, they got an unexpected reprieve from the Gallows. All 20 men, who had been sentenced on that day, were given instead, another altogether different sentence, Transportation for Life. Lucky men indeed, although I dare say they wouldn't have totally agreed, after all, they didn't actually steal anything, did they.

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July 10, 2011 at 11:54 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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I have often heard it said, " that there's nothing new under the Sun ", and at times, I'm inclined to believe it. Way back in 1787, one crafty young man from Sedgley, thought up a little scheme to earn, or rather steal, some money. Using a young girl of his aquaintence, Mary Taylor, alias Smith, obviously at 17, a rather experienced young girl, he obtained a set of forged documents. These were obtained via a servant who had worked for a Mrs Clayton, in Wroxeter, and were in the form of a glowing reference, naming young Mary. The schemer, James Haden, had already selected a victim, whom he knew had money, Thomas Lawrence, who resided in Rowley Regis with his wife. Taking the false documents, Mary Taylor, now Mary Smith, obtained employment as a domestic servant, as planned, and waited for Haden to complete the arrangements. 5 days later, Mary suddenly left her new employment, and she didn't leave alone. A large quantity of Clothes, 4 Crown Gold pieces, a Gold Dollar, a new Shilling and Sixpence, both Silver, and other coins went with her. For the period, what passed as a police force, was surprisingly efficient, and some of the goods were traced back to John Hadens father, Thomas Haden, in Lower Gornal. He was arrested, but of John and Mary, there was no sign. Nothing for it, but to let the matter rest for a while, and just wait. It paid off, for a week later, Mary was spotted, in a shop in Oldbury, wearing one of the stolen dresses. She was soon apprehended, taken in front of the magistrate, and committed to the Prison at Shrewsbury. Of John Haden, there was still no sign, but he been busy, as the all soon found out. Mary Taylor, using her youth and agility now escaped from the gaol. Many were astonished, believing the feat to be impossible. She had squeezed her way out of a cell, climbed onto a roof, jumped 13 feet onto another roof, and dropped 20 feet to the ground. Not unmarked however, for when her discription went out. it made reference to a vived bruise near her nose. 2 more people were arrested following this escape, but once again, John and Mary had gone into hiding, and couldn't be found. Things changed when a reward of 5 Guineas was offered. It was a very large sum of money to those who were struggling just to provide the next loaf of bread. Caught, committed, and then sentenced to Transportation for life, it was later reported that they both did well on the other side of the planet. Which was a good job really, the penalty for returning would have been death.

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July 20, 2011 at 3:57 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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Lets bring the ladies back into the picture, for as I said before, it wasn't always the men and booze that caused a bit of trouble. This one from a Wolverhampton newspaper though, is just a little bit different. It's dated September 5th, 1829.


" A curious fact transpired at Union Hall on Saturday, in the examination of a man charged of by his Wife with beating her about the head with an eel. The poor fellow stated that the accusation was entirely false, and that he earned 23 - 30 shillings per week, the greatest part of which his wife had been accustomed to spend in dram - drinking, and that she had trumped up the story because he had been determined to keep the earnings to himself. He futher stated, that she had got aquainted with a number of other women, all wives of hardworking men, and that twelve of them acted as a Committee of Gin Tasters, who went every night to twelve different gin shops to taste the spirits, and then made a report to the "general body ", as to where the best " dram " was to be bought. He added, that a chimney - sweeps wife was " President of the Council " and that his better half was one of the set. The poor fellow was convinced that if he could not put a stop to his wifes mania for for gin tasting, he must go to the Parish for support. She had already pawned almost everything she could get to " raise the wind " in furtherence of her propensity.


After raising a few eyebrows, and no doubt a good old chuckle, the Magistrate dismissed the charges. Giving the mans wife one of those old fashioned looks, he then severely reprimanded her. Not surprising really, you can't do much damage with a dead eel can you, he should have used a piece of 2 x 4.

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August 13, 2011 at 4:41 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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A few more from the records, do let me know if you spot an ancester or two amongst them. William Mitchell, 33, along with an antractive female accomplice, in 1844, stole a few clothes and some shoes, from a shop in Dudley.  Neither of them could write, and only William could read a little. Mind you, they both quickly learned what a sentence of 3 months hard meant. Another merchant in Dudley was also feeling a bit agrieved that year. Some evil so and so, stole 20Ibs of Coal from him, understandable really, it was October, and the nights were getting a bit chilly. Hauled in front of the Magistrates, the culprit pleaded not guilty, and to Williams astonishment, he was let off with a warning. William Grazebrook, the outraged merchant was really not very amused. Food, or the lack of it, was the usual target of the petty criminals of Dudley. In 1846, Hannah and Hariot Garratt, 35 and 31, had stolen, as charged on 3rd April, a Breast of Mutton, the sole property of one William Ely, a well known Dudley Butcher. They didn't have time to savour the quality of Mr Ely's goods, as they were caught and in court 3 days later. Standing with them in the dock, was Elizabeth Davis,34 a close friend, accused of recieving said mutton, knowing it to be stolen. The three women, all married and with families, were facing a lengthy period of hard labour, as they all had previous form. The principle witness, James Ashcroft, failed to turn up for the case, at the Worcester Assizes. Perhaps he met the womens husbands on the way, and was pursueded that it might be safer to go home. They were all aquitted. Some people of the past, had what might be called, distinctive names. Theophilius Hulm springs to mind, who in 1849 suffered the indignity of having his cap stolen. It must have a bit cold on the 17th January, because if it was done as joke, he wasn't laughing. The culprit, a young girl of 14, was apprehended, dragged in front of the Magistrate, and promptly given 3 months hard labour. If you have read some of the tasks required when sentenced thus, in other posts on the site, then you will appreciate, this may have been a bit on the harsh side. Still, personel property had to be protected at all costs, it just wouldn't do, for poor folks to go around helping themselves, would it?

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September 18, 2011 at 2:51 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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WARNING. if you have an afinity with animals, and love your pets, you may not wish to read this post.


In March,1862, two young men, at work and quite possibly bored, saw a cat in the works yard. Enticing it towards them, they quickly grabbed it and tied it's legs together. Next they coated the poor cat with oil, and then, these two brainless numbskulls, set fire to the cat, untied it's legs, and roared with laughter as to screamed in agony rushing around the workshop. A pile of wood shaving, through which the agonised cat ran, caught fire, which they put out with a few buckets of water. They did not however throw any over the cat. A few of the other workers, hearing the commotion, did throw water over the poor creature, but it was so badly burned, one of them had no choice but put the cat out of it's misery. The two young men, both from Dudley, Thomas Oakes, and William Merryman, still thought it was great wheeze until they recieved a summons, bought by the fledgling RSPCA. The magistrates were appalled at such a cruel act, and imposed the maximun they allowed to in Law. Each of them was fined the sum of £5, which was about a months wages. Sadly, we still have people today, who have the same mindset as these idiots, and still do the utmost cruelty to dumb animals. It makes you think, that we should never have abolished public flogging.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

December 9, 2011 at 4:29 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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Now no matter how you argue the point, a robbery is still a robbery, if thats what the Law says. How this one came to light, I have no idea, as it was committed well away from the prying eyes of the authorites. George Oates, supposedly an upright citizen of Darlaston Green, which was where he lived and operated a Coal Mine, certainly argued the point in June 1863. He found himself in the Wednesbury Police Court, pleading not guilty, to the theft of over 8,000 tons of coal, worth in excess of a £1,000. How could a Colliery owner, you may ask yourself, be charged with stealing coal, which had been bought up from his own mine. For those who have already read some of the posts on mining, the answer is simple. For those that hav'n't got that far yet, it worked like this. Mine Owners could only dig as far as the boundry of the land they owned or leased, and in this case, the crafty Oates was not crafty enough. He thought he was on safe ground, following the coal seam, which actually went under land on which Saint George's Church Darlaston stood. The Rev. M. Hathaway however, refusing to follow the bible practice of turning the other cheek, was having none of it, and summoned the Colliery owner. George Oates was arrested, but because such a large value had been placed on the coal, he was more than surprised when he was remanded in custody. He must have known that he had gone beyond the boundry, the mine had been measured, and logged, some months before. So the many weeks he and his workman had taken, to secure this extra " bounty ", and of course at some risk, was all for nothing. So the Vicar got his money and damages, while poor old George got nothing but his comeupence, and a spell in the pokey.

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December 20, 2011 at 2:52 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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One way to avoid all the footpads and highway robbers you would have thought, would be to travel on the Railway. Not the case, as a story on the subject already posted will tell you. The introduction of enclosed compartments in the carriages, bought not only relief from the elements, but a whole new set of problems for those travelling alone. Especially women. The Railway Companies, for obvious reasons, very rarely publicised details of women being attacked, or even gave out warnings of the danger of being alone. The carriage design itself, provided the ideal place for such attacks, the victim being unable to escape, or even summon help. Just like today, a great many women were too embarressed to report the attack, a fact well known to the attacker, who when the train reached the next Station, simply walked away. In this next story, he didn't.


Catherine Scragg, unmarried, and a School Mistress in the town of Shrewsbury, was travelling back from a visit to her friend in Wellington, Shropshire. The 27th August,1887, was a pleasent enough day when she boarded the train, having secured an empty compartment for the 9 mile trip back to Shrewsbury. She took out her book, and just as the Train began to move, a stout and burly man opened the door and jumped into the carriage. Miss Scraggs was immediately alarmed, but was reassured by the man that he was on his way to see his wife. He was of course telling porky pies, she was back home in West Bromwich, Staffordshire. He sat down, at the far end of the compartment, but as soon as she picked up her book, he pounced. Throwing his arm around her neck, he began to indecently assault her. She fought back strongly, which must have surprised him, and the struggle went on for several minutes. Seeing that the only way of escape was to get out of the carriage, the brave young woman opened the door, and stepped out onto the carriage's footboard. ( a fitting designed to help passengers get in and out of the carriage ) She frantically inched her way along this narrow board untill she reached the next compartment all the time calling for help. Thankfully it was at hand, as an elderly man, hearing her screams, looked out of the window. She wasn't alone on the footboard though, her attacker had followed her. Summing up the situation correctly, the elderly man drew his swordstick and threatened to run the man through, at which he retreated, and Mis Scraggs was helped into the compartment, and safety. She was bleeding and badly bruised, but otherwise unharmed. Some 5 minutes later, the train pulled into Shrewsbury Station and the staff were informed, but the compartment where the assault took place was empty. The bird had flown, and the only way he could have escaped was to jump from the moving train. Not wasting a minute, several porters were instructed to search the line, and it wasn't long before they found something. Lying on the trackside was the unconscious body of a man, badly injured, but still alive. He was taken to the Shrewsbury Infirmary, under a strong Police guard.


The man lying in the bed, was in fact George Grice, born in West Bromwich, Staffordshire, in September 1841. He had started life as a miner, but for many years had been a Puddler, in the districts many Iron Works. For the last 2 years, he had been employed at the Castle Iron Works in Wellington. He was indeed, as he told Miss Scragg, married, and had been since June 1863, to the former Elizabeth Cook, also a native of West Bromwich. George Grice was a strange man, all his workmates, and his neighbours in Pleasant Street, West, Bromwich called him " Mad Grice ".  Known to be a savage and violent brute, most folks kept their distance, and they were a bit surprised, when, with his wife pregnant in 1885, he should up sticks and go and work in Wellington. He may have had a very good reason for doing this, and it would again be connected with the Railway.


George Grice was out for the count for 2 days in the Infirmary at Shrewsbury. When he did come round, the Police charged him with Indecent Assault, and bought him before the Police Court. It transpired that this court could only deal with crimes committed in the Borough, and so no evidence was given, and George Grice was freed. Sadly for him, he was arrested again before he left the court, and sent to the County Magistrates, who remanded him in custody, pending the next session of the Assize's. In the meantime, he began to feel unwell, and was re-admitted to the hospital. His case was due to be heard on 7th October, where the charge read, Assault with intent to ravish, and actual bodily harm. He was apprently to ill to attend, and the case was ajourned for a month. On 14th November, he finally made an appearence, much to the relief of Miss Scraggs, who had still not fully recovered from the shock. From the evidence given by witness's, who saw him get on the train at Wellington, it was apparent that he had been waiting for just such a moment as a lone female getting into an empty carriage. His timing of the trains movement was spot on, and suggested to one porter, that he was well practised at the art. It has to be said, that there had been several similar assaults on the Great Western Railway, between West Bromwich and Swan Village, and West Bromwich and Handsworth Stations, in 1884 and 1885. The culprit was never caught, but the description fitted George Grice. Had it become to hot for him in his own town? As the trial went on, it became clear, that either Grice was mentally unfit, or a very good actor. The jury found him to be insane, and he was ordered to be detained in Prison, note, not in a lunatic asylum, until Her Majesty'spleasure was known. When Queen Victoria died, he was released, and in 1902 was back home with his wife and young daughter, at 94 Union Street. Unable to get the work he reverted to being a general labourer, and in 1904 moved to 21 Parliament Street, where he died in June 1914. There's no record of him getting into trouble again, but then again, most of these are still closed to public view. If George Grice had committed such an assault when he was younger, he would have faced a more servere sentence. As for Miss Scraggs, she went back to the School and continued her career, although I don't suppose she did much travelling by train.

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December 21, 2011 at 4:22 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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I'm grateful to a member for this next piece of mayhem, all of which transpired in Dudley. The old streets of the town were a mass of little courts. Houses which were reached by going down dark and mouldy alleyways. Such was the home of one Bridget Durkin, 8 Chapel Street, Number 3 Court, and you had to be tough to survive, Bridget certainly was. A woman not to be crossed it appeared, as became apparent in the Dudley Police Court, in late March,1882. Described as a Wharehousewoman at a rag sorting company, on 7th March, she had an argument with one Jane Jewkes. The demon drink may have played a part, as the 27 year old Durkin attacked Jewkes outside a beer house in Stafford Street. She must have had some sort of weapon because Jewkes's head was cut open, and when she fell to the ground, Durkin viciously kicked her several times. She was lucky to only get a fine of 40 shillings and costs, her brother, Thomas Durkin, a Coal Dealer, widowed and lodging with her, settled the bill. Some time later, she took up with a John Cain, a Hawker, who came to lodge with her. Under this name, in 1884, she got sentenced to 3 months imprisonment for larceny. The next year, John Cain, hawking around Cheshire,  was imprisoned for 9 months for an assault. It seems, when it comes to violent characters, like attracts like. In 1888, she was again in the Police Court. this time described as a Hawker, and again drink was involved. Thomas Henry, in charge of the Three Horse Shoes, was aware that an argument was in progress between a Gypsy and a woman in his bar. There was acertain amount of pushing and shoving, when Bridget Durkin, with a pint pot in her hand, smashed it down on the unsuspecting mans head. He went down like a ton of bricks. At this stage, Henry stepped in to prevent Durkin following up with a repeat blow. We see the same thing today, and, as we would expect, Durkin attacked him as well. Badly cut, the customers were binding up his wounds when the Police arrived and carted the screaming Bridget Durkin away. By now, well known for her violent nature, she was sentenced to a months imprisonment. The next year she married John Cain, but he, having the morals of an alley cat, soon departed. Durkins other brother meanwhile, James Durkin, possible voted the best customer in Dudley, by the Victuallers Committee, was facing the same court for being drunk and disorderly. In what must have been something of a record, even for Dudley, this was his 31st conviction for similar offences. The Magistrates gave him a little holiday, 14 days in the clink. His equally hard drinking Irish ancesters would have been extremely proud of him. Bridget Cain, as she was now, married again in 1892, this time to a John Ellis, and bore two children. Lord knows what happened to Mr Cain, or for that matter Mr Ellis, for by 1901, he had also vanished.

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April 10, 2012 at 3:41 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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