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Reading Room

Old news detailing sports, crime, violence and suffering in Victorian Wigan. All stories taken from The Wigan Observer And District Advertiser, 1890. Material kindly loaned by Ron Hunt.

Wednesday, October 29, 1890.

   An old offender, named John Ashurst, was charged with stealing a child's frock from the shop of Decimus Poole, draper, Millgate, on Monday. The prisoner was seen by a boy named Benjamin Taylor to come out of the Woolpack Inn, take the frock from outside Mr. Poole's shop, and run away with it. Information was given to Mr. Poole, who gave chase to the prisoner. Eventually he overtook him, and took the frock (valued at 1s. 3d.) from him. - Police-constable Fern made the arrest, and when he had charged him prisoner replied, "I would sooner take a pound or two than a child's frock, or break into a shop." He was committed to take his trial at the ensuing sessions, which means that he will be compelled to wait in gaol till January.

Friday, October 31, 1890.

   An engine driver named George Martlew (39), of Goose Green, Pemberton, met with a shocking death at Park Lane on Wednesday morning. He was driving one of the locomotives at the Garswood Coal and Iron Company's Collieries, Park Lane, and was shunting some waggons into a siding. Two brakesmen were holding the points over, and the deceased got off his engine to put down the brake of one of the waggons. Whilst travelling along and holding on to the brake he caught against a slack heap and knocked off from his position and ran over by three waggons. When they stopped deceased's head was found to be deeply embedded in the slack, which had to be shovelled away before the body could be released. The man was terribly mutilated, and before a stretcher could be procured had died.

Friday, October 31, 1890.

   William Hodge, of Standish, was summoned for refusing to allow Mr. Grime, the Inspector under the Food and Drugs Act, to take a sample of milk. - The Town Clerk (Mr. A. Smith) who prosecuted, said the refusal occurred on the morning of the 8th inst. Mr. Grime was in Dicconson-street, and was taking a sample of milk from another milk dealer when his attention was called to the defendant's cart. The defendant at that time was in a house delivering milk, and when he came out he got into the cart and was going to drive away. Mr. Grime called to him that he must not go away, but after waiting a minute or two, during which time Mr. Grime was engaged in taking other samples, he went off. - Mr. Grime gave evidence bearing this out. He said it did not take more than five minutes to take the sample and bottle and seal it. The defendant would perhaps have been kept waiting for ten minutes. - The defendant's contention was that he did not wish to evade Mr. Grime's taking a sample, but he had contracted to supply people with milk by eight o'clock in the morning. He was sure he would have been detained twenty minutes, and whether he did right or wrong he drove away. After serving customers in Park View, and other places he returned as quickly as possible to Dicconson-street. - He was ordered to pay costs.

Friday, October 31, 1890.

   Thos. Brown, 9, Fisher's-yard, Wallgate, and Thos. Charlson, Dorning-street, were summoned, the former for illtreating a horse by working it whilst in an unfit condition, and Mr. Charlson for causing it to be worked. - Inspector Brown, of the R.S.P.C.A., said about a quarter to twelve on the 18th inst., he was in Wallgate, and saw Brown in charge of a lurry laden with about 50 cwt. of flour, and to which there were attached two horses. One horse was lame on both fore legs, particularly the near fore. On turning round it seemed quite at the mercy of the chain horse, and swayed about like a drunken man. Mr. Charlson admitted that the horse had been in that condition for some time, but he was obliged to work it. - Inspector Peers corroborated. - Mr. Sayers, veterinary surgeon, said the horse had a very large ring bone and side bone, and was unfit for work. - The bench were informed that the horse was not to be worked again with the lurry, but was sold for farm work. - Brown was ordered to pay costs, and Mr. Charlson 5s. and costs.

Saturday, November 1, 1890.

   On Tuesday, at the Chorley Petty Sessions, William O'Neill, fireman at the Langtree Pit, and Chas. Higham, fireman at the Bromfield Pit, belonging to the Wigan Coal and Iron Company, were summoned for going to their work in an intoxicated condition. - Mr. Lees, solicitor, of Wigan, who prosecuted on behalf of the company, said the duty of the defendants was to relieve other firemen who had been on duty throughout the day, at half-past five o'clock on the evening of the 20th October, but instead they turned up at half-past six o'clock, totally unfit for work, so intoxicated that they themselves admitted they were not fit to be on the premises. Everyone knew that it was very important that firemen should be sober, because in working a colliery a good deal depended upon keeping up a regular quantity of steam, and the water in the boilers at a proper level to prevent accidents. Although both men had good characters, the offence was such that the company could not look over it. The manager had been asked to look over it, but he could not, as the miners complained if anyone working the machinery was intoxicated. - The magistrates fined each defendant 20s. and costs, and also admonished them on their conduct.

Wednesday, November 5, 1890.

   Samuel Holmes, Wm. Holmes, and Hannah Holmes, of Ince, were charged with assaulting James Rutter, a bailiff of the Wigan County Court. - Mr. Lees appeared on behalf of the complainant, and said that last Saturday afternoon, about half-past three, Rutter went to execute a warrant on the person of Samuel Holmes, to compel payment of the paltry sum of 8s. The complainant went to some vaults close to the defendant's house, and found all three there. On telling Samuel what he had come for he swore and declined to go with the officer, who thereupon laid hold of his arm. Wm. Holmes, Samuel's brother, then began pumelling Rutter severely on the face with his clenched fist. Samuel meanwhile struggled and got his arm free, and at once severely assaulted the bailiff, tupping him with his head and striking him in the face. Samuel's wife also joined in, and the defendant was most scandalously treated. So aggravated was the assault, that he (Mr. Lees) asked the bench, if he proved his case, to send the male prisoners to prison without the option of a fine. - Samuel and Wm. Holmes pleaded guilty, but Hannah denied assaulting Rutter at all. - Evidence having been called, the bench inflicted a fine of 40s. and costs upon Samuel, 10s. and costs upon William, and dismissed the woman.

Wednesday, November 5, 1890.

   James Owens (13), James Polding (13), and Thomas Peers (10), three street arabs, were charged with stealing three straw hats from a shop in the Market-arcade. The parents of the prisoners were not present, so the case was adjourned until Thursday. - Mr. Roocroft suggested that a diet of bread and milk should be given to the lads instead of the usual bread and coffee, and the latter beverage contained no nourishment whatever. Milk would cost no more, and in future he thought it would be better to adopt the milk diet, at any rate in regard to children. - Superintendent O'Brien gave instructions in accordance with the suggestion from the bench.

Friday, November 7, 1890.


   At the Wigan Borough Police Court, on Wednesday, before Messrs. J. Pendlebury and C. R. Graham, Edward Foster was charged with an assault upon Margaret Foster, his mother. Prisoner said he did not know anything about the matter.
   Prosecutrix stated that on Tuesday her son came in drunk and commenced to threaten her. She told him he ought not to speak to her in such a manner, whereupon he said that he would put her head where her heart was, and that he would be a "Jack the Ripper" for her. He then seized her and tore a large quantity of hair from her head. A man named Costello then intefered, and prisoner rushed at him and kicked him in the eye, bursting it.
   William Costello, who appeared in the box with his head bandaged and blood streaming down his face, said he heard the previous witness screaming, and endeavoured to part mother and son by going between them. Prisoner knocked witness down, however, and gave him a kick in the eye. He had not been to see a doctor.
   Mr. Rigby advised Costello to go to the Infirmary, and obtain medical advice.
   Mr. Superintendent O'Brien said the prisoner had been before the bench three times previously.
   Mr. Pendlebury said it appeared to him it was not the prisoner's fault that his mother was able to appear that morning. His passion was such that it appeared he would almost have liked to kill her, and the bench felt like they could not do less than send him for two months' hard labour, which he trusted would be a lesson to him.

Saturday, November 8, 1890.

   Shortly after one o'clock on Tuesday night, an alarm of fire was brought to the Police Office by Police-constable Lewtas, who said that a portion of the premises at Douglas Forge, near Scholes Bridge, was on fire. The bell was rung and the brigade, with the horse and hand hose carts, at once turned out, under the command of Inspector Peers. On arriving at the spot it was found that the ground and upper storeys of the pattern shop were on fire to a considerable extent, and four jets were at once brought into play, with such good effect that the flames were soon mastered. It was not until nearly two hours' work, however, had been done by the brigade, that Inspector Peers though it safe to retire, which he did about 3 a.m., leaving three members of the brigade in charge. The damage occasioned by the fire, which is supposed to have been originated by a spark from the furnace, is said to be between £150 and £200, and this is covered by insurance.

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