St Helens 100 years ago this week

In this, St Helens 150th year, we take a look back at 1918, when St Helens was celebrating its 50th anniversary. Read what was happening at that time, 11th to 17th June 1918.

This week’s many stories include the St Helens’ railway robbery, a family fracas in Argyle Street, a prosecution for flying a kite in Sutton and the eagle-eyed bobby who recognised a violent soldier on a parade. And the national news section tells the tale of Horatio Nelson Hawkins and his 21,600 pairs of false teeth!

However we begin on the 11th with an unusual case in St Helens Police Court. It concerned Henry Raw of Alder Lane Farm in Crank who was fined a guinea for shooting a homing pigeon belonging to Henry Woods.

The young farmer’s defence was that he was only trying to scare the bird off his field. Henry Raw was also told to pay costs of £8 11s, which included the replacement cost of the pigeon.

Henry’s younger brother William would later run Rookery Lane Farm in Rainford for many decades, opposite to where I was born and brought up.

The ridiculous excuses that some defendants came up with in court could be quite funny. Thomas Glover from Argyle Street appeared in front of the St Helens magistrates on the 11th charged with common assault.

The labourer had lived with his daughter and son-in-law for some time but three days earlier the couple had thought it best that he leave.

A century ago widows and widowers were much more likely to live with their adult children than today, which often led to arguments in overcrowded houses.

On the following day Glover returned to the house for his clothes. He swore at his son John and then produced a pocketknife.

During a struggle Glover’s son-in-law, William Kemp, was stabbed on the back of his hand and it was only after the intervention of a neighbour that the man was disarmed.

However in court a totally different tale was told. Glover said he’d been turned out of the house so that his furniture could be stolen from him and he’d been given a “good hiding in the bargain”.

He also denied wilfully stabbing his son-in-law. Glover’s excuse was that he’d been cutting tobacco and his son-in-law must have caught his hand against the knife!

Thomas Glover was fined just 20 shillings or fourteen days in prison for his assault.

The St Helens War Savings Committee met in the Town Hall on the 11th and announced that a War Weapons Week would be held in St Helens from July 22nd to 27th.

It was hoped to raise enough funds for the Government to buy ten tanks and ten aeroplanes. If enough money was obtained through the sale of War Savings Certificates, one of the planes would be named ‘St Helens’.

A parade of 1,600 soldiers that were camped at Knowsley Park marched through St Helens on the 12th. They were making their way to the Theatre Royal where a special performance was being put on.

The soldiers were under the observation of P.C. Griffin, who was stationed at the Town Hall and carefully studying the face of every man. The constable was hoping to spot the soldier who four days earlier had violently assaulted him down Westfield Street.

A window in Oldfield’s shop had been broken during the melee, in which the bobby said he’d been kicked hundreds of times, with the main assailant managing to escape.

The eagle-eyed PC Griffin identified Private John Williams of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers as the guilty party and on the following day in St Helens Police Court he was charged with being drunk and disorderly and assaulting the police.

Williams admitted being drunk but denied assaulting the bobby. A good character reference was given by an army officer and so the soldier was only fined 40 shillings. What the bruised PC Griffin made of that wasn’t recorded!

On the 13th schoolboy William Worsley from Station Road in Haydock was fined ten shillings in St Helens Police Court after penny pinching on a train.

The boy had travelled to Higher Grade School from Haydock Station but had only bought a ticket to Merton Bank, saving him a penny on the full fare.

It doesn’t require much imagination to think of that penny being spent on sweets! The chairman of the magistrates, Alderman Foote, told William that what he’d done was a “kind of barefaced robbery”.

On the following day a far more serious example of railway robbery was considered by the court. This was when eight men were charged with stealing or receiving goods worth £25 from the Great Central Railway Company’s Goods Depot in St Helens.

The range of goods included tins of condensed milk, boots, butter, pram covers and a shovel. Seven were employees and the prosecution stated that there was strong evidence that other items valued at £45 had also been taken.

Read the rest of the article here

‘St Helens 100 Years Ago This Week’ has been a weekly feature on the Sutton Beauty & Heritage Facebook page since March 2016. The article is written and researched by Stephen Wainwright.

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