Sunday, 14 February 2016

Reckless Motoring and other stories

Reckless Motoring 
 Summer has at last arrived and living as I do in Whaley Bridge, within half a mile of Taxal Church, in good air and good company, I ought, you would think, to be as happy as the days just now are long. Not so. Motor cars run through our pretty village to and from Buxton at the rate of from 25 to 40 miles an hour. Some - I do not say all - are careless of everybody and everything but themselves. They think they have the complete right of the road. Everyone must make way for a high powered motor car. Dogs and cats they run over, and occasionally old men. The dust they create in running at the speed they do is most injurious to pedestrians, crops, and dwellings. Should you open your bedroom windows your rooms are soon covered, and make extra work for the already hard worked maids and assistants. Shopkeepers have to shut their doors, or their goods would be spoiled. A butcher told me that on a Saturday afternoon in fine weather, after his shop had been open all day, anything sold after 4 to 5pm wanted washing before being fit to eat.
July 17th 1907

Poor Fellow

Buxton  September 1927

When one of their guests started to behave a little strangely, the management of a Buxton hotel wasted little time in calling the police.  When questioned, he seemed to be suffering from loss of memory.  He thought that his name was Arden and believed that he worked for a cable company in Buenos Aries. He had no idea of how he came to be in Buxton nor of his friends or relatives. He was described as 35 to 40 years of age, 5ft 10in tall, and clean shaven.  He appeared to be well educated and of good appearance.  The response of the police was to incarcerate him in the Chapel-en-leFrith Union Workhouse !

The Crime of the Whaley Bridge Postmaster

Robert Jackson was postmaster at Whaley Bridge, a position he had held for 16 years. He also held the post of assistant overseer where his responsibilities would include collection of rates and administering the poor law.  He also acted as collector of tithes for the parish of Taxal and as treasurer of the church restoration fund.

Jackson had received £55 from the ladies who managed the Provident Club to be invested in a Post Office savings account. They had little knowledge of the methods of the Savings Bank and did not ask for a receipt, relying instead upon the honestly of the postmaster. Jackson  received £20 from the Senior Overseer, also for investment.  The anticipated interest on these investments was paid regularly.

In July 1889, Jackson suddenly disappeared. On the investigations of the Charity Commissioners and the Paot Office Authorities, it was found that not only these sums were missing but a total of £275 including moneys from the poor rates. A warrant was issued for arrest and he was discovered in Manchester where he was furnishing a house. The prisoner was conveyed to Whaley Bridge where he was handed over to Constable Hunt. He was then remanded at Stockport and in December 1889 was tried for embezzlement. In his defence, it was stated that Jackson and his wife also ran a stationery business, the stock of which amounted in value to more than the missing funds. Had repayment been demanded, Jackson would have had little difficulty in raising the money. The auditor had found that much of the money could be recovered and the Post Office had refunded £20 leaving a deficiency of only £45. Jackson had a wife and young family and in his support the Rev. Sam Evans, vicar of Taxal and Mrs Johnson and Mrs Shalcross, managers of the Provident Club spoke of his excellent character despite his having made off with the money which they had entrusted to him.

The defendent pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 12 months hard labour.
Jackson was clearly popular in Whaley Bridge for he had only been in jail for a month when the Home Secretary received a petition signed by a large number of Whaley Bridge citizens praying for Jackson's early release. The signatories included local magistrates, clergy and ministers and nearly all the ladies of the Provident Society from whom he had embezzled the funds!

Sheep Rustling

In December 1850 Samuel Taylor of Hulme left 9 sheep in a field in Hodge Lane in Salford. He had left them in the charge of a young man named Richard Warren but the following day, neither man nor sheep were to be found. The loss was reported to the police at Chorlton upon Medlock who soon tracked down the culprit. Warren was found to have sold a sheep to a butcher at  Heaton Lane, Stockport, another to a butcher at Hazel Grove and a third in Whaley Bridge.
The police caught up with Warren in a Whaley Bridge pub where he was found with the remaining 6 sheep in his possession.

The Sale of a Wife at Market

In 1837 an unconventional method was followed to dispose of a wife.
The wife of John Allen of Turnditch eloped with J Taylor of Shottle.  The injured husband heard that the couple were in lodgings at Whaley Bridge and resolved to settle the matter.  Finding them he demanded 3s for her clothes. Taylor said that he would pay this provided Allen would accompany them to Wirksworth next market day and deliver her according to the law. Arriving at Wirksworth, Allen purchased a halter, placed it around his wife and gave the end of the rope to Taylor saying "I, John  Allen, was bereaved of my wife by James Taylor of Shottle on 11th July last; I have brought her here to sell her for 3s 6d; will you buy her James?" Taylor answered "I will, here is the money, and you are witness Thomas Riley" calling to a potman who was appointed for the purpose.  The ring was delivered to Allen with three sovereigns and 3s 6d, when he shook hands with his wife and her paramour wishing them all the good luck in the world. She had been married to Allen at Kniveton about ten years ago and had lived together until then. 

An Artful Trick

The other day, as one of the coaches which plies between Buxton and Manchester was ascending the hill near Taxal, the coachman was accosted by an Irish woman with a child in her arms, requesting him to "give her a ride". He replied, "that the proprietors employed him to receive fares, not to give rides." upon which she, pretending to find her pocket among the folds of her ragged dress said, "Sure and have you change for a sovereign?". The coachman, elated with the prospect of receiving his short fare, ordered her to get on and he would furnish the change at Buxton. On arrival at the destination, the woman alighted and was proceeding apace without producing the coloured material, when the coachman, in a stentorian voice exclaimed, "Hallo, you have not paid your fare."  "Fare do you mean, sir, sure and I have only a penny in my pocket." "Then why did you ask me for change?" replied the coachman. "Sure and it was the change that I wanted; the devil of a sovereign had I." The coachman, much chagrined at the loss of his anticipated fare, at the request of a passenger, alloed the woman for her craft, to proceed on her journey.

The Blackburn Standard 3rd December 1845

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