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Tony Flynn

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About Tony Flynn

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  1. STAGING LIFE: THE MANCHESTER PLAYWRIGHTS

    In his latest book, John has chronicled the history of the Gaiety Theatre, Manchester founded by Annie Horniman in 1907 as an answer to the Abbey Theatre in Dublin which at the time was producing works by such playwrights as Yeats, Lady Gregory, Moore, Martyn, Padraic Colum, George Bernard Shaw and Synge. Ms Horniman threw down a challenge to Lancashire playwrights to rival their work and out of this challenge the school known as the Manchester Playwrights was born. This included such luminaries as Stanley Houghton, Harold Brighouse, and Allan Monkhouse. With such formidable writers, the Gaiety soon became the most progressive theatre in the country, the first of its kind to create an identifiably local school of playwrighting as Tony Wilson famously said, “This is Manchester, we do things differently here.”. Dipping into this fabulously researched book I was fascinated to read how shocking some of these productions were considered at the time. Take, for example, Hindle Wakes by Stanley Houghton, the play concerns a young mill girl, Fanny Hawthorn whose weekend away unravels in tragedy as it is revealed she had spent a proverbial "dirty weekend" with the son of a local rich mill owner. This was in 1912 when such behaviour was certainly frowned upon, however Fanny isn't one to conform and tells her lover that basically they had had their fun and its over and more importantly doesn't want or need his riches and can make her way through the world on her own, a great example of early sexual equality. Incidentally when a film was made of the play a lot of the scenes were shot at Monton Mill and the canal side nearby. We all know Hobson's Choice which incidentally is playing at Salford Arts Theatre as we speak. Written by Eccles born, Harold Brighouse the play tells of headstrong Maggie Hobson a woman with plenty of fire in her soul who chooses Sam Mossop as her husband a man considered to be much lower than her on the social scale, once again we see strong independent women at the fore. Did you know that when the 1954 film was premiered it was shown at The Broadway Cinema, Eccles? I only learnt that from reading this marvellous book. This book offers so much and it is a pleasure to read, my eyes were opened at the wealth of talent in the area and is a fabulous insight to the world of repertory theatre and the pleasures and pitfalls that go with it. I can honestly recommend this book to anybody with a love of both theatre and local history, John Harding has done a marvellous job with his research and photographs that adorn the book and I doff my cap to him a remarkably researched and an essential read. The book costs £18.99 and at present is available from Greenwich Exchange www.greenex.co.uk FREE postage within the United Kingdom.
  2. James McGubbin aged 13 from Hart Street, Salford, stood in the dock charged with obtaining three shillings by false pretences and the theft of two silver brooches. Mrs Amtvall of West Thompson street told the court that young James called at her house and asked her if his mother could borrow half a crown - two shillings and sixpence - she gave him three shillings and told him to bring the change back, surprise, surprise, she didn't see James again. She gave it a few days and decided to call at his house for the money, the mother had no knowledge of this transaction, obviously, in a rage, she summoned the police to sort the matter out. Detective Needham called at the house to question James who readily admitted the deception, he told Needham that he had, "spent the money going to the pictures" For you younger readers, the "pictures" was a term for the cinema coming from, moving pictures which were shown on the screen. In 1918 cinema was on the boom throughout the country and in the area were James lived there was The Weaste, Royal, Langworthy, Prince of Wales, Empress and Scala cinemas, plenty of choice for a teenage film buff. The news got worse for James when his father turned up at the police station to complain that two silver brooches were missing from the house. To his credit James admitted the theft, telling the police that he had pawned them for money so that he could go and see more films at the local cinemas. Little wonder that many people in authority saw the cinema as being an evil and corrupting effect on the Nation's youth. The Stipendary Magistrate, Mr Ollier ordered young James to be given six strokes of the birch, perhaps that would stop him sitting down in relative comfort in local cinemas. Incidentally, the birch was usually administered either in the cells underneath the courts or at a local police station by a burly copper with the offender's parents in attendance if they wished, can't say I'd have cared to have witnessed one of my own being thrashed with a stick. The second case concerns an unnamed 11-year-old boy who lived at Barton Grove, Eccles who was charged with breaking and entering a house on Lime Street, Patricroft with intent to steal. .map-responsive{ overflow:hidden; padding-bottom:32.4%; position:relative; height:0; border: 2px solid #fff; background: #262e33; border-radius: 2px 2px 2px 2px; } The female owner of the house, whose husband was away with the army, told the court that she found the boy on the stairs in her house and asked him what he wanted? he brushed past her and walked out of the door. No doubt puzzled if not concerned she went out shopping and when she returned, she found that a window had been broken and the house had been ransacked and curiously enough nothing had been stolen. The ever intrepid Sergeant Bentham was informed and called at the house for further evidence and a description of the boy. With commendable police work, he tracked the boy down and arrested him the same day. The boy told the court a rather sad and strange story, he said that he had been reading, "exciting and adventurous literature". No doubt Boys Own or similar books of adventure and mystery, harmless stuff to be honest. The boy's Uncle appeared at the court and he sounds proper old school, told the Magistrate that the boy was reading this rubbish and was no doubt trying to emulate some of the characters in these books, adding, "I have since burnt all of his books and warned him not to bring any more home" Not content with the lad having his reading material go up in smoke the Magistrate ordered him to receive four strokes of the birch! You have to feel some sympathy for the boy, having lost his books he was known to be thrashed with a stick, he was only 11 years of age! Finally, you may be glad to know that birching of juveniles was abolished in this country in 1948 unless you were to commit a felony in the Isle of Man they carried out birching people until 1978! mind you homosexuality was only decriminalised there in 1992... Photo: Langworthy Picture House .map-responsive{ overflow:hidden; padding-bottom:32.4%; position:relative; height:0; border: 2px solid #fff; background: #262e33; border-radius: 2px 2px 2px 2px; } .map-responsive{ overflow:hidden; padding-bottom:32.4%; position:relative; height:0; border: 2px solid #fff; background: #262e33; border-radius: 2px 2px 2px 2px; }
  3. BAD BLOOD AT SALFORD BUTCHER'S SHOP

    The Germans in a last-ditch effort to bring the country to its knees attempted to starve Britain into surrendering by attempting to sink boats bringing much-needed food and supplies into the country. Almost 40% of all meat being consumed in the country was imported from either North or South America making these boats enviable targets. Stricter food rationing was introduced in April 1918, with meat, butter, sugar, cheese and milk all put on the ration list with Ration Books given out to the general public and you had to register with a Food Controller as to which butcher and grocery shops you would be purchasing from, the rules were very strict, anyone found cheating could be fined or even sent to prison and if we are to believe even King George and Queen Mary were given them, yes I can see them queueing up on The Mall to buy their food.... Now you have read these amazing facts - stop laughing at the back - we come to this week's juicy story from June 1918 which will go some way as to explaining why I regaled you with it, read on, it gets better, hopefully. Herbert Groves, the Manager of the Argenta Meat Company butcher's shop on Union Terrace, Broughton, Salford appeared at the Salford Magistrates Court charged with assaulting one of his customers the unfortunately named, Herbert Bugg, do you think he was called Bertie Bugg at school? Last inane fact afore we get to the "meat" of the story, the Argenta Meat Company far from being South American were actually founded in Oldham in 1899 and had over 100 shops dotted around Lancashire. According to Chief Inspector Clarke from Salford Constabulary who was the main prosecution witness, Mr Bugg had gone into the shop and demanded that Groves return his precious meat coupons that his wife had handed over earlier that morning. Sadly for Mr Bugg, Groves was busy cutting up the carcass of a dead sheep ready to be put on sale in the shop and I can imagine he wasn't in the best of moods. Bugg complained that the meat his wife was given wasn't value for money and demanded the coupons back, at which Groves threw his coupons at him and told him to clear off from the shop 'or else' Strangely enough, Bugg returned back to the shop several hours later, no doubt having been home and told not to come back without the coupons by Mrs Bugg and told Groves that, "I can not eat that kidney that you gave my wife earlier today and I demand my coupons back" Enraged at this slur on his offal products Groves was then alleged to have hurled the coupons in his face and as he bent down to pick them up was rewarded with a boot in the face, followed by a pummeling to the head and the body causing Bugg to flee the shop. Hell hath no fury like a butcher scorned it would appear, insult the man but not his meat products! Mr Groves had a Mr Murray acting for his Defence and to be honest, he doesn't sound all that good, hardly George Carmen or Clarence Darrow. Murray asked Bugg if it was not correct that he had been in the shop on three previous occasions complaining about the meat and threatening to report him to the local Food Controller, and had also been struck off Groves list of registered customers and the only reason he was in court today was that the kidney wasn't to his liking, strong line of questioning there! Bugg strongly denied these allegations and stuck to his story that he was the injured party. Unable to break him down with his rugged interrogation, Murray told the court that Groves was held in high esteem by his employers the Argenta Meat Company and there had been no complaints about him apart from those by Bugg. With a final lunge at the jugular, he then accused Bugg of being rude and arrogant to Groves and that it was he, not Groves who started the fight. Sadly all to no avail as Bugg continued to plead his innocence. The Stipendary Magistrate no doubt as bored with this court case as you are, found Groves guilty of assault and fined him 20 shillings. So did Groves get the "chop" from his job? was it all a "missed steak? did they "meat" again? to settle their "beef" and not "mince" words? or all these puns to "offal" to repeat? Sadly I'm here all week I athankayew.
  4. Neighbours, Everybody needs good neighbours, Just a friendly wave each morning, Helps to make a better day as that dreadful song from the equally dreadful Aussie soap show, Neighbours informed us, it's a pity that these two warring Salford families hadn't heard that ditty. James Howarth who resided at Primrose Hill, Salford - a picturesque address, sadly a row of two up and two down terraced houses in the Hanky Park area of Salford - was summoned to appear at court by a close neighbour, Emma Fitton charged with unlawfully assaulting her. The court heard that Emma Fitton was a charwoman by trade and was returning some washing to a neighbours house when she passed James Howarth, words were exchanged, quite vulgar I should imagine and she went home blissfully unaware of what was to happen next. Emma told the court that when she passed James Howarth he was outside his house, along with his wife, cleaning the windows, when she passed him he shouted at her, "Hello, you here, again!" whilst his wife used foul language at her. Worse was to come when she alleged that Mr Howarth followed her to her door and punched her in the face, blacking both her eyes and to add further misery, he proceeded to put the boot in! only stopping when Emma Fitton's granddaughter came out of the house and implored him to stop. So far a shocking assault on a hard working female member of the public, innocently going about her duties... Mr Desquesnes who was defending Mr Howarth had a few pertinent questions to ask this paragon of virtue and it's worth repeating here, if only for the novelty value. Mr Desquesnes, "When you saw Mr Howarth he was cleaning his windows?" Emma Fitton, "No he was going up and down the street with his knocking up stick" The knocker-up used a baton or short, heavy stick to knock on the clients' doors or a long and light stick, often made of bamboo, to reach windows on higher floors. In return, the knocker-up would be paid a few pence a week. The knocker-up would not leave a client's window until they were sure that the client had been awoken.) Mr Desquesnes, "Did you make offensive remarks about his wife to him?" Emma Fitton, "No it was him who used the foul language and his wife" Mr Desquesnes, "You say you went home and Mr Howarth assaulted you in an unprovoked attack, did you not go indoors and come out with a jug of hot water which you threw over him?" Emma Fitton, "I was carrying a jug of water through the house when he passed and I threw it out not knowing that he was passing by, I didn't aim it at him" Mr Howarth then took the witness stand and told the court that he was sat outside his house with his wife, when Emma Fitton passed by and made, "objectionable observations" about his good wife. He continued that he asked her to desist from using this language when she suddenly threw a jug of boiling water over him, he then admitted that he may have struck her a blow to calm her down! Using the Judgement of Solomon the Magistrate fined Mr Howarth 5 shillings and warned both parties about their future conduct. Read into that what you will, I think Emma Fitton had a bad tongue on her and had said something to annoy Mr Howarth, however assaulting her and putting the boot in isn't acceptable behaviour is it? Wonder how they went on in the future and did they join in the street parties when the Great War ended some five months later, perhaps they called a truce? Photo: Stock
  5. SEVEN MONTHS IN 79 ROCKS INTO ECCLES

    This is a collection of black and white photographs of shall we say, "New Wave Bands" all taken by David Hunter back in those heady days of 1979 when punk was all but dead in the water and new acts were taking the limelight. Amongst those artists on display are Ian Curtis, Kevin Rowlands, Paul Weller, Bruce Foxton, Terry Hall, Ian Drury, Simon Miner, Pauline Murray, Joe Jackson, Barrie Masters, Steve Diggle, Phil Oakey and Pete Perrett. The photographs were taken in clubs in Manchester and Liverpool including the Apollo and legendary Russell Club in Hulme and are truly fascinating, atmospheric shots which have remained unseen for almost 40 years. I spoke to the ace lensman, who told me how the exhibition came about and its a very interesting story, not least because it's his very first exhibition in a gallery. David tells me that he has quite a few more photos stored on his laptop including some bands which to be honest I am no big fan of, including Iron Maiden (pre-Bruce Dickinson days), Rush, Motorhead, Sammy Hagar and many, many more including some in colour. Also, prints are on sale at the gallery all reasonably priced and here is the best thing, all the profits from the sale of them will be donated to a locally based charity in the city where the photographs were taken, how good is that? .map-responsive{ overflow:hidden; padding-bottom:32.4%; position:relative; height:0; border: 2px solid #fff; background: #262e33; border-radius: 2px 2px 2px 2px; } David will be at the Gallery this Saturday from 12pm - 2pm and will be more than happy to talk to you about his exhibition and I can guarantee that you will enjoy it, tell him that I sent you! The Seven Months In 1979 exhibition will run until Saturday 2nd June 2018. Further images can be seen on https://www.facebook.com/2021389388110931/photos/a.2021441431439060.1073741828.2021389388110931/2021584541424749/?type=3&theater
  6. Illegal street gambling was once a regular fixture in this country with backstreet bookies taking your bet, usually in the safety and privacy of their backyard with men paid to act as lookouts when the police made their obligatory raids, some of them even taking the 'fall' for the bookie for a slightly higher fee. My Grandfather on my mother's side, Walter Moran was a registered Turf Accountant who would ply his trade on racecourses throughout the country, but also had a nice sideline in illegal street betting in Salford. Nearly all of this illegal activity would cease with the introduction of the 1960 Betting and Gaming Act which first allowed gambling for small sums on card games in pubs and from May 1961 betting shops were allowed to open. The story that follows is from the pages of the Eccles and Patricroft Journal, April 1918 and tells the story of illegal street gambling and a curious court case that followed. Two brothers, Robert and William Barnes appeared at Manchester County Police Court charged with street gambling in Melbourne Street, Pendlebury, they had earlier appeared at Eccles Magistrates Court and robustly denied the offences and elected trial at Manchester. .map-responsive{ overflow:hidden; padding-bottom:32.4%; position:relative; height:0; border: 2px solid #fff; background: #262e33; border-radius: 2px 2px 2px 2px; } Police Constable's Thompson and Gibson took the stand told the court what they had seen. The intrepid coppers "took a place of concealment" some 15 yards away from Melbourne Street and saw a number of men, women and children hand slips of paper and money over to Robert Barnes on the 24th April between 11 am - 2 pm. They returned the following day and no doubt once again well hidden saw further transactions take place between the hours of 9.30am - 1.30pm this time William Barnes joined in with his brother taking the bets. The police stated that the number of people seen placing bets on those two days was a staggering 448! Robert Barnes wife took the stand and proudly stood by her man telling the court that her husband was at home with her on the two dates mentioned, "helping with the housework" and didn't leave the house until 4.30pm presumably when he had completed his chores. The case took a curious twist when she told the court that P.C. Thompson stopped her and her husband as they alighted from a tram in Pendlebury at 11.30pm, that's devotion to duty. He is alleged to have said that Robert had been reported for street gambling for those two days mentioned, to which he is said to have replied, "What again? I haven't taken a halfpenny since you did me three weeks ago", obviously known to the police then and hardly an innocent man's plea. Now here is where the case gets murky P.C. Thompson said, The Barnes brothers had Mr W. Murray acting for their defence, he asked Mrs Barnes if this was true, once again she proved her mettle and said, "I told him three weeks ago if he ever did betting again, I would "roast" him", a formidable woman. He then turned his attention to P.C. Thompson and asked him why these letters hadn't been mentioned in the initial hearing at Eccles and asked the Clerk of the Court to confiscate his notebook so that he could inspect it. Suddenly the mystery letter writer made an appearance in the dock and asked that his name is kept anonymous, Mr Murray would have none of this and demanded that he be named or the court case should be thrown out, which seems fair enough to me. The man was named in court but his name was kept out of the newspaper for fairly obvious reasons. He told the court that he had placed bets with both of the brothers on the two dates mentioned in court, then added that he had only come to court because he thought the police had a charge against him? The Chairman of the Court stated that this was a most "peculiar" case and he was determined to get to the root of it. He retired to consider his decision and would you believe it he found both brothers guilty as charged. Robert Barnes was fined £10 and £2 costs, whilst brother William was fined £5 and £2 costs, amazingly the mystery man was awarded 5 shillings costs for appearing at court! All in all, a very strange case in which the police initially stated that they had seen the brothers with their own eyes and then later said that they were acting on an anonymous tip-off, doesn't quite add up, does it? I think that the only thing we can be sure of is that the mystery man would keep a very low profile in the Pendlebury and Walkden area for the foreseeable future if he had any sense.
  7. This well-meaning but basically daft legislation has a relevance to the story that I am about to relate, sitting comfortably? then I shall begin. The DORA act included amongst its somewhat bizarre rules were that no-one was allowed to buy binoculars, no-one was allowed to give bread to horses, horses or chickens, no-one was allowed to buy brandy or whisky in a railway refreshment room, customers in pubs were not allowed to buy a round of drinks and public house opening times were also reduced to 12.00 noon to 2.30 pm and 6.30 to 9.30 pm. before the law was changed, public houses could open from 5 am in the morning to 12.30 pm at night.. Women were employed in men's jobs and proved that they were equal if not better in such occupations as factory work, driving buses, working on the land or in this case working in bottled beer stores in Salford....a recipe for disaster? This curious story culled from the pages of the Salford City Reporter, April 1918 tells of the sad plight of three Salford women employed in such a job. Salford police ever vigilant to stamp out drunken, unruly behaviour had been tipped off that women in the Greengate area had been seen drunk at times when the pubs were shut and so firm action was taken. Detective Inspector Clarke had two of his men stake out the workers leaving the bottling store of Findlater and Mackie Ltd, a beer bottling company. The daring duo didn't have long to wait and pounced on three women as they finished work and were making their way home. Mary Taylor was alleged to have looked, "bulky" and was asked what she had hidden in her shawl, she replied, "Only a bottle of stout". A search revealed a further five bottles of beer hidden in her clothing, I would have thought that they would have been attracted to the clinking sound coming from her clothing. The two other women, Mary McLean and Jessie Kerridge made good their escape and went back to their homes seemingly oblivious to what would happen next. The police duly arrived at Mary McLean's house where they found her and her mother supping a pint bottle beer of each other, disposing of the evidence perhaps? When questioned Mary told the police, "I am sorry I have taken a few bottles home with me" You couldn't accuse her of lying, a search of the house revealed another 36 empty beer bottles all from Findlater and Mackie Ltd. A visit to Jessie Kerriridges house found 12 empty beer bottles which she admitted taking from work. All three appeared at Salford Magistrates Court charged with theft and were defended by Mr Desquesnes. D.C. Clark told the court that he had been tipped off that women were stealing beer on a regular basis and that some women had even had stitched hidden pockets in their skirts so they could conceal even more, quite ingenious really. Mr Desquesnes asked for leniency from the Stipendary reminding him that the women had already pleaded guilty to this offence and had helped the police with their enquiries. Sadly he was having none of this and sentenced Mary Taylor too, two months in prison with hard labour, an incredibly harsh sentence considering the offence. Mary McLean was fined 40 shillings or 21 days imprisonment. Jessie Kerridge was fined 20 shillings or 14 days imprisonment. I do hope that these two women were able to pay their fines which were quite hefty at the time, perhaps they should have taken the empties back to the off-licence and collected the deposit back, also it would have got rid of the evidence! I'm certain that this court case had no impression whatsoever on the drinking and theft of beer in Salford and was merely a shot across the bows, a warning to stop it or else. A look through the court pages of the Salford newspapers will confirm that drinking etc went on regardless and it would take more than a fine to stop them enjoying themselves.
  8. They were The Crown, Majestic, Palladium, Regent, Princes, Broadway and the ill-fated Empire which got bombed in the Xmas Blitz of 1940, perhaps a certain gentleman had got wind of the film showing at the time, "Hitler - Beast of Berlin" and voiced his displeasure by bombing it. The first recorded picture house as such was the Public Hall on Franklin Street, Patricroft which began showing moving images onto a screen in 1907 and by 1908 it had changed its name to the more refined, Picture House, Public Hall, Patricroft, a bit of a mouthful. Crowds would flock here to see these early films which were educational, dramatic and humorous and no doubt an eye-opener for the audience. Such films as The Abram Colliery Pit Disaster, Bleriot's Channel Flight, Dr Crippen Arriving At Liverpool would inform them of current events while such rib-ticklers as "Carlo Steals The Sausages", "Adventures Of A Roll Of Lino" and the jaw-droppingly named, "THe Cripple Comes A Cropper" would be certain to have them rolling in the aisles. These films must have sadly been lost forever, the film was cellulose nitrate which was highly flammable and could disintegrate very easily. It would be marvellous if any of these old films could be discovered, many films were shot on the streets of Eccles and Salford and were shown the next day at local cinemas, makes me sad to think of what we have lost. 1914 saw the outbreak of the Great War and the Picture House was soon showing patriotic films such as "Under the German Yoke" and one called, "A Belgian Girl's Honour". At the screening of this film a Belgian soldier who had lost a leg fighting against the Germans was brought onto the stage and gave an account of the fighting in Belgian and the so-called atrocities being carried out by the beastly Hun, mainly propaganda, to be honest, having said that, they did shoot the nurse Edith Cavell for alleged spying. However the luxurious Palladium Cinema opened nearby on Liverpool Road, Patricroft in 1915, and this had upholstered seats, proper lighting, toilets and brand new films with mystery guests calling in. Compare this to the Public Hall with its bare wooden seats, poor hygiene and out of date films, you can almost hear the tolling of the bell and by 1916 the decision was made to close the Picture House/Public Hall. The Eccles and Patricroft Journal from April 1918 tells of a blaze that almost destroyed the building. A railwayman from the nearby Patricroft Sheds was passing at 1.30am and he noticed flames coming from the building and alerted the local fire brigade. The building was being used Samuel Hooley as a coal dealers yard and he had horses stabled there, which were quickly taken to safety, also sharing the premises were The County Steam Laundry owned by Mr Kay. It took the Eccles Fire Brigade over an hour to put the blaze out and make the building and nearby houses safe, however one plucky Eccles fireman sustained an injury, Ernest Edwards sprained his ankle tackling the fire, or he most probably tripped over a fire hose, who knows? The cause of the fire was traced to the staircase which led up to the Public Hall and it was determined that it was caused by a carelessly discarded cigarette or cigar butt which had been thrown away and left, still alight. The Public Hall is still standing and is now a motor repair shop with the Public Hall being used as a joiners storeroom. Sadly all of the Eccles cinemas have now been demolished, or become bingo hall's or a pub, also the magnificent Crown Theatre which is still standing and in a poor state, and hopefully can be saved from demolition. The Palladium Cinema is now a Bingo Hall but is worth taking a look at with its Art Deco windows and stained glass, a nice reminder of when the "Silver Screen" was king in Eccles. If you are interested in the history of Eccles Cinemas I could recommend a spiffing little book by that name, the author's name escapes me though.....
  9. In this story we from March 1918 we take a look at the long-gone Salford racecourse or to give it its proper name, Castle Irwell, which stood on Littleton Road and Cromwell Road and closed in November 1963. The final race there was held on November 9, 1963, when The Goodbye Consolation Plate was won by Fury Royal, steered across the finishing line by Lester Piggott, no less. I refuse to call it the Manchester Racecourse as the history books call it, because and let's face facts here, the racecourse was set firmly in Salford, its the same with Salford Docks which was called Manchester Docks in the media, sorry but I refuse to accept that. Carrying on, you may know that this week is the Cheltenham Festival, a racing event which is attended by 1,000's of people and so I dedicate this horsey tale to those two terrors of the turf accountants, Mike Duff and Ted Taylor. Salford Racecourse was well attended and one the main races were the November Handicap, this story concerns a Saturday afternoon at the track and the goings on there. Amongst the crowd were two policemen from Salford constabulary, Detective Sergeant Hulme and Detective Constable, Hodgson both men had their eyes peeled for pickpockets and general miscreants. They spotted George Parsons who hailed from Birmingham with a large crowd around him, playing an illegal game called, "Spinning Jenny". A cloth was placed on the floor with the names of a dozen horses on it, the observers would then place their bet on their lucky nag and a revolving pointer was put into motion, if the needle stopped on your horse, you won the amount staked with George deducting his cut for what he called, "working expenses". However, if the needle stopped on the black line separating the horses, George took the lot, which happened quite frequently, in fact, six times out of nine as the police noticed, a bit greedy there George! The eagle-eyed bobbies noticed that George had a habit of pressing a knob in the centre of the arm of the needle which miraculously caused the needle to stop on the black line, and George wins again. He was arrested and charged with illegally gambling on the racecourse and taken into custody along with "Spinning Jenny". He duly appeared at Salford Magistrates Court the following Monday where he was defended by Mr Desquesnes. Prosecuting him was the formidable figure of Chief Detective Inspector Clarke a man with a reputation for maintaining law and order in Salford at all costs. The "Spinning Jenny" game was laid out in court for the Stipendary Magistrate to observe and was demonstrated by D.C. Hodgson who spun the indicator arm and then pressed the knob causing it to stop on the black line to prove that George had indeed been fiddling the punters, he added that this gave Mr Parsons what he called a "clear book". The Stipendary showing that he did have a sense of humour rebuked D.C. Hodgson saying, which met with laughter from the public gallery, but not I suspect from the police. Mr Desquesnes spoke up for his client saying that he had pleaded guilty to gambling, however, it was difficult to distinguish between one class of gambling and another, also it had not been proved that were was any fraud in connection with this matter and that this was a game of chance rather than gambling. Chief Inspector Clark didn't intend to let his man get off the hook with a mere technicality and asked for a weeks remand so that he could make enquiries as to why George wasn't serving in the army! Heaven forbids that the prisoner was not only a gambler and a cheat but an army slacker as well. Mr Desquesnes questioned this by saying that George wasn't being charged with being an army deserter from his unit and he couldn't understand the request for a weeks remand. Clutching at the proverbial straws, Chief Inspector Clark said that the Military Authorities "might" want him, note he said "might" and not "do". The Stipendary refused the request saying that it was going too far to request that the Military gets involved and fined George, £1. I'll bet George hot-footed it from the court, anxious to avoid the wrath of Chief Inspector Clark and a possible Military Escort, I pity the next man that he arrested. As I stated at the beginning of this tale, we are in Cheltenham Festival week and in keeping with the spirit of gambling, I have been contacted by that well-known tipster, "Captain's Table" a man who tames bookkeepers, he may be crusty but he is trusty, who assures me that the following three nags will romp to victory this Friday at Cheltenham. So get your hands down the back of the settee, rifle the kid's money boxes and get your money on these "surefire winners" Laydeez and Jellymen I give you: Apples Shikara: Triumph Handicap Might Bite: Gold Cup Wonderful Charm : Foxhunters Good luck and no bricks through my window if they lose and remember, everyone a coconut!
  10. LOVE AND MARRIAGE IN SALFORD

    Read on but be prepared for some fairly shocking antics and behaviour which I do assure you isn't a familiar trait in most Salford marriages, honestly. Harris Frazer who resided at Pimlott Steet, Salford appeared at Salford Magistrates Court charged with unlawfully wounding. Myer Adler of Trafalgar Street, Broughton. .map-responsive{ overflow:hidden; padding-bottom:32.4%; position:relative; height:0; border: 2px solid #fff; background: #262e33; border-radius: 2px 2px 2px 2px; } By all accounts, the marriage between Mr and Mrs Frazer had hardly been a bed of roses with the police often being called to their matrimonial home to stop Frazer from thrashing his poor wife. Things got so bad that she fled the home with her two teenage children and took out a police summons to keep him away from her such was her fear of him. On the evening of Thursday 3rd March, Mr Myer Adler a neighbour of Mrs Frazers heard shouts and screams coming from the back of his house and naturally went out to investigate what was happening. He saw Frazer striking his own daughter about the head and body and threatening to kill her. Naturally, he went to stop the assault and to use an old saying, "this is where it all went wrong". Frazer who had been carrying a stick during the assault on his daughter smashed it over Adler's head and then he grabbed hold of him and sank his teeth into his nose and proceeded to attempt to bite it off! To add to the melee, Frazer's own son came into the back and armed with a steel poker began to hit his own father over the head with it, in an attempt to unlock his jaws from Adler's nose! He finally managed to get his father to release Adler from this horrific attack and the police were summoned. Reading that reminded me of those dreadful stories of pit bull terriers attacking people attacking people and locking their jaws on them until their jaws are prised open, hopefully not with a steel poker though. The police dutifully arrived and carted Frazer off to the police cells and not the kennels where I think he belonged. Detective Inspector Clarke told the court of this unhappy marriage, and despite being cautioned by the police, Frazer continued to harass and threaten his wife and children. Obviously not a man concerned with such trifles as police summonses he kept up his threats to kill and eventually tracked her down to her new home and decided to confront her, who knows possibly attempt to kill her? In the dock, Frazer vehemently denied the allegations against him and attempted to show that he was the innocent party! He told the Magistrate that he had decided to call round to his wife's house hoping for a reconciliation and was "talking" to his daughter when Adler suddenly appeared and struck him on the head with a large piece of coal in an unprovoked attack and then chose to defend himself. A little to robustly I would have thought. Frazer's son and daughter both gave evidence about their father shocking behaviour which, to be honest, is a rather sad state of affairs and then to wallop your own father over the head with a steel poker indicated the lack of affection that they held for him! He was sentenced to two months imprisonment with hard labour, which in my humble opinion is an incredibly light sentence for the violent assault on Adler and his own daughter and as for attempting to bite somebody's nose off, surely several years imprisonment would have been apter? Let's hope that Mrs Frazer and her two children went on to live a more peaceful life with her husband safely locked away in Strangeways Gaol, I hope so after all she had to endure with him. .map-responsive{ overflow:hidden; padding-bottom:32.4%; position:relative; height:0; border: 2px solid #fff; background: #262e33; border-radius: 2px 2px 2px 2px; }
  11. Further research and letters from a survivor of the sinking of the ship gave a completely different picture as to what had actually happened. The S.S. Aragon was built in Ireland in 1905 and was the first of the Royal Mail Steam Packet Companys fleet that sailed between Southampton and South America. In 1913 with the threat of war looming she became a defensively armed merchant ship and took part in the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign, helping evacuate troops from the Gallipoli peninsula in January 1916. Fast forward to 30th December 1917 and the S.S. Aragon arrived at Alexandria laden with 2,700 troops bound for the conflict in Palestine, she lay some 10 miles outside the harbour awaiting a convoy to escort her into the harbour when disaster struck. A German submarine the SM UC-34 torpedoed the ship hitting her port side on, causing extensive damage and causing the evacuation of the crew and passengers, hundreds of men were in the water fighting for their lives, when another torpedo hit the boat which ruptured its bunkers and spilt tons of thick, black bunker fuel into the sea,many men were drowned in the polluted waters, many more were overcome with fumes and also perished. Help arrived when the HMS Attack drew alongside the sinking S.S. Aragon and managed to rescue crew members using ropes attached to the ship and the use of lifeboats which pulled the men onto the deck where they lay, semi-naked and covered in oil. Suddenly another torpedo slammed into the HMS Attack, blowing her into two pieces causing her to sink within seven minutes throwing some 300 survivors of the S.S. Aragon back into the polluted, filthy waters where much more would drown. In total 610 people from the S.S. Aragon were killed including the ships Master, Captain Bateman, six Voluntary Aid Nurses from the Red Cross and ironically enough Sergeant Ernest Horlock who had been awarded the Victoria Cross for 'conspicuous gallantry' on the Western Front in 1914. Local trawlers and surviving lifeboats rescued the rest of the survivors and get them ashore to safety. The Eccles and Patricroft Journal from February 1918 then published a letter, no doubt heavily censored from one of the survivors, Corporal D. Hirst aged 22, who lived at 246, Liverpool Road, Patricroft and it's worth quoting his memories of the event. He makes it all sound so calm and well drilled when the boat went down, I can only imagine what it must have been like to be have been in that filthy, oily water and watch friends drown in front of you, unable to help, a horrendous ordeal for anybody and remember that Hirst was only aged 22, still a very young man. I should imagine that his account was heavily censored to prevent him telling what had actually gone on in the water, and also to protect his family's feelings, basically to reassure them that he was OK and that things were not that bad. A memorial to the people who were killed on the S.S. Aragon is commemorated on the Chatby Memorial in the Shatby district of Eastern Alexandria. Oddly enough on the following day following the sinking of these two ships, just as the rescue operation for any survivors was called off the fleet auxiliary craft, HMS Osmmanieh also hit a mine in the rescue area, sinking her and taking with her 197 soldiers and nurses to a watery grave.
  12. Many myths have grown up about these hulking monsters which admittedly must have put the fear up of God into the enemy as they came out the early morning mist, belching fire and smoke, flattening barbed wire fences in their wake, sadly the reality is that on the battlefield that they didn't have a massive impact on the outcome of the war. They were slow, a top speed of four miles an hour, mechanically unreliable and for the eight-man crew jammed into the tank a living hell, their steel armour could stop small arms fire and fragments from high-explosive artillery shells, however, they were vulnerable to a direct hit from artillery and mortar shells. The environment inside was extremely unpleasant; as ventilation was inadequate the atmosphere was heavy with poisonous carbon monoxide from the engine and firing the weapons, fuel and oil vapours from the engine and cordite fumes from the weapons, temperatures inside could reach 50°C (122°F). entire crews lost consciousness inside the tanks or collapsed when again exposed to fresh air with gas masks and wire mesh masks known as splatter masks worn at all times. However, this story gleaned from the pages of the Eccles and Patricroft Journal from February 1918, paints a far rosier picture of life for the ordinary Tommy serving in the Tank Corps. It tells the story of a 25-year-old man from, Bolton Road, Pendlebury, Sgt. Alfred Whitehead who was serving in the Tank Corps and if is to believed seemed intent on wiping out the entire German army by himself. His parents had received a letter from the War Office informing them that Alfred was to be awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (D.C.M.) for bravery whilst serving in France, the DCM was the second highest medal to be awarded for gallantry in action after the Victoria Cross. Alfred was the youngest of three sons, all of whom were serving in the British Army, Ernest was serving with the Kings Own Borderers Regiment, and Herbert was serving with the Labour Corp in France. They received further information when a letter arrived from Alfred, a letter which is an astonishingly, honest depiction of war in France and candidly brutal about life and death. In my book, that means he has just shot and killed 50 Germans, however, his killing spree wasn't over yet! In what must be one of the most classic understatements of the war he said, I should imagine that they would. What an astonishing story, I do wonder if Sgt Whitehead actually did kill over 60 German soldiers or was this just jingoistic talk for the newspapers in a hope to instil morale in the people back home, who were in dire need of some good news from this war that seemed would never end? No matter what it can't be denied that Sgt Alfred Whitehead was a very brave man, if not at times verging on the homicidal who served his King and Country with honour.
  13. It employed over 5,000 local men and imported among other things, timber, grain, cotton, livestock, tea, cheese etc, it even had its own railway system and police force. With WW1 dragging into its fourth year, public morale was low, food rationing was getting tighter and this would not have helped what was a potentially explosive situation, also 1,000's of lives were still being lost in what seemed to be an endless war. This court case from February 1918 gives an insight into what people in Salford were suffering and what a tinderbox situation the country could hopefully avoid. In January 1918, Detective Inspector Carroll of the MSC police received information that pilfering of ham, tea, cheese and other foodstuffs were being carried out on a daily basis by the dockers employed there. He decides to nip this in the bud and in my opinion rather foolishly decided to do mass stop and search of dockers leaving work hoping to find stolen goods. One such search involved William Hopkins a dock labourer who lived in Peel Street, Hulme, he was stopped because his pockets looked, 'bulky' a search revealed loose tea in his pockets, he was arrested and given to P.C. Chadwick to be taken into custody. Events quickly turned nasty as some 50 dock labourers gathered and demanded his release, they began throwing stones, one hitting P.C. Chadwick on the head and drawing blood, Hopkins seized his chance and threw the tea on the floor and made good his escape, only to be arrested on nearby Ordsall lane, shortly afterwards. Back at the docks, the situation escalated and two of the dockers, John Needham, who resided at Arm Street, Hulme and Archibald Cochrane, from Fleetwood Street, Salford were alleged to have caused further trouble for the police. Needham was heard to say, Cochrane was alleged to have said, Police reinforcements arrived before the situation could get worse and the so-called ringleaders were arrested whilst Hopkins was already in custody. William Hopkins appeared at Salford Magistrates Court the next week and was charged with stealing 4 ounces of tea, the value of 1 shilling, the property of the M.S.C. He denied the offence, however, it was revealed that a search by the police found remains of tea in his pockets, it was also revealed that he had 10 previous convictions for theft, hardly a shining example to other employees. He was sentenced to one month's imprisonment with hard labour. Next in the dock were the star attractions of the day, Needham and Cochrane who were charged with inciting persons unknown to assault D.I. Carroll and P.C. Chadwick whilst in the execution of their duties, a fairly serious charge. The case was heard by Stipendary Magistrate, Mr P.W. Atkin, for the prosecution was a Barrister at Law, Mr Gilbert Johnson and for the defence was Mr E. Desquesnes. Mr Desquesnes called P.C. Chadwick into the witness box and asked for his version of events on that day, and asked why he had chosen to search Needham and if he had said to him, "Come here, you - swine" Chadwick denied saying this, strangely enough, Mr Desquesnes then asked him if he had ever been fined for using bad language? again Chadwick denied this, a strange line of questioning unless Mr Desquesnes knew something about him and hoped to blacken his character in the dock, perhaps implying that he was a violent, foul-mouthed man? P.C. Chadwick then came out with quite a damning statement when he said that he heard Needham say that if D.I. Carroll put a hand on him, he would smash his head in, whilst wielding a hammer at him! The evidence against Needham stacked up even higher when a P.C. Donohue said that he had heard Needham say, "Get the coppers and throw the lot of them in the docks", say what you like but those MSC police had truly remarkable powers of hearing. John Needham took the witness box and told the court he was leaving work when he was roughly dragged into a shed by D.I. Carroll who demanded to know what was in his pockets, he explained that it was the remains of his dinner, some bread and cheese, he then alleged that he was sworn at by P.C. Needham and pushed to the floor. He denied trying to incite the dockers to attack the police and said that the MSC police were exceeding their duties and that he was an innocent man. Archibald Cochrane then took the witness box, he too denied inciting the crowd to attack the police but protested at their heavy-handed treatment of the prisoners. The Stipendary then had to decide who was telling the truth, I think we both know who he believed. He sentenced Needham to one month's imprisonment and Cochrane to 14 days imprisonment in Strangeways Gaol. Cochrane shouted out, "Is this the way you treat innocent men?" Mr Desquesnes pleaded for leniency and asked if a fine would be a more fitting punishment? This was refused and both men were taken down. Was this a harsh judgement? to be honest, if the men were guilty were of inciting the mob to attack the police they would have received far lengthier prison sentences than they did. I think that the Stipendary had to make a token show of strength to appease both the MSC police and act as a future deterrent to the dock workers and hopefully please both parties. I wonder what would have happened if the men had actually beaten the police up and thrown them into the icy waters of the Salford Docks, I feel its fairly certain that the armed militia would have been called in straight away and ordered to stamp out this early sign of anarchy. It was only five months earlier in Russia that the workers had risen up and seized control of their country, Heaven forbid that this should happen in Great Britain!
  14. In February 1918, Private Thomas Tierney aged 27 was about to let the Salford Magistrates Court know exactly what his feelings were in gaining this slight respite from the madness of the war. Tierney had been arrested on Cross Lane, Salford by P.C. Lamb and was charged with being drunk and disorderly, and was bailed to appear at the Magistrates Court at Bexley Square. Cross Lane at this time was a hub of activity and a magnet for anybody looking for a proverbial good time, it could boast of having 18 pubs, two music halls, a cattle market, army barracks and a no doubt very busy police station. On the day Tierney was due to appear at the Magistrates Court, there was no sign of him, had he skipped bail and gone back to his unit in France? Detective Inspector Clark told the Court that Tierney who had been bailed by the Salford police force had gone straight to Manchester, were true to form he was again arrested for being drunk and disorderly. Mr Foyster the Magistrates Clerk suggested that the police should contact Minshull Police Court and ask for this charge to be taken into consideration there, and decided to mark the court records, "No evidence given" Suddenly, Tierney walked into the court and proudly introduced himself to the Stipendary Magistrate with no apology or explanation for his absence. Detective Clarke took the initiative and asked him how he had got on at Minshull Street Court. He breezily replied, "Oh it was a total washout, a waste of everybody's time, chucked the case out" Hardly the explanation the court or the police were expecting. The case against him was allowed to continue and as it progressed I have to admit that I found it quite funny and took a shine to Private Tierney. P.C. Lamb took the stand and told the court that he was on duty on Cross Lane, when his attention was drawn to a group of women and men, cheering and laughing loudly. Further inspection found Private Tierney to be dressed in women's clothing, dancing about whilst wielding a Claymore sword over his head, which you must admit is quite an interesting spectacle. Private Tierney went into the witness box and seemed quite aggrieved at what he had just heard and told his version of the events. "I was doing no harm to anybody, yes I did have a woman's dress and bonnet on, doing the 'sword exercise' but I was only acting the goat" Now in full swing, he carried on, "I had only 14 days leave from France and I wanted to enjoy myself without losing a Saturday night in the police cells" "They take no notice of this kind of behaviour in France, but in England, they 'wheel you in' which I think is shameful, I was only having a bit of fun and didn't harm anybody" This explanation must have taken the court by surprise, no doubt expecting a grovelling apology from the hapless Private Tierney. The Stipendary using the wisdom of Solomon told Tierney, "You brave fellows don't seem to understand how seriously we take things here, you may go and fight for your King and Country but please don't play the fool here" Tierney was discharged without a blemish on his character and left the court a free man, he should have been given ten bobs to buy a pint in the nearest pub in my opinion. I do hope that he survived the bloodshed of the Western Front and came home to a hero's welcome were he could let his hair down in peace and no doubt indulges in a bit of Highland Dancing!
  15. Ironically the weather today seemed to echo the events of that fateful day as snow started to fall on the approach to Old Trafford. Many supporters gathered outside the Munich Memorial Plaque to lay wreaths, scarves, photographs, football shirts and even an old-style football in memory of their fallen heroes. United had opened the East Stand which I still call the Scoreboard End for fans to attend the service which was led by club’s chaplain, the Rev John Boyers. .map-responsive{ overflow:hidden; padding-bottom:32.4%; position:relative; height:0; border: 2px solid #fff; background: #262e33; border-radius: 2px 2px 2px 2px; } The Manchester United Foundation Choir, sang, "I watch The Sunrise" as the players past and present were warmly welcomed by the crowd as they made their way to their seats. Executive director Michael Edelson and Ferguson gave short readings before the Roll of Honour were solemnly read out by John Boyers, followed by a minutes silence which was impeccably held. An exceptionally poignant moment, was looking across at the crash survivors, Harry Gregg and Sir Bobby Charlton it was sad to see the sorrow on their faces, whilst around me, grown men openly wept. Salford's own Pete Martin sang the Manchester United anthem, The Flowers of Manchester and you could have heard a pin drop such was the silence around the stadium. Wreaths were laid by Michael Carrick and Jose Mourhino as the brass band played, Abide With Me, however, my gaze was drawn to Gregg and Charlton, both very dignified men and great servants to the club' God knows how they held it together under the circumstances. The players left the ground to rapturous applause with players waving their appreciation to the crowd, the highlight for me was seeing Sir Alex Ferguson punching the air with clenched fists. All in all a sad day but a journey each United fan should try and make, it really is an emotional day which shows the love that people still have for the beautiful boys who perished 60 years ago. God BlessThe Busby Babes.

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