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100 YEARS AGO: ADDED RACIAL TENSION IN SALFORD AFTER A POKER ATTACK

History With Flynn
Following on from my last story about race riots in Salford, I was astonished to find this story in the following week's edition of the Salford City Reporter from March 1919.

The language used to describe the men is frankly disgraceful, yet was acceptable at that time.

The original story headline was, "Attacked by Negroes" and "White Man beaten with a poker".

James Johnston described as being a "coloured" man was charged with assaulting John Hall at a house in Duke Street, Greengate, Salford and was remanded in custody for a week.

Detective Inspector Clark told the Magistrates that Hall was living in at Queen Street, Greengate,  Salford and had come to visit his brother William who had a room in a house where Johnson lived.

He alleged that Johnson came out of his room and attacked him with a poker for no reason, hitting him about the head, arms and body, another "coloured" man joined in the attack hitting him with a poker several times.

William Hall heard his brother's screams and shouted out of his window for help.

P.C. Gleeson came to his aid and found him to be suffering cuts to his head, arms and hands, and took him to Salford Royal Hospital for treatment where he was given an X-Ray.

The following day two more "colored" men were arrested by the police and charged with assaulting Hall, this time the Salford City Reporter headline read, "Two More Niggers Charged"

The men were William Daniels and Obadiah Williams, the police advised the Magistrates to remand the men in custody for a week whilst further investigations were carried out.

One week later the mean once again stood in the dock at Salford Magistrates Court, described by the paper as being, "Sequel to Negroes concert party"

The paper described the assault happening in a lodging house in Duke Street were a negro concert party was being held, "niggers" were strumming banjos and white women danced"

That set the tone for the case implying that white woman by dancing with black men were immoral and therefore loose women.

William Hall took the stand and told the court that he returned home about 10.30pm and was searching for his key in his jacket when Johnson rushed out of his room and struck him on the neck with a poker, he managed to get into his room and lock the door.

Presently his brother John called to see him and he to was attacked by three "colored" men armed with sticks and pokers, knocking him to the floor.

P.C Gleeson arrived on the scene and found John Hall bleeding profusely from a head wound, he arrested Johnson and managed to get Hall to the hospital for treatment.

Along with his head wound he was found to have bruises and cuts to his arms, shoulders also his thumb bone had been split in three parts.

Hall said that if P.C. Gleeson hadn't arrived in the nick of time he believed that the men would have killed him.

All of the men denied the allegations but were all found guilty.

James Johnston was sentenced to prison for two months with hard labour, the other two men were given six weeks in prison with hard labour.

The Magistrate asked that the Home Office be informed of this case.

You may recall that the Chief Constable of Salford, Major Godfrey had recommended to the Home Office that convicted black men should be sent back to their respective colonies following the so called Race Riot in Salford.

I have never found any evidence of any of these convicted men being deported I am happy to say.

Would the Salford City Reporter have said that black women were found dancing at this party, I doubt it very much, it's just because they were white women and their behavior was considered taboo.at this time.

And as for using the "N" word to describe the men, it is sad but that word was acceptable in common parlance of the day, but today it makes for uncomfortable reading.

There is no doubt that the three men were guilty of assaulting the Hill brothers and justice was served but the way it was reported still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Photo: Artisan Dwellings, Queen Street, Greengate, Salford




Tony Flynn



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