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  • 100 YEARS AGO: BOGUS VALET ROBS BROUGHTON HOME


    Tony Flynn
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    History With Flynn

    I have to admit that when I first read the following story about a bogus valet to Sir William Bass, I was reminded of the Fawlty Towers episode, "A Touch Of Class" and the fictitious, "Lord Melbury" who cons money out of Basil, who is fawning over him,because of his title.

    Our story begins in August 1921 in Douglas, on the Isle of Man with a Mrs Ann Edwards and her unnamed husband on their holiday's in a boarding house, they got into conversation with a chap, called, Thomas Henry Ireland, who told them he was the valet too, Sir William Bass who was also on holiday in Douglas.

    They exchanged business cards and Mrs Edwards told him that if he was ever in Manchester, that he should look them up and he would be made welcome at their home in Conway Street, Broughton, Salford.

    It is worth noting that at this time there was a, Sir William Bass, he was the son of Sir Hamer Alfred Bass the brewing magnate, Sir William was educated at Harrow and became a famous racehorse owner.

    One can only imagine the the look on Mrs Edwards face when several weeks later, Mr Ireland turned up at her two up and down terraced house and told her that his "Master" was staying in Manchester but had kindly allowed him 13 shillings and sixpence a day for board and lodgings and could she kindly put him up, to which she agreed.

    Surely a valet's occupation is to be the personal assistant and is responsible for his Masters clothes and daily arrangements?

    Mr Ireland stayed with them for almost a fortnight and on the morning of, August 26th he told Mrs Andrews that he was going for lunch with Sir William and would be back later, later on in the day they received a telegram from him, informing them that, he had been called to Liverpool and would return the next day.....do you think he would?

    Mrs Andrews suspicions were raised, (and not before time if you ask me), a search of her property revealed a quantity of gold, including a watch, a gold Albert, several gold sovereigns  and a war medal were missing, along with Mr Ireland.

    The police were informed and a month later he was apprehended in High Wycombe, some distance from Liverpool, and was brought back to Salford to face the music, where he was charged with theft and a further charge of obtaining food and lodging by false pretences.

    He appeared at Salford Magistrates Court under the watchful eye of the Stipendiary Magistrate, Mr P.W. Atkin.

    Inspector Mitchell told the Court that Ireland had pleaded guilty to the theft of the gold but not the war medal and that all of the stolen property had been recovered, he also revealed that there were two court cases pending against him in, Douglas and Llandudno

    He was sentenced to six months imprisonment which seems a fairly lenient sentence, possibly because all of the stolen gold was recovered.

    I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall in Mrs Andrews house at tea time, when Mr Ireland would regale them with stories about Sir William Bass and the high life that he led, however a fortnight off spinning these yarns  about his, "Master" would soon wear thin and I can imagine that they had already regretted bumping into him in Douglas and exchanging, calling cards.

    Thanks to Gary Williams for the photo of Conway Street taken in 1978.



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