For the answer lets take a visit to Salford Magistrates Court, September 1918 to see what the Stipendiary Magistrate had to say.
Our story starts on board the S.S. Chicago City a Cunard Liner boat that was moored at Porto Empedecole in Southern Italy, which was picking up amongst other cargo, cases of wine to be transported back to Salford Docks.
What could go wrong?....The Captain was soon to find out.
Alarm bells should have rung when it was noticed that several seamen had begun drinking heavily from the cargo being loaded onto the boat from cargo lighter boats, a type of flat bottomed barge which would transfer goods and passengers to and from moored ships.
The Captain immediately put an armed guard on the ship and another on the shore in an attempt to stop the pilfering of wine by the crew.
I think you can guess where this story is going and how its going to end.
At 3am the next day the Captain was woken up by the Second Officer who told him that he was concerned about the amount of noise coming from number three hold.
The men along with the Chief Officer prudently armed themselves with revolvers and went to see what the commotion was all about.
As can be expected it wasn't a pretty sight, he saw a number of men lying on the floor, surrounded by empty wine bottles, others were singing loudly and as the Captain put it, "The men were mad drunk" A lovely expression.
The men were locked in the hold overnight, presumably they had drunk all the wine that was being stored there and left to sleep it off.
The next day the Captain found that none of the men detained were capable of working and were "not in a fit state to be talked too"
They were then given one last chance to explain their innocence, none of them were able to do so.
They must have shifted a lot of wine or it was very strong stuff for al of them to be unable to work or even speak properly.
The ship sailed to Salford Docks without further trouble, no doubt the booze was firmly under lock and key if not an armed guard!
Ten men were arrested by the dock police, they were, Patrick Birch, George Kyfinn, Daniel Delaney, Michael McKenna, Velkhelm Hansen, Maurice Crosby, Herbert Atwood, Harry Ward, Daniel Fitzpatrick and Jesse Baker.
They were all charged with the theft of seven cases of wine valued at £25 the property of Cunard Liners.
The merry matelots were were defended by Herbert Cunningham whilst Herbert Vaudrey appeared for the owners.
Cunningham told the Stipendiary Magistrate that there was no truth in the allegations that they broke into the cargo, although it was obvious the cargo had been tampered with, however there were 31 men on board the ship and the men in the dock hadn't been seen doing the damage or theft.
He continues that it was true that the men were very drunk but asserted that they had bought their liquor ashore and therefore had committed had no crime.
Be honest that's not a very convincing argument for their innocence is it?
The Stipendiary obviously not believing a word, said that he thought, "the men had broken into the cargo and after a heavy drinking bout, no doubt had a craving for more drink and committed the offence that they were charged with"
He then fined each man 50 shillings or £2-10 shillings-0 pence which was about a weeks wage for the men, and a fairly hefty price to pay for going on a bender.
LS Lowry could have easily painted pretty landscapes but instead he chose to paint what he saw, and that is without a doubt the most defining trait of Salford, we say it how it is, we tell it how it is and we keep it real.
So with that same spirit in heart, add local wordsmith Simon Williams to that list, he has put pen to paper to recall a vision of a Salford he witnessed himself as he grew up here, a Salford that for many is long gone, all but existing in memories.
The perfectly titled book 'My Salford: Poems From The Heart' is a collection of 40 poems that are utterly unique to us, the people of Salford and as we all know the pope is a salfordian and he endores it.
Each poem is a vivid recollection of events which have shaped our City as well as Simons life, from the gritty memories of the 'scabs' who walked through the doors during the miners strikes to a nostalgic poetical walk down Langworthy Road and remembrance of this once bustling high street.
From memories of a 5 year old Simon visiting the local sporting mecca that was once the Willows, a stadium filled with the greats who would go on to inpire Simon in later life, to the drug culture during the 80's which devastated the lives of many a Salfordian, Simon himself no stranger to their danger.
Simon has seen it all and done it all, he is an accomplished Author, an avid charity fundraiser who has raised countless thousands for local charities and causes, he also runs the 'Sounds of Salford' radio station which beat out American online stations at their own game by topping their podcast charts. He is without a doubt a Salfordian through and through, he is one of us, wears his heart on his sleeve and has the fire and passion in his heart for this City. A true unsung local hero.
Never forgetting his roots 'My Salford' is available for free on Kindle as Simon is aware how cash strapped this City is, but for those who have a few quid extra there is an old school paperback physical copy available for your personal library it is just a measly £4.82 via Amazon. It is well worth investing in as this is one of those books that in future years will be a Salford bible. Well after all, the Pope is a Salfordian.
Buy here: Click To Buy
By Tony Flynn
I am certain we have all witnessed shocking behaviour on our buses, trains and trams over the years, I can still recall the horror of the last bus out of Victoria bus station as a callow youth and have witnessed a hail of meat and potato pies being hurled in a scene reminiscent of Agincourt, yes the good old days.
So this story from August 1919 reminds us that loutish behaviour is not a modern day phenomenon as two drunken chaps bring a new meaning to, men behaving badly.
Amos Williams 28, who lived at Irlams Place, Salford appeared at Salford Magistrates Court charged with with being drunk and disorderly in Eccles New Road and assaulting a female tram conductress, Ethel Featherstone.
Inspector Mitchell told the Court that Williams and his chum, Joseph Mullen boarded the tram at Eccles Cross and were going to Weaste to meet a female friend.
However this journey to meet the mystery woman was curtailed when Amos Williams loutish behaviour resulted in the police being called.
Whilst the conductress was collecting fares upstairs, he decided it would be fun to continually ring the bell much to the annoyance of the other passengers.
One one occasion he rang the bell so vigorously that driver slammed the brakes on thinking it was an emergency stop, much to Williams amusement.
An elderly chap, Edward Smith, had the temerity to tell Williams to behave and asked him what he thought he was playing at?
Williams responded by grabbing hold off his legs and dragging him to the floor of the tram, were he began kicking him.
Ethel Featherstone. came downstairs to see what all the commotion was about and asked him what he was doing, his reply was to slap her across the face and then attempted to push her off the tram, which fortunately had stopped.
I noticed the driver of the tram hasn't come racing to her rescue!
The police were called at Weaste and managed to drag the two drunken men off the tram and into police custody and reflect on their behaviour.
In his defence, Amos Williams told the Magistrate:
"I had drank a lot of beer that day"
Truthful but hardly the best defence he could have come up with is it?
He was fined £1 or 30 days imprisonment for being drunk and disorderly, also he was fined £3 and six shillings for assaulting Ethel Featherstone or 28 days imprisonment, with the fine being paid to her in costs.
P.C. Cormie took to the stand to testify against his co-accused, Joseph Mullen who was also charged with being drunk and disorderly.
He told the court that Mullen kept interfering with Williams arrest, using bad language and even going so far as to attempt to incite the tram passengers to help release Williams!
Williams was hardly popular with the tram passengers so I should imagine his pleas fell on deaf ears.
Mullen told the Magistrate:
"All I did was to walk to the police station and see how my pal was and if he needed any money, then I got arrested"
He was fined £1 or 14 days imprisonment.
So a warning for us all, don't balloon on public transport unless you want to spend the night in the cells and face a possible hefty fine..and I haven't mentioned a single person I know!
By Tony Flynn
This story from the pages of the Eccles and Patricroft Journal from September 1918 is a mixture of both of the above emotions and an almost happy ending for once.
Corporal David Macfarlane who resided at Cross Street, Eccles was before the outbreak of war a postman on the streets of Eccles and by all accounts a well known man in the Borough.
He was no stranger to combat having fought in the Boer War in South Africa and in October 1916 he joined the 2/5th Battalion of the Lancashire Fusilier and was soon in action.
He fought in the Third Battle of Ypres where his regiment suffered many casualties, he was shot through the hand as he was retreating and then in the leg as he lay on the floor, along with fellow Eccles man, Corporal Lee who lived at Cecil Road, Eccles he was taken as prisoner of war and taken to various camps around Belgium before settling at Munster Lager, Medical Hospital, Westphalia in Germany.
With the war grinding to a bloody stalemate Macfarlane because of his age and ill health was repatriated back to Blighty after 13 months in captivity.
He gave an interview to the Eccles and Patricroft Journal when he was on home leave from the King George Hospital in London, who no doubt wanted to hear tales of heroism and jingoism and he did not disappoint.
When taken prisoner he was taken to a field hospital and the only treatment he received for his injuries where cold water bandages which left his hand deformed and useless, he did retain the use of his leg though.
Now in his stride he told the journalist,
"I saw plenty of British pluck on the Western Front but nothing compared to to the pluck of our boys who are in the hands of their German captors.
"Nothing can induce them to or compel them to make munitions, one lad who refused was placed on bread and water for 17 hours and was forced to stand in bitterly cold weather, at the end of it he had to be practically thawed out but he maintained his refusal to work for them"
He then thanked the Prisoner of War Relief Fund who had sent them essential food.
"I received six parcels a month, the Germans were eager to buy our bread, dripping and soap but Tommy never parted with them, we make sure our boys get their share"
Surprisingly he was allowed to visit the nearby town of Munster, he said that all the shops were either closed or had no provisions in them and yet the Germans were still convinced that they would win the war as the people of Britain were starving to death.
Also in the Munster camp were three local men, Reggie Cox who lived at Boardman Street, Eccles, William Moore from Church Street, Eccles and a lad named only as Winn from Parrin Lane, Winton.
Macfarlane finished the article by stating that he was eager to to resume his duties as a postman in Eccles when fully fit, despite his deformed hand.
That newspaper article to me reads full of British bravado and the good old Bulldog spirit which is what the people wanted to hear.
However that wasn't the the truth as his parents who lived at Vicarage Close, Eccles revealed that David was one of their seven sons.
One had been killed, one had lost his right hand, and another son had lost his arm and a leg.
The other three were still fighting in France and to be honest they still stood a good chance of being killed killed or maimed in that senseless bloodbath which would drag on for another three months.
To have lost one son and had three others disfigured and maimed is beyond my belief, yet somehow people were still joining the Army, albeit more reluctantly than in 1914, which seems a form of collective madness which it obviously wasn't but begs the question why?
I doff my cap to Corporal Macfarlane and the many, many men who fought and died in that that war yet still cannot understand why they didn't refuse to go, point blank after seeing the terrible loss of life and hardships that would be endured by families at home.