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  • 100 YEARS AGO: HARSH TREATMENT FOR WOMAN DRINKER IN SALFORD


    History With Flynn


    A rather sad and cautionary tale from the pages of the Salford City Reporter from October 1920 which gives an insight into the way that habitual drunkards were treated at the time and how times have changed.

    Violet Whittle a 40 year old woman of no fixed abode appeared at Salford Magistrates Court,  charged with being drunk and disorderly on Chapel Street, Salford the night before.

    It would appear that Violet was no stranger to the court and was "fond" of a drink as they say.

    Superintendent Clarke told the Magistrate that Violet was last before the court on September 16th (less than a month ago) and had been fined £1 for drunkenness and that within the last twelve months had been arrested for the same offence, seven times, giving her a total of 34 criminal convictions.

    The previous evening when arrested on Chapel Street she was abusive to the arresting officer, P,C, Nolan. and in the cells she behaved, "in a disgraceful way", then added.

    "If she cannot conduct herself properly when sober, I can imagine what she will be like in drink"

    The newspaper reported that Violet has, "stood erect and attentive" when the above was read out to the court, the suddenly burst into tears and shouted out,

    "I'm cast down!, I'm broken hearted, I only came out of prison yesterday, I don't have a dogs chance, the police are always locking me up"

    The Magistrates Clerk tried to reason with her and explained it was because she always went back on the drink.

    Poor Violet answered, "I would be better off dead, for I'm always in prison".

    Superintendent Clarke then told the court that Violet had been sent to the Langho Inebriates Reformatory in 1906, but had not seemed to have cured her..

    Langho Inebriates Reformatory opened in 1904 and housed some 300 women, was situated, seven miles from Blackburn, it later became a hospital for people with learning disabilities and closed in 1992, and have heard some terrible stories about the way the early patients were treated.

    Having heard all the evidence, the Magistrates, Alderman Mather and Mr F. P. Nathan in their wisdom saw fit to send Violet to prison for one month with hard labour added for good measure.

    How on earth is sending her to prison going to help this poor woman, who by her own admission stated she would be better off dead than in prison, she did need medical help and I'm certain the harsh regime in Strangeways prison didn't extend to this.





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